Empathy may not be the first characteristic associated with business success but creating a culture of empathy can help to drive productivity and profits. Remember, empathy is not sympathy. Many leaders do not understand the difference and therefore see being empathetic as a weakness versus a strong characteristic of leadership.
Here are seven ways the lack of thinking and communicating empathetically may be negatively affecting your profits.
Lack of employee engagement: Managers who supervise without empathy often contribute to a lack of employee engagement. According to Gallup Poll’s 2017 report, The State of the Workplace, 67 percent of employees worldwide are simply ‘not engaged’. This means employers are receiving low rates of return on their most expensive line item. In a world of high demands and limited resources, what company can afford this?
Reduced productivity: A study in Harvard Business Review found organizations that create an empathetic culture, outperform their draconian counterparts by 20 percent. When people feel they are not understood or undervalued, they tend to hold back. They do not give their hundred percent. When they feel cared for and appreciated, they are more inclined to go above and beyond.
Low morale: Studies show 58 percent of employees hate their job. Team building activities are not the panacea to low morale. Creating a work environment where people feel heard, understood, valued and purposeful is what creates loyalty to their organization.
High turnover: Studies have shown that a sense of purpose is more important to millennials than their paycheck. No longer can you treat your team members as simply ‘cogs in a wheel’. It is only through open communication and seeking to understand that you can effectively paint the big picture and show them where they fit. Otherwise, despite your investment in them, they will leave you because they are searching for more. Contrary to popular belief, only 12 percent of employees actually leave their job for more money, according to Leigh Branham, author of “The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave”.
Sluggish innovation: In organizations where people do not express themselves in important meetings because they feel unsupported or that no one is listening or cares, there is a void of creativity, innovation and genius.
Pathetic team: When people feel ignored on an individual level, they are less likely to be sensitive to the concerns of others, therefore team collaboration and cohesiveness is unlikely. It is impossible to build a strong company with weak teams.
Poor customer service: Companies who foster a culture of indifference among their employees fall victim to having their employees treat their customers the same way. As a customer, you can usually sense when employees are disgruntled. Conversely, service is amazing at companies where the employees love their job.
Stagnant business: Incorporating empathy as a part of the corporate culture plays a significant role in hearing your customers, putting yourself in their shoes and giving them what they want, the way they want it. This is how improvements are made, specialized services surface and innovation is born. Focusing on systems at the exclusion of people may be killing your bottom line.
• Kim Welcome is the chief executive officer and founder of Influential Voice. She assists businesses and professionals to develop deliberate, skillful, polished communication skills to increase their impact and influence. Her clients range from the country’s largest and most prestigious employers to public figures and individual professionals. Feel free to make contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.