2020 was a year like no other and employees believe their organizations should show more empathy. What exactly constitutes empathy and how can you, as a leader or hiring manager, use it retain existing talent and recruit new talent? The 2020 Workplace Empathy Monitor from BusinessSolver contains a few clues.
The Empathy Deficit
The study encompasses the opinions of over 1,110 employees, 150 CEOs and 100 HR professionals who work in a variety of industries. The goal of the research, now in its fifth year, aims to identify the causes of disengagement. Specifically, the research focuses on empathy as a driver of engagement.
Employees want to work for empathetic organizations, but fewer than half of workers say businesses overall have that quality. However, 68% of workers say their company is empathetic. The same number of CEOs say the same. While those are positive numbers, there is room for improvement. Keep in mind that our survey data shows that 38% of sales reps who leave an organization voluntarily do so because they believe the company doesn't care about them.
An empathetic organization can win the respect and loyalty of its employees. The BusinessSolver research finds that over 95% of all workers will stay with an empathetic employer. And, the empathy factor looms large for Gen Z. Over 79% of these young workers will switch jobs, industry and even career paths to be part of an empathetic organization.
Organizations Should Show More Empathy
So, what constitutes empathy in the eyes of an employee? For starters, employees are looking for "value-based benefits." These benefits extend beyond traditional health insurance and PTO. Employees want flexible work hours and location, especially since they've grown accustomed to that practice during the pandemic. And speaking of the pandemic, employees also want to see support for mental or physical health issues they are struggling with.
Volunteerism is another component of "value-based benefits." Only 20% of organizations currently allow for a paid day-of-service. Nearly 80% of employees noted that an empathetic employer is one that allows for this effort. An the research shows that more men than women strongly support the idea.
Let’s face it. Empathy doesn’t come naturally to many people. CEOs in particular may find it difficult to show empathy when they are driven to keep the company growing. Only 50% of CEOs believe that "empathy drives productivity and engagement." But far more, over 80%, get the connection between empathy and financial performance.
To keep employees happy, CEOs and HR pros would do well to remember that charity and empathy begin at home. They may want to focus on programs that directly and personally benefit employees before they reach out to the wider world with their social responsibility efforts. And they should regularly touch base with employees to find out which benefits are highly valued.