Despite efforts to improve employee engagement, workplaces in the United States are lacking in empathy, a quality that has become increasingly valued, according to West Des Moines-based Businessolver.
The intangibility of empathy, which Businessolver calls “challenging to exhibit,” can account for some of the roadblocks hindering its adoption. While practicing compassion can increase employee retention and productivity, the company’s study revealed that refraining from empathy can have the opposite effect, particularly on millennial workers. Eighty percent of millennials indicated that they would strive to change jobs if their employers became “less empathetic,” compared to 66 percent of the baby boomers.
The study canvassed almost 2,000 U.S. workers employees, human resources professionals and executives.
The firm’s 2017 Workplace Empathy Monitor, pioneering a first in its approach to quantifying empathy in the workplace, determined that a majority of workers would labor longer hours (77 percent), stay longer at the same company and accept a lower salary (60 percent) if their employer were empathetic.
“Empathy is a guiding principle for Businessolver,” Jon Shanahan, Businessolver CEO and president, said in an announcement.“We’re committed to continuing the conversation about why it’s critical in the workplace, and uncovering solutions that can help organizations make it a part of their culture.”
Empathy in the workplace is difficult to demonstrate, especially among executives, who said their instinct is to consider it a weakness rather than a strength, according to the announcement. Entrepreneurs and managers can cultivate an empathetic ethos through recruitment strategy, ongoing education, and expectations and rewards.
“The Workplace Empathy Monitor (helps) to unlock the potential of today’s workforce,” Shanahan said. “But knowing is not enough. It’s up to all of us to put effective solutions into action to create a more engaging, productive, empathetic workplace."