Empathy at work

If you’re currently working in an Indian organisation, then this might concern you a lot.

Our workplace is where we end up spending more than half part of our days. While almost all organisations get work done, the quality and speed of the work done is what makes the real difference. So, what is that affects the quality and speed of work at an organisation? Well, the answer is the company’s empathy towards its employees and the work environment it offers them. And, according to a newly released 2016 Empathy Index, this year Indian companies are least empathic and have the worst environments.

The Empathy Index strives to identify the companies that are successfully creating empathetic cultures to their employees and then ranks them accordingly. The companies in question here are the ones that understand the need of retaining their best human resources, create the best environment possible at the workplace so that the diverse workforce can easily work and thrive, and towards the end, they’re the ones who walk their way happiest to the banks to draw the big, fat cheques.


Methodology Used

This year, in order to determine the index, the UK based consultancy The Empathy Business decided to categorise empathy into four categories: leadership, ethics, company culture, public messaging through social media, and brand perception. In addition to the consultancy’s publicly available metrics that include the CEO approval ratings from the staff, number of accounting infractions and scandals, and ratio of women on boards. This year, it also added a carbon metric.

For accessing all the financial information about the companies, the consultancy turned to S&P Capital IQ, and all the employee related information came from Glassdoor. In order to arrive at this year’s index, the consultancy meticulously analysed over 2 million tweets from the period between September 27 and October 16, 2016. Further, the consultancy had an additional source of qualitative data that ended up expanding the survey and giving it more credibility. The Empathy Business decided to have a panel of people selected from the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders who had to rate the companies’ morality.

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The 2016 Empathy index though took into account global companies, but a special focus was laid on U.S. and UK companies and 10 Indian companies. Unfortunately, the consultancy couldn’t take Chinese companies into consideration as their information isn’t easily available. According to the consultancy, for the next report in March 2017, additional geographies will be added.

Results

When compared to Global Empathy Index 2015, 10 companies increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10, and generated 50 percent more in their earnings. According to the Empathy Business, during their own work with their clients, they have derived 80% correlation between departments with higher empathy and those having high number of performers. This means, any ethical failure can prove to be very costly to the companies. This point is proved by the jaw dropping ranking drop that Deutsche Bank (40th in 2015 to 110th this year) and Wells Fargo (from 20th to 130th) witnessed this year from last year. Both the aforementioned companies’ much infamous scandals this year, and poor brand perception because of these scandals, ended up affecting their rankings on the index.

The tech sector once again topped the rankings this year, and even ended up increasing its share in the top ten from 50 percent in 2015 to 60 percent in 2016. This year, Facebook dethroned Microsoft from the top spot, because the focus the social networking giant laid on introducing an Empathy Lab, and improving its internal culture.

empathy-list

While US-based Facebook topped the most empathic list with a score of 100.0, India-based Bharat Petroleum topped the list when it came to the least empathic companies list with a score of 0.0.

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So, how does one create an Empathetic Company?

The first step towards ensuring that you have an empathic environment at your company is to identify the visible problems and addressing them right away. This was the approach adopted by Ryanair in 2014 during its “Always Getting Better” program. The company started out by doing away with any unallocated seating and hidden charges and reduced its carry-on luggage restrictions. This resulted in the company making a 13 places jump in this year’s index. In fact, the company’s net profit increased from €867 million the previous year to a whopping €1.24 billion till the financial year ending of March 2016.

Taking steps to create an empathic environment at workplace doesn’t always have to be costly. According to the Empathy Business, one of the ways to do this is by delivering small “empathy nudges” systematically. While in isolation these nudges might seem insignificant, but in aggregation they are known to have shown a huge impact.

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