New research finds that empathetic leaders will be critical to retaining staff post-pandemic with over half of surveyed employees stating they would be prepared to leave their role otherwise. 

Data released by Workplace from Facebook, an online collaborative software, shows the growing importance of having empathetic leaders.

Over half (58 per cent) of UK employees say they would consider leaving their job if company leaders didn’t show empathy to staff needs.

In addition to this, over a quarter (27 per cent) have already considered handing in their notice for this reason.

With the vast majority of staff believing that company leadership style is important to their personal wellbeing and happiness at work, it is evident that the expectations of UK bosses are changing and the risks this poses for companies who do not move with the times.

Over a third of staff (35 per cent) felt that bravado and tough leadership were more important pre-pandemic.

However, this has now been completely turned on its head with almost two-thirds (65 per cent) saying that working for an organisation with an empathetic and authentic leadership team is more important today.

When asked which characteristics most represented empathetic leadership, approachability topped the list (55 per cent), followed by being a good communicator (47 per cent) and a good listener (44 per cent).

This also appears as though this will be a long-term shift as almost four-fifths (77 per cent) felt that empathetic and authentic leadership is now the foundation of good company culture.

Conversely, workers also now have a clearer idea of what a lack of leadership means to them.

During the pandemic, almost a third (32 per cent) said communications from their leadership team during this difficult period felt cold and impersonal. A similar number of people (31 per cent) felt their leaders showed a lack of empathy for people’s personal lives.

However, there has been a marked shift in leadership culture as over half (51 per cent) of workers now perceive that their leadership teams are prioritising people and their wellbeing over productivity.

As such, the research states that HR professionals need to partner with leaders to build a culture that is empathetic, authentic and open to improve the employee experience which will retain talent long-term .

Nazir Ul-Ghani, Head of EMEA, Workplace from Facebook said:

Our research clearly shows that employees want to work for leaders that prioritise empathy and transparency – and they’re willing to vote with their feet.

At the end of the day, you can’t show empathy over email. So to deliver for their employees and win talent for the long-term, companies need to think seriously about how they can better connect company leadership with employees in a way that encourages authentic, two-way dialogue, especially in hybrid and distributed work environments.


*To obtain these results, Vitreous World conducted a survey of 2,000 UK consumers aged 18+ which was carried out in April 2021 on behalf of Workplace from Facebook.