Health care leaders make decisions that shape caregiving. They help their staff and the organization perform at optimal levels in a highly complex and evolving environment. Some may oversee business units such as operations, and human resources, while others solely focus on accounting and specific disciplines within the hospital. They wear many hats and have daily goals to help the organization reach its targets.
Along with playing different roles, health care leaders also hold a lot of power that offers them the luxury to guide individuals, groups and organizations through particular challenges – COVID-19 is one such challenge. As well, they need to adapt to others, beyond just the expressions gleaned from direct statements. Health executives are required to “read between the lines” and understand the individuals they interact with daily – and even extend a level of empathy they may not wish to provide.
The question is: How empathetic are you towards your employees?
If you are struggling to showcase empathy in the workplace, you’re not alone. At Satori Health & Wellness Coaching Ltd, we provide the missing ingredient of empathy in your workplace. We take you & your employees through a dynamic personal development process, which provides easy, yet practical ways, to incorporate it into your daily grind.
Satori defines empathy as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. You’ve got to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes! We engage employees in this process through our program, The ProMind Experience, and the Mindful Clinician Community.
Studies show that one in three employees would leave their job for a more empathetic workplace. Those numbers don’t surprise me at all. There’s no doubt that incentive is high to figure-out the right type of “empathy practices” that will keep your staff happy and engaged. The last thing you want, as a manager, is to come off as being “fake”.
Before we talk about the Top 7 Ways To Add More Empathy In Your Hospital Workplace, let me remind you of the 3 direct benefits of being mindful of how you present yourself to staff:
1. Increased productivity (also see the three golden rules for attaining productivity).
2. Increase loyalty and retention.
3. Which all leads to having happier employees overall.
With the COVID-19 pandemic all over the world, there is no better time to start communicating in a more empathetic, compassionate manner than this present moment.
Here are the Top 7 Ways To Add More Empathy In Your Hospital Workplace (without coming off as too contrived):
Listening appears to be one of the most overlooked aspects of empathy. As a leader in the workplace, you should allow your employees to vent, and be more engaged in their conversations and be more able to understand what really gives them those troubles (Clark et al, 2019). But the trick to listening is to engage your staff with some head-nods and really let them know that you’re present.
#2 Validate your staff’s emotions
As you participate in the listening process, make an effort to validate the other person’s emotions. Even though you might not fully agree with what they are saying, or might not even share in their opinion, by neutrally acknowledging their feelings can help your staff feel heard (Boddy, 2011). You can also use reflective language such as, “That must be harsh. Is there anything I can be of help?
#3 Be compassionate
Now that the pandemic is in full gear, your employees might have it rough in balancing work and other house duties, such as homeschooling, or maybe they are feeling ill. So, make it a habit that you care. Periodically, send them a card to let them know that you think highly of them. Inquire from them to find out if you could help in some way.
#4 Apply an open-door policy
Your employees are humans too, and they have got feelings and emotions. If your hospital is generally business-like and non-emotional, then be guaranteed that your employees would have huge emotions to deal with daily. Use an open-door policy, and let them see you care to talk and connect.
#5 Make it a habit to connect regularly
This pandemic has surely changed how our workplaces operate, and the hospital workplaces are no exception. Social calendars and in-person workplace interactions have been abruptly halted, and social health and connection are emerging as an important ingredient in the hospital environment nowadays. As HR or any other leader, make it a habit to connect and have informal chats and empathetically listen to your employees who may find it harder to cope with this new normal.
#6 Stress the importance of self-care, and slowing down
Mental health concerns are now crippling hospital workplaces around the globe, and there has been a significant spike in mental health cases since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic (Badrfam et al, 2020). Therefore as a manager, your hospital should give the employees some leeway to ease the pressures and health concerns, by offering your front line some changes to their regular work schedules. I wrote a fantastic article on slowing down this summer that you might useful.
You want to show your employees that you get where they’re coming from and by being flexible yourself, empathizes with them and that they too can be open to personal flexibility (and self-care). Alone time is really important for some people as it allows self-reflection. This is one of our top strategies emphasized in Satori’s programs.
#7. Be keen to be the lookout for signs of burnout & be quick to address it
A recent study by Gallup showed that of 75000 full-time employees, about 23% of them felt burned out most of the time. Therefore, as a hospital manager, it would be ideal to support your staff’s wellbeing by watching for employee burnout, especially now that the pandemic is full-blown and employees tend to be overworked to contain the workloads (Washington & Cox, 2016). I don’t think I really needed to mention this, but the stats are pretty shocking.
Address these issues promptly, and encourage your employees to practise self-care by finding ways to control stress, take holidays off, and more importantly use the wellness benefits before the year comes to a close.
Remember that change starts from the top down. If the hospital leadership shows that empathy matters in their work environments, then it can spread like wildfire to all departments. Being a hospital manager, supporting your staff by demonstrating empathetic practices, and engaging in conversation around empathy, will certainly form great engagement opportunities. In conclusion, building empathetic practices might not be an overnight change, however, by inculcating patience and time into active listening, thoughtful questioning, and applying open-door policies, be rest assured that you will eventually see change.
Badrfam, R., Zandifar, A., & Arbabi, M. (2020). Mental Health of Medical Workers in COVID-19 Pandemic: Restrictions and Barriers. Journal of Research in Health Sciences, 20(2).
Boddy, C. R. (2011). Corporate psychopaths, bullying, and unfair supervision in the workplace. Journal of business ethics, 100(3), 367-379.
Clark, M. A., Robertson, M. M., & Young, S. (2019). “I feel your pain”: A critical review of organizational research on empathy. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 40(2), 166-192.
Washington, R., & Cox, E. (2016). How an evolution view of workplace mentoring relationships helps avoid negative experiences: The developmental relationship mentoring model in action. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 24(4), 318-340.
There’s one word that separates today’s good leaders from great ones: Empathy. Yep, that touchy feely word that’s been locked out of boardrooms for generations. Empathy in the workplace might be at an all-time low. Mass layoffs, bottom-line thinking, and the decline of mom and pop shops where people knew their customers — all common.
Showing empathy in the workplace is one of the most important aspects for leading teams. Leaders and managers who show a lack of empathy can cause stress and conflict, because they don’t seek to understand how others feel.
Social interaction in our workplaces is increasingly important as automation replaces simple tasks, pushing our workers into more knowledge-based and management roles. The knowledge economy relies on social interaction and cultures that promote and facilitate these interactions. Research suggests we are seeing a decrease in empathy and increase in narcissism, particularly in our young people.