The studies are in, and they show that 96% of your workforce believes exhibiting empathy in the workplace is important. Empathy is the ability for humans to share feelings between people. If employers can achieve empathy with their employees, it will help build teams and increase their business productivity. Here’s why empathy should matter to your management team.
Benefits of Showing Empathy
Staying composed at work is important. It exhibits our emotional maturity and keeps us acting professionally as we navigate daily challenges in the workplace. Keeping your emotions under control in these environments is important.
Yet, it is our emotional selves that make us who we are. One article suggested, “for leadership and management leaders, from HR directors to executives to team leads, to be effective leaders to the people they lead, they need to integrate empathy into their communication with their team members.” Empathy, which is so often linked to compassion and kindness, can help employers build more bonds with their teams.
Exhibiting empathy in the workplace helps improve relationships between people. This can help create a work environment where people feel at home and welcome. Given that our emotions, even if they are hidden, can positively or negatively affect our productivity, managers will do well to create a supportive environment for their workforce. Ultimately, caring about the people around you and showing it by exhibiting empathy will help enhance the entire team’s productivity.
One study from Harvard Business Review showed that companies who have an empathetic workplace outperform their colder counterparts by 20%. Companies that lack empathy can create a circle of negativity reflective of a lack of engagement, frustration, and disinterest. That can trickle outward to your customers and create a difficult hiring and retention problem for you to solve.
While these are some of the benefits of empathy in the workplace, how can managers, employers, and line leadership exhibit these characteristics?
How to Exhibit Empathy on the Job
Active listening is the number one way you can exhibit empathy. It lets people know they’re being heard, something that all of us want in our lives. Teach your managers to listen without judgment, then practice the “active” part of active listening by repeating back what they’ve heard with words like, “I understand how you feel,” or, “I hear you saying that.” Then try to engage the worker in a solution to the problem if that’s appropriate. Sometimes people just want to talk. No matter the issue or the goal, empathy means you’re making a genuine attempt to understand where people are coming from.
If you have to follow up with something the employee doesn’t want to hear, you can use what you’ve learned to soften your approach. For example, “I understand that you’re having problems with childcare. But being late every day has a negative impact on your entire team. How can we try to solve this issue?”
Empathy is a human characteristic that can keep your workers engaged and more productive. Far from being a weakness, managers who exhibit empathy can strengthen the bond between teams and help engage them in the work at hand. Empathy is a positive human characteristic that managers can harness to help the entire team.
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