Why Empathy Matters in a Company Culture

While there are plenty of useful tactics in igniting motivation and establishing stable employee retention, the main focus for most has been on tangible tools and collaborative exercises. Those are great but we argue there’s one more very important component that’s oft overlooked: empathy. And it happens to be critical in a successful company culture.

What is empathy? The dictionary definition is helpful place to start: “the ability to understand and share the feelings of others” but then of course we need to discuss empathy’s role at the workplace. And how it helps to maintain a healthy team dynamic. Encouraging empathy is an exercise in practicing a humanistic approach to management, and by doing so it allows for employees to feel confident that they’ll be able to both get work done AND tend to personal matters.

Cultivate empathy in your company culture

  1. Lead by example. Wow, does this one come up a lot. But your company culture is truly a reflection on what is going on at the top and if an employer wants a team that works efficiently together, they need to model respectful communication and behaviour themselves.
  2. Listen to those not speaking. Oftentimes employers take a measure of company culture by the voices they hear most often. But this might not be the most accurate representation of what’s really happening. Take care to not if other viewpoints are getting drowned out by those most comfortable in speaking up. You might be surprised what you find behind the scenes.
  3. Beware the ‘empathy gap’ trap. When we noticed this unfortunate trend, we were frankly a little bit shocked. The empathy gap is when someone who has had a similar experience as another person actually behaves in the opposite way one would imagine: they display little to no empathetic action towards them. It stems from the belief of “I got through such and such so they should as well.” Which is a very irrational mode of thinking to be in. No one’s experiences, or how they process an experience, are exactly the same and that’s not a bad thing. Bottom line: falling into the empathy gap is not helpful, and it certainly doesn’t cultivate an empathetic culture.


If you need a little more help in understanding how an empathetic approach to team management is beneficial, we can help. Remember that HR can play a significant role in maintaining team cohesion by supporting each employee’s professional journey. If you’re looking for an HR department that can meet the demands of the modern workplace, EOS is your answer! We’re a team of HR professionals helping small businesses succeed in this exciting, yet challenging professional environment.  Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.