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Human Resource departments are responsible for a lot of jobs within a company. They need to make sure policies are clear to employees, protect the company’s legal interests, and make sure that employees are not being mistreated (which is in the interest of both the company and the employees).
Often, human resources departments are responsible for establishing and enforcing policy, as well as deciding what the company should provide for employees. This means they have some level of influence over company culture, even if they’re not responsible for designated cultural activities. Employing empathy when creating company policy leads to company cultures that build employee loyalty, attract quality candidates, and fosters an environment of respect and growth. Here are some ways HR professionals can let empathy guide policy making.
Consider the Point of Policies
Different policies exist for different reasons. A lot exist to protect the company from liability. If an employee gets injured or sued while doing something that violates policy, then the company is not liable. Some policies exist to maximize productivity. Other policies exist to create a safe environment for all employees, regulating behavior so that people don’t feel attacked or unsafe.
When creating policy, HR should always consider why that policy exists, what its function is, and how that function will be taken by employees. If there is a large number of policies regulating employee behavior, be sure to communicate why.
Consider How Policy Affects Employee Experience
When crafting new policies, HR should sit down with employees and ask about their experience. What are the pain points of their job? Are there policies that complicate their workflow? Are there places where more clarity would increase efficiency and confidence in people’s decisions? Sometimes open-ended policy allows freedom, but other times it causes confusion and sets distrust. Talking with employees can help you find the balance.
When you consider the employee experience, it enables you to build a policy that prevents problems, rather than policy that solves existing problems. One thing that might help this is viewing the employee experience like the customer experience. Most companies know the importance of finding strategies to prevent customer complaints before they happen. If you take the same approach with employees, you’ll have a motivated workforce that can focus on maximizing productivity and efficiency in their work, rather than wasting time on following meaningless corporate protocols.
Foster a Community of Understanding
Empathy is basically the ability to see things from other people’s perspectives. In meetings where people complain about how things work, flip the scenario and encourage people to see things from the other side. Eventually, this will become a habit, and people can focus on finding solutions that help everyone, rather than just complaining about things that don’t benefit them. Most policies have a valid reason, and alternatives need to be proposed that solve everyone’s pain points, not just one party.
Have you noticed a lack of cohesiveness in company culture due to failure to empathize? Share your experiences in the comments!