How Empathy Saves Work Culture from Jeopardy

6 Minutes Read Abhishek Kumar

The humankind has, over hundreds of years, bonded over shared emotions- empathy. This was one of the key features in the advancement of our civilization.  Times have changed and have their share of good and bad. 

One of the changes is in the work culture. At present, most corporates prefer their employees to check their emotional baggage off before entering the workplace. One’s emotions when viewed through the lens of efficiency are regarded as unrequired in the workplace. On the contrary, we, being humans, it is illogical to detach ourselves from our emotions in the workplace. Burying one’s emotions is akin to holding one’s breath underwater - the longer it is done for, the more one’s condition tapers. This hints at a pivotal reason why most pleasing imagery related to work is centred outside of it. As of late, the importance of empathy in the workplace has been gaining recognition and empathetic workplaces have shown greater employment retainment rates.

A study by Business Solver shows that over 80% of 150 CEOs recognized empathy as a key to success. Only ¼ employees believe that empathy in their organizations is sufficient and in addition to the norm of keeping your emotions outside of the workplace, several aspects in the workplace setting such as stress from keeping up with deadlines and with the expectations can hinder employees from engaging in the understanding and sharing of emotions with their co-workers or team members which goes against the idea of an empathic workplace. 

Inexpressive employees hinder growth, more so if they are within a team where clear communication isn’t practiced. Unhealthy relationships in the workplace between employees and their higher-ups can also lead to a toxic workplace. A relationship built on fear and negativity is building itself to eventually crumble. 

Business Solver’s studies show that 68% of CEOs say they fear they will be less respected if they show empathy in the workplace. These factors, coupled with the inefficiency of the management can eventually lead to toxic work culture and subsequently high employee turnover.

From losing their minds at the morning alarm ringing to overthinking about their performance at work, an unempathetic workplace can have adversely negative effects on the mental health of employees and subsequently on their performance at work and these days, work culture is in dire need of empathy. From employee wellbeing to higher profitability, setting up an empathetic work culture is as substantial as ever. It encourages employees to unlock their true potential, improves their personal life and the combination of the two brings profits to the company. 

An empathetic work culture would look like a place where the employees are happy to go to work, feel less stressed, are healthily acquainted with their higher-ups, communicate openly and freely and trust in their co-workers. This results in higher productivity rates and higher profitability rates for the company which is backed by a study from Harvard Business Review that found that empathetic companies outdo their rather callous counterparts by 20%. Empathy is the solution to toxic work-culture. The ways by which a more empathetic work-culture can be set up in a workplace are-

Active listening plays an important part in setting up an empathetic workplace where the employees engage in healthy communication with not only their higher-ups but also themselves. Introspection makes up a pivotal facet of healthy communication. The realisation that empathy is a two-way street by the employees and higher-ups is imminent for an empathy centred workplace. Measures like hiring a professional therapist, activities to increase trust and patience, and finding efficient and committed ways  like the Employee Voice 24/7 tool that enables you to actively listen to your employees in real-time.

Being aware of cultural backgrounds, gender and even the age of the person you are speaking within a work environment reduces the chances of co-workers being made uncomfortable through speech. Workshops conducted for the management as well as the employees can aid tremendously.

The business case for a flexible work model - the inclusion of remote work in addition to traditional offline work- is endorsed by a recent study by Business Resolver that reported that 2 out 3 employees feel they are more productive at home and agree that the quality of their work has improved. This encourages a more empathetic work-culture, as the same study reports that 89% of the employees who had the option to work remotely reported that satisfaction with their employer while 93% of employees that ability to work remotely showed an employer’s empathy. 

While 85% of the CEOs who experienced a mental health issue reached out to someone at work, only 37% of employees did. Spreading awareness on the importance of mental health and setting up required infrastructure for everyone in the workplace to reach out to would result in the betterment in the mental health amongst them and promote empathy. Understanding and promoting a new perspective on empathy is vital. Listening and endorsing an open, stigma-free understanding of mental health is how a successful work-culture is made.

Toxic work-cultures can really hold a human back from being a human and can negatively impact the functioning of a company, too. Empathy is the key to save work-culture from jeopardy. 

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