Bringing Empathy Into The Workplace
Checking in on your wellness in and outside of the workplace is something that has been brought to the forefront more since the start of the pandemic. For many people working from home blurred a line between the time of being on and offline. Employees were going beyond what they were doing pre-pandemic and stretching themselves too thin. Having accountable and trustworthy leaders is crucial in ensuring that employees' mental health is prioritized. Studies have shown that mental health issues were exacerbated by the pandemic. How leaders of companies respond to mental wellbeing issues being brought to the surface shows the strength of their leadership as well as how they are able to empathize with employees. Building a business that is grounded in support and empathy will drive success and engagement.
Cultivating an environment that is rooted in empathy is the first step in providing employees with a healthy workplace. This is a top-down process in that company leadership needs to show that empathy is instilled at all levels of the organization. Creating a company culture that is rooted in empathy requires leadership that is active and listens to employees' needs. Some ways to do that include
- Acknowledge important events outside of the workplace. Being cognizant of social movements, political changes, natural disasters, and local events. Recognizing what is happening outside of the office will let your employees know that you are aware and can help them navigate their way through what is impacting them.
- Creating a time for regular and consistent check-in. Having the space to have an open conversation with your employees or people on your teams is important. Simple questions such as “How are you feeling?” or “Is there anything I can do to help?” go a long way and are valued.
- Ask your colleagues or team if there is anything specific at work you can do to help them. It could be as simple as answering their questions about a project you are working on together. This allows them to feel like they can go talk to you when they need it.
Empathy Requires Flexibility
Empathy and flexibility go hand in hand in the workplace. When there is flexibility it fosters the idea that open communication can happen more naturally. Flexible work environments help create a good work-life balance in that employees are not feeling overwhelmed at work where they take the stress home with them.
Flexibility goes beyond letting employees leave early for doctor appointments or taking time off of work. Flexibility is scheduling different times to talk to accommodate everyone's schedule, getting outside during lunch breaks, or creating days where there are fewer meetings. Flexibility can be included in everyday parts of work.