Throughout the challenges that the pandemic has brought over the past few months, empathy is emerging as a key emotional intelligence skill that’s vital for leaders to get right. Essentially, it’s the ability to read and understand others’ emotions, needs and thoughts. It’s the soft skill that allows us to walk alongside people, connect with them in a meaningful way and empower them to be the best version of themselves they can be. The kickback is that it also makes us happier and more effective at work too.
But how often are companies using it with their staff? It seems that perceptions vary, depending on where you stand. In their 2020 State of Empathy report, Business Solver noted that 91% of CEOs believe that their companies are empathetic, compared to 48% of their employees. What’s more, a staggering 92% of employees believe companies should be doing more to support workers’ overall wellbeing and needs.
The good news is, empathy is a soft skill that can be learned and honed through daily practice.
How can we build a culture of care?
It may sound simple, but it means being intentional about putting care at the centre of your business. The concept can encompass a range of different aspects, from leaders caring about employees, employees caring for each other, as well as customers and employees alike caring about the company’s purpose.
With 88% of employees believing this strong company culture is key to its success, it’s crucial for compassion to be woven into the fabric of everyday life at the company. We’ve pulled together 4 ways you can start building a culture of care right now:
1. Share your vision
It’s particularly important to continue to communicate both the corporate vision and focus on wellbeing, especially while teams are working remotely. We conducted a Lifeed user survey earlier this year, where 1 in 2 people told us they were living in uncertainty, which has heightened their stress levels and taken its toll on their mental wellbeing (Lifeed, 2020). When you communicate the corporate vision and upcoming goals, you give them something tangible to walk towards – and they’ll be doing so with the support of their team. By making sure everyone is headed in the same direction, you’ll begin to nurture their engagement and the company. Gallup research suggests that engaged employees are twice as likely to adapt to change, which is crucial in the current climate.
2. Listen to your people
When our to-do lists are so long and we’re focused on KPIs, it can be challenging to carve out time to truly check in with our teams. But it’s those conversations that really make the difference when it comes to building trust. In fact, 68% of people feel that their manager should be a good listener, and this is one factor of a culture of care (Lifeed 2020). It’s a chance for employees to voice their concerns and needs, allowing them to be acknowledged and addressed more quickly. Salesforce research shows that employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. What’s more, companies that focus on gender and ethic diversity consistently outperform their competitors, as they draw in a wider range of perspectives when making business decisions and formulating strategy. When we make space to really listen to people’s needs and concerns, everybody benefits from it.
3. Empower and engage
Empathy + action = care. So much so, that 94% of employees believe that putting empathy into practice is an important way for businesses to advance employee retention. Once you’ve listened to your team, it’s important to give them the tools they need to excel in their roles and in turn move them into action when helping the company and their surrounding communities, whether that’s colleagues or customers. This could include professional development opportunities, welfare packages or using Lifeed to show them the power of transilience, reducing their mental load and lowering stress levels for 90% of the corporate population (Lifeed, 2020). This has a direct impact on the bottom line too, as research shows 57% of workers are more loyal, productive and take less time off when employers support their mental wellbeing.
4. Build a community
Community builds a sense of belonging. It can motivate members to share their experiences and ideas, as well as helping them to feel part of something bigger. Our research shows that when Lifeed users interact with these themes with their managers and community hub, 56% feel that they are no longer alone in managing complexity and 90% feel more engaged at work as a result (Lifeed, 2020). Once they grasp this concept, they will start to identify other communities that they interact with through their diverse dimensions in life, whether it’s family members, social groups or people going through a similar life phase to themselves. They’ll begin to recognize and value their different dimensions, generate new ideas and feel stronger, helping them to excel across the board.