What do your youngest workers crave?
A sense of community at work. Yet, according to researcher Sara Konrath, they haven’t yet developed the skills that will help them build lasting relationships. She reports
past 20 years, as measured by standard psychological tests.”
What’s the evidence?
Konrath is with the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. She collated data from 72 studies. She attributes the decline in empathy to young people being so digitally-oriented that they haven’t developed skill in building face-to-face relationships.
"Taking on another person's thoughts and identifying with their emotions are two habits at the core of empathy. Empathy is a delicate cocktail, blending assorted elements of inborn aptitude, social conditioning, personal history, and practice and motivation. The ability to empathize is like a muscle – it’s capable of growth.”
What does that mean for people in Training & Development?
That “soft skills,” (too often relegated to last place in the training calendar and budget!) must come front and center. It means that teaching practical relationship building skills can have a positive effect on your employee engagement scores and productivity.
Can people really be taught to empathize, engage, connect?
Yes. We’ve seen it happen with our clients, whose employees are in many different functional roles. Relationships don’t just happen. The ability to trust, engage in give and take, appreciate each other, celebrate and commiserate together, ask good questions, listen, collaborate, and express liking and be likable . . . are all LEARNED skills.
What’s the next step?
Review your programs in Orientation, Mentoring, Diversity, Leadership, Business Development, and Professional Development. Do they include the practical, how-to’s for connecting, conversing, and collaborating that we identify in The 8 Networking Competencies. If something’s missing, give us a call. We’ll put our heads together and come up with a plan.