There’s a saying in business, that goes “Employees come to a company, but they leave a leader.” These words perfectly show the importance of a superior (manager, supervisor, team leader) and his skills in the area of human resources management (especially team building). However, effective leadership is not just about the ability to lead a team and take care of its development.

Increasingly, it can be seen that one of the critical elements that can serve to build positive relationships is empathy at work. Below we explain how this very trait benefits both the individuals employed and the supervisors or the organization as a whole, affecting efficiency, commitment and satisfaction with the activities carried out.

What is empathy?

Empathy is the ability to empathize with the situation, needs and perspectives of another person – that is, to understand their emotional state and respond to their feelings in a supportive, understanding manner. It is an important trait not only in personal life (especially in relationships with family, relatives or friends,) but also in professional life concerning co-workers or other company members. Empathy at work manifests itself, among other things:

  • Fosters active listening – such a leader pays attention to his employees and focuses on what they say (including through non-verbal signals). He gives them space to express their opinions, ideas and concerns, and then appropriately responds to them,
  • Sets the right attitude for tackling difficult situations – seeks to understand what employees’ emotions and experiences are. Trying to see the situation from their perspective, it identifies the difficulties they face and offers support to help them overcome them,
  • Takes into account the well-being of employees – a leader not only understands the emotions of employees but also takes them into account in decision-making. Thanks to empathy, he or she aims at creating an environment that promotes the well-being and overall satisfaction of his team members.
  • Key benefits of empathy at work

    We should point out that a sense of compassion and concern for other people promotes the formation of strong and positive relationships between employed people. The manifestation of empathy at work strengthens interpersonal ties and at the same time increases trust and facilitates cooperation within the team.

    In this way, you create a friendly environment, which also helps in delivering the best results for the team. However, these are not the only benefits for which it is worth promoting such attitudes in the workplace. Additional positive results include such elements:

    1. Better communication within the team
    2. Emotional understanding and listening to others (and actively acting as a second step) are key to effective communication. Displaying empathy at work allows you to understand better other people’s perspectives, facilitating conflict resolution, negotiation, and joint decision-making. Employees who feel understood are more open to sharing their ideas and opinions, which leads to increased innovation and creativity within the team (and ultimately builds the success of the organization as a whole).

    3. Increased efficiency of employees
    4. An attitude of understanding on the part of leaders and co-workers also contributes to a greater sense of security and satisfaction in the workplace. With such practices, employees are better able to cope with difficulties and stressful situations, which leads to greater job satisfaction and motivation to perform better. What’s more, when they feel accepted and appreciated for their efforts, they are more likely to engage in their work, take initiative and pursue goals set by the organization, resulting in greater efficiency and productivity.

    5. Better external image of the company
    6. Empathic attitudes at work as part of organizational culture have a positive impact on employer branding, i.e. the company’s image in the eyes of both employees and potential candidates. Concern for the well-being of the people employed, actively listening and acting, providing support and promoting the simplest values not only help maintain loyalty to the company but also induce people to recommend the company as an attractive place of employment. At the same time, they provide a way to attract the most talented individuals.

    Empathy at work

    Empathy at work – summary

    No one should doubt that mutual understanding, empathy and concern for the needs of employees build bridges between the leader and the team, creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and support. The impact of empathy at work on the quality of interpersonal relationships (and thus on the results of tasks performed) is invaluable, which is why so much care should be taken to ensure that each person demonstrates this type of attitude toward the other.

    For this to be possible, however, the example must come from the top: from executives and leaders with smaller and larger teams under them. They are the ones who are responsible for building an organizational culture based on an attitude of understanding and the ability to empathize – and they are tested in this regard in stressful situations and when difficulties arise within the team or with individual employees.

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    Author: Nicole Mankin

    HR manager with an excellent ability to build a positive atmosphere and create a valuable environment for employees. She loves to see the potential of talented people and mobilize them to develop.