The Business Case for Empathy

Put yourself in other people’s shoes. You’ve probably been given this advice at some point. I just said it to my 9-year-old son last week when he was having a hard time with his older sister who just needed some space. Of course, that was easier said than done.

It becomes even harder, I think, when you’re in the working world. When you show up to a job where you may be unsure of your standing or your colleagues’ opinions of you. It’s hard when you feel like you must win or compete or constantly beat last month’s revenue numbers. It’s hard when you have to work with someone(s) that you just don’t agree with or who you find all around difficult.

It’s mostly hard when you have your own goals to accomplish, and it seems like other people are standing in your way.

It’s hard yes, but I believe it’s also the most necessary skill to cultivate in order to succeed and thrive in our new social and economic reality.

Why? Easy answer: empathy is about connection. Connection is being demanded by consumers and by our workforce. Let’s let the data do the convincing for a moment:

·         In 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. [1]

·         86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. [2]

·         81% percent of consumers want brands to understand them better and know when and when not to approach them. [3]

·         The majority (85%) of employees agree that empathy is often undervalued by their employer.[4]

·         A lack of empathy could cause more employee turnover as 72% of employees would consider leaving their current company if they displayed less empathy. [5]

When customers say they want brands to understand them, it means that companies are able to listen and relate to the customer. Translation – display deep EMPATHY. They want brands to take that empathy one level deeper and put that newfound understanding of the customer at the forefront of their actions and their products.

And when 72% of employees say they would consider leaving a job because of lack of empathy – that’s not just a loss of talent, it’s a loss of money – to the tune of more than $600 billion in lost productivity per year[6].

 Without cultivating empathy in our customer relationships, growth and culture strategies we build the practice of inauthentic connection. These are hollow acts, marketing strategies, operational decisions or internal communications tactics - that look connected from afar, but if you look closely enough there’s no empathetic behavior, culture, leadership or operational decisions to back them up.  

The good news is that empathy can be learned and cultivated. Over time it can become the predominate characteristic of an organization. It takes work and honesty and major courage, but it is achievable and once it’s achieved – the opportunities are endless.

I’m excited to spend the month of October diving into empathy and to discuss how we can cultivate it, the common misconceptions and missteps and how to avoid them and how to inspire others to follow in our empathetic footsteps.

Hope you’ll join the conversation with us!


[1] PWC

[2] Frost & Sullivan

[3] Accenture

[4] Businessolver: Empathy Study

[5] Businessolver: Empathy Study

[6] Businessolver

Mory FontanezComment