It is still 2020, and though it will be nice to say we are back at “Business as Usual,” the reality is “Business as Usual” has likely changed forever. Many of us have found ourselves questioning how we live, work, spend money and even relate with each other due to our different covid experiences. The pandemic has also challenged individual resilience and impacted on wellbeing, employee engagement and the sustainability of many businesses.
With the move to more remote working and an ever evolving view of what ‘new normal’ is, here are 5 reasons every leader, manager and business should put Empathy at the heart of its culture in our new normal.
- Empathy is good for business and employee engagement – According to a 2020 Businessolver study, 48% of employees say organisations overall are empathetic while 76% believe empathetic organisations inspire motivated employees, which helps productivity. While every business aims to make profits, it is important to remember that it is people that help make profits happen. Happy employees are good for business and Empathy leads to kindness. A working culture of kindness, care and compassion will improve collective focus, increase employee engagement, wellbeing and productivity, reduce turnover and in turn increase financial health.
- Tough times require inspiring leaders that understand empathy – While many may see a cut-throat or leading from the head approach as required working behaviour for achieving business goals, times of change and stress such as that seen by covid, expose why such approaches fall short. Times of uncertainty and change call for leaders that can think in the shoes of its people, empower, inspire and bring together effectively, especially when people are working dispersedly. Let’s be clear though – managing and leading are two different things. While managers look to manage tasks and performance, leaders look to build the people and give vision. When leaders display empathy and humanness, they become approachable and will increase people loyalty as well as employee experience, as people feel more valued. Research also suggests people will rather work longer/harder and take less pay to work for an empathetic boss.
- Empathy is key to building workforce resilience – It is easier to bounce back from troubled times when we feel we have support around us. Empathy helps create safer and more supportive work environments where employees feel they can thrive better. In such times where covid has been known to increase the prevalence of mental health issues such as depression, Empathy will go a long way to helping businesses manage and better support employee wellbeing. When leaders show empathy and resilience, employees will do the same too.
- Empathy helps build a sense of community – As humans, we crave a sense of belonging. Empathy is key to building positive relationships and helping us connect at a human level. Particularly where people are navigating varying circumstances and issues, Empathy will help employees understand each other’s feelings, boost communication and trust, and create support networks which employees can pull on when needed. More so, a sense of community, unity and common purpose will help businesses create engaging and productive work environments.
- Empathy is important for inclusivity and building diverse teams – 2020 has been a rather interesting year, from presenting covid-19 to exposing racial issues and more. Nonetheless, true inclusivity and diversity happens when we are able to understand and embrace each other’s differences. Empathy says “ I am going to walk in your shoes to understand your culture, way of thinking and working.” When leaders, managers, employees and businesses embrace a culture of empathy, it is possible to create an environment where everyone feels heard and valued.
When we think in the words of Maya Angelou who said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” we understand the true impact of empathy.
Bottom line is – Empathy is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a skill that is required. A leader without empathetic skills is missing an opportunity to build a thriving and resilient team as we navigate our new world.
*Empathy is key mindset*
Do you think Empathy is important in our new normal? Why not share in the comments box below.
© Dr Vivian O. Ikem, 2020