Empathy is the ability to understand the perspective, experience and feelings of another person. It’s nothing new. Even when it comes to business. It’s the not-so-secret weapon of companies that disrupts their industries, and one that builds brand experiences we can’t forget.
That ability isn’t a luxury only for brands that can afford to do the research. Empathy helps brands identify stakeholders’ unmet needs — and nudges them to innovate until they address those needs. Today’s customers expect brands to get it right.
Companies that do get it right start by understanding what their brand stands for and what problems customers need to solve. They start by asking questions. Customer experience is the practice of seeing those needs, meeting them, supporting customers at every stage along their journeys and measuring their reactions to the experience.
Where empathy meets your bottom-line
Want to truly drive customer experience with empathy? You need to apply an empathetic approach to the experience of your internal customers first. Your employees, that is.
According to a 2019 study:
- 93% of employees said they’d stay longer with an empathetic organization
- 78% would work longer hours for an empathetic organization
- 82% would leave their job for a more empathetic organization
When empathy is part of a company’s culture and employees can see it modeled from top to bottom, they are more likely to apply it in their everyday work, too.
And leadership is beginning to notice: 72% of CEOs said workplace empathy drives business growth. That’s a 15-point bump from the previous year. Across industries, leaders are seeing workplace empathy affect their bottom-lines, improving talent acquisition, worker retention, product design and even financial performance.
Empathy as part of employee experience takes many forms. It might mean more face-to-face communication (even if it’s via Zoom), family-oriented benefits, streamlined HR processes or bolder inclusion initiatives.
At its simplest, it’s meeting candidates and employees where they are and making them feel supported at every turn.
Note: candidates and employees look for signs of what kind of employer you are from the first time you meet. Ushering them into your culture begins with a branded talent community.
Your employment brand’s opportunity to shine
A talent community is a curated group of promising candidates that, for some reason (e.g., no open jobs at the moment, pandemic-related hiring freeze or they’re not ready to leave their current job) can’t join your team at this time.
Employers and staffing firms too often mistake talent communities for email databases with resumes attached. They blast job openings when they’re posted with little contact in between. Instead, your talent community should be harnessed as a valuable network of warm leads ready to be engaged, nurtured and grown.
A branded talent community is an expression of your employment brand and what it’s like to be part of your team.
It’s also your time to shine. A branded talent community looks like your company in terms of colors, logos and user-friendly design. But it’s on those deeper levels, like personalization, voice and customer service, that you have the opportunity to build relationships and differentiate a strong employment brand.
The people in your talent community are great candidates you don’t want to lose. Top talent expects quality candidate experiences, no matter the labor market nor economic climate. Leveraging the voices in your talent community helps build the kinds of experiences and support systems that keep people engaged and interested.
But first, you need to understand those people. To see them, hear them, know them. Let them feel like you get them. It’s also your chance to use that not-so-secret weapon.
How to be an empathetic employer
There’s no golden ticket into the “empathetic employers” club. Good news: it’s not a guessing game either.
Even when employers and staffing firms are forced to deliver unparalleled candidate experiences remotely, they need to connect in a very human way. That requires an investment — and data.
Using data from your talent community can help you understand who’s in the group. Annotated resumes, notes from virtual coffee chats, salary requirements and skills tests create a foundation for progressive profiles in your database. Don’t stop there.
Doing regular check-ins with candidates in your talent community and sharing company updates is just the baseline. Developing the kind of talent engagement strategy that connects on a human level requires you to dig deeper. To ask questions.
In fact, asking questions is a powerful way to strike up a conversation with the people in your talent community and employees in your company.
What you learn can help you build better candidate and employee experiences. It can also show you how to:
- Improve HR processes and make information more accessible
- Communicate more effectively across
- your hiring process
- Tell your company’s culture story to candidates who can’t visit the office
- Build a more inclusive culture and give employees a greater sense of belonging
Get feedback and use it wisely
Polls and surveys give candidates and employees easy ways to engage, weigh in on their candidate and employee experiences, and provide the kind of molecular-level insights you won’t get from blogs, thought leaders or industry reports.
Aggregate industry data can certainly give you something to think about for the larger labor market. But getting to know your distinct talent community on a very human level can help you see trends — and respond to them — before anyone else.
Don’t worry: this work shouldn’t be a manual, administrative nightmare. It should be a no-brainer.
You can combine workflows and AI to automate when and to whom polls and surveys are sent to flesh out profiles, gauge effectiveness of a touchpoint in the candidate journey or get feedback about HR interactions. (Here are some tips on how to do it.)
The objective here is to continuously ask questions, collect data, learn from it, improve and ask again.
Your talent community’s and employees’ needs will evolve over time. So, too, should your candidate and employee experiences. Hearing them, seeing them and letting them point you in the right direction is one powerful (and not-so-secret) weapon.
Next step: Humanize the Candidate Journey
Empathy helps create a personalized, efficient and intuitive candidate journey. That kind of humanized and holistic experience can future-proof talent-reliant companies with great candidates.
In our latest eBook, we’ve outlined how to do just that. Learn what candidates want across the 7 phases of the candidate journey and ways to measure if they’re getting what they want.
You’ll also find out how to speed hiring 55% with personalized and automated referral management.