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Three In Four Employees Think the Workplace Lacks Empathy

Do you think your employer is empathetic to your needs, and concerns? An insightful new survey finds employers think they're empathetic, but employees think their employers need a little work in the empathy department. Oh, no -- we have a workplace empathy gap on Aisle 9!

Businessolver, a leader in "cloud-based benefits administration technology," has released its first-annual Workplace Empathy Monitor, which polled 1,000 CEOs, HR professionals and employees for their thoughts on workplace empathy -- or the lack thereof, ahem.

In sum, let's just say there's a difference of opinion among employers and employees regarding empathy at work.

But how is "empathy" defined? We'll need a working definition to know what we're working with here. Google defines empathy as "the ability to understand and share the feelings of another." In this case, understanding and sharing the feelings of a fellow co-worker. A few, key empathetic behaviors at work as defined by the Businessolver survey include treating people with dignity and respect, listening to needs and feedback, striving for ethical business practices, and simply caring about everyone's mental and physical health.

The good news? Employers and employees surveyed largely agree these qualities are important in the workplace. The bad news? More than half (60%) of CEOs think their company is empathetic, but only one-in-four employees feels the same way.

Meanwhile, another new survey reveals nearly one-third (32%) of employees who had a family member diagnosed with cancer didn't feel like their employers were supportive.

How can we improve our EQ skills? Luckily, creating a more-empathetic workplace isn't very hard; it simply requires us to be a little bit more human in our reactions at work. More than three-fourths (76%) of employers and employees Businessolver surveyed agree that "verbally acknowledging" that you are listening to a co-worker is one way to signal empathy when communicating with colleagues. Ditto for "showing emotion" (70%), asking questions (62%), and "making appropriate physical contact" (62%). Hug it out, peeps.

This workplace blog is dedicated to covering the seemingly silly, little things that bug us at work every day. Whether it's the co-worker who always talks over us in meetings or the co-worker who never puts the toilet seat back down, it's the little things that can add up to make a workplace intolerable over time.

Empathy is a huge factor in making the modern workplace work, and an empathetic workplace culture is role modeled first and foremost by management. Message: I care. Watch this cool tutorial to learn how to be more empathetic at work in three, easy steps.


A little bit of empathy goes a long way with the average employee, too: nearly half of employees surveyed would be willing to work longer hours for an employer they consider to be empathetic, and one in five employees would switch companies for less pay if the other employer were more empathetic.

Studies are finding that our sense of self-involvement and narcissism has increased in recent years, thanks in large part to social media use. It's gotten far too easy to look inward instead of outward as we formulate our next status update. So we have to work harder at our in-person connections than ever before in the history of the workplace. Practice makes perfect. Or at least, passable.

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