Empathy At The Centre For The Better New Normal

Today, organizations that value empathy are the ones that have been able to respond to exigencies and come out of them being better prepared to tackle any situation


After more than a year of witnessing lockdowns and humanitarian crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, India is still recovering from a devastating second wave.

While no one knows for sure when the pandemic will end, we know that the after effects will reflect in how organisations function and engage employees.

At a time like this, India Inc. has embraced empathy to make meaningful connections with their employees as well as extend an arm of support to those who are dealing with the tragedy of losing their loved ones. This is being done through various measured interventions with a goal-oriented approach.

While we advance through this crisis, it is prudent to realise that the world is changing and so are the workplaces of the future. Work dynamics have evolved from what they were two years ago. The current and post-pandemic “new normal” for an organisation built on the foundation of technology will be a hybrid workplace with heavy reliance on its people to collaborate and drive organisational goals. Now, how do we prepare for a new normal workplace culture that focusses on holistic growth of its talent?

Fostering an empathetic work culture

To foster an empathetic work culture, organizations need to establish empathy as the foundation of interpersonal communication in the current and post-pandemic world. Being empathetic prioritizes the mental wellbeing of an organization’s workforce. Employees need to feel that they are being heard, their work is being appreciated and that the organization will stand by them in case of a personal exigency. Such a culture will go a long way in alleviating stress from employees.

An example of this would be to empower employees with flexibility at work as we move past the concept of working from home to embrace an integrated home-office culture. While one size might not fit all, regions and teams must decide what will work best for them and their customers.

Additionally, it is important for organisations to help employees develop their interpersonal skills. Most people are confident taking up new technical skills and are conscious about enhancing interpersonal skills, which indeed is a key to improving relationships with colleagues, customers and anyone they work with.

Today, organizations that value empathy are the ones that have been able to respond to exigencies and come out of them being better prepared to tackle any situation.

Investing in the happiness of your employee

One thing that really hit me early in the lockdown phase was not being able to meet with my team. I missed our impromptu meetings and chats in the hallway. In the new normal workplace, we must encourage ways to ‘connect’ with people we work with. Organizing virtual forums and sessions are great ways to encourage conversations that will lead to exchange and flow of

information between employees. Organizations should allow employees to take some time off from their work and connect with colleagues to bolster a sense of community and friendship.

The second wave has wreaked havoc and many employees and their families have been affected more gravely as compared to the first COVID wave. In light of the situation, customized employee wellness programs are helpful. Holding vaccination camps and providing access to medicare facilities will be crucial for employee wellness. Enabling mentorship will be necessary to maintain a productive and skilled workforce.

Imbibing a hybrid culture of working

A human-centric approach is required as we inch towards a hybrid workplace. The time is right to invest in contactless offices, digital workplace technologies and collaborative tools that can respond to employee needs on a real-time basis.

Organizations need to build up their business models around people. As we transition into a new culture of working, HR teams need to ascertain the emotional, physical and mental needs of employees across various roles to build a modern day resilient workforce.

As we move forward, organizations must make the best of the situation and not only embrace but also lead the change.

(The give article is attributed to Abhay Singh, Senior Director - Human Resources, Applied Materials India Private Limited  and solely created for BW People)

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Abhay Singh Applied Materials India


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