The Importance of Empathy in HR

The ability to comprehend and share the feelings, viewpoints, preferences or thoughts of another person. Empathy allows us to build social connections and to respond appropriately to the needs of other people. 

2018 State of Workplace Empathy study found that 96% of employees find it important for employers to show empathy, and 92% consider this trait is underrated in their workplaces.

In the working environment, having empathy demonstrates a deep respect for co-workers and shows them you care, in contrast to exclusively following rules and guidelines. An empathic leader makes everyone feel like they have a place in the team and boost productivity, enthusiasm and allegiance. 

Improving corporate culture starts by enhancing relations between the people involved. Employees want to have a sense of belonging and connection at work, which can be achieved through mutual understanding.

Adopting a more sympathetic tone organization-wide isn’t a simple task. Empathy calls for individuals to take the initiative and get closer to their colleagues. That action doesn’t come out of nowhere: a warm-hearted working environment requires a conscious, company-wide effort.

Being involved in the difficulties and problems of your co-workers can be exhausting since it implies investing yourself personally into their lives. Being emotionally embroiled in the struggles of your co-workers can also lead to pointing out the shortcomings of your company, its leadership and some of its employees, all of which can eventually have a bad effect on you.

Additionally, empathy is tough to measure. You can evaluate your employees’ morale through questionnaire and one-on-one conversations, but the direct influence and significance of empathy on your bottom line is problematic to track.

Ultimately, empathic employees can sometimes be taken advantage of by their co-workers when it comes to time management and expectations. In your attempt to make yourself more accessible, some might try to send more and more of their problems your way. Being an empathetic person does not automatically mean that you are weak, but you should still set some limits to protect your mental and workplace wellbeing. 

[1] Barnhart, B. 8 Critical Steps to Creating Empathy in the Workplace · Spoke. [online] Spoke. Available at: https://www.askspoke.com/blog/support/workplace-empathy/ [Accessed 20 Jan. 2020].

[2] Rise. (2019). The Importance of Showing Empathy in the Workplace | Rise. [online] Rise. Available at: https://risepeople.com/blog/empathy-in-the-workplace/ [Accessed 20 Jan. 2020].

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