workplace empathy

To be a leader, you need more than technical knowledge to thrive in your field. If you fail to harness your emotional intelligence, you won’t be able to connect with your team and create a friendly work environment. 

When people don’t feel cared about at work, it leads to reduced productivity and weakened morale. It’s challenging to feel motivated to produce your best work when your boss doesn’t have your back or show you empathy. 

Let’s look at four ways you can improve empathy with your employees to cultivate stronger work relationships.

Listen Intently

Unfortunately, many people listen only so they can respond, and this is true for a lot of business owners and employers. For some, being in charge gives people an ego boost they can’t let go of. They feel the need to be correct even when they’re clearly in the wrong, and rather than helping their business, they’re hurting it.

Failing to listen to your team causes miscommunication and problem-solving issues. You’ll be quick to see how much of a negative impact it has on your employees to disregard their thoughts, opinions, and feelings.

Rather than listen to respond, listen to understand. See where the other person is coming from to gain insight into their perspective so you can find solutions and communicate with ease. They’re more willing to come to you if they know you’ll listen to what they have to say. 

Ask Questions 

A crucial part of listening, believe it or not, is following up by asking relevant questions. When you ask questions pertaining to what your employees open up about, it shows them you have genuine intentions and care to help them with their problems. 

To exercise empathy, you need to focus on the issue at hand and create questions that bring you closer to a solution. Instead of asking generalized questions, make them specific to the person and their circumstances.

For example, if one of your employees comes to you about feeling burned out, you know to ask them about their workload. You might say:

  • How can I help you better manage your time so your workload isn’t as heavy?
  • What processes can I help you streamline so you maximize your productivity?
  • Do you have any suggestions for how I can help you avoid feeling this way?

Asking relevant, specific questions is the best way to pick your employees’ brains and decide how to help them in the best way possible.

Practice Fairness

Although there may be employees you get along with better than others, that’s no reason to treat the individuals on your team differently. They’ll be quick to notice that you pick favorites and this will create resentment and a hostile work environment.

You need to practice equality and fairness among your team, and that includes each member. Refuse to pick favorites and treat everyone the same, not because you don’t like certain people, but because it’s best for your team’s wellbeing

Use the same practices with everyone and don’t do anything differently for a specific person because you like them more. No matter how solid a bond you create with your employees, it’s still a professional workplace and you must treat it as such. Your business is no place for elementary games.

It isn’t right to stick by certain people and disregard others; you wouldn’t want your boss doing that to you. Picking favorites weakens company morale, hurts productivity, and builds resentment among employees. 

Express Compassion

Even in situations that you may not understand, it’s crucial to stick by your employees and express compassion for them. When someone approaches you with a situation you may not understand, you need to remain open-minded.

As the leader of your company, it’s your job to create a comfortable environment for your team. If not, you’ll see high turnover rates that hurt your business and create chaos. 

When an employee opens up to you, it’s important to be there for them and show your support. Ask how you can better serve them and make their work-life easier. Are there changes you need to make to maintain a more positive work environment?

Expressing compassion builds a strong team and encourages them to do the same for you and for each other. Understanding each other’s unique perspectives is what allows you to continue learning and growing so you’re the best version of yourself you can be. 

Your Turn

If you’re a leader, then exercising empathy among your employees is a must. Not only do you want your business to thrive, but you want your team to feel comfortable working with you. They can only do that if they know you stand by them and feel for their hardships. Practicing compassion is something every leader should do. How will you strengthen empathy at your workplace?