The pandemic has completely transformed our way of life – lockdowns, missed events, feelings of isolation, and deaths havecaused a spike in cases of depression and anxiety. Given the unusual circumstances, leaders will need to be more empathetic to their employees. After all, aside from having to deal with the daily uncertainty regarding the pandemic, employees also had to learnhow to quickly adjust to remote working.
While working from home may have its benefits, such as telecommuting and more flexible work schedules, it also means employees will need to juggle work alongside their home responsibilities, which can cause a blurring of boundaries between work and home. This, in turn, can make an employee feel overwhelmed and stressed, leading to disruptive behavior and burnout. There are a few ways that you can show your employees more empathy:
Provide access to professionals
Giving employees access to emotional and mental support lets them talk aboutand process their thoughts and feelings without fearing that they’ll be judged for it. Understanding where these thoughts and feelings come from can also help them work towards some lifestyle changes that can improve their state of mind. Fortunately, giving employees the support they need can now be done through digital channels. There has been a rise in online therapy offered by qualified psychologists that is much easier to access due to smartphones and other mobile devices. Companies can easily leverage these remote arrangements to connect team members to counselors and psychologists,
The rise of online therapy is a natural progression of how the field hasexpanded digitally itself through remote courses. Online psychology programs are offered by top universities and cover awide spectrum of topics such as abnormal psychology, multicultural psychology, social psychology, and biological psychology. The flexibility of these remote courses allows graduates to prepare for work in different settings, including remotely. Consider offering wellness programs that give employees the option to connect with such professionals, and set aside time for them to be able to do so.
Create a culture of empathy
You should also extend your support by creating a culture of empathy in yourbusiness, which you can start through a display of empathetic leadership. This is essentially the ability to lead while also understanding the situations that your employees are in. This way, your employees will feel like you really care about them and that they don’t have to fear being left behind by the company.
Being empathetic means you’ll need to get to know your employees on a personallevel, so take some time to reach out to your employees to check on them. Ask about their hobbies or how their families are doing. Practice being a better listener as well so you can help them through what they’re experiencing. If you find out they’re having a hard time juggling household responsibilities with their workload, consider lightening the work they’re given until they can get used to it. If they missed a deadline on a project, ask them first about why that happened rather than immediately giving them an earful. The important thing is that you don’t bring an agenda or judge the other person when you check in on them.
Respect personal time
Empathy includes becoming more flexible and encouraging employees to carve outtime for their personal lives. Make sure that you respect employees' personal time. Don't contact them outside of work hours and set a good example by not messaging on weekends or late at night.
While this might feel somewhat disruptive to business processes, it mayactually make your team more productive. When employees feel that you respect their time, they will learn to maximize the hours they do put into working.
Empathetic leadership results in employees that are motivated and productivesince they know that they’re working under a person who cares for them as human beings rather than just workers. And when employees see what you’re trying to do for them, they’ll also try to emulate it among themselves, which will eventually lead to a culture of empathy within the company.
Article written by Jane Richards