Labour training – by Jennefer Griffith – Executive Director at Food Processing Skills Canada
Last year, the World Economic Forum identified emotional intelligence as one of the top 10 future skills employees need to succeed in the workplace, and the strongest predictor of job performance and earnings. Often when we think about leaders and high performers, their personality comes to mind, but emotional intelligence is also an essential ingredient. These are skills that help us tolerate conflict, facilitate focus, drive accountability, keep our egos in check and demonstrate courage. Emotional intelligence is linked to employability, job performance, productive teams and a high-performing workforce.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has certainly emphasized the importance of having, and also acquiring, emotional intelligence skills. If you are involved in the food supply chain, you fully understand the challenges of the past year. Stress levels are high and many of us are feeling fatigued, even if we have not been directly affected by the virus. Skills that support empathy, coping and resilience are key factors to recovery.
We know from research that a person’s emotional intelligence helps to accurately identify emotions in themselves and others; understand and manage those emotions; use emotions to effectively communicate and collaborate; and, stay motivated to achieve goals, enjoy the learning process and persevere.
By remaining sensitive to the emotions of others, people are better able to manage relationships with coworkers and foster a rewarding work environment.
Earlier this year, Food Processing Skills Canada finalized a new strategy for emotional intelligence training called the Acahkos Program. This program, which has been specifically designed for the food and beverage manufacturing industry, is built on four core principles:
Culture of continuous learning
Clarification through an informative process centred on the learner experience
Connection through social learning and supports that enable the transfer of learned material into the workplace
Commitment to a goal-driven learning strategy that boosts program engagement.
Acahkos is a Cree word that means star.
The Acahkos Program uses the star as the expression of one’s future self and a guide to achieving one’s goals.
The strategy of Acahkos is to encourage individuals to set their own learning goals and to track progress. To do this, Food Processing Skills Canada has developed virtual instructor-led training sessions, e-courses and program resources that support self-paced and motivated learning.
We are piloting the Acahkos Program as part of the new curriculum for Skills Training Atlantic Canada with courses such as Adaptability in the Workplace, Developing Empathy at Work, The Spark Within and Coaching for Success.
When we were researching the application of emotional intelligence in the food and beverage manufacturing industry workplace, we learned how other sectors truly value these skills. For example, in the healthcare industry, workers may be responsible for delivering sensitive information to patients or supporting vulnerable people. In education, teachers have to identify with their students and provide meaningful guidance.
For many of us, we traditionally think of training in terms of technical skills, but with the Acahkos Program we can now offer employers and employees a pathway to acquiring emotional intelligence skills that will benefit them in their professional and personal lives.
Jennefer Griffith is the executive director at Food Processing Skills Canada.