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How To Develop Empathy In The Workplace

Businesses are becoming less corporate and more humanised. It’s the right path to take, creating a workplace that’s more empathetic in the process.

Of course, these changes don’t occur overnight. Key business processes need to be revolutionised, workplace cultures must be adapted, and brand identities need to evolve too in some cases. These changes take time, and progress is made in stages.

Few businesses have had an easy ride over the past few years. Many companies are facing crippling supply chain concerns that risk undermining their operations entirely. Ensuring an empathetic work environment is no longer an option or a perk; it’s a necessity so that professionals can cope.

Keep reading for some quick tips on developing empathy in your workplace.                 

Understand Complaint Processes

Some superiors in a firm can mishandle employee grievances. They can take these matters personally and think their leadership is being doubted, wasting time in the process. Instead, they should be listening to what is being said and working for solutions.

The best place to begin in this effort is understanding what employees go through when filing complaints and expressing concerns. Often, they will have prepared what they wish to say and try to start a dialogue with their immediate superior. If these efforts prove ineffective, written letters may be sent to those further up the chain of command, or tribunals may even occur.

Obviously, these situations need to be mitigated as much as possible, and escalation must be prevented. This process is unpleasant for all parties to experience, but it can be especially stressful for the concerned employee. Try to recognise what is at stake for them, the courage it took for them to come forward, and let those factors compel you into action. 

In understanding the sequence of events that come with filing a complaint, you can also better equip line managers to deal with these situations. Increased training and awareness would undoubtedly help them be more empathetic, thus stopping these problems from spiralling out of control.

Learn About Outplacement

Redundancies have unfortunately been more common during the pandemic. However, many entrepreneurs have made the mistake of thinking they have no power in these situations.

While some workers may need to be let go during times of struggle, this doesn’t warrant an immediate end to your provision of support for them. You can find out what outplacement is with firms like Randstad RiseSmart. Learn about how you can help affected employees land their next role and how third-party providers can reliably facilitate the process. Know what to look for in an effective programme to help your workers’ prospects as much as possible.

Be conscious of how your business benefits from this. For example, your workforce will know that you care about them on a personal level. Subsequently, retention rates may hold steady, as your colleagues will know they are being looked for irrespective of what happens with their current position. Your brand could also be seen as more empathetic due to these decisions.

Moreover, it’s good to recognise that there’s always more you can be doing. You and your colleagues must never lose that mentality, pressing on with helping one another even when the chips are down. More problems will be solved and futures protected because of it, developing empathy not only in your workplace but beyond it too.  

Use Workflow Tools

Workplace efficiency can affect levels of empathy colleagues can display. After all, if they’re not overworked and stressed, they will have more time to pay attention to one another’s well-being and needs.

Many workflow apps and tools can help in this effort. Some even record daily work activities to let users know where time is being wasted on less urgent tasks. This type of input can aid workers in structuring their workloads, thus minimising the amount of pressure that they may sometimes place upon themselves.

Recommending and providing these tools is yet another way to communicate to your workforce that you’re actively invested in their well-being. It also shows that you are comfortable stepping outside of your own business when searching for help. All of your efforts here can not only be helpful but informative, educating yourself and your workers in the search for company-wide prosperity.

Adjust Performance Reviews

Some employers will subject their employees to gruelling performance reviews. They believe their hardened approach could motivate higher levels of commitment.

Such an approach can turn workers off from their job roles, superiors, and the companies they work for completely. Instead, the performance review is the perfect moment to express empathy to workers. This can be achieved by:

  • Asking questions – Instead of judging employees for underperforming, enquiring about why this might be and how you can help them will facilitate a more productive dialogue.
  • Acknowledging wider circumstances – Many world events could be responsible for employees’ struggles, from economic to humanitarian concerns. 
  • Remaining friendly – Basic manners can go a long way in a working environment, so maintaining eye contact and smiling may encourage workers to follow your example and present their best selves.

Ultimately, a working environment is much easier to navigate when everybody is friendly with one another. More meaningful rapports can be established. Demonstrating empathy during traditionally tense moments in one’s career also highlights your level of maturity.

Work with Non-Profit Organisations

Who your company is seen to be working with can play a role in its perception. By collaborating with charities and non-profit organisations, your firm’s level of empathy will never be in question.

Host fundraising events, raise awareness, volunteer with staff, or place a donation cup in communal areas if you have premises. You could arrange sponsorship deals too. Both big and small efforts can make a considerable difference and emphasise your firm’s ability to pursue something other than profit.

The non-profit’s cause can also enlighten you all. They will be dedicated to what they do and reliably informed on all the relevant statistics. Working with them is a great opportunity for personal growth and shouldn’t be underestimated.

The ties established here can be long-term and meaningful too. Ensure that your efforts are more than a PR stunt and become part of your company’s history. After that, your business will have real empathetic roots, and each employee will feel more proud to work with such a compassionate company.

Be Accessible

All of the strategies for developing empathy so far become far less effective if you’re a superior is seldom seen. Ideally, your presence would be felt on your premises. If you’re running a remote business, your status on work-related software should show you as being online as much as possible.

Developing empathy in your workplace largely comes down to your level of influence. If workers can feel like they can approach you and start a dialogue, it will make an enormous difference when attempting to build a more open and caring culture.

Subtle changes can be effective here. If you’re working in an office, leaving your door open can signal to others that they’re welcome to stop by and express concerns. If you’re a remote business leader, dropping in on Zoom meetings or having availability for one-to-one huddles can achieve the same effect.

Lead by example. Remember that your subordinates are more likely to be empathetic themselves if they feel confident about the precedent you’re setting.

Bio – An avid sports lover and creative writer, Jodie loves nothing more than sharing her insight into her favourite topics. As well as rugby and football, Jodie also enjoys writing about business and translating complicated corporate jargon into digestible and insightful content.