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A positive workplace environment is crucial to driving more productivity and efficiency among employees.

One quality that is an important element of forming a healthy workplace environment is the presence of empathy. This means that workers are able to understand the needs of others, while also being aware of their feelings and thoughts.

While it is an integral quality, the lack of it is still an issue that is frequently brought up, as evidenced by a survey published by misco last June.

The survey, which collected 250 online responses from different employees in various industries from Malta and Gozo, found that a strong work ethic, together with enthusiasm and empathy, are the top three skills that are not present in workplaces. 24 per cent of respondents felt that empathy was a skill that is lacking in today’s workforce.

Edana Maria Vella, Human Resources (HR) Manager at UP, commented on these findings on Thursday, stating that similar to most behaviours within businesses, the best way for employers to elicit empathy from others is “by example”.

Edana Maria Vella / UP
UP HR Manager Edana Maria Vella / UP

“If you want your colleagues or employees to show more empathy, start with yourself,” she said, before proceeding to list a few tips for members of a company, whatever level they are at, to be more empathetic.

She noted that it is important to acknowledge emotions, doing so by appreciating others’ achievements and offering comfort and support during challenging times. “Demonstrate that you understand how they feel and create trust,” Ms Vella explained.

Active listening is another important element, and one can do so by paying attention to what others say “without interrupting or answering too quickly”.

She also pointed out that one has to learn to “walk a mile” in others’ shoes. “Understand their perspective when making judgements or providing feedback, and consider their feelings, challenges, and motivations,” she said.

Additionally, it is vital for members of a workplace to be “open-minded and non-judgmental”, and hence avoid making quick judgements based on “superficial perceptions or assumptions”. Instead, they should “encourage open conversation and emphasise understanding over criticism,” Ms Vella added.

Lastly, she stated that one can offer help and support to others, and can do so by being eager to assist when they need it. “Demonstrate your care for their wellbeing,” she continued.

“Acting with empathy gives encouragement and permission to those around you to do the same. Acting without empathy will provide the same result. Choose wisely,” she concluded.

Ms Vella has worked as HR Specialist and Manager at business coaching firm UP for more than a year. She possesses more than 10 years of experience in the HR space, having witnessed the ever-changing employee-oriented culture and has focused mainly on continuous personal development, employee retention, and an imperative high-performance culture.

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