CEOs, Employees See Workplace Empathy Differently

The percentage of employers who think their bosses care about them is at a new low, a new study shows.

Author: Curt Wagner       

diverse employees giving thumbs down sign

Just 66 percent of employee respondents to a new survey think they work in an empathetic workplace.

There is a significant gap between CEOs’ perceptions of their ability to identify and understand other people’s emotions in their workplaces compared to what employees say they experience, according to findings from the 2023 State of Workplace Empathy Report by Businessolver, an HR benefits technology company.

The survey of 1,000 employees, HR professionals, and CEOs from six industries showed that nearly seven out of 10 (68 percent) of CEOs believe they are more empathetic now than they were before the pandemic. Only six out of 10, or 59 percent, of employees agree with that assessment — a 10-percent drop from last year’s survey results.

In fact, study results show that the number of employees who believe their workplace demonstrates empathy is at an all-time low. Just 66 percent of employee respondents think they work in an empathetic workplace, a drop from 2018 when 78 percent of employees said the same.

One way employers can demonstrate empathy is in the workplace policies they put in place. The study shows that companies are not offering the policies employees have indicated they care about. More than 90 percent of employees listed flexible work hours, paid maternity leave, flexible work location, family benefits such as paid daycare, and paid paternity leave among their top five most-wanted policies. But fewer than half of the employers indicated they offer these benefits.

Empathy is the topic we explore in Convene’s upcoming May/June issue cover story — from leading teams with empathy to designing events in ways that demonstrate empathy for participants. In the cover story package, we interviewed The Empathy Advantage: Leading the Empowered Workforce authors — future of work and technology strategists Heather E. McGowan and Chris Shipley — who spoke about the challenges leaders are facing in managing a post-pandemic workforce and how cultivating empathy is key to moving forward. Stay tuned for the interview and additional articles on this important topic from the issue.

Find a PDF of the complete Businessolver study.

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