Empathy in the workplace is clearly important. In fact, a global study of corporate leaders found that empathy was the one skill most clearly linked to performance. Despite this, many leaders fail to develop an empathetic work environment. Sometimes, it’s not even management’s fault. Layoffs, stagnant growth, and even outside factors can cause employees to feel detached.

Luckily, a lack of empathy in your corporate culture doesn’t have to be permanent. In fact, the first step to restoring empathy in the workplace is simply understanding that you have a problem. To help you take the next step, here are five practical strategies for restoring or building empathy in the workplace:

1. Get Leadership Onboard

Workplace environments tend to form from the top down. If you can get your management team to understand how important empathy is, the rest of the company will surely soon follow. Encourage your leadership to regularly speak with their team and make having an empathetic attitude a top priority. The rest of the team will shortly follow.

2. Encourage Face-to-Face Communication

Email and instant messaging are quickly becoming the norm, especially as remote offices become more common. However, nothing beats the impact of good old-fashioned face-to-face conversations. 95% of employees believe empathy is strongest in face-to-face interactions. Direct your leaders to spend more time in front of their employees and you should notice a quick positive impact.

3. Promote Thoughtfulness

When people make assumptions, it’s much harder to empathize with others. Provide the necessary trainings that focus on how to listen and spend more time in somebody else’s place rather than rushing to judgement. Include self-diagnostic tests so employees can learn where their strengths and weaknesses are. Help your employees dispel their preconceived notions about their colleagues and they’ll be much more empathetic. This may even have an impact on the bottom line, as companies have found that empathy training improves customer satisfaction, too.

4. Teach Improvisational Skills

Improv isn’t just for comedy. Improvisation is a learned skill and its techniques can be used to build empathy in your employees. You’re not working by yourself. It’s up to you to ensure not only your own success, but your partner’s, too. A key foundation of improv is “yes, and”. You can’t kill the scene your partner built by saying no or changing something. You must agree with the premise your partner lays out and build on it to make it even richer. True collaboration is the only way to succeed in improv. By learning to work with their colleagues and place themselves in their stories, your employees will be more empathetic.

5. Run Fun Company Events

When people have the chance to build real relationships with the people they work with they’ll naturally be able to empathize with them. Ask your employees what types of events they think would be fun and attend them. Encourage people to attend by closing the office an hour early for those attending or giving an extra PTO day as a door prize.

Restoring empathy to a workplace that lacks it can be a difficult task. By following the strategies and tips outlined above, however, you’ll be well on your way. If you need some additional help, make sure to contact us here at Empathic Workplace. We’ll help provide the tools you need to inject empathy into any workplace environment!