Empathy in the Workplace

by Lorrie Ray

Hot Topics,  HR Expertise and Support,  Leadership

A recent article I read along with a discussion with a member, has me considering empathy in the workplace in a way that I hadn’t before. The article included a study showing that larger workplaces are working to incorporate their responsibility of ensuring communities’ wellbeing as an outgrowth of their HR practices.

This was brought home to me when a member called and wanted to know how they could support an employee’s recovery after having time off to attend a clinic for substance abuse. I had to admit that this was not a question I typically receive. Usually, the employer wants advice on making it clear to the employee that any further instances of substance abuse in the workplace will not be tolerated. The employer also wants to know how to ensure that no abuse occurs during the workday.

Truly supporting employees to have good lives at home with their families and in the workplace requires a shift in the mindset of HR. First, it is important to meet the employee where they are. Second, it is important to have a crucial conversation with the employee to find out their goals and if there is something the employer can do to help. Finally, employers need to expand the information they gather so that they can provide guidance in this area.

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About the author
Lorrie Ray

Lorrie's experience in the variety of problems typically facing employers includes resolution of civil rights cases before state and federal administrative agencies, federal wage and hour disputes and state law claims, employment discrimination, wrongful discharge and health and safety laws. She is also a frequent lecturer on employment law matters. Previous to working at Employers Council, Lorrie worked at the U.S. Department of Labor Office of the Solicitor for a little over three years, prosecuting wage and hour cases for the Department.