Take a look around the workplace. Do people seem as happy, chatty and lively as they were three years ago? Do people look more tired, stressed and worn compared with life before the pandemic? 

We’ve shared quite the experience in the past few years, even if we were separated from each other for a while. But that common experience, even if physically distant, can help us learn about, and practice empathy, or the ability to understand and relate to someone’s feelings. 

An empathetic workplace is one in which sentiments and frustrations are respected and understood, even if we can’t truly put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. 

Here’s why empathy is a critical component of a healthy workplace and how to nurture it. 

  • Open your doors and listen. This is one piece of advice that applies to so many topics, but at the core it is one that builds empathy. Talk to your team. Listen to what they have to say. Try to put yourself in their position when they tell you about difficulties they’re having or painful feelings they’ve had lately. Imagine, for a moment, how it would change your day to feel those ways. What would help you get through that tough time? How would you cope? Offer those solutions to your employee, but most importantly, listen to what they tell you. Employees who feel like their concerns aren’t taken seriously will feel undervalued and will be more likely to look for a new place to work. 
  • Share the good times as much as the bad. We like to share the happy moments: completing a big project, a healthy quarter of positive developments and increased profits, whatever the case may be. But we need to recognize the other side of humanity and comfort each other in difficult times. Sharing in these moments creates bonds between employees and between you and your team, a bond that will come in handy when things get tricky again (because the highs, like the lows, are fleeting). 
  • Be honest. Leaders gain the trust of their teams by being an example. If you’re having a bad day, talk about it. Don’t try to have a stiff upper lip all the time. That might have worked in the past, but being stoic all the time will give off the impression that feelings aren’t important and aren’t valued and you see them as something to be bottled up and shunned. If your employees think you’re incapable of feeling or expressing emotion, they will never consider coming to you when they need help and that, too, will drive them away. 
  • Talk about burnout. This is another big buzzy topic these days: Do your employees honestly have too much on their plate? Could someone else pick up some of the excess? Or is it possible some deadlines can be shifted? Talk with your team about their workload and how everyone is coping with it. If people feel there’s no alternative and that they need to “suck it up” and work work work until everything is done, they’ll feel even more exhausted and stressed than they do now. Try to help when possible or at least provide insight on the longer-term view so they know a rough patch will be over soon.  
  • Show appreciation. Saying “thank you” can go so far toward instilling goodwill and camaraderie on a team. People who feel seen and appreciated are less likely to look for another job. If your team has been overworked lately, when that big project is done, pull them together and give them a pep talk and show your appreciation. Identify individuals, as possible and as appropriate, to give extra kudos for their hard work. It’s a small gesture but it means a lot. 

Empathy and emotion are not four-letter words. They are not bad. They are what make us human. Your team is filled with humans and you are one too. The idea of “it’s just business” has dehumanized people and business dealings for a long time; the old ways won’t work anymore. Build empathy and you’ll have a stronger team. 

If you’re looking to add to your team, call Davis Staffing. We have great candidates with the skills and background you’re looking for and they’re eager to join your team. Call Davis Staffing today and let’s get you connected.