If you are having difficulty retaining employees at your organization, it may be time to take a look at your leaders. Many individuals, especially in a small business environment, are thrust into a leadership role without much training or experience. Helping these leaders develop their leadership skills benefits the individual leaders, your employees and your company as a while. It’s no secret that bad bosses can send employees running, but what’s considered “bad” these days? To many businesses, it means appearing unempathetic to employees.
What exactly is empathy? Empathy is recognizing emotions in yourself and others, and using that understanding to influence your actions. It is not just thinking about how you would feel in your employee’s situation, but also understanding how they feel in their situation.
Now more than ever, companies are are seeking leaders who exhibit empathy and high emotional intelligence because they maintain better rapport with employees, leading to higher rates of employee engagement and retention. In fact, when it comes to retention, an empathetic leader is sometimes more important than pay, according to a recent study from Businessolver. Moreover, 90 percent of workers are more likely to stay with a company if it empathizes with their needs.
How can you teach empathy? Well to get started, encourage your leaders to really get to know employees. Learn about what motivates them, what they are passionate about and also what frustrates them. Develop a culture of ongoing feedback at your company. Employees at all levels should feel comfortable offering feedback to peers, leaders, and the company as a whole.
One way to jumpstart this is with consistent one-on-one meetings between leaders and their employees. These meetings allow leaders to get to know more about their employees, provide feedback and coaching, and ask for feedback. Leaders should continually be asking employees what they need to be successful in their jobs. This level of empathy provides employees with the safe space they need to talk about their concerns so they can be addressed before they become a big enough issue that you see a voluntary resignation form on your desk.
If you are looking for one area to focus on with your leaders for the next few months, consider empathy. When workers are comfortable sharing with empathetic leaders, your business can focus on improvement and growth.