Successful business leaders are able to harness the best ideas, innovations, and strengths of their employees to propel their businesses forward. To do so not only requires a strong business acumen, but also kindness, compassion, and empathy. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, “genuine kindness is the ultimate strength.” Empathy for your employees, clients, and the public is vital if you want your business to succeed. Recently, empathy and kindness have been identified as some of the most desirable soft skills for employees to demonstrate. Empathy has catapulted to the forefront of business discussions, so much so that Merriam-Webster included it as one of their top words of the year in 2017!
The Harvard Business Review states that, “corporations must demonstrate empathy across three channels: internally, to their own employees, externally, to their customers, and finally, to the public…” The benefits of incorporating empathy into your organization are profound. Employees are happier and more productive, customers and clients are satisfied and become your biggest fans, and your sales grow. Empathy gives your business a clear competitive advantage by showing the world that you care about more than just the bottom line; you care about people, too.
As human beings, we are naturally egocentric; we default to thinking of our own needs first. This is a natural survival instinct ingrained in our very DNA. Fortunately, empathy is a like any other skill set: it can be learned and cultivated over time. Demonstrating empathy draws people closer together and connects them in a common purpose. Exhibiting empathy as a leader shows your employees that you care about them, your customers that you understand them, and the public that you demonstrate business philanthropy.
Within your organization, demonstrating empathy can have a direct affect on your bottom line. Leaders that demonstrate compassion in the workplace increase employee performance. Employees work harder when they feel that their work is valued, and that their own needs are understood. Empathetic leaders not only share the ultimate goals of the business, but how the company exists to serve others, as well. When employees learn that their work has directly contributed to the well-being of others, they work harder because they know that their work matters. Sharing stories of kindness and compassion for your clients encourages team members to mimic your empathetic behavior as a leader. Not only that, but the 2018 State of the Workplace Empathy study has found that over 81% of employees would be willing to work longer hours for an empathetic employer!
Not only is productivity increased through empathetic leadership, but innovation can grow by leaps and bounds, too. Google’s Project Aristotle found that the best ideas and innovations came from employees with the highest “soft skills,” such as equality, generosity, curiosity, empathy, and emotional intelligence. Empathetic leaders instill confidence in their employees. Confident team members speak up more often, and share great ideas that may not have been heard otherwise. By valuing the input of employees, compassionate leaders are able to harness the creativity and ideas of everyone within the organization.
Empathy allows leaders to connect with their employees on a deeper level, and earn their respect. Team members that feel appreciated and valued by their employers are happier overall, and exhibit more job satisfaction than those with less empathetic leadership. Simply put, people want to feel that their work is valued by those around them. When employees know that they are appreciated by a kind leader that understands and cares about their own success as much as the company’s success, they work harder and are less likely to leave the company.
Happy employees that feel appreciated and valued are more engaged at work. Empathy fosters a collaborative work environment where everyone’s ideas are valued equally, and employees are encouraged to speak up and share. As any business leader knows, collaboration is the key to success. Skilled employees want their voices to be heard, and are more willing to use their voices to work with other team members toward the overall goals of the company if they feel that their opinions and ideas are genuinely appreciated.
Not only is empathy vital within your company, but it is just as important when you’re dealing with your customers. Exhibiting empathy as a business means understanding the struggles, needs, and desires of your customers and identifying their pain points. By fully understanding the lives of your customers, you can explain how your product or service solves their problems and improves their daily activities. Happy, satisfied customers become your biggest fans and will shout your praises from the rooftops. Not only does that bring you repeat business, but it creates a strong referral program for your brand. In the age of the internet and social media, one good comment has the power to catapult your company to success, and one negative review can bring everything to a standstill. Observe how your customers use your product or service, listen to their wants and needs, and continually invest in making your product or service better for them.
Finally, empathy in business gives your company a strong competitive advantage. In 2016, the top 10 most empathetic companies increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 companies, and generated 50% more revenue. In fact, the Harvard Business Review has found a direct correlation between departments with higher empathy and those with high performing employees. It is clear that empathy directly impacts how we interact with our colleagues, as well as the world around us. The 2018 State of the Workplace Empathy Study suggests that “the long-term payoff of empathy, we’ve found, isn’t just a happier employee or satisfied customer—it’s a stronger, more engaged workforce and, ultimately, a healthier, more robust business.” So if you can choose anything in this world to be, why not be kind?
At BizLender, we choose kindness everyday by supporting growing business across the country. If you’re looking for an alternative lending partner, consider contacting one of our compassionate small business specialists. Check out BizLender online or call 855-433-8641. BizLender has been offering lending solutions since 2013, and emphasizes working smarter, not harder, by using technology to fund small businesses in as little as 24 hours.
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