Is Empathy Deficit Harming Your Organization?
by Aware HQ
Empathy has never been more important in the workplace. In 2019, Businessolver found that 82% of employees would leave their job for a more empathetic organization. Starting in 2021, the Great Resignation inspired over 47 million workers quit their jobs. This suggests the pandemic pushed employees to breaking point — and an empathy deficit could be to blame.
What is an Empathetic Workplace?
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. In the workplace, that means talking to employees and really listening to what they say. It means recognizing the sources of stress in their lives and working proactively to give them the tools they need to be productive at work. Empathetic workplaces value unique perspectives, take a flexible approach to work styles, and connect with employees on a human level.
The statistics speak for themselves.
- 76% of employers believe empathetic organizations inspire more motivated employees
- 80% of CEOs believe that empathy can be learned
- 61% of workers with empathetic leaders believe they’re innovative at work vs. just 13% with less empathetic leaders
Empathetic leadership is especially important for attracting women and minority employees. Gender and diversity gaps in key sectors aren’t just a matter of optics — they also impact the bottom line. Studies show that enterprise organizations that hire for diversity and inclusion increase cashflow per employee by 230%. Smaller businesses see even more dramatic results, improving cashflow 13-fold.
How to Build an Empathetic Workplace
The American Psychological Association reports that burnout is on the rise. Across all industries, 79% of employees report experiencing work-related stress in the past month. More than ever, employee sentiment concerns are top of mind as organizations grapple with how to build a successful workplace culture.
If you see success as a zero-sum game, life becomes a series of cut-throat competitions. You reach the top by taking others down. If you see the possibility of a mutual benefit, your goals shift from crushing the competition to making a contribution. You rise by lifting others up. — Adam Grant, Organizational psychologist at Wharton Business School
Establishing an empathetic culture is critical to attracting (and retaining) committed, engaged employees. That might start with a mission statement, but how many organizations truly embrace their values and demonstrate empathy in the workplace?
It’s important for leadership to take a proactive approach to building an empathetic culture. The latest data shows that more than half of workers who quit a job did so because their boss lacked empathy. Demonstrating empathy is harder for some than others, but it can be taught. And like any muscle, it gets stronger the more it’s exercised.
Some simple techniques to improve empathy in the workplace include:
- Creating a safe space for employees to share how they really feel — and listening without trying to solution all their problems away
- Assuming positive intent — even when things go wrong
- Setting connection goals — forget pulse surveys; create ongoing conversations between employees and leadership
- Getting the small stuff right — remembering kids’ and pets’ names, or how employees like their coffee, goes a long way to making them feel valued
Protect Your Culture with Proactive Listening
Maintaining an empathetic culture is an ongoing process for any organization. But how can businesses proactively monitor and assess culture compliance?
Aware’s human-centric insights can help. Our AI-driven, proprietary sentiment model actively monitors employee conversations for negativity, toxic speech, and controversial themes. Aware helps to uncover concerns before they become official policy violations, giving organizations the opportunity to discourage and redirect unwanted behaviors.
Organizations can also surface and reward positive culture compliance, incentivizing employees to engage more empathetically with each other. Our technology is helping leaders to reimagine an empathetic workplace by taking the pulse of authentic employee sentiment.
Download the complete report on Six Critical Digital Workplace Security Risks to learn more about the impact of collaboration platforms on data security and employee sentiment in the digital workplace.