Empathy has been one of the buzzwords of the pandemic, with managers under pressure to listen to employees’ woes and understand what they are going through. But what do we mean by empathy at work, and how much is too much when it comes to caring?

Isabel talks to Belinda Parmar, founder of consultancy The Empathy Business, about small changes that can make a workplace more empathetic, and why that’s often a good thing. She finds that more empathy leads to higher productivity and engagement. 

The downside to empathy is that it’s easy for senior staff to burn out when they give too much of themselves to others. Isabel and Brooke Masters, the FT’s chief business commentator, find some possible solutions [like listening to - but not crying with - your staff]. 

Finally, Belinda gives tips on how to support team members and colleagues, and the power of having a best friend at work. Isabel and Brooke talk about their experiences of friendship at work - it might even stop you burning out. 

Want to read more? 

Brooke Masters on the long hours culture and burnout in Wall Street


Isabel’s column on the importance of friendship at work https://www-ft-com.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/content/62b2db86-60e7-11e9-b285-3acd5d43599e

McKinsey’s in-depth report on burnout in the pandemic - tl;dr? It’s still under-reported and burnt out people are … less likely to respond to surveys about burnout.


Belinda Parmar’s consultancy The Empathy Business, including the Empathy Index she mentions in the podcast [published in 2016 in the Harvard Business Review] 



We love to hear from you. What do you like (or not)? What topics should we tackle in 2022? Email us at workingit@ft.com or Isabel directly at isabel.berwick@ft.com. Follow @isabelberwick on Twitter or Instagram.

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Presented by Isabel Berwick. Editorial direction from Renée Kaplan. Assistant producer is Persis Love. Sound design is by Breen Turner, with original music from Metaphor Music. Produced by Novel.


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