Recently, an excerpt from Rohan Kamath's LinkedIn post, where he recounts how his team stood by him when he lost his dad, has garnered huge response. In the post, Kamath - a product lead employed at a multinational company in Seattle, Washington, says how he will forever cherish the camaraderie and compassion his colleagues showed towards him during a difficult time.
'It's been 5 years since all of this happened. I don't really remember the projects I worked on, the technology, the impact, the promotions, the bonuses, the arguments, and the fights; none of those even register anymore. But what I will remember and cherish forever was the thoughtfulness, the compassion, and the camaraderie, the fact that my team truly had my back during my time of dire need", he wrote in the post.
This power of empathy goes beyond corporate code of conduct and instills a sense of togetherness and connection in the workplace. It helps individuals to form relationships that remain etched in their hearts.
Relevance Of Empathy In Workplace
Empathy is the capacity to experience the emotions and feelings of other people. It involves placing yourself in another person's shoes and sharing their feelings. It is the ability to instantaneously see yourself going through that experience and feel what they are feeling when you witness another person suffering, such as when they have lost a loved one.
Developing emotional maturity, empathy primarily involves mastery over 3 things: Listening, Open-ness/non-judging, and Understanding. Considering the massive layoffs and impending recession employees are surrounded with, empathy plays an important role in recent times.
While the world is embracing the work-from-home culture with all its perks, it has further established isolation, where a team functions individually, with no connection whatsoever. The work is often clouded with stress and deadlines, and a manager's message notification seems like the last thing you want to see. When such pressure is not appropriately handled, it keeps accumulating, and in place of empathy, one develops a feeling of resentment towards the managers and the co-workers.
Empathy To Build Healthy Workplace
While managers usually use 'cause and effect' theory when judging an employee's performance, the very act of making an effort can be affected by various external and internal factors. An employee's performance is not as mechanical as one thinks. If a manager develops empathy, they can break through the external walls and understand the real reason behind the lack of effort. Thus, empathy also leads to quicker problem-solving.
Empathy also addresses the issue of loyalty, which is another outcome of this modern-day work culture. Employees hardly feel belonging to a particular company as frequent job shifts become the new norm. Employee loyalty is at a seven-year low, according to the 10th annual survey of employee benefits, trends, and attitudes published by MetLife, and one in three employees wants to quit their job by the end of the year. According to a 2011 Careerbuilder.com research, while not actively looking for a new job, 76 per cent of full-time employees said they would leave their current employer if the perfect opportunity presented itself.
The average company loses 20 per cent to 50 per cent of its workforce annually, according to The Economic Times. This data points to the fact that the feeling of loyalty is depleting at an alarming level. This disconnection phenomenon from the workplace is directly linked to a lack of empathy. The dramatic organisational restructuring of the modern corporate has little room for empathy and building connections. This needs to change if companies wish to retain their efficient employees.
The issue of mental health also needs to be addressed. Employee mental wellness is usually given priority when an organisation promotes a culture built on empathy. According to business solver's Empathy Study, 83 per cent of workers would leave their current position for one with a more sympathetic boss. Employees feel more accepted, comfortable, and pleased when an employer actively promotes empathy, which leads to greater outcomes and a more cohesive team. Given the extent to which mental health issues have become a common phenomenon, practicing empathy can help foster positivity and compassion. Empathy is a crucial element in healthy and non-judgemental communication and can help resolve mental issues greatly.
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