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Empathy in Organizations: Now Is the Time of the Truth

Empathy in Organizations: Now Is the Time of the Truth

By Otavio Dias (Partner and CEO of Repense) and Nelio Bilate (CEO of NBHeart)

AGO | 2020

By Otavio Dias (Partner and CEO of Repense) and Nelio Bilate (CEO of NBHeart)

Inside and outside the corporate world, we certainly live the most challenging moment of our lives. We'll never forget what we're going through.

Many businesses are in great difficulty and without clear prospects of what (and when) things will start to return to normal which, we already know, will be the so-called "new normal" – term already worn out, but absolutely true. On the other hand, there are businesses that are reinventing themselves, repositioning and accelerating transformations that would probably only happen in a few years.

In early May, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that all employees holding positions that allow remote work will be able to opt for the model forever. Here, Banco do Brasil, for example, reported the return of 19 of its 35 buildings, with savings estimated at R$ 1.7 billion in 12 years. XP canceled expansion plans in São Paulo, where the square meter is more expensive, to build a campus in São Roque, 60 km from the capital.

A recent survey by Edelman (=Trust/Barometer) shows that 98.5% of companies have already implemented a full or partial Home Office policy, and 96% of them have already outlined policies regarding face-to-face meetings and/or travel. In addition, 60% are already relying on support policies for employees infected or suspected of Coronavirus infection and 90% already promoted awareness of preventive measures for their employees.

The same survey shows that 72% of consumers agree that the country will not go through this crisis without brands playing an important role in solving the problems faced. 93% of them say it is essential for companies to do everything they can to protect the well-being and financial security of their employees and suppliers, even if it means suffering huge economic losses until the pandemic is over.

With the total or partial isolation of people in all corners of the world, the businesses suffer and their employees too, who have had their routines completely modified and are now immersed in fear, which raises anxiety to worrying levels.

If some large companies are already carrying out and communicating fast structural transformations that seem positive, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs – and along with them, a gigantic mass of workers – agonize over what can still come around.

A recent study by the Secretariat of Economic Policy (Secretaria de Política Econômica - SPE) of the Ministry of Economy drew a rather bad scenario for Brazilian companies in the midst of the pandemic. According to the survey, about 3,500 companies will seek judicial recovery or go bankrupt in the coming months. The data show that default can grow 294% in relation to a scenario without the pandemic, reaching 271 thousand companies in Brazil.

In this moment of collective anguish, the quality of the relationship of organizations with their employees gains prominence. How to support them? How to facilitate remote work? How to preserve their mental health?

If the level of support offered by companies depends on several factors, in particular the financial capacity of each of them, genuine concern and clear and frequent communication can already make a huge difference to people – and they cost very little. We are not talking about financial resources, but about emotional resources.

In addition to the concerns of preserving jobs and benefits, establishing a systematic mechanism of interaction and relationship with employees is one of the most important attitudes. It's time to make ourselves present.

Leaders should understand that this is a time to be absolutely empathetic, understanding the reality of each individual, giving more flexibility in meeting deadlines or goals. It's time to rescue our humanity.

It's time to understand once and for all that the corporate world can (and should) be more loving, supportive, sustainable and, above all, empathetic.

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