In 2018, 55% of Americans reported that they felt more stressed and emotionally tense in life then they had in the previous years. It’s safe to say that societal tension has only continued to increase in America, which makes empathy in the spaces we spend the majority of our lives working vital and relevant. In fact, over 90% of empathetic and compassionate employers drive retention in 2020.

How does Wishlist define empathy?

It’s simple. Empathy is making what is important to your employees, important to you.

Whether that be through causes and ideals they are passionate about or supporting them through personal and professional goals, employees desire employers who care about their physical, vocational, mental, and family wellness.

Wishlist developed 4 tips to help you drive retention and improve your employee experience through the power of empathy.

Tip #1 – Slow Down

Most of us are always on the grind. We are moving from one meeting or conference call to the next, all while trying to balance different projects. This fast-paced, self-preserving lifestyle makes little room for connection, which is vital for developing empathetic relationships. Slowing down allows you to harness the power of emotion to your advantage.  You become more aware of your own feelings, as well as the feelings circling your office. By taking time each day to truly check-in with yourself and your employees, you will cultivate an empathetic culture within your organization.

Tip #2 – Listen to Understand

Research suggests that we only retain 25-50% of what another person is saying to us. This means if you are having a 15-minute conversation with one of your employees or colleagues, you probably only heard half of what they really said. The next step to initiate empathy in your office is by listening to understand. Rather than listening for the purpose of responding, listen for the purpose of retaining. This will show your team that you are engaged with their roadblocks and triumphs.

Tip #3 – Understand Your Own Emotions

Empathy requires emotional intelligence. If we do not understand what we feel, how can we possibly empathize with others? Begin growing your emotional vocabulary by considering the intensity of what you feel, and then write out words that describe your current emotional state. Commit to learning how to empathize with yourself, and you will grow the ability to empathize with others.

Tip #3 – Understand Your Own Emotions

Empathy requires emotional intelligence. If we do not understand what we feel, how can we possibly empathize with others? Begin growing your emotional vocabulary by considering the intensity of what you feel, and then write out words that describe your current emotional state. Commit to learning how to empathize with yourself, and you will grow the ability to empathize with others.

Tip #4 – Test It Out

The only way to truly know if you have grown your ability to empathize is by trusting your instincts! Next time you are in the office, try and pick up on the emotional cues of others. See if you notice when one of your employees is feeling down or stressed, and seek to meet them where they are. When you show compassion and appreciation to those you lead, you are guaranteed to see a boost in their mood and their productivity.

With increased stress and tension, employees are searching for meaningful employee experiences, perhaps now more than ever. Employees want to feel secure and valued at their place of work, and by using these 4 tips to practice empathy in your workplace, you will witness your organizational culture grow in connectedness and success.