Empathy is often viewed as a form of compassion or something that makes individuals feel good about themselves rather than a means of making policies. After two years of struggling against employee burnout caused by the pandemic, empathy is becoming increasingly important in corporate culture. The fuzziness of home and work life has been one of the major challenges, leading to a rise in loneliness and depression. Startups, predominantly owned and run by young people, are demanded to be the leading example of companies that humanize their employees. So, how can empathetic culture drive startup development?
Why Empathetic Culture?
COVID-19 has tested everyone’s endurance. Businesses are losing talent in vast numbers either due to layoff or voluntary resignation. Many employees are emotionally and physically weary, resulting in workplace burnout, a WHO-defined syndrome defined as continuous job stress that has not been effectively handled. According to the Harvard Business Review, the duty to address burnout has been passed from the individuals to the corporation. Lack of boundaries, increased financial stress, and concerns about job security have all contributed to a drop in mental health and anxiety. In a global survey conducted by Qualtrics, two-fifths of respondents (41.6%) claimed their mental health has deteriorated since the onset of COVID-19, while 57.2% indicated increased woe.
Increase Employee Engagement
Do you know that empathetic leaders tend to have positive impacts for employees in terms of engagement? This is why the empathetic culture needs to be implemented top down. According to recent research by Catalyst, 61% of respondents with highly empathetic senior leaders report being inventive at work either frequently or always, compared to those with less empathetic ones. Meanwhile, 76% of those who work with highly empathetic senior leaders say they are engaged, unlike 32% of people who work with less empathetic bosses. These findings have underlined that empathy can be a key strategy for responding to crises, development, and a crucial factor for creating inclusive places of work in which everyone can connect, contribute, and succeed, not merely as a business strategy.
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If you’re looking to embrace empathy in your startup culture, here’s how to do it right:
Have the Right Mindset
The first step in implementing a culture of empathy in your startup starts with the right mindset. This means that everyone should be on the same boat when it comes to realizing the importance of having an empathetic culture. As a leader, you can clarify some common misunderstandings about empathy, such as empathetic culture being only a gimmick. Clearly show that you are committed to empathy through your actions as a leader. If employees see you actualizing a culture of sympathy, they will come to the right mindset on how important this is.
Utilize Data to Track Progresses
Now that digitalization is inseparable from business operation, why not use it to enhance empathetic culture at your startup? You can track employees’ progresses and bottlenecks using a series of data-driven metrics. Data is essential for empathy since it allows you to identify any empathy gaps and potentials. The implementation of empathy may be broken down into smaller pieces: empowerment, value, belonging, reassurance, honesty, cooperation, and ethics. Doing this can make arranging metrics easier. If you are distributing an employee survey, make sure it includes clear questions regarding empathy and this is to be done regularly instead of semiannually or annually.
Keep it Simple but Significant
Empathy is not always about large movements; but rather a series of small-scale compassion and understanding approaches or low-cost, high-impact activities. For example, if you are financially earning more than your employees, you can casually buy them a few pans of pizza when the monthly salary payment is still far ahead. This small gesture shows an empathy that those who earn more actually care about those who earn less without looking too intimidating, thanks to the magic of food. Aside from activities that involve money, caring is a form of empathy as well. Making a unique greeting card for employees during their birthdays and sending it to the teamwork group so others can say congratulations can be one of the simplest, no cost gestures.
Caring for the people in your startup should be a priority. Mental health, stress, and burnout are collective responsibilities for the company to deal with, thus empathetic culture is about caring and making it actionable for everyone. Failure to use empathy results in less creativity, lesser engagement, and lower loyalty, which can be the start of a downfall. After all, business development can be easier to achieve when the people in it are happily engaged.
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