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3 Ways to Become a More Empathetic Leader in Times of Crisis

by BGC Employer

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If there’s one thing that we can learn from the current pandemic, it’s that leaders who managed to communicate empathy have more employees who are productive and engaged. It’s a no brainer that there are many benefits to being an empathetic leader. Some benefits worth listing include: 


  • Empathy boosts employee productivity: In general, employees perform better when they can truly understand what the consumer, client, or customer wants. The same goes for your employees. When you let your employees know about how their labour impacts the organization in a positive way, they’ll be encouraged to work harder.

  • It encourages collaboration: When it comes to project work, collaboration is the key to delivering good results. Empathy is great for collaborative work because employees who empathise are able to communicate better by picking up on non-verbal cues. 


  • Better corporate culture: There’s a good reason why your organization’s HR team pushes for more diversity. Diverse workplaces in Singapore have a range of benefits; including better profits for the organization.

    However, with more diverse workplaces, there is a need to be more accommodating and understanding at the workplace. As such, an empathetic leader will be able to create a corporate culture of compassion. Making it a welcoming place for employees of all backgrounds.

  • Better corporate reputation: When the organization’s leader emphasizes the importance of empathy (and practices it), it becomes ingrained within the corporate culture. Employees who practice empathy when dealing with both clients and customers portray your organization in a better light. It goes without saying that when you treat people well, better things happen to your corporation. 


As a HR outsourcing agency, we understand the typical concerns your employees are bound to have. It’s important to understand that being an empathetic leader takes more than just checking up on your employees through video chats. Or making small talk with them. 

Here are 3 easy ways to be a more empathetic leader and promote change in your organization: 


1. Listen to what your employees are saying 


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Research shows that good leaders often have great listening skills. Additionally, your organization will benefit well from a leader who listens. Some benefits of listening to your employees include: 


  • Building a customized workplace culture specific to your employees 

  • Listening to employee feedback encourages open communication 

  • Employees who feel heard are more engaged and productive

Good listening skills boil down to more than just...listening. Pay attention to your employees’ non-verbal cues, as it allows you to engage better with them. The next time you’re due for a one-on-one chat with your employees, take note of non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and even body language. 

Additionally, ask employees for their honest feedback (e.g. what are their current concerns and fears). Once you’ve got the listening part down, start planning how to address these concerns. 


2. Support emotional health 


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If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is that employees are at risk of burnout when they work from home. Leaders should remember that your employees look up to you whenever the organization hits a speed bump. Supporting their emotional and mental well-being not only makes you a more empathetic leader. It also increases the rate of productivity within your organization

Here are some ways organizations can support employee emotional health: 


  • Be more understanding: An organization that prioritizes one’s mental and emotional health is more valuable compared to one that provides monetary benefits. Some ideas on how to promote a more understanding culture include medical benefits for mental health. Or allowing your employees to take a mental health day off.

  • Provide mental health resources: Good mental health resources extend to more than just a random compilation of mental health apps. Think about the organization’s environment — does it promote diversity? Are your co-workers supporting one another through open communication? It might be time to discover.

  • Communicate well: As a manager or part of the HR team, you should be aware of just how important communication is. Let your employees know of the resources offered by the organization such as employee assistance programs, and the counselors or clinics they can call.

Recommended Readings: 


3. Promote work-life balance


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Yes, work-life balance is crucial, even when your employees are working from home. When we work from home, the boundaries between our personal and work life are blurred. Additionally, there is a huge temptation to overwork ourselves in an attempt to be more productive. Combine overworking and the lack of self-care, and you have an obvious recipe for a job burnout.

Below are some ways your company can promote work-life balance:


  • Adjust management expectations: As a manager, it’s easy to lose sight of the emotions and people involved when you’ve locked eyes on a goal. Try adjusting your expectations, instead of emphasizing solely on KPIs and productivity. Keep in mind that working from home is no picnic for your employees as well.

  • Look out for signs of burnout: When it comes to working, not all employees are wired the same way. Some employees find it tough to discern the line between personal and professional life. As a manager, try to look out for signs of burnout during your next video meeting or call with your team.

  • Don’t micromanage: It’s tough not to micromanage — especially when you’re away from the office. But micromanaging does not work in the office. So why would it work when your employees are having the added stress of working through a pandemic at home? Micromanaging often results in less productivity, cheating, and low morale.

Click here to read an insightful article on micromanaging during the current COVID-19 pandemic

Do you think empathy is a core skill most leaders should have? Share them with us in the comments section below! 

Read More: How to Be a Better Boss in 4 Easy Steps


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