By Samson David. Samson David is the CEO of Sorokoa company with a work schedule.
We’ve heard of “the humanities”—the human dynamics of business that are integral to an organization’s success. Human dynamics and organizational success are deeply intertwined. In the new work paradigm, it is even more important.
Before we dive into the “why,” let’s understand humanity.
Humanities is about highlighting empathy in the workplace. In general, enterprises understand the mechanics and economics of their businesses. When it comes to humanity, there is considerable room for improvement – especially in the environment transformed by the pandemic.
A survey by Gartner Inc. of 2022 reveals that 90% of respondents consider human leadership to be the key to thriving in today’s workplace. There is a lot of ground to cover in embedding empathy in our workplace. Businessolver’s 2022 State of the Workplace Empathy Report found that 69% of employees considered their organizations empathetic, down from 72% in 2021. This underscores the need to support employees’ work experiences to achieve business goals. business with empathy.
While sensitivity to the customer has always been at the heart of business, I don’t believe sensitivity in the workplace has received the attention it deserves.
Some of the world’s largest customer-centric enterprises use data-driven insights to drive emotional connections and develop empathy with their customers at scale. For example, many retail companies map longitudinal user journeys through customer graphs to understand their experiences and make them more intuitive.
Not so with employees at all. While there have been some traditional initiatives for building empathy in the workplace such as employee training, automation, and productivity applications, these initiatives only address empathy. superficially and can produce overwhelming results.
For example, as business needs evolved over the past two years, many enterprises added new applications to the stack without removing legacy tools—leading to application bloat and disjointed systems and forcing employees to work in a fragmented environment. . We found that users switch between 22 apps 3,600 times to get their work done every day, losing five to six weeks of work each year just by switching apps – the toll that companies pay.
The empathetic approach would be to ask: Is a bad user experience slowing down teams’ responses to customers? How is current technology affecting teams? Are teams equipped with adequate tools for collaboration and problem solving?
Key challenges in scaling empathy in the workplace
The essence of empathy is to understand how employees experience work within enterprises:
• How teams work—actions, sequences, variations, efforts, business context, and impact.
• How the technical environment works – applications and their interconnection.
• How processes work – what is broken and fragmented and how it can be improved.
In general, empathy requires:
• Focus on a team, not an individual.
• Focus on the environment in which people work versus the specific actions of an individual.
• Contextualizing knowledge about each team’s local experiences at work versus drawing broad abstractions.
Using data to provide sensitivity at scale
Like customers, employees create a massive digital footprint every day as they interact with software. Enterprises can use this interaction data to build a digital map of how teams experience work to see where processes are broken and optimize them.
To do this with empathy, enterprises must adhere to three core principles when evaluating solutions:
• Anonymize every user – collect team-level data. In aggregation lies anonymity. Identifying a user by name violates their privacy and can reduce trust in the system. The focus should be on identifying common patterns within a team, not on auditing an individual’s use of time to improve how teams work.
• Make the option the default mode and share the knowledge with all users. Participation in providing data to improve teams’ work patterns should be voluntary. Insights about the team, friction points and steps to improve work should be shared with the end users from whom the data is collected.
• Empowering teams to identify problems and build collective solutions. Empower each team to develop and access their own work chart and decide what action to take to solve their problems. For example, if data suggests high variability in work patterns, discuss with teams whether they need additional training or automation.
How CXOs can scale empathy in the workplace
Leaders should aim to build an empathy-driven strategy with a data-driven approach supported by advanced solutions to identify employee pain points without violating their privacy and identity.
• Get to know how people experience work. Often, business goals and KPIs are defined by senior management and handed down to middle management, who must then translate them into reality. However, without understanding how teams experience fieldwork, these top-down goals cannot be fully realized. Provide managers with a single source of truth that can help improve performance and EX and, in turn, translate to improved NPS and customer satisfaction.
• Show empathy by addressing the root cause of the problem, not just the symptoms. Employee satisfaction surveys and in-depth two-way communication are powerful ways for CXOs to develop empathy and understand how people experience work. While these methods provide an informed understanding of people’s work experiences, they do not provide a complete and accurate picture of the last mile of work where employees face barriers. Leaders should seek to implement a data-driven approach in order to gain a holistic view of employees’ work experiences and get to the bottom of the problem and, as a result, tailor solutions to the unique needs of employees.
• Use technology to achieve a balance between “humanities, mechanics and economics.” MOST CXOs are focused on business imperatives such as increasing revenue and reducing costs. Ensure that any advanced privacy-enhancing solution can provide insights to help assess business value and articulate the risk of transformation initiatives. Additionally, understand gaps where tools or training are needed to help employees achieve their goals. This can also help provide a great experience for employees, customers and stakeholders.
Technology is extremely powerful and can bring about positive transformations. However, people should always be the focus. By recognizing the importance of the “humanities,” leaders can build a path to empathy at scale and achieve strategic goals.
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