Empathy at Work

By  0 Comments

I recently went back to work after three wonderful months with my newborn baby. If you have children, you probably know how difficult it is to be separated from your baby for the first time. I love my students, coworkers, the community that I work in, and I’m fortunate to teach in the same district as my brother and sister.

Despite how much I love my job, dropping my baby off at daycare for the first time was not an easy task. On my first day back, I walked into the building hiding my tears and desperately trying not to think about my daughter. As I approached my classroom, I saw welcome back signs taped on the outside of my door, kind messages written all over my white board from my students and thoughtful gifts on my desk from my coworkers. My principal even brought my entire first block class donuts to help welcome me back. These small acts of kindness gave me the courage to face the day. My coworkers continue to help cover my classes so I can breast pump, surprise me with much needed coffee, and ask about my baby and my transition back to work. I am extremely proud and grateful to work in a school that not only teaches the importance of kindness and empathy, but also genuinely models these values for our students.

According to a four-year study by Business Solver on empathy in the workplace, empathy is critical for everyone, not just new moms. Empathetic leadership and empathetic coworkers have become a vital component to create a thriving company with a culture of kind, hardworking and loyal employees. Their research shows that more employees are seeking companies that offer flexible hours, wellness programs, family benefits and mental health support. Employees also want to feel valued and have a personal connection to their boss, and in return, they are more likely to work harder and put in more hours. The study goes on to say that companies that do not respond to the needs of their employees are missing opportunities to grow their businesses.

CEOs, principals, managers and anyone in a position of leadership are responsible for setting the tone at work. In their study, Business Solver found that 92 percent of CEOs believe their company to be empathetic, while only 72 percent of employees think that their boss is empathetic. This disparity is a clear indication that more employers need to re-examine their leadership practices.
Matt Taranto, managing member of a busy medspa, creates a positive atmosphere filled with laughter and energy by treating his employees how he would want to be treated. To build empathy in his workplace, his philosophy is “employees first.” He believes that his staff’s enthusiasm for their job will create a fun environment that will appeal to more customers. “Clients can sense the atmosphere of a company; people like to do business with experts and with people who love what they do,” Taranto explained. To make sure his employees feel appreciated, motivated and heard, he has staff meetings every other week so that everyone has the chance to voice any concerns that need to be addressed. He also pays close attention to what companies in his industry pay their employees, so that he can offer a better salary. His company pays 75 percent of benefits, offers a 401K match, advanced training, a yearly company trip and monthly bonuses. The company’s management sets monthly goals to motivate staff to increase competition and growth; if they meet their goals, employees receive rotating benefits such as a car detail, a maid service, cash or a fun night out. Taranto understands that family is the most important thing to his employees, so he provides flexible schedules, generous maternity leave and liberal vacation time. “I want my employees to feel truly blessed to work here,” he said.

Due to the currently low unemployment rate, employees can have higher standards for their place of work. Employees should advocate for themselves, ask more questions and start a dialogue with their boss to help take the right steps toward establishing an empathic work environment. More companies can learn from the motto of “employees first” by listening to the needs of their staff and following the golden rule.

Employers are not the only ones responsible for the atmosphere at work. You can take part in this empathy initiative by showing genuine interest in the people you work with, lending a helping hand when it is not expected and by showing your coworkers and boss the same empathy and kindness that you hope to receive. I will never forget the kindness shown to me on my first day back to work, and the empathy of my coworkers continues to inspire me to pay it forward. ■

Sources: blog.buisnesssolver.com.