Empathy is on a steep decline and the repercussions are quite dramatic. If empathy in the workplace was to be cultivated, many problems that hinder productivity would be eliminated.
Work dynamics would improve greatly because people would be chipping in instead of being overly competitive and destructive. The basics of productivity entail trying to ingrain empathy within your team; however, this is not a simple task. Everyone should be on board, but how can that be accomplished?
Here are some ideas to help create empathy in the workplace:
- Change your practices
When you are trying to implement a change within your team, it is important to note that every new development starts with you. In most cases, employees do what you are doing and not what you’re saying.
Instead of just preaching empathy in the workplace, invest in showing it yourself. One way of doing this is changing how you do things and start challenging some of the biases you may be fostering.
You might have some prejudices that are hindering showing empathy for your fellow workers. You cannot empathize with other people if you’re prejudicial about their skin color, appearance, gender, qualifications or age. You need to let go of these ideas.
Identifying your prejudices within the team is an important step to building an empathetic workplace.
- Invest in team-building
Many companies have neglected the importance of team-building exercises. These exercises will help channel the minds of the entire team. People will start viewing other employees as a team instead of just colleagues which deepens their human connection and improves empathy.
As employees work hand-in-hand to solve problems or get through an obstacle course, each team member will look for ways to help each other. This sparks long-lasting empathy which will carry over to the office.
There are many different team-building exercises that can improve empathy among employees. When choosing one that is most relevant to the team – involve them in this decision. Remember to build a team spirit among all employees to get them on board with making the workplace more empathetic.
- Be open and approachable
When you are open and approachable, your employees or team members will be more likely to come to you for help. Your helping hand signals empathy and when others see this, they will also be tempted to try it. This creates a domino effect that can be widespread within the company. It starts with you – you’re the ambassador for empathy.
Do not let your job title or status in the company hinder you. If there is a new member on your team, take the initiative to go to them yourself. Show them around, ask them if they need any help. This will go a long way to help the employee feel they are part of the team and realize that everyone is there to support each other.
As a result, the entire team will be a much more empathetic place, which boosts productivity. Do not wait for other employees to help welcome a new member – instead take the initiative yourself.
- Do not foster an overly competitive spirit
Some healthy competition is great for boosting team morale and productivity; however, when it gets toxic, that is when the real problem starts. Toxic competition involves being greedy or envious of every opportunity that comes along instead of trying to help others attain it. Also, when someone loses, not having good sportsmanship can diminish the spirit of empathy.
Try to identify overly competitive behavior and root it out at the beginning before it grows into a larger problem.
Team-building exercises can help with this. Look for activities that build an empathetic spirit and try to avoid being overly competitive yourself. Let your team members see that you try to help everyone in the workplace, which is a great manifestation of empathy.
The bottom line
Empathy is an important aspect of a productive team. Much more can be accomplished as a team rather than individually. By supporting each other and showing empathy, targets can be reached more easily. Also, everyone goes home happy and satisfied! You can try various techniques to ingrain this characteristic in your team, but the most important thing to do is practice what you preach.