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It’s an imperative for organisations to hire and work with empathetic leaders to drive expected business outcomes. In the growing BANI (Brittle, Anxious, Non-liner, and Incomprehensible) business world, HR leaders need to focus on learning how to show empathy at workplace and developing more emotionally intelligent managers. 

So, if you’re an HR professional looking forward to developing managerial talent with immediate effect, read the post below. It will show you the steps to show empathy at workplace to each one of the workforce. Additionally, learn how to develop an empathetic culture and leadership with EI and AI enabled tech like uKnowva. 

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What does it mean to have and show empathy at workplace?

Empathy allows you to show and understand each other’s thoughts, feelings, energies, vibes, experiences, beliefs, etc. A high level of empathy in the workplace allows you to react compassionately to escalations at work. 

With a highly emotionally intelligent work culture, you can relate to the workforce more often. It allows you to develop a deeper level of trust with your teammates. This trust enables teams to build better business performance and relationships in the long term. 

What is the difference between empathy and sympathy in the workplace?

Sympathy means you’re showing pity for the other person’s feelings, notions, situations or predicaments. When you sympathise with someone, you don’t necessarily understand their situation but show them affection through pity. It makes you come across as more humane when the other person might not be so happy at the moment. 

Empathy in the workplace, on the other hand, makes you understand the other person's situations, feelings, and experiences at a deeper level. With a higher EI or EQ, you can put yourself in another person’s shoes and understand their perspective. This way, you will build more trusting relationships. 

What are the three major types of empathy at work to exercise with full attention?


  • Cognitive empathy 


It’s the ability to understand your peer’s feelings or thoughts. You don't need to have emotional investment in a situation like this. As a manager, you are a keen observer to understand what your team feels, wants, and is going through currently. 

This cognitive understanding helps you to coach, direct, and mentor them toward the common goals of the organisation. 


  • Emotional empathy 


At this level, you get emotionally invested in a situation with your colleague, peer, or subordinate. Whatever may be the situation at work, it starts to affect you emotionally. 

So, this kind of situation where you share happiness, pain, or any other emotion at the workplace is important. It helps you create better professional relationships. 

However, managers often have to take breaks to detach themselves from getting invested beyond limits. Otherwise, they face the brunt of the burnout. 

Thus, highly emotionally intelligent managers and leaders know how to create boundaries with their teammates even after being emotionally empathetic toward their predicaments or happiness at work.

Also read: The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace


  • Compassionate empathy


It is the highest level of empathy one can show at work. It is where you don’t only connect with the peer for their issues, concerns, or achievements but also are ready to take action. 

You acknowledge their situation and assist them in improving their current situation. Servant leadership plays a greater role here when you are a compassionate leader to your subordinates.

This type of empathy leads you to change the trajectory of other’s lives at work for the greater good. You become a changemaker and a torchbearer for those who don’t have a voice of their own. 

Why is empathy important in the workplace in modern times?

Empathy is important in the workplace because it helps to connect people at an emotional level. Organisations are hiring people from dissimilar backgrounds and experiences. 

This creates a gap in communication when people have different personalities and perspectives. However, being an empathetic employee comes across as an invaluable and irreplaceable asset to the firm.

So, a culture of empathising with others at work helps to:

  • Improve internal and corporate communication. 
  • Build a professional network of trust and shared purpose. 
  • Strengthen workplace relationships.
  • Boost and incessantly increase creative thinking. 
  • Enhance the employee experience in the long run. 
  • Elevant individual and business performance. 

What are the steps to show empathy at workplace?

There are ways for one to show empathy in the workplace. Below, you will find relatable steps to show empathy to your employees and peers. These steps work fine for both managers and HR leaders. The steps are as follows:


  • Show the interest in your team member’s hopes, needs, and dreams. 


When you work with people at work, you need to understand them more. Talk to them and know about their hopes, needs, aspirations, and dreams. Learn why they are working for the firm and how long they are seeing their value and tenure in the firm. Such snippets of knowledge empower you to build better relationships with your employees. 


  • Be willing to discuss work-related issues with an open mindset. 


A progressive work culture is where you can openly discuss problems with your colleagues. It makes you a leader in solving problems when you discuss issues at the start and collectively follow the approach to resolve each such issue. 

Also, solving such problems at work will make you more empathetic at work. You will have to know the perspective of each person involved in the problem. Then, you will form a complete framework of the problem that needs to be addressed from the get-go. 


  • Show compassion to your colleagues when they go through a personal loss. 


You should show compassion to your team members or staff when they are going through a personal loss. It makes you connect with them personally and professionally to share a pain or a loss. 

When you are compassionate through difficult times and situations, team members trust you more. They believe that they can count on you to share the burden or load of a difficult time or phase. 


  • Celebrate small wins to boost staff's morale.


Validate your teams’ feelings and aspirations when you celebrate small wins and victories at the workplace. When you acknowledge your team members’ wins, they will have more power and intrinsic motivation to do better at every quarter. 


  • Recognise early signs of depression and burnout to deal accordingly with your staff.


Showing empathy at workplace also means that you should be proactive enough to know who is going through depression or burnout episodes. When you recognise these signs in your staff, you can talk to them and coach them accordingly for fine tuning the culture. 


  • Offer help when required by your team member.


Be an effective team leader and manager when you empathetically lend a helping hand to your subordinates. They might not know everything at work, especially when we all are operating in a BANI world, which is way more complex than the VUCA world. 

Helping your team members also makes way for a collaborative culture where employees feel like family members and crucial members of the team.


  • Develop different perspectives at the workplace.


Do not be stuck with only perspective, which is yours, when you are working with different kinds of people at work. Learn to be open and accept different opinions. Have open dialogue and discussion with them to ensure that there is enough room in the work culture to initiate challenging communication. 


  • Ask relevant questions with an analytical and purposeful approach. 


Create and embody a blend of analytical and empathetic approaches in your conversations with your subordinates, seniors, or other peers. Always ask the right questions and keep gathering answers or feedback. 

This enables you to be more resilient, empathetic, and thoughtful of your behaviour and actions in the workplace in the long run. 

What traits must an effective leader have to be more empathetic in their workplace?

Empathy is a lucrative skill that will pay off in personal and professional scenarios of your life. When you learn to connect with people at any given moment, you grow more empathetic. You can read the energies, the vibe, the usual behaviour and thoughts of your workmates or seniors when you have a sharp observation. Because of elements like these, empathy is one of the key components in the workplace to develop effective leadership in the long run. So, the traits you need to be more empathetic at work include being:

  • Active at listening
  • Being open to sharing thoughts and concerns
  • Understanding each other’s behavioural patterns and mood swings.

The factor of empathy is so prevalent that 83% of Gen Z working professionals, according to an online survey, prefer an empathetic organisation over competitive pay. 

It means that the managers and the super seniors must understand the dire factor of dealing with bottom-line workers, front-line employees, and executives. 

They have to deal with their staff regularly with an open mindset to drive them toward common organisational goals in a highly brittle, anxious, and nonlinear working environment. 

What are the common challenges in implementing an empathetic work culture currently?

Achieving empathy in the workplace sounds feasible and manageable after reading most of the content here. However, as per expertise and exposure to empathetic culture, I know there are setbacks which you, the managers must acknowledge. 

Many managers wonder, if empathy is easy to achieve, why aren’t most organisations today empathetic and emotionally intelligent? That’s because it is an ongoing process. Building an empathetic culture does not mean that you do it the first time, and then you’re done for life. 

Rather, building a culture that empathises with the workers and employees with dissimilar needs and backgrounds requires time, effort, and compassion. Decision-makers like talent managers and acquisition specialists must have a strong sense of self awareness and understanding of their environment. 

At any moment, while managing and developing talent, they can face numerous challenges. They have to learn to prioritise which challenge, escalation, or concern to pay heed to first. 

Yet, they must also not get carried away by solving minuscule issues which their subordinates or AI tools like AI Suggest and HR Chatbot by uKnowva are capable of handling and resolving. 

So, the common challenges faced by HR professionals in developing an empathetic culture include the following:

  • There is no one perfect way to show empathy in the workplace. 
  • Showing genuine concern for another person requires time and effort. 
  • Having a desire and showing it at the same to assist a work buddy is a personal challenge. 
  • Keeping an eye on stressed-out employees is another challenge. 
  • It’s tough to be compassionate to others’ dissimilar and disconnecting opinions. 

How to encourage a more empathetic culture in the workplace with a smart HR platform?

We read the steps to show empathy in your workplace above. However, the strategic steps are more interesting when you involve an AI and EI enabled tool like uKnowva in place. So read how you build an empathetic culture with an HR platform like ours without switching between multiple apps or interfaces:


  • Capture your most stressed employees with the Happiness Meter.


You need a mood meter in place if you are working with hybrid teams. If you do not have such a system installed for all your team members or employees, it becomes difficult to know who is the most stressed out employee. 

A Happiness Meter feature, which we offer, shows up automatically at every punch-in and punch-out. Employees get this mood meter at the login screen, and without punching in their mood of the day or hour, their login or logout wouldn’t be successful. 

This mood meter collects everyone’s data at the backend. People analytics has a major role here. HR managers, reporting managers, and the leaders of a business unit know the employee sentiment trend because of this dataset. 

This dataset enables and empowers them to make the right decision to coach, mentor, and reimagine the culture for the future generation of workers or employees. 

So, by capturing the current mood of the employee, reporting managers can invest their time in empathetic practices. They know which employees need their immediate attention and how to solve their emotional troubles for them to be more productive at work. 


  • Help teams engage using social intranet polls, events, and surveys. 


Engagement with polls, surveys, events, and discussion forums helps a lot in showing empathy in the workplace. Employers provide a medium for the employees to own a voice and put it out there without hesitation. 

Employees can create various polls to make others join the latest poll, survey, or event. Then, they can collaborate and connect with other like-minded people, even from different geographical locations. 

Using the discussion forum, employees can openly talk about any concern or issue. The moderators of the groups or forums can really help them, as those who are tagged get instant notifications just like any other social platform. 

Also read: 5 Employee Engagement Activities To Plan Using HRMS


  • Provide them with employee benefits for a safer working environment. 


Organisations need to develop a DEI policy in place for the safety of their employees. 

With a strong culture and DEI policy, employees know how they need to behave in a professional setup when they connect and communicate with the other person or colleague, irrespective of their designation or tenure. 

This creates a very thoughtful, empathetic, and nurturing environment at the workplace for all types of employees, irrespective of their dissimilar backgrounds. 

Moreover, employers must also provide employee benefits like perks, incentives, optional holidays, loans and advances, reimbursement, etc. 

Employees are working for most of the day at the firm. It becomes their second or extended family. Thus, employers need to be thoughtful in providing the right benefits to each individual with fair practices, means, and even on the basis of their merits achieved so far. 

Also read: What is Employee Benefits Administration?


  • Let your staff work flexibly as long as there is project management transparency. 


Another most reliable way to show empathy at workplace to your employees is to allow them to have authority and autonomy at work. It means employers should have the right HR tech tools in place to allow flexibility in working hours at all times. 

However, the flexibility of working hours comes with equal job responsibility for the employee. They must have clear job expectations and know what is expected of them over a tenure. 

They must be keen on delivering their goals and deliverables on time. They must also develop a mindset to grow continuously and do the work with more excitement. 

However, there are times when employees are not clear as to what the employer demands from them at present. That’s why employers or reporting managers must leverage the use of AI Suggest to generate, edit, audit, and review the automatically generated KRA template. 

It will design the complete template for a job role along with the skill set, duties, and probation confirmation questions. Such practice shows that the manager is caring to bridge the miscommunication between themselves and the subordinate. 

That way, work deliverables will be on time, and there will be no need for the senior to micromanage the subordinate. Rather, the employee can enjoy the perks of a flexible work environment while ensuring that the performances remain intact. 


Now we are at the end of this complete guide or article on how to show empathy at workplace.  We hope that you understood the entire concept from its importance, benefits, and challenges to the steps of implementing it normally and with the HR tech like ours. 

If you resonate with this article or the complete guide even a bit, do share and leave your comments. If you want to install a flexible, super-intelligent, and emotionally intelligent tool in your workplace, you’re on the right track/page. 

Contact us to know more. 

FAQs on Showing Empathy at the Workplace

How can I demonstrate empathy in the workplace?

Demonstrating empathy at the workplace involves actively listening to your colleagues, understanding their perspectives, and showing genuine concern for their well-being. It also includes offering support during challenging times and celebrating successes together.

Why is empathy important in a professional setting?

Empathy is crucial in fostering a positive and collaborative work environment. It helps build strong relationships, enhances communication, and promotes teamwork. By understanding and acknowledging the feelings of others, you contribute to a more compassionate and productive workplace.

What are some practical ways to show empathy to colleagues?

Practical ways to show empathy include asking open-ended questions to understand their feelings, offering a helping hand when needed, acknowledging their achievements, and being mindful of their workloads. Additionally, expressing empathy through both verbal and non-verbal communication is essential.

How can leaders cultivate a culture of empathy in the workplace?

Leaders can cultivate a culture of empathy by leading by example, actively promoting open communication, providing opportunities for team members to share their genuine thoughts and feelings, and fostering a supportive and inclusive environment. Encouraging empathy in leadership styles and decision-making processes is also key.

What should I do if I make a mistake in demonstrating empathy at work?

If you make a mistake in demonstrating empathy, it's essential to acknowledge it openly, apologise if necessary, and learn from the experience. Reflect on how you can improve and ensure that you make the necessary adjustments in your communication and behaviour to show genuine empathy moving forward.

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