Skip to content

Empathy in the Workplace

By hire-up-staffing in Client Resources

Leah Perez

Vice President of Major Accounts

Hire Up Staffing & Healthcare


Empathy. What is it? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, empathy means: “the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation.”  But is there more to it than that? Psychologists have identified three types of empathy. Do you know what they are?

  • Emotional Empathy:  This level of empathy occurs when one can experience another’s emotions with them, as if it were contagious. Think of this form of empathy in line with sympathy pains. This can be difficult to regulate, as some people feel as though they take on the feelings of another.
  • Cognitive Empathy:  This type of empathy does not necessarily conjure an emotional response but more of a cerebral analysis or understanding of why a person thinks and feels the way they do.
  • Compassionate Empathy: Author Daniel Goleman defines compassionate empathy as a way in which “we not only understand a person’s predicament and feel with them, but are spontaneously moved to help, if needed.”

History might not have considered empathy as an essential skill in the workplace, however, the need for empathy has since taken center stage. By most accounts, empathy is the #1 soft skill required in the workplace these days, from both an employee and leadership perspective. How can we create a safe place for empathy in the workplace?

Here are tips and tricks to creating an organization that fosters empathy:

  1. Remain Open:  Demonstrate an openness in body language and communication style. Show you are flexible with change and interested in those around you. By showing a consistent level of genuine curiosity and concern for those around you, you are likely to build a foundation of trust. Another component to remaining open while building trust, is when leaders can show vulnerability. John Scorza, author of SHRM article, Drive Innovation with Psychological Safety, writes, “When leaders admit that they don’t know something, this micro display of humility encourages others to follow suit.” Vulnerability and humility allow for a deeper level of openness and serve as powerful traits of the best people leaders.
  2. Psychological Safety: Trust helps to establish psychological safety within the workplace. This may be one of the most important aspects to a great organization. When a company has a culture that promotes psychological safety, people are more inclined to speak up; they feel safe to do so. John Scorza, author of SHRM article, Drive Innovation with Psychological Safety continues, “Psychological safety is a feeling that you are able to speak up, ask questions, seek help and acknowledge mistakes.”
  3. Listen:  Sounds easy enough, although most people struggle with active listening. You can evaluate your active listening skills by simply listening for silence after someone has finished speaking to you. If you are comfortable with silence in between the dialogue, it can show that you are processing the information shared with you. If you are quick to reply, and do not allow for any silence before speaking, ask yourself, “Was I really listening to what was being said, or was I simply waiting to talk?”
  4. Do Not Try to “Fix” Anyone:  When someone comes to you with a problem, it is often enough simply to be a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. Avoid trying to fix the person or their problem unless they expressly ask for your advice.
  5. Do Not Assume You Know the Details: If you notice someone appears to be struggling, or upset, rather than assume what is going on with them, ask questions. Talk with them, hear them out and do not assume to know why they appear to be having a tough time. By taking action and starting a conversation, you show you care. Feeling seen all on its own may help them with feeling better.
  6. The Little Things are BIG! Maya Angelou’s famous quote, “…people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” applies here. Small gestures can mean so much: a smile, a wave, holding the door open for someone, providing a quick a shout out… always remember that the little things go a long way. Showing you care is not about grandiose gestures but small ways to demonstrate you see and value them.
  7. Make Team Building a Priority:  Whether you are initiating a quick chat over coffee or gathering the team for a huddle when celebrating an office birthday, take the time to stop and talk. Engage with your team, get to know your coworkers. Work to build connections with those around you and create new and unique opportunities for teams to work together and forge new working relationships.

Creating an empathic workplace is one that fosters open communication, trust, and psychological safety. Knowing how to be empathetic can not only improve your communication in the workplace, but it has the power to create and sustain positive relationships, making for a stronger, more enjoyable, and more productive workspace.

Would your organization benefit from additional support with building and sustaining an empathic workplace? Looking for leaders and employees who exhibit strong and important soft skills like empathy? Let us help! Our team is capable and ready to serve.


There is no doubt that 2021 brought forth opportunities with which to leverage new and emerging employment trends. Follow the Hire Up Staffing & Healthcare Services Blog to stay connected with a variety of topics aimed to help support you! Whether you are an active job seeker looking for tips and tricks to land your perfect job or an employer looking to fill a challenging position, we are here to help you HIRE UP!

Drive Innovation with Psychological Safety (

Leah Perez, Vice President of Major Accounts | February 4, 2022

As the Vice President of Major Accounts, Leah focuses on the national level clients. Leah has over 16 years of recruiting experience in various industries from medical/clinical to administrative/accounting, all of which has launched her to being one of the most well-respected staffing leaders in California.  Clients and candidates would describe her as urgent, ethical, and most importantly she takes the time to understand her client’s needs so she can properly assist them. Leah would love to speak with you so she can help your business reach new heights.