::Does empathy belong in the workplace?::

I happen to work in an environment that is empathetic.  Right after I started working here, one of my dogs passed away suddenly.  My dogs are my children, and I was heartbroken.  I came into my office the day after and found a sympathy card on my desk, signed by everyone in the office.  It meant so much to me that they cared.  That type of compassion is one of the things that makes Payentry a great place to work.

Websters Dictionary defines empathy as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”  There are three types of empathy:  cognitive, social and empathic concern.

  • Cognitive empathy is awareness or understanding someone else’s perspective.
  • Social empathy is sensing immediately what the other person is feeling.
  • Empathic concern is not only sensing what the other person is feeling, but also wanting to help them. We know it as compassion.

In a 2018 State of Workplace Empathy Study, Businessolver found that 96 percent of employees surveyed believed it was important for their employers to demonstrate empathy.  That same survey, however, reported that 92% of CEOs reported their organization is empathetic but only 50% of employees said that their CEO is empathetic.  There is a disconnect there.

In this study, 80 percent of Millennials reported that they would leave their current job if their office became less empathetic. 66 percent of Baby Boomers shared this sentiment.

Workers (77 percent) would be willing to work more hours for a more empathetic workplace.

So, let’s add empathy to the list of those things that create engaged employees.  Sound easy enough, right?  Empathy, though, doesn’t come from reading a handbook.  It is a “soft skill” and is learned on an individual level.  Some people just seem to be born with a strong compassion for others.  Adopting a more compassionate tone company-wide, however, is not a simple effort.  It requires that the company adopt a values statement addressing empathy and reinforce the commitment through training and accountability to develop those soft skills in employees.  Active listening and mastering the art of asking questions properly are two of those skills.   This takes time, effort and, possibly, a financial commitment from the company for staff development.

Let’s be honest.  Taking the time to know your employees and to create an environment that fosters the spirit of connecting employees with each other will result in more cohesive, engaged teams and, in the end, stronger company culture and performance.


The quest for a more empathetic workplace is a marathon and not a sprint.  It will be worth it.