Why Empathy in the Workplace is a Necessary Leadership Trait There has been many occasion in my hospitality management career

that I have had to wear a hat as grievance and support counselor for emotionally distraught staff. We have always instructed those that work for us that when they enter the premises that they should leave their problems at the front door and concentrate on taking care of our guest which means a happy smile, positive mental attitude, and giving their busy best. However, the workplace that we know has changed in terms of employee/management relations, consequently being emphatic play a significant role in the shaping and operating of your hospitality venue. Therefore to show an indifference to the plight of your employees is a recipe for disaster for your operations. Thus it is important to have an open door policy to lend your ear to problems that your associates might be experiencing on the job or at home. In most cases they are not looking for a solution, but someone who is a good listener and will not always try to lecture to them about the facts of life. In those situations such as a death or a family member who has become ill, it is good that you have a consistent policy that is in compliance with the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act). In addition, if you have an uncompensated leave policy as a standard part of your company benefits, you can point your associates in that direction as well. It would be very beneficial if your company participated in an EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) plan. EAP plans are lost cost programs that do not oblige you or your company legally to problems that employees may be experiencing on the job or at home. In situations where a disciplinary process is involved, it would be a wise practice to mandate that associates seek out the services of EAP. So often we find that circumstances that affect employee performance on the job may be directly related to marriage, financial, or legal problems at home. By having an empathic atmosphere in your place of business will create allegiance to its mission and purpose by those who work under you. In my time in the hospitality industry, I find managers and owners often overlook this very valuable tool which has little or no cost and doesn’t require a dramatic change in their organizational policies. In the various places I have worked, I have had to be very flexible in both being empathic and understanding to the plights and needs of those that work for me while at the same time running a profitable business. The one instance that really stands out is the situation when I was working as an area supervisor for a Canadian company that provides remote site catering to the oil, gas, and mining interest. Within a one week period, I lost two employees who perished while doing their job. One who was on her way to another camp when she died instantly in a head-on collision during a very bad snow storm and the other dropped dead in front of his camp manager due to an apparent heart attack while drinking a bottle of water after exercising on a treadmill. Even though my camps that I managed were hundreds of miles apart from each other, word of the deaths spread like wild fire. The two employees who died were trusted associates and friends. In the case of the one camp manager who had an employee who died in front of her, I gave her a week off, deemed her the official representative of the

and ran the camp until her return. Your acts of empathy. they were like family. consistency. The employee who died in the car crash. compassion. and understanding as owners or managers depends what steps that you will take to improve the morale of those that work for you. I took all these steps to mitigate the effects that it may have on the organization by raising morale and showing the staff that these two individuals were more than just a number.company so that she could attend the funeral. These steps will go a long way of maintaining productivity. . I sent her two closest friends to the funeral which was taking place in California. and excellence in an era of economic uncertainty and global changes.

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