Establishing empathy at the workplace
Empathy is like a universal solvent. Any problem immersed in empathy becomes soluble. Empathy at the workplace requires to be adressed at two levels: Empathetic Leadership and Emphatic Work Environment.
Leadership requires to look beyond traditional managementndevelopment strategiesnand foster critical skills for success. One of those skills is empathy - a vital leadership competency. Empathetic leadership, is the ability to understand the needs of others, and being aware of their feelings and thoughts.
Leaders today need the more "humane" and foster environment of growth and wellbeing, recognizing the fact that employees are the greatest asset. Fortunately, Empathy is a trait that can be learned. Leaders are encouraged to:
- Become present, genuine and authentic
- Practice two-way communication
- Practice gratitude
- Mindfulness and compassionate
Empathetic work environment
Highly reliable organizations are characterized by continuous learning, improvement, teamwork and transparency. The employee wellness program is the driving force for creating an environment where employees thrive. It is also the cornerstone for making the organizations the best place to work. A wellness program aligned with organizational values provides physically and psychologically safe work environment. The categories of support that a wellness program may include are physical support, mental support, financial support and social support; which include programs but not limited to:
- Employment Assistance programme
- Caregivers recognition programme
- Self-care workshops
- Financial well-being workshop
- Employee suggestion programme
- Compassion fatigue workshop
- Community volunteering programme
Empathy promotes a resilient future
Having resilient employees that can adapt with agility and perform well in adverse situations is valuable to the organization. Hence building resilience is a win-win situation for both employees and the organization as well. Empathy in the workplace is positively related to a resilient workforce.
Research shows that employees with a strong sense of well-being are 81% less likely to look for a new job, are more engaged in work, and are 41% less likely to cause absenteeism problems (kaiser Permanente 2020).
Millennials are the largest group of active workforce and bring their own value-sets to the workplace:
- Team players and seek feedback from superiors
- They are career motivated but expect support to succeed
- They want to work with you, not for you
- Recognition is important
- Less bound to the role or employer
- Mission driven and want a sense of purpose
Training leaders on how to accommodate these differences will create a work environment of collaboration, engagement and increase retention. In conclusion, the current and future workforce will be attracted to organizations that provide an empathetic work environment but will be retained only by an empathetic leader.