Three Actionable Ways to Foster a Culture of Empathy in the Workplace

A growing number of organizations—small and big—are recognizing the benefits of embracing a culture of empathy in the workplace. Empathy reduces stress, improves mood, promotes self-esteem, helps develop trust and comfort, and unlocks creativity. In most cases though, leaders are the ones carrying the torch of cultural transformation through empathy. But can they do it alone? Leaders need help from every department and every level to initiate a paradigm shift in organizational behavior. We propose three actionable measures:

1. Self-identified mentorship programs: Humans instinctively know who they enjoy spending time with. A good mentorship program should be designed on the basis of allowing employees to select their mentors/mentees themselves.

2. Zero-assumption culture: It sounds rather fancy, but in truth assumptions hold people back from listening fully to others and responding with clarity and compassion. Any organization striving to build a culture of empathy should, at the very least, encourage its employees to eschew assumptions, ask questions, and act with impartiality and integrity.

3. Patience-building exercises: A culture of impatience is detrimental to teamwork and it certainly doesn’t help with developing empathy. Misplaced priorities, failure to distinguish what is important from what is inconsequential, not knowing when to say no, reluctance to delegate tasks, and insistence on being a perfectionist are some of the rudimentary reasons people grow impatient with themselves, their bosses, and their companies. It is critical for organizations to identify the root causes and take proactive measures to mitigate them.

Care to let us know your thoughts? It never hurts to add a dash of empathy to conversations!

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