On a global scale, we have all had to endure our fair share of economic turbulence. From pandemics to lockdowns–businesses have had to adapt themselves to fit new territories.
The idea of well-being is being championed as a vital element in the workplace. More businesses are incorporating an awareness of emotional intelligence; and in particular, empathy.
Empathy in the workplace allows employees to really feel valued and secure. Requests are heard and changes are implemented–with their welfare kept at the forefront.
When employees care for it benefits everyone. Businesses witness an increase in staff engagement, productivity, and motivation. And when the workforce is happy, the business can prosper further. A happy workforce will lead to an increase in engagement, productivity, and motivation – allowing the business to prosper further.
Let us look at what empathy is, why it’s important, and how you can use it to engage your employees in the workplace.
What is empathy?
Empathy is the ability to recognize emotions within other people. It is about seeing things from their perspective or points of view.
It is kind of like a healing plaster or a band-aid. If it is used properly, you can really help support people through tricky situations.
For many of us, seeing other people go through tough times or tough hardship can be unimaginable (and even incomprehensible). It is like a personified example of, ‘walking in their shoes’. Empathy then becomes a universal way of introducing a duty to provide support and relief.
Are there different types of empathy?
Within the world of psychology, empathy is seen as an extraordinary talent to possess–especially in the corporate world.
According to American psychologist Daniel Goleman, empathy is one of five key components relating to emotional intelligence. Empathy can be divided into three major sections: cognitive, emotional, and compassionate.
This is the ability to acknowledge someone’s emotions and mindset. But you do not necessarily need to have an emotional connection with them.
Managers can tremendously benefit from cognitive empathy. It’s especially useful in situations like dealing with customers. They are able to build strong rapports, which is vital for engagement and assistance.
However, cognitive empathy does have its downsides. It’s classed as being rational or emotionally neutral. Which means people can utilize it to manipulate others or situations.
This form relates to synchronizing with an individual’s emotions–but on a much deeper note.
The empathizer becomes affected by the individual’s circumstances. And this allows them to understand situations on a much deeper and more genuine note.
Be warned–you should always be cautious with this form of empathy. When you become invested on this level, you can easily become consumed by emotions. And if this tips over to feelings of overwhelm, you could easily end up damaging your own wellbeing.
This form involves showing concern to others, whilst practically solving the problem.
Compassionate empathy is seen as the most proactive of all three divisions. You will initially learn to understand a person’s grief. It leads on to providing them with a ‘safe space’ to acknowledge their emotions.
With this form, it’s important to allow a reasonable amount of time for recovery.
The importance of having empathy in the workplace
Some employers might brush off the importance of empathy and emotional intelligence. They might think, “empathy takes too much effort… why do I have to care?”
Empathy is a such a powerful instrument to keep on your belt. It benefits both your employees and the business.
Of course, taking care of one’s physical aspect is important, like health and safety. But tending to psychological and emotional wellbeing is just as vital. It is almost at the core of mindfulness in the workplace.
Overall, an equal balance of physical and mental wellbeing will ultimately protect your staff. And it is this that will grow employee engagement, an increase in morale and, business success.
How to use empathy to engage employees
There are so many empathetic methods that are used to engage employees. It is all about having emotional intelligence with them. After you have conquered this, you can sit back and watch it grow into healthy engagement and motivation in the workplace.
Here are steps for using empathy to engage your employees at work:
As an employer, it is so important to champion strong teamwork within your workplace. And believe it or not, empathy allows this.
When your workforce is united in solidarity, communication is clearer and constant. That is why should show empathy through teamwork, as it’s beneficial for all aspects of your business.
From smaller teams to departmental tiers–whether it is one task or an ongoing project, your workers will prosper when they work cohesively.
Empathy also allows people to feel cared for; and it is this that will grow business productivity.
Employees are motivated and engaged by several things during work. And equally, can be become disengaged through negative treatment too.
That is why it is crucial to share gratitude with your employees. Every employee–from the bottom to the top–should feel like a valued member of the business.
It might seem like an obvious statement–but a business is nothing without its people. So, sharing a little gratitude towards them will help establish a healthy and happy workplace.
Tailoring it back to empathy, they both go hand in hand. Gratitude allows you to navigate and apply empathy to your work cultures and practices.
From making someone a ‘cup of joe’ to providing mental health wellbeing facilities–gratitude and empathy will always be beneficial for all parties. And it will transition into loyalty, engagement, and perseverance.
One of the most integral skills anyone can possess, is the ability to listen. It cannot be a coincidence that humans have one mouth and two ears!
Having good listening skills is a key element to success, in both personal and professional life.
We can all work on being better listeners instead of talkers. And nowhere is this more relevant than in the workplace.
One of the most effective ways to better our listening skills is by making slight changes. Have patience when talking to someone and really engage with what they are saying. Take extra caution not to jump in or cut them off.
You can even introduce a scheme where employees can express their concerns or queries. This is easily accomplished through things like suggestion boxes or feedback forms. Take extra care to answer all comments and process them appropriately.
Empathy thrives more when you put others first
As humans, we are biologically wired to put ourselves first. We cannot fight it–it comes from an inherent drive for security, endurance, and sometimes even greed.
However, this frame of mind derives from hostile environments which our ancestors faced. Like deprivation, famine, and war.
It is arguable that sometimes our workplaces can feel like a ‘war-zone.’ But these extremities are not necessarily needed in our everyday professional lives.
We should take a larger step toward being more selfless and empathic. Having emotional intelligence and empathetic qualities is the key to motivation, engagement, and innovation.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we should ignore the importance of self-compassion. We must protect our personal well-being. But showing empathy does not mean we undervalue ourselves.
Use empathy to tackle unfavorable or challenging situations. You will soon recognize the significance it brings to your healing and growing process.
This article is written by our marketing team at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is dedicated to providing powerful solutions for your HR teams and creating an exceptional employee experience. Our aim is to help your company improve employee engagement, onboarding, and to save you valuable time!