Effective handling will determine future business growth
With the constant increase in cost of living and rising taxation, UK citizens are in for a very difficult time. But businesses are also impacted, and business owners may be at risk of forgetting the physical and emotional effect of this cost-of-living crisis on their workforce.
According to Sophie Wade, author of Empathy Works: The Key to Competitive Advantage in the New Era of Work, empathy is critical to assisting business leaders in understanding employees’ situations, adjusting their management styles, and providing them with appropriate support.
Wade provides the following tips for leading through this financial crisis:
- Employers need to build a welcoming, inclusive, and supportive corporate culture where the workforce feels safe enough to share or reach out for help.
- Leaders need to be empathetic, actively listen and show care and concern about their employees’ situations.
- Create flexible workplace policies that help individuals improve their situations, for example, by reducing commuting costs by working from home.
- Lead by example by embracing and demonstrating the benefits of cost-saving initiatives.
- Provide benefits that help employees handle challenging circumstances, such as financial management talks and courses.
Sophie Wade, work futurist commented: “The pandemic catalysed significant changes in workplace environments. As leaders – whether at the senior executive level or as a team manager – we had to manage our businesses with a more human-centric orientation. Our corporate cultures have been transitioning from transactional to experiential, elevating trust and empathy as key values, as we recognize the challenges faced by the people we employ or work alongside and their greater emotional needs. While we are finally emerging from the COVID-19 crisis, the new cost of living crisis is having a significant impact on so many aspects of our lives. We are having to reconsider or limit how we light and heat our homes, commute to work and put food on the table with smaller pay checks as our contributions rise.”
“To manage this new crisis, we can learn from the last two years. As managers, we embraced empathy and practiced it with our teams to be more attuned to what they were going through. Now again, taking the same human-centric perspective, we need to listen to employees, understand their situations and needs, and nurture trust-based cultures that create a sense of belonging and community that can support them. We can recognise each person’s different points of view and circumstances as well as understand that some may be embarrassed to admit their financial and emotional struggles. The empathy that we elevated in our cultures and integrated into management practices during the pandemic should now be pervasive, ongoing, and consistent. Every employee should feel there is someone they feel comfortable to turn to, voice their concerns, and seek out the help they need.”
“I know many businesses are adapting to these new conditions. We must think about how our employees are coping as well. After the pandemic, workers are looking for stability not more strain. We must stop to consider what we can do to support our colleagues. Taking a human-centric, thoughtful, and empathetic approach, we can figure out how to improve workplace culture, benefits, and retention, and ensure the sustainable growth potential for our businesses.”
Clearly, leaders learning to empathise with their employees during this financial crisis is essential for ensuring a sustainable future for their businesses.