Life

Empathy and the workplace

I think this is the first time I’m covering another more serious topic so close to the last one However, I felt the need to properly write about this issue. Please note going forward that this is not a rant, nor is this purely about me. This is about a real problem so many of my friends and other younger people face. These are my thoughts on the lack of empathy in workplaces.

So first off, there are certain workplaces that have a real lack of empathy. With the sheer number of people, companies, products, competition, tasks to complete and money to be made, it is quite simple for an individual to be seen as a number. Why should any individual’s needs and feelings matter when there are so many other people to manage? Why should anyone slow down their productivity because one person was treated poorly? Why should anybody matter above the greater goal of the company?

I get that lack of empathy happens for a reason. Nobody makes it a priority to treat others like garbage…sometimes it happens. But, that is not an excuse.

 

Here’s only a handful of examples

One of my friends in food service gets cursed out by the corporate clientele every shift. This is because the team is severely understaffed due to continuous hour cutting.

Another one (who is very intelligent and personable) was fired from his job very early on because “he couldn’t learn fast enough.” They offered him no extra help or even considered that he may learn differently.

Another friend used to work for a large retail company and her department was always swept under the rug since they were the smallest.

I once witnessed a friend hustle at takeout for the restaurant she worked at while the other staff just chatted. She wasn’t in the clique but she did her job well. However, she was first to go when they had to lay people off.

One of my friends used to work for a boss who is verbally and emotionally abusive to all his staff.

And I’ll always remember how an old classmate once centered her project around the fragility of women. Her mother was forced to lift heavy boxes at her office job even when she was pregnant.

 

 

The list goes on and on. But let’s talk about what we can do.

To me, empathy is putting yourself in another’s shoes even when you are angry. It’s seeing somebody else’s needs and finding a way to do what you can.

How many times have we demanded someone see things from our perspective before we’ve even tried to see theirs? How many times have we heard the phrase “that’s just the nature of the business”? How many times have we been so focused on getting what we want that we don’t even consider how others feel?

I’m not a perfect specimen of empathy. But I’m making a promise to myself that when I take a position of leadership, I will treat my people as individuals. Not productivity robots.

 

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I’m not saying that managers should listen to an employee’s every whim. And I know that companies will always prioritize the bottom line. But I am saying that synergy is much more valuable than temporarily saving some bucks.

 

As much as there is greed and self-interest, there is a lot of good out there too.

An employer once lent my friend $200 without question when she was behind on bills and needed money for groceries.

A couple of my past managers bought boxes and boxes of popsicles for the staff with their own money when the air conditioning was out.

There are workplaces and teams out there that actually take care of their own. And if people are giving their valuable time and energy, being taken care of should be standard instead of a perk.

 

Thank you for accompanying me on a rather long post!

Hugs and kisses,

Jin

 

 

 

 

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