If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s the need for understanding.
During the pandemic, empathy finally came to the forefront of workplace discussion, ironically as people were physically further away than ever before.
Every person was found to be struggling with their own shift to a pandemic-ridden reality. Some were parents figuring out how to balance homeschooling with work, while others were caretakers for immunocompromised family members.
Whatever the situation, empathy can make a huge impact in how well colleagues understand one another. However, new research shows that empathy ratings among leaders have dropped to record lows.
According to the 2022 State of Workplace Empathy Study from Businessolver, 69% of workers believe their organization is empathetic, a 3-point decrease from the year prior.
So how do companies regain the progress made in empathetic leadership? It starts with reevaluating workplace culture and design.
Oftentimes, the feeling of being misunderstood is tied to being excluded. Intentional or not, if an employee feels outcasted from the rest of the organization, they are unable to participate in important conversations.
Unintentional exclusion can derive from unintentional bias, so leaders have a major responsibility in identifying their internal bias and how to address them accordingly.
By creating a space dedicated towards inclusion, companies can take a purpose-driven approach to combating workplace exclusion.
For instance, IA Collaborative created Design for Women, a model that gives women a seat at the table to discuss topics that directly impact this community. Other organizations exist that address gaps in inclusion for marginalized communities as well.
Using design to accomplish inclusivity goals not only physically shows employees that their needs are being heard, but it also shows that actions are being taken to prioritize these values.