4 Systematic Strategies to Foster Empathetic Management
Written by HRCap, Inc.
March 24, 2022
With the increasing stress and digital burnout, many employees are quitting their jobs to look for a better work-life balance, while others look for companies they believe care about their well-being. According to a Gallup survey of what employees look for most in an employer, employees of all generations ranked "the organization cares about employees' well-being" in their top three standards.
Some companies have addressed this by raising salaries or expanding promotions to drive a greater sense of ownership, but that is a short-term solution that will not last. Then what is the answer?
At HRCap, we believe to increase retention is through fostering empathetic management. Although this does not sound like an impactful solution, a study done by Catalyst found empathy to have significant results in the workplace. When people reported their leaders were empathetic, there were five positive effects in the following categories:
It is clear that empathetic leadership makes a significant difference in the workplace and should be a quality that companies must adopt and foster.
Does this mean that companies should fire all their non-empathetic managers and only hire empathetic managers? Fortunately, that is not the case; instead, organizations can create a culture of compassionate leadership by designing systems and processes that best encourage empathy.
4 Systematic Strategies for Empathetic Management
1. Normalizing Regular Check-ins
Many organizations hold monthly, quarterly, or yearly reviews to discuss and review business performance, but they often fail to create the time and space to regularly check in with employees to gauge their satisfaction and concerns. Employees who do not voice their concerns may feel more stressed and feel that their leaders do not support them.
Opening a safe space and creating a cadenced structure may allow employees to connect with their managers and build a greater sense of trust. Managers can better understand how their teams think and feel, thereby building stronger muscles for sympathy and empathy required to best guide and manage them.
2. Creating a Recognition System
Recognition is truly effective and powerful. It allows employees to feel appreciated, build confidence, and hold a sense of belonging in the workplace. A survey by SHRM and Globoforce discovered that more than one-half (68%) said their recognition programs positively affect retention. Many organizations have successfully designed a recognition system that identifies and awards high-performing employees and teams. Some companies create personalized trophies or plaques for workers that have reached a milestone in their career, while others give out additional PTO days and bonuses.
Most importantly, organizations should not only reward high performance but also recognize the commitment to learning & development, collaboration & teamwork, and work ethics & longevity.
3. Providing Better Benefits
Along with a recognition system, the benefits package is also increasingly important. Beyond the standard performance bonuses, health plans, disability insurance, PTO, retirement plans, many companies are also investing in wellness programs, referral programs, professional development, and tuition reimbursement. Understandably, there will always be internal equity and budget constraints, and many organizations may not have the budget or means to provide competitive benefits.
However, organizations can show that they still honestly care about the well-being of their employees by responding to their needs and improving the benefits programs. There are low-cost benefits that companies can consider providing, such as a flexible schedule, free snacks, a casual dress code, and paid time off to learn and volunteer.
4. Encouraging Hangout / Networking Opportunities
By providing the time and space for employees and leaders to get together, leaders can spend more intentional time outside the office to get to know their employees. These opportunities will help leaders connect with employees on a personal level and raise the overall morale of the group. Creating rapport with employees will allow leaders to be more personally vested in their professional growth.
HRCap's Key Takeaways
Having built-in systems is a good starting point to foster empathy in the organization. Leaders can use the four strategies above as platforms to develop connections and demonstrate empathy. Doing so will naturally create a culture of appreciation, engagement, and collaboration that will help better attract and retain top talent.
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