The business climate of 2021 will long be known for what’s been dubbed “The Great Resignation.” With an average of 3.9 million workers quitting each month, it’s the highest average in recorded history. The issue has become so prevalent that 60 Minutes recently dedicated an entire segment to it in which experts, employers, and employees all discussed why this is happening.
Of course, many factors have led us here. However, the 60 Minutes segment, in addition to many research studies, points to a lack of perceived empathy and flexibility from leadership as a driving factor in resignations.
So just what does empathetic leadership look like? First of all, it goes far beyond simply fostering a friendly, upbeat, and “feel-good” environment. Effective empathetic leadership is about adopting a people-first culture that is based on respect, transparency, and trust. It’s about making it clear that you have your employees’ best interests in mind at all times. And it’s about making each employee understand that they are being heard by leadership and that they are considered to be a valued member of the team.
Empathetic leadership might be misconstrued by some as weakness on behalf of the employer, or that the company is giving too much up to meet the demands of employees. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth as an empathetic approach has been proven to provide far more business benefits than a “grind” culture that can lead to burnout and disenfranchisement.
For example, recent studies by BusinessSolver and Catalyst point to the following positive benefits of empathetic leadership:
- Retention: 82% of employees would leave their job for more empathetic work culture.
- Profitability: 87% of CEOs agree that their company’s financial performance is tied to empathy.
- Innovation:61% of people with highly empathic leaders report often or always being innovative at work compared to only 13% of people with less empathic senior leaders.
- Engagement: 76%of people with highly empathic leaders report often or always being engaged, compared to only 32% of people with less empathic leaders.
Clearly, a culture of empathetic leadership is not just the right thing to do…it makes good business sense. In the customer service industry, which faced high turnover rates long before The Great Resignation, it is especially critical as companies struggle to attract and retain talent.
Servicing Solutions helps companies navigate The Great Resignation by ensuring that we always have a pool of talented agents to meet their customer service needs. As I try to foster an empathetic management style, I work hard to stick to the following principles:
Listen & Ask Questions: Empathy can’t be a “check the box” activity or an entry on a spreadsheet. If you are disinterested in your employees, it will be apparent. To truly be authentic, listen to them and get to know them as individuals. Ask questions about how they’re feeling in their professional or personal lives. This type of engaged interaction will make employees feel safe and that they have real worth within the organization.
Be Open to Different Perspectives: To be an empathetic leader, you must recognize that there will be perspectives in the workplace that differ from yours. Recruiter.com estimates that only 17% of employees share similar thoughts. So an environment that fosters healthy communication and debate will improve morale. You don’t have to agree with all perspectives, but refusing to hear people out will lead to dissatisfaction and disengagement.
Show Your Team That You Appreciate Them. Employee recognition is an integral part of a positive company culture that supports retention. Employees want to feel appreciated, and this doesn’t mean that even small yet personalized acts of kindness can go a long way. Whether it’s a small gift card recognizing a job well done, celebrating people’s birthdays or work anniversaries, or a celebratory company-wide outing, showing that you are recognizing their hard work will have significant impacts on morale.
Support Their Career Growth: Many of our employees start in an entry-level job and gain the knowledge and experience to move into higher-level positions. These promotion opportunities let our staff align their goals with our company, motivate them to reach the next level, and reduce attrition. Together, we set measurable goals and review them periodically. This feedback process allows us to check progress and keeps our staff invested in achieving their goals.
Reward Good Behavior: Positive affirmation lets our employees know what they should do more of. Instead of bringing attention to the bad, we focus on highlighting what we’d like to see out of employees. By fostering a culture of positive reinforcement, we keep morale positive and increase retention.
Struggling to keep services levels up during The Great Resignation? We can help. Drop us a line at email@example.com