Let's face it: No matter how comfortable you are at work or how flexible your workplace is, we all have sides to us that don't make an appearance in the office everyday. It's called a "personal life," after all.
But would knowing more about your colleagues change how you relate to and support them in the workplace?
Whether or not we choose to share them publicly, all of us carry things with us that have shaped who we are as people and that affect our performance as employees. These are the experiences and emotions that make us fundamentally human. It’s the ability to understand the experiences of others and share their feelings that we call empathy.
More than any other generation, today’s workforce prioritizes authenticity and purpose in the workplace. As such, employees are demanding an employee experience that feels more human. An experience that feels more empathetic. In fact, according to research published in the Lady Geek Global Empathy Index, workplace empathy is not just a nice-to-have. Rather, data show that increased empathy drives increased commercial success. According to Lady Geek, the top 10 companies in the Global Empathy Index 2015 increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50% more earnings. Lady Geek’s 2016 findings showed an 80% correlation between departments with higher empathy and those with high performers.
We recently found ourselves contemplating this question: If building empathy is a business priority, how do we cultivate empathy and understanding amongst nearly two thousand co-workers across seven global offices? How do we strengthen the empathy muscles of our employees?
Our answer was to host a live storytelling show called Humans of HubSpot.
Modeled after NPR’s The Moth, Humans of HubSpot featured eleven HubSpot employees from across our offices telling personal stories on the theme of “identity.” Employees submitted pitches, were selected, and then honed their stories over the course of several weeks. On the night of the event, we arranged our largest conference space to look like a black box theater and the Humans of HubSpot stood up one-by-one to tell their stories in front of more than a hundred of their colleagues. We also livestreamed and recorded the event. The response was overwhelmingly positive, but more importantly, the stories themselves were too good not to share.
Using footage from the storytelling event, we’ve created a series of podcast links and video clips that we think will inspire you to infuse more empathy into your workplace interactions and help you flex your own empathy muscles. We’ve broken down the identity stories into three episodes – Rebels, Acceptance, and Personality. We hope you enjoy!
You don’t necessarily need to have a storytelling event in order to build workplace empathy. Creating a culture of empathy starts with small steps, like just being a more active listener, and reflecting on your daily personal interactions with those around you. Sending a simple thank you card, or an email to a grieving coworker may seem like a simple “nudge,” as the Empathy Index and Lady Geek’s founder Belinda Parmar calls it. But, when you add all these nudges together, you quickly begin to see that, collectively, they do move the needle and make workplaces more inclusive.
Of course, we’re not empathy experts. We’re still learning, and we’d love to learn from you. What steps have you taken or what programs have you run to create a more empathic company? We’re all ears.
Originally published Jun 13, 2017 8:00:00 AM, updated January 18 2023