Why employees are looking for an Empathetic Employee Experience

How empathetic is your Employee Experience?

Forget the old perks that employers used to lean on to retain talent. The current workforce is demanding a more flexible and empathetic work experience across the board. Above all, employees want to have open communication with their employers, and work for a business that cares about their feelings. This is becoming known as the Expathetic Employee Experience or EEX. 

COVID has had a lot to do with this shift in attitude. Post-COVID, people have evaluated what really matters, and working for companies who are empathetic and understanding is key. 

Teams have faced a lot collectively, and the face of work has changed in response to this difficult time. As a collective, we’ve had to deal with grief and loss, financial hardship, home schooling, and a lot more. As a result, employees have required much more flexibility, and an empathy-led ethos. The need to retain talent, coupled with the fact that happier employees are more productive, make it vital for businesses to take into account EEX.

We look at why an Empathetic Employee Experience is so important, and the dos and don’ts of how to implement the EEX.

Why Is EEX So Important For Employers?

There are multiple reasons that EEX is so vital for companies looking to retain talent.  During and post COVID-19, empathy was much more important to people as circumstances became very challenging.


Collaboration, Communication And Ongoing Support Are Vital

Mercer Global Talent Trends report has found that adapting to new ways of working was a top priority for HR leaders, with the majority surveyed rating remote work support as their top priority.

Within that priority shift, HR teams suggested that their top plans for remote working success were:

  1. Physical wellbeing health analytics
  2. Strategic workforce planning
  3. Psychological, mental and emotional wellbeing analytics

Plus, when asked what the keys to remaining resilient as a business were, HR leaders said that collaboration skills & empathetic management were the top two priorities.

Understanding the mental and physical health of employees is a top priority for HR leaders. Collaboration skills and open communication has been vital to achieving this goal, as businesses rush to support their employees post-COVID.

The empathetic employee experience is characterised by open communication, and ongoing support throughout COVID and beyond. 


The dos and don'ts of the empathetic employee experience  

Top tips on creating an EEX for employees:

  • DO: Communicate with employees | DON’T: Micromanage

Communication is vital to the EEX. Employers can’t really understand what employees are going through until they create open channels of communication. However, it is important never to pressure people into oversharing, or keep such a close eye that they feel uncomfortable. 

Micromanagement is the opposite of open communication, and HR teams should seek to create relaxed and informal settings whereby employees can share their true thoughts. When working remotely, communication is even more vital and teams may need to adjust their tools to make communication fully inclusive.


  • DO: Give them responsibility | DON’T: Overload them

An empathetic employer will always lead with compassion, and this means understanding the employee's situation. Some weeks they may be capable of taking on more work, whereas others they may not. Understanding this fine balance is crucial to the empathetic employee experience. 

It’s important that employees aren’t burning out, or feeling overwhelmed with work. Creating a culture whereby people feel they can push back and communicate when they are overloaded is very important.


  • DO: Lead with empathy | DON’T: Lead with ego

Leading with empathy essentially means understanding the employees position, and respecting each employee as an individual. The opposite of this would be leading with ego - whereby results and ‘winning’ are all that matters.

Leading with empathy will eventually pay dividends, as employers will be happier, more productive and will likely stay longer at the company.


  • DO: Encourage a culture of exploration | DON’T: Shut down new ideas

A culture of exploration is one in which everyone feels they can share their ideas. This is a big ‘do’ of the EEX, whereas shutting out new ideas or putting employees down is a major ‘don’t’. 

This acceptance of new ideas may be with regards to the actual work, or it might be with regards to better ways of working or improving work flexibility and mental health. Employees often have the best ideas on how to improve things at work, as they are living the experience. Taking their feedback seriously is a key part of creating a positive EEX.


  • DO: Offer a career framework | DON’T: Force people to upskill

Reskilling and upskilling was rated as important by both employers and employees. However, the way companies go about it is vital to EEX. Talking to employees about their career pathway, and helping them build an agile career plan is an important part of empathetic leadership. 


Employees should be treated as individuals.

Employees should be treated as individuals, and their learning and development needs must be taken into account. However, forcing people to upskill is a major don’t. An empathetic employer will offer learning and development, without enforcing it. Understanding that each individual will have a different timeline of development.