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Why You Need Empathy In The Workplace

by | Sep 27, 2022

According to Trello, a recent survey conducted for the 2018 State of Workplace Empathy reported that 96% of respondents rated empathy as an important quality for companies to demonstrate. Sadly, 92% of employees believe that empathy remains undervalued at their company—a number which has increased from results in prior years.

Motivational speaker, Delores Pressley, describes empathy this way:

“. . . Empathy is the ability to step into someone else’s shoes, be aware of their feelings and understand their needs . . . . In the workplace, empathy can show a deep respect for co-workers and show that you care, as opposed to just going by rules and regulations.”

2 Reasons Understanding the Needs of Others Is So Important in the Workplace

Empathy is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. Simply put, emotional intelligence is an individual’s ability to identify and manage their emotions appropriately.

Commonly referred to as EQ, emotional intelligence in a professional capacity is now arguably as important as technical skill (IQ) for success in the workplace. Why? The success of any organization in today’s digitally connected world requires a group—or team—effort in which culture, emotion, and behavior are proving to be the key to engagement, longevity, and success in the workplace (Trello).

Here are two important reasons to nurture a culture of empathy in the workplace:

1. Employee Happiness & Retention

Information found on Forbes indicates that 87% of CEOs see a direct link between workplace empathy and performance, productivity, retention and general health.

Furthermore, 87% of CEOs maintain that a company’s financial performance is directly tied to empathy in the workplace. Employees in all demographics corroborate this statistic, saying that empathy motivates workers and increases productivity.

Empathy also affects retention.  In fact, 90% of employees are more likely to stay with an organization that empathizes with their needs. Interestingly, over 2/3 of employees in tech, healthcare, and financial services said they’d be willing to make pay trade-offs if it meant working for a more empathetic employer.

Employees and their leaders work better together when proper relationships are built and deepened. And when this occurs through empathy, trust is built. Teams that trust each other are more equipped to handle the challenges ahead of them.

Empathy in the workplace also allows employees to feel safe from failure, knowing they won’t simply be blamed for them. It helps leaders to understand the reasons behind poor performance and help struggling employees improve and excel.

Every organization deals with failures, poor performance, and employees who truly want to succeed—which means every organization can benefit from empathy. When workers are dealt with empathetically, they help build a stronger, more profitable business.

2. Customer Satisfaction & Loyalty

One of the major differences between bad customer experiences and good customer experiences is the presence of empathy.

Business owners who understand empathy in the workplace and the role it plays in the customer experience will ensure that their associates take the time to listen to and communicate with customers so they know they’ve been heard and understood.

Successful business owners are those that make an effort to apply the insights they get from their customers to improve all aspects of their organization—from product development to customer service.

As Forbes points out, “Empathy improves the quality of customer service because it establishes a connection or bond between the customer and the employee.” When a business ensures that the customer’s interaction with their company is smooth, pleasant and always improving, they can’t help but drive brand loyalty. And that’s crucial because as Forbes suggests, it’s much less work to keep a customer than to obtain a new one.

In addition to driving brand loyalty, great customer experiences also drive more sales. In fact, customer transaction research published in the Harvard Business Review revealed that among the thousands of customers surveyed, customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.


“Empathy in business communication can often be lost in the process of getting the job done,” says Small Business Chron. “However, you can gain employee and client trust by incorporating empathetic values into your day-to-day business communications.”

By incorporating empathetic values, business owners demonstrate that they are considering not just business objectives but the needs and desires of both employees and customers. This, in turn, will build trust, drive brand loyalty and drive sales that lead to long-term success.

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