Welcome to the strangest Christmas ever. We have hunkered down, and feel battered by COVID-19, a free-falling economy, and polarized politics.
With all that’s going on, how do we wish our coworkers and employees a Merry Christmas in a way that means something? What about giving them something they need, that shoots straight to their hearts? What if we gift them empathy for what they have been and are going through?
The SWAT Team
The SWAT team pulled up to the building on Wabash Avenue. Armed with a “no-knock” warrant, they stormed through the door unannounced, dressed in black from head to toe.
So begins chapter 1 of The Outward Mindset (The Arbinger Institute).
As the team takes down two suspects; others cower, and infants scream at the top of their lungs. One SWAT team member rifles through kitchen cabinets, searching for white powder.
When he finds and mixes the Similac, then pours the formula into baby bottles that he distributes to crying babies.
In the calm that this team member creates, his SWAT Squad leader explains what happens next.
The Magic Ingredient
Empathy, the magic ingredient that changes how the workplace feels. Managers and coworkers possessing empathy relate to others’ emotions and experiences and offer caring, understanding and compassion.
Do We Have This?
Do we have enough empathy in today’s workplace?
No. Although over 60 percent of CEOs describe their businesses as empathetic, only 24 percent of their employees agree.
A manager who gives a darn
“I want a manager who gives a darn,” the woman caller said. “I feel like I’m losing my mind, between kids and work. I worked all night and got the report in on time. Then my manager emailed me, chastising me for not paginating the five-page report.”
Does The Lack of Empathy Matter?
It does–if you accept that people make all the difference in the workplace—to each other, to customers, and to productivity.
Employees want empathy. According to Businesssolver’s 2020 State of Workplace Empathy Study, 83 percent of Gen Z employees and 75 percent of employees of other generations would choose an employer with a strong culture of empathy over an employer offering a higher salary. 83 percent would consider leaving their current organization for a similar role at a more empathetic organization.
Businesssolver’s 2019 State of Workplace Empathy Study: the competitive edge leaders are missing reports that 90 percent of all employees stated that workplace empathy is important to them. Eight in ten of those surveyed state that they would willingly leave a non-empathetic employer for one who shows empathy.
Businessolver’s 2017 Workplace Empathy Monitor report documents that empathy directly impacts employee engagement, productivity, and loyalty. According to the survey, 77% of employees would willingly work morehours if given a more empathetic employer.
What Does It Take?
Empathy requires that you truly listen to your employees and coworkers and hear their concerns. You don’t need to be best friends with your employees and coworkers. You do need to talk with and not them.
Mentally and emotionally “walk in their shoes” so you can offer genuine understanding and compassion. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Empathy means accepting and respecting others, not judging them. The “needy” coworker may genuinely be needy. When you hear, “I’m tired,” don’t respond with “You’re tired. Well, we’re all tired.”
Realize It’s Not All About You
If you want to show empathy, put others first. As G.K. Chesterton says, “How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it.”
If you’re a manager, develop your empathy muscle—in yourself and in your organization.. Allow your employees to bring their whole self to work. Factor into your expectations that employees with children may need to step away suddenly from meetings.
You can’t afford an empathy deficit. Take team-building exercises and diversity seriously—they work. Different perspectives, backgrounds, ages, sexes and races build powerful teams and organizations.
Make yourself available. Call each employee and ask how he/she is doing. Remote work removes the in-person interactions of a traditional workplace. Without regular coworker interactions, managers have become an employee’s first line of defense when struggling with work stress. Be aware when one of your employees reaches their breaking point.
If you’re like your employees and coworkers to rejoice this holiday season, remember that many walk a tightrope balancing personal and work responsibilities and gift them empathy.
If you enjoyed this post, please look for part 1 “communication & connection”https://workplacecoachblog.com/2020/12/what-employees-really-want-for-christmas/ (12/21); part 2 “flexibility”https://workplacecoachblog.com/2020/12/flexibility-what-employees-want-need-for-christmas-2020-part-2/ (12/22); part 4 “recognition & gratitude”https://workplacecoachblog.com/2020/12/a-christmas-new-years-surprise/ (12/28), “leadership & the way forward” (12/30) and “professional development” (12/31/20). And, as always, I love receiving your comments and your questions in https://workplacecoachblog.com/ask-a-coach/.
© 2020, Lynne Curry
Lynne Curry, Ph.D., SPHR, is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016, https://amzn.to/30V5JO6) and “Solutions”, https://amzn.to/2GYlnAN (both books are rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com). Send your questions to her at https://workplacecoachblog.com/ask-a-coach/ or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10. www.workplacecoachblog.com.
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