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Go1 believes empathy and understanding from senior leaders through to junior staff is imperative for inspiring a workforce that feels comfortable to be vulnerable in a post-pandemic world

by Wanda Rich
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David Hastings, Head of Content Partnerships at leading transformational learning and development platform Go1 says: 

‘The way we work has substantially shifted during the pandemic, it’s highlighted the need for connectivity not only in our personal lives but in a professional setting too. After years of a get up and go with a don’t moan attitude across many industries, we’re now seeing workers experiencing emotional strains like never before. The impact of this is putting pressure on leaders who want to do their best by their teams but are also suffering too.’

David was part of an informative and thought-provoking webinar on the matter, Humanising the Workplace Starts with YOU  with Lauren Waldman, founder of Learning Pirate and one of the few scientific learning designers in the world, alongside Helen Marshall Head of Learning at Thrive.

During the discussion Lauren explained the principles of metacognition and how emotional processing works four times faster than our executive function, this means we will always feel something long before we think or understand it which puts great pressure on individuals, especially in leadership positions, to articulate the human response to professional experiences. It’s this disparity that can sometimes lead to small experiences being felt as micro-rejections, which can build up when not checked.  Organisations throughout the world have been presented with a generational opportunity to rethink the role of the workplace in the emotional stability of its teams. The trick as Lauren put it is ‘to ensure we continue to find time to upskill ourselves and our emotional awareness, especially knowing that the workforce of today is the leadership of tomorrow’. 

The group agreed that:

  • While there is much about the current workplace that exists as a shared experience, to expect every person to approach it with the same emotional cognition and unique set of circumstances is potentially damaging. 
  • Leaders must recognise that individuals process experiences differently and so organisational level conversations should acknowledge the individuality of the teams it will impact. 
  • It was felt that when leaders place themselves in a vulnerable position visible to their business, they set the climate for those conversations to happen throughout the workforce.
  • Enabling teams to be more open with their emotional wellbeing and thereby checking in on themselves and those around them to a degree that very few organisations have previously done.

David finishes by saying “with mental health complications within a professional setting costing UK businesses around £45 billion every year* GO1 believes and has seen evidence that empathetic actions within a professional sphere results in happier employees, increased productivity, and staff retention. We are keen to encourage staff and leaders to foster empathy, and with a less robotic conventional approach it brings a much-needed human element that can ripple through a company, making it a more secure place for individuals to show different emotions.”

The overriding conclusion from the webinar was whilst it might feel like a trend to be considering the workplace in this way, it’s actually an evolution of humanity.