In a recent article, we reflected on why an appreciation for mental health in the workplace is the new essential skill post-pandemic. This period took its toll on everyone and care and understanding is crucial as we ease into the back-to-the-office phase. The reality is, many employees may still be feeling anxious about returning to work. Equally, many thrived working from home and may be reluctant to re-adopt the nine-to-five.
However, this isn’t merely a shift from command-and-control management styles to an approach that some may deem touchy-feely. In fact, there is a strong case that empathy in the workplace can boost productivity with various trickle-down advantages. Here, we’ll briefly discuss the possibilities.
Empathise to motivate
Empathy allows us to understand each other’s feelings and experiences. Bosses should be available to be confidants, as well as offering practical support, such as access to childcare services. This practical dimension is also opening up discussions about the possibility of four-day weeks and flexible working, especially in a pandemic context.
As employees were working from home for such a long period of time, many companies are reflecting on what can be taken from the experience. To the surprise of many, the move to home office saw a boost in productivity as opposed to a decline. Experts speculate that this added flexibility drove motivation and commitment – which is why empathy in the workplace is arguably essential to productivity and growth.
Empathy is a two-way street
When bosses are empathetic, they’re showing their team that they care for, value and understand them. When employees feel valued, they feel motivated and the organisation thrives. This is cemented by the relationship that’s created between the management and employees, which in turn, nurtures loyalty.
Employee loyalty creates a support system where the worker is prepared to go and above and beyond for their employer. In extreme examples, this can precipitate such solidarity that employees will be prepared to take pay cuts to keep the organisation afloat – something that actually came to pass during the pandemic.
Ultimately, leadership that doesn’t show empathy or those that have no employee support services in place, will inevitably experience high employee churn. Especially in the current climate, organisations with an empathy-oriented approach will have the edge when it comes to attracting talent.
Benefits that reach the customer
However, empathy isn’t only about internal affairs; experts suggest that empathy can also elevate customer satisfaction. Human interaction is integral to how we judge service quality, which naturally, is central to a business’s reputation. Motivated, happy employees radiate positivity, and subsequently, extend the organisational culture of empathy to the customer.
This is because real customer care requires empathy: you need to observe, ask questions and give thoughtful responses. It’s about looking out for other people’s needs. It goes without saying that good customer service leads to success, and ultimately, sustainable growth – further strengthening the case for empathy-driven workplace culture.