In Culture, Leadership

culture of empathy


Do you ever care about the emotions and feelings of your employees?

Do you make an effort to incorporate a culture of empathy at your workplace?

Your workers are a part of your extended family, and you should always have a sense of empathy towards them. Empathy and emotional intelligence should be as crucial to an organisation as high engagement and retention.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been rough on all of us. Employees are worried about their well-being at work, job retention, and their finances.

Employers are reeling under the devastating impacts of the pandemic on global economies and businesses.

There is a sense of emotional turmoil within employers as well as workers, and this hinders their productivity and engagement. For high employee engagement, it is essential that workers feel they are in the right mental frame and are happy.

Now is the Time!

It is clear that the need for empathy in the corporate culture is higher than ever. If you as a leader can help them get over the negativity inherent in living through COVID-19, there will be substantial benefits.

Therefore, in times as challenging as these, empathy should be the focus. But what is the true meaning of compassion? How is empathy different from sympathy? Let us have a closer look.

What is empathy?

Empathy means the ability to sense the emotions and feelings of others. It also includes the ability to imagine what the other person is going through. So, when you are empathetic to someone, you put yourself in their shoes and try to understand their emotions.  The two types of empathy are:

Cognitive empathy:

You can identify and comprehend other people’s emotions and feelings in an effective way. For instance, if you can sense a feeling of nervousness in a candidate appearing for an interview, you are empathetic in a cognitive way.

Affective empathy:

In this case, empathy refers to the feelings and emotional sensations you feel in response to others’ emotions. It happens when you can relate to other’s feelings, and that mirrors the same inside you. For example, if your team is stressed about the sales target and the exact stress mirrors inside you looking at their stressed faces, it is affective empathy.


On the other hand, sympathy means a feeling of support that you show to someone. In the case of sympathy, you do not imagine yourself in other’s people place or try to relate.

Your workers want your empathy and not mere compassion in these difficult times. You should look to connect to them like you want them to link to your business goals.

How empathy leads to high productivity culture in the workplace

Empathy can lead to higher employee engagement. An empathetic culture within an organisation is beneficial for both workers and leaders. Besides, with empathy, you can create a happier and more positive work culture. This positivity is further going to reflect on employees’ morales, results, and the organisation’s success.

1. A Culture of empathy leads to closer relationships at work.

When you show sensitivity to someone, they find a sense of assurance in you. The same applies to the corporate culture, where trustworthy relationships have a positive impact on efficiency.

When you promote a culture of empathy within the organisation, it helps colleagues foster deeper connections. Further, with these deeper connections, they can manage their stress better, find encouragement and happiness. All these are factors of high employee engagement as it depends on a worker’s emotions and state of mind too.

When employees realise that you are willing to go out of the way to understand their feelings, they develop an emotional connection with the organisation.

2. A Culture of empathy promotes a better sense of collaboration.

For the success of your organisation, your workers must work together in teams. For you, as an entrepreneur, the performance of teams, as well as individuals, is a priority.

When there is a culture of empathy within an organisation, workers are comfortable and enthusiastic about working in collaboration. When they know their team members are empathetic enough to understand their feelings, they are happy to work in teams. A team of talents with high motivation and engagement can do wonders for an organisation, isn’t it?

This is another way in which empathy benefits an organisation. It helps your workers collaborate better and work efficiently in teams to deliver outstanding results. On the other hand, in the absence of empathy among team members, they might not be able to find their motivation to work together.  Therefore, the better the trust between co-workers, the higher is employee engagement.

3. A Culture of empathy helps an organisation identify leaders.

Empathy should be an essential trait for organisations to identify leaders. Leaders who have compassion have a better chance of bringing employees from different backgrounds on the same page.

With the quality of empathy, a leader can attract the loyalty of the workers. Also, emotional intelligence is an ability that leads to better conflict resolution and better communication. Empathetic leaders can bring out the best in workers by settling down the anxiety or other issues that employees may be going through.

Workers look up to leaders who are willing to make efforts to understand what they are going through. Hence, a culture of empathy within your organisation can help you identify leaders among your staff. These leaders can go on to drive significant positive changes in the organisation shortly.

Moreover, when you identify leaders based on empathy, these leaders can help boost employee engagement. They can create an environment of positivity in the workplace. Also, leaders with empathy can cause a significant decline in employee turnover. Why would employees want to leave if they feel their company values their feelings?

Why is empathy even more critical in COVID times?

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken everyone’s motivation as people have become apprehensive about a lot of things. Your workers may be undergoing constant stress and anxiety in the times of the pandemic. Further, this can impact their engagement and productivity.

As a responsible leader, you should ask them how they feel about the significant changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. They may be struggling with their family’s health, medical expenses, or even depression. You may not be able to help them with these issues in a direct way but willingness to understand their problems can be comforting for them.  According to a survey conducted by KFF in the US, 53% of adults in the US saw a deterioration of their mental health due to coronavirus related stress.

Thus, the pandemic has caused significant disruptions in our professional and personal lives. It has affected personal relationships, growth opportunities, and family budgets. So, the pandemic has become one of the significant causes of stress among people of all age groups. As humans, the best we can do is support each other and have empathy for each other.

In summary . . .

To conclude, empathy has become almost indispensable in the corporate world. There is a direct correlation between employee engagement and empathy. Furthermore, empathy is a simple trait that employers can include in their personality to establish a high productivity culture. Also, organisations should realise that the need for empathy is more extensive than ever before in times of COVID-19.

The pandemic has affected the mental health of many working adults all across the globe. Moreover, organisations should always focus on having a working culture based on work ethics. Among these work ethics, empathy is an essential practice that companies and leaders should inculcate. When kindness creates better connections in the workplace, even you can share your feelings with your team.

About the Author

Jessica Robinson is an educational writer and has written many blogs for various websites. She spills the magic of her thoughts through her blog ‘The Speaking Polymath’. In this blog, she helps the reader experience her management proficiency along with her skill to resolve matters of global importance.


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