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Empathy is Essential: 5 Tips to Build a More Empathetic Workplace

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

There are several factors to consider when building a team and advancing as a leader – personality dynamics come into play, practicing patience, and getting to know the team are all critical factors. However, more and more employees are seeking out something deeper, they crave empathy and an environment where management not only recognizes them but can also put themselves in the shoes of the employee.

The COVID pandemic tested people and shined the light on the value of humility. The nature of work was even flipped upside down for some with roles reduced, eliminated, or drastically altered. In the face of change people need a sense of security and stability. And that is an important role that leaders can play – offering an environment of belonging and acceptance that emphasizes an understanding of where employees are coming from and what they need.

According to a recent industry study, a staggering 52% of employees currently believe their company’s efforts to be empathetic toward employees are dishonest- and this is up from 46% in 2021.[i] The study continues saying that one of the main contributors to this decline is a persistent lack of follow-through at the leadership level. Not only is it critical for leaders to follow through with promises but it is also imperative that they build a culture that embraces empathy and compassion so that practices are engrained in the company culture.

How to build empathy in the workplace?

1. Check-In Regularly

The day-to-day workplace can get busy—deadlines, meetings, and persistent changes can get in the way. Even in the face of these pressures it’s important to check-in regularly, outside of the daily routine. This can be a quick chat in the break room, an impromptu phone call or a brief walk and chat – whatever it is it should be meant to get to know the employee beyond their role and at a human level.

2. Practice Empowerment

Employees often feel dismissed or undervalued when they are blindsided by changes or new decisions that they were not a part of. To mitigate the ramifications of such events it is important to get employees involved in the decision-making process (to the degree possible) and allow them to air their thoughts and voices. This will allow for greater connectivity and ongoing communications in the long-run.

3. Realize Employees are Not One-Size-Fits-All…

Every single employee is unique and different, and it is important to recognize these differences and work to build personalized approaches and plans to the employees. One example of this is allowing employees to design their own goals and shape their overall path to success. Employees will also be more satisfied and fulfilled in their role by feeling that they played a part in defining their own success.

4. … And Show Interest in What Motivates Them

It is one thing to embrace the unique needs of employees, it’s another to fully engage with their interests and continuously track how they are progressing. When employees feel that they are noticed and appreciated for their distinctive skills, the workplace will benefit.

5. Share Openly and Encourage Sharing

The approach to building an empathetic environment should not be one-sided. Leaders can also benefit from sharing their experiences, thoughts, and perspectives with employees. By doing this, leaders are essentially ‘practicing what they preach’ and showing that personal needs are valued at every level of the organization.

The bottom line is that empathy in the workplace must start at the top, and by cultivating an environment built on empathy everyone will benefit.

Where We Come In

At empatiX, empathy is literally in our name. We pride ourselves on being a truly empathetic environment and we help to guide other business leaders to create human-centric approaches to leadership.

Need help building empathy in your organization? We would love to chat! Reach out to us at

[i] “Employees Now Expect Empathy in the Workplace, But Half Aren’t Getting It.” Forbes. May 25, 2023

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