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Cultivating a Culture of Workplace Empathy

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

In any workplace, the majority of us want to create more productive teams, so we devote all of our time and effort to educating our employees' new technological skills. However, what people usually miss is that understanding other people’s emotions would also need to be taken into consideration. How are we confident enough to ensure that their emotions are well thought of?

Even though your employees are well trained by the management with the latest technical skills, it's possible that we don't have the necessary tools to improve our interpersonal skills. However, by understanding other people’s emotions especially in the workplace, it establishes a good relationship between leaders and employees as it will increase the level of productivity of the company. Thus- empathy plays a vital role in leading your employees.


Showing empathy to others helps you recognise and acknowledge their emotions to comprehend the viewpoints of others on their situation. It includes working with people from different backgrounds, diversity of cultures, and inclusiveness especially if different companies collaborate with one another. Furthermore, at its most advanced level, it allows you to use your understanding to boost up someone else's mood and help them through difficult times. This trait is important as it acts as an assurance to the other person knowing that whatever they are going through, they are not going through it alone. By having empathy, you will be able to encourage someone when you notice that they are feeling down, feel happy for someone who accomplished something, and be supportive when they are going through a tough time.

An article by Harvard Business Review highlights on Making Empathy to your Company Culture with three simple steps:

1) Acknowledging for potential growth: Being a leader in a company is not as easy as it may seem as you are solely responsible for your employees well-being in order to strengthen productivity within the workplace. By giving a little encouragement could instantly change and brighten up someone’s mood or spirits making it more bearable for them especially during this pandemic. According to Oprah Winfrey, ‘Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with the people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their life’. Leaders should begin by evaluating their employees' mindsets and educating them that they can attain their goals for potential growth.

2) Highlight the right norms: The loudest voices are rarely the friendliest, but they have the ability to influence our perspectives when they dominate discussions. When one team member publicly displays a negative attitude, others may mistake it for the majority perspective, leading to people changing their positive outlook to conform to the majority. Leaders may combat negative norms by drawing attention to focusing on the positive actions. According to Jason Greer, 30% of employees do not think that their opinion matters but leaders should be the ones who is encouraging them to speak up and tell them that they do.

3) Find culture leaders and co-create with them: Every group whether it’s a new startup business or an Olympic team has people who promote team cohesion regardless of their role in their group. With people who are more socially connected with others, they play a huge part in influencing them as they are more connected with ideas, information and values.

With that said, cultivating a culture of workplace empathy should be a practice for companies of all sizes as it brings people closer and it familiarises with one another. Without empathy, we would not be able to relate to someone else’s hardships that they are facing and would not know how to help them if we did not reach out. Leaders may start by identifying connections and recruiting people in assisting to promote the cause in order to create empathetic cultures. This not only increases the likelihood that creative solutions will "last," but it also allows employees to be recognized for interacting with others, reinforcing yet another positive social norm.


Curious to know more? Chat with us or check further readings below.

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