The rise of soft skills: the value of emotional intelligence for employers

44% of UAE business leaders think emotional intelligence is more valuable in the workplace than IQ, finds the latest research by Robert Half UAE.

  • 44% of UAE business leaders think emotional intelligence is more valuable in the workplace than IQ 
  • Greatest benefits of having employees with emotional intelligence include an increase in motivation and morale within the team
  • Soft skills needed as businesses adopt collaborative digital technologies and work styles

Dubai, 16 July 2019 – Soft skills such as collaboration and business acumen are more important in the current hiring climate than traditional intelligence. Almost half (44%) of UAE business leaders think emotional intelligence is more valuable in the workplace than IQ, according to new research1 undertaken by Robert Half UAE. 

Business leaders believe leadership (43%) and strategic thinking (39%) will be the soft skills most difficult to secure over the next three years, followed by emotional intelligence (32%) and intellectual curiosity (31%). 
The greatest perceived benefits of having employees with high emotional intelligence include increased motivation and morale, improved leadership, better collaboration, and effective conflict resolution.

Table 1: Greatest benefit of having employees with high emotional intelligence

Increased motivation and morale 27%
Improved leadership 25%
Better collaboration 19%
Effective conflict resolution 18%
Improved stakeholder/relationship management 11%

Source: Robert Half Global Study 2019 UAE.

Sourcing candidates with high emotional intelligence 
Business leaders increasingly use a thorough process to source candidates with the soft skills they believe will add value to their teams. Behavioural-based interviews (55%) are the most common way for employers to gauge a candidate’s emotional intelligence. Other methods include reference checks (24%) and personality or psychometric tests (19%). 

Gareth El Mettouri, Associate Director of Robert Half UAE commented: “As the future of work takes hold with major progress in automation and artificial intelligence (AI) based digitisation projects, employers are competing for top talent that will give their business the competitive edge. This shift is seeing businesses wanting to identify not only the best-skilled talent for right now, into the future. As such, it is not just technical skills employers’ value, but the ability to work in a more collaborative work environment that relies on clear communications and teamwork for success. Professionals with these skills are more likely to be able to adapt their skills to remain in demand.”

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Notes to editors
1 The annual study was developed by Robert Half UAE and is conducted by an independent research firm. The study is based on more than 200 interviews with hiring managers from companies across the UAE, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. We have once again been named to FORTUNE’s “World’s Most Admired Companies®” list and remains the top-ranked staffing firm (February 2020). Founded in 1948, the company has over 300 offices worldwide, including the UAE, providing recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal, human resources and administration professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and jobseeker resources at