The need for empathy in the boardroom

Businesses have to redefine productivity in the age of remote and hybrid working models – but what is critical to remember, is that this process is as much about the people as it is about securing the bottom line.

With everything changing about the way we do business at the moment – from physical location to stakeholder engagement  – our business values have to evolve as well. 

In light of the mental wellness challenges so many of us are seeing in the work-place – empathy and compassion need to be front and center. Yes behaving with purpose has long been a buzz word in the corporate environment and we have historically leveraged platitudes about how ‘our people’ are the most important component to our success. But Covid-19 has accelerated the transition from talking to action, forcing the business world to really look at how critical people are to the bottom line and adjust their support offering accordingly.  

So how can you bring more empathy to the virtual table right now?

  • Lead by example: employees need to see those at the top who are not afraid to be open and honest about how they are feeling and are ready and available to facilitate conversations about how to cope. You being vulnerable may pave the way for your team to cope more effectively and raise their hand when they need help. 
  • Create a safe space for people: let your employees know that there is the necessary support for those who need it – whether it’s greater access to existing HR support structures or professional services from life coaches to counseling
  • Encourage time out: while we can’t all flock to our usual vacation spots at the moment, we still need some time out to reboot. Encourage your employees to take a long weekend or a couple of days in the week.

And there’s a whole lot of upside that comes with a more compassionate approach in the office – most notably the fact that when people feel cared for and supported they are likely to be more productive and perform better.