Empathy: A Powerful Tool in Today’s Workforce

Concerns about health. Finances. Job stability.

Feelings of frustration.

Anxiety about what the future holds.

These are just a few of the stressors your employees are managing right now – and reasons it’s more important than ever to be sensitive to your staff’s emotions.

The workplace has changed dramatically over the last few months, reshaping the skills modern leaders need to be effective. In this second installment of our leadership series, we explain why empathy is vital in the digital age – and how you can hone this skill to build a resilient, high-functioning team.

Other posts in this series:

Trustworthiness: The Key to Leading in Today’s World of Work

Why is empathy so important?

According to studies cited in this Forbes.com article, empathy is the single more important leadership skill, outshining all others. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Empathy drives loyalty.
    When your staff feels valued, understood and cared about, they trust you more. Over time, that trust builds greater loyalty.
  • Empathy drives engagement.
    When you notice and acknowledge how employees feel, they are more likely to reciprocate and care more about their work.
  • Empathy drives teamwork.
    When you’re empathetic toward your team, it creates a positive ripple effect throughout your organization. People are more understanding of, and helpful toward, one another – decreasing conflicts and improving collaboration.
  • Empathy drives creativity.
    By extension, greater engagement and enhanced collaboration naturally lead to higher discretionary effort, new ideas and more innovation.

4 Ways to Lead with Empathy

  1. Support employees’ emotional health.
    Let your team know that they should feel comfortable discussing both work- and nonwork-related challenges with you, and provide a variety of communication channels and resources for them. Monitor your staff for signs of emotional struggle, including social withdrawal and poor performance. Check in with all of your employees regularly – especially those who are working from home.
  2. Invest time to understand employees’ point of view.
    Empathy is all about putting yourself in another’s shoes, so you can understand and appreciate their feelings, thoughts and experiences. Ask people how they are doing. Be fully present and listen actively, so you can pick up on both spoken and unspoken concerns. Create an atmosphere of psychological safety, so your staff feels comfortable being candid.
  3. Be human.
    As a leader, it’s natural to want to appear competent, confident and in control. Right now, however, it’s critical to connect with your team on a personal level. Share personal anecdotes. Show a bit of vulnerability. Be humble. Add appropriate humor to your communications. Humanizing yourself will make you more relatable and inspire more authentic conversations.
  4. Take good care of your own mental well-being.
    Display, through your own actions, how to integrate work-life obligations while taking care of yourself. Use your paid time off and sick leave when you need to – and encourage your staff to do the same. Disconnect from work, so your employees don’t feel pressured to be “on the clock” 24/7. You can’t be empathic unless you’re in a good frame of mind yourself, so set a great example for your employees.

What other skills are essential to great leadership?

Keep an eye on our blog. In future posts, we will share more modern leadership tips to improve your effectiveness in today’s workplace.

How can we help?

If you need staffing support, workforce advice or simply want to talk, we’re here for you. Please contact your local PrideStaff office today – and let us know what we can do for you.