In this article we examine the increased importance placed on company leaders demonstrating empathy, as well as some of the benefits that come from these behavioural traits and leadership styles.
Any leader worth their salt knows that listening to your employees is an invaluable exercise. “We’ve got 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason” is that rarest of beasts, an oft repeated cliché worthy of its levels of over usage. However, just listening isn’t enough. You need to understand, recognise, appreciate, or in other words, empathise. Whilst this is hardly a novel concept, it is more and more becoming something that is expected, or even demanded, by today’s employees. 58% of employees surveyed by Facebook stated that they would consider leaving their job if company leaders didn’t show empathy to staff needs.
So why is it important to show empathy? Taking aside the obvious humanitarian factors around trying to be nice to your fellow colleagues, empathetic leadership makes strategic business sense for a number of reasons.
Research has shown that the average cost of replacing an employee can cost more than their total annual salary once you take into account recruitment costs, training costs, hiring time and the inevitable loss of productivity.
When you consider that 92% of employees said that they would be more likely to stay with their job if their bosses would show more empathy, it’s not difficult to connect the dots to the bottom line. By staying better connected with your employees, you are able to keep them motivated by showing you are a considerate manager, as well as finding out about any potential personnel issues before they become critical.
‘Empathy. Noun. The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.’
For too long the opinions and ideas of those working on the front lines haven’t been listened to. Whether that’s down to arrogance, ignorance, snobbery or just plain laziness is open to debate. However the important news is that the tide does appear to be turning.
Organisations across the world are realising that they often have an untapped resource full of insight and knowledge sitting on their doorstep. As is often the case, the fact that technology has made the process of gathering this information simpler has accelerated the change somewhat. Rather than have to outsource to costly survey providers, companies can utilise their existing internal comms tools such as Microsoft Teams to quickly and easily ask the questions they want to ask, and then give employees a simple mechanism to reply.
This is very much a win-win, as the company is discovering valuable insights essentially for free, and the employees get to have their voices heard and feel a better sense of inclusion and value.
Maintaining company culture
Defined company values and culture have moved from being a fringe idea advocated by a few forward thinking organisations, to a business critical part of both HR and corporate strategy.
The benefits of a positive, explicit and consistent company culture are numerous, ranging from improved recruitment and retention, to higher levels of employee wellbeing, and even increased brand reputation.
77% of workers say that empathetic and authentic leadership is now the foundation of good company culture. At customer support firm Moneypenny, their corporate events and traditions are the heartbeat of company culture. They used bots on Workplace from Facebook to run their annual Christmas ‘Promise Auction’ and ‘Toy Drive’. By sending out proactive broadcasts through their primary internal communication tool, Moneypenny were able to achieve a 98.5% engagement rate with these cultural initiatives. Having these initiatives promoted by company leadership helps to reinforce the importance of these activities while also encouraging engagement and participation from staff.
Displaying empathy in a corporate environment is not without its challenges at the best of times, but in today’s remote and constantly evolving workplace it can be particularly difficult. However it is clear that the benefits can be both varied and numerous.
By utilising internal communication tools like Microsoft Teams and Workplace from Facebook, leadership teams can better connect and collaborate with their workforce. Using technology solutions like The Bot Platform it’s then easier than ever to build bespoke work apps that help with leadership Q&As, workforce research and insight gathering – all of which help with the creation and promotion of empathetic leadership teams.
If you’d like to learn more about how bots and digital assistants on Microsoft Teams and Workplace from Facebook can help you build a better employee experience, then please click here.