Empathy in the workplace, and, in our lives in general, really matters – do you believe that?
A simple definition of empathy is the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling. According to the 2018 State of Workplace Empathy study, 96% of employees consider it important for their employers to demonstrate empathy, and yet 92% believe this trait is undervalued in their workplace.
I suggest empathy in the workplace plays a vital role in the effectiveness of organization's leadership, an organization’s culture, and ultimately, an organization’s success. Let’s just take a quick moment to touch on each of these topics.
Effective Organizational Leadership
People who are skilled at understanding others’ feelings and situations are often more likely to be viewed as effective leaders. Empathetic leaders show a sincere interest in others and build strong connections. These individuals tend to pick up on emotional cues and are usually good listeners.
With strong connections, leaders can more effectively cultivate a shared vision, generate loyalty, foster collaboration, and improve employee retention. Mastering empathy does not always come naturally but it can be developed. Consider adding empathy as a topic in your annual employee training.
Cultural competence is the ability of a workforce to interact, work with, and develop relationships with individuals of varied cultural backgrounds. Where can you start when it comes to developing cultural competency? Embrace diversity, promote open communication, and foster opportunities for interaction amongst diverse coworkers. Investing in cultural competency means investing in those who represent your brand and your organization to the world. I propose this is more significant to the power of your brand than ever before.
Human connection is a powerful source of meaning and motivation. We all work harder when we see that our work benefits others. Listening, understanding and helping others fuels the human spirit.
A work environment that values and respects employees’ varied backgrounds, experiences and perspectives can not only boost creative thinking and problem solving, but ultimately improve employee retention.
Human understanding is the primary way people judge service quality, and these interactions can shape an organizations’ reputation. To build customer trust and loyalty develop an empathetic workforce that anticipates customers’ wants and needs. When we approach our work with a strong belief that each customer deserves our attention and kindness, it shows!
Technology continues to change the way we do business. While the influence of technology is exploding around the globe, our need for human understanding and connection is growing as well. Understanding customer perspectives and weaving that information into the design of your products and services positions your business to exceed expectations. This creates value and unique customer experiences, also known as competitive advantage. It is my hope you consider the importance of empathy in your business; for those you lead and those you serve.