Tips for Fostering Empathetic Employee Communications

By: Jean Natalina

One of the things that organizations learned during the COVID-19 pandemic was the need to put in place a strong, empathetic employee communication strategy. The pandemic took a toll on many people as they struggled with health, personal, and mental health issues.

Not to mention that the rapid shift to work from home created communications challenges as teams learned to work remotely together. Many businesses were unprepared when it comes to an internal communications plan, but this crisis forced them to address the pressing needs and questions of their employees in a timely manner.

Now more than ever, the world we live in requires that businesses lead with authenticity, compassion, and humility. Employees have also increased expectations of organizations and have come to expect that their jobs will bring purpose to their lives and that they will have their voices and opinions valued at work.

Here are a few things that your organization can put in place to help build an empathetic employee communication strategy.

1. Encourage Feedback and Communicate

Higher-ups at your organization should communicate with employees on a regular basis. When the management team is more involved, staff at other levels of the organization are more likely to be as well. Think of putting together a weekly newsletter, email, or fireside chat for your company.

This is a great way to foster empathy because it creates a two-way communication channel across all levels of the organization. During these meetings encourage honest feedback and responses from your employees.

2. Use Employee Feedback in Decisions

Create a culture where your employee’s voices are reflected in all business decisions. The more that employees feel like they matter at work the higher chance that they will remain engaged and fulfilled. If you’re thinking of rolling out a new program or product, try to get your employees’ feedback first. Honest feedback has been shown to foster strong team engagement.

This goes the other way too and employees are often seeking valuable feedback on their performance. According to a recent study from cognology, leaders in the top 10% for giving honest feedback saw team engagement scores average 77 percent.

3. Use the DiSC Assessment

DiSC is a personal assessment tool to help improve teamwork, communication, and productivity in the workplace. The DiSC profile can help you better understand your employees’ strengths and weaknesses and will help you get a sense of your team’s different communication styles. Get your office together and go over your assessments. This will help improve collaboration and increase empathy.

4. Have Regular Check-Ins

Try to have regular check-ins with your team members every week or so. This gives employees a chance to discuss their progress, goals, and any specific questions. Waiting until the end of the year for the annual review is often not enough in terms of communication. More frequent updates ensure that everyone is on the same page and is aligned on the goals and initiatives for your organization.

5. Back-Up Your Words with Action

Empathetic communications are crucial, but it’s also equally important to back those words up with actions. In tough times, it’s important for leaders to think about how they can support and help their employees rather than just talking about it.

Here are a few suggestions of actions from a great LinkedIn post “5 Ways to Communicate with Empathy,” that you can put in place to show your employees that you care:

  • Mandating that a “mental health day” be taken off for each employee within a set period (i.e. the next two weeks) – and then following up to ensure it happened
  • Regularly directing employees to internal and external resources supporting mental well-being, stress relief, and laughter
  • Establishing a recurring donation for a relevant charity for the duration of the crisis (i.e. contributing to a major food bank) (Source)

By encouraging feedback from your employees and including them in decision-making processes they will feel more valued and encouraged at work. Getting an assessment of each of your employee’s communications styles so you can meet them where they are is also very helpful. Most importantly, put into place actions in your organizations that foster empathy to go along with your communications.


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