When running a business – any business – it is far too easy to forget the role that empathy plays. According to the Workforce Institute at Ultimate Kronos Group, nearly half of all employees who responded felt that their companies workload balance helped prevent (or create) fatigue.

Forbes reinforces this argument by stating that around one-third of all employees felt that there could be more empathy inside the workplace. The raises the question, what does more empathy look like in a business environment?

Empathy in the Workplace

Providing more room for empathy in the workplace means remembering that employees are human beings, first and foremost. As Jennifer Moss puts it, most people think of the Gold Rule (“do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) when they think about empathy – but that is not enough.

Empathy in the workplace means taking people – as well as products/services – into account. Let’s use the pandemic as an example here. Many employees were allowed to work from home (due to requirements and safety). However, the burnout rate was still high.

Why? They weren’t getting any breaks. Suddenly they were juggling work, as well as their homes (which had brought more complicated thanks to spouses and children being home 24/7). The result was that many employees felt like they were also working 24/7. It does not take long to burn out when feeling that way.

By adjusting workloads and allowing employees to take a breather, management could significantly reduce the employee burnout rate. Additionally, the more support available, both in the workforce and at home, the better.

Increasing Empathy

There are simple measures that can be taken to help increase empathy in the workplace. The first step, naturally, is to listen to employees. However, it’s important to note that there’s a time and a place.

When trying to implement this tactic, Jennifer Moss found that many companies were doing so by adding to the workdays. That is to say, they were creating lines of open communication – but they were doing so after hours. Adding on to an employee’s schedule (unpaid) will not help prevent burnout but increase it.

On a similar note, getting to know employees is another essential step to forming more empathy. Get to know (and understand) their needs, thoughts, and ideas. Who knows, you might find the next grand idea thanks to this new platform of open communication. If nothing else, learning of the concerns will provide new opportunities. Opportunities to research proper solutions for individual problems – and implementing them. Finally, providing avenues of support is another simple tactic that can be employed. Employees should have available paths to talk to their higher-ups – as well as HR or mental health professionals, as needed. The 2019 Small Business Wellbeing Report found that in New Zealand, every dollar that was spent on mental health, in turn, created over three dollars worth in productivity. The turnaround speaks for itself.