Empathetic leadership must be personal and authentic
Building an empathetic culture should therefore be a key and immediate priority for any organization looking to recruit and retain top talent. Yet the impact also reaches beyond that; there are also tangible business benefits for organizations that do so. According to the survey, nearly nine out of 10 (87%) of workers feel that mutual empathy between them and their leaders increases their efficiency. The same number (87%) report it boosts creativity, 86% believe it enhances innovation and 81% think it increases company revenue.
However to reap these rewards, leaders must walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Nearly half (46%) of the employees surveyed feel their company’s efforts to be empathetic toward them are dishonest while two in five (42%) claim their company doesn’t follow through on its promises. Marrying authenticity with action is therefore paramount, especially with the coming generation of Gen Z workers who are even more laser-focused on finding employers that share their values and allow them to be true to themselves at work.
It's also important that organizations balance programmatic ways of demonstrating empathy in the workplace with more individual ones. Indeed, the very essence of empathy is that it looks and feels different to everyone depending on their unique circumstances in the workplace and at home. Leaders should thus concentrate on building strong one on one relationships with their teams to boost connectivity, drive trust and allow them to take genuine, personalized steps to improve each individual’s wellbeing, productivity and job satisfaction.
Doing so may also address another pressing issue. The study reveals that while more than eight in ten (85%) employees say it's important for organizations to cultivate a climate in which diverse perspectives are valued, roughly a third (30%) of employees are not comfortable advocating for cultural changes and one in four (26%) do not feel comfortable raising ethical concerns with their boss.