What is empathy in the workplace?

Empathy in the workplace is the ability to be understanding towards colleagues and sensitive to their unique perspectives, work styles, and ideas.

As a key component of emotional intelligence, empathy is the foundation of treating others with acceptance and compassion.

Why should HR leaders care about empathy in the workplace?

Within the workplace ecosystem, empathy plays an essential role in company success. It’s a necessary ingredient to:

  • Build healthy relationships
  • Value others
  • Collaborate
  • Manage conflicts

Ultimately, empathy leads to greater employee:

It’s also especially important for HR leaders. According to the internationally acclaimed psychologist Daniel Goleman, empathy is necessary for successful leadership, as it allows leaders to understand the perspectives, needs, and circumstances of their employees.

What can HR leaders do to develop empathy in the workplace?

HR leaders can integrate more empathy into the work environment by implementing these methods:

  • Incorporate active listening. HR leaders can exemplify empathy and infuse the company culture from the top-down. Active listening and validation of others’ perspectives let employees to feel valued and understood. HR leaders can educate managers about the importance of setting aside preconceived notions and sharing their ideas after they have actively listened to their employees.
  • Connect with employees. HR leaders can meet individually with each employee over some time to get to know them. This allows HR leaders to be aware of employees’ needs, and for employees to feel that they matter.
  • Provide mentorship for employees. HR can connect employees with a “buddy” to coach them, offer advice, and understanding. This can help build mutually beneficial relationships between colleagues.
  • Practice. Developing empathy is a skill. It takes time and commitment. HR leaders and employees can consciously commit to incorporating empathy into their relationships.

While it can be draining to extend heartfelt empathy to every single person in every situation, it’s a good idea to approach each employee or colleague with an open-mind, ready to listen and to help if needed.

How can effective incorporation of empathy in the workplace improve company culture?

Empathy makes it possible for understanding, acceptance, and appreciation of each employee in the workplace. It’s a key component of functional, positive relationships. The more that leaders and employees practice this skill in the workplace, the more cohesive, diverse, and harmonious the company culture can become.