In 2020, Businessolver’s annual report on the state of workplace empathy shares a noteworthy phenomenon: While empathy’s value in the workplace has been rising, companies are not making gains in the hearts and minds of their workers. When it comes to empathy, companies are slipping:

  • Since 2018, workers report a 10% drop in workplace empathy.
  • HR professionals’ ratings of their own companies’ empathy have dropped 18%.
  • While 68% of CEOs believe their organization is empathetic, only 48% of employees share that belief.

Compounding factors in personal experience, economic trends, and sociocultural uncertainty intensify remote workplace communications. Certainly, as remote work reaches more teams, professional communication shifts into more efficient channels. As a result, business leaders are noticing communication and tone are becoming more impersonal and transactional in style. In early 2020, aggregate data from Grammarly’s product showed a 75% drop in the number of US-based workers using an optimistic tone in their writing. This shift in tone can strain internal communication and collaboration, and this can spill over into external communications, too.

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Why empathetic communication matters in the workplace 

When it comes to customer interactions, 50% of consumers say unclear communication is the biggest barrier to a positive customer experience. Our own experiences as consumers tell us how critical empathetic service is to customer satisfaction and brand loyalty, too.

The importance of empathy in customer service

Think of frontline customer service teams. Even in the best of times, it’s hard to keep up the optimistic, empathetic, and professional tone customers expect. Customer service teams are called upon to communicate with empathy all day, every day.

Customer service challenges amplify during times of crisis or uncertainty, as customers may need payment grace periods or policy exceptions for returns. No matter their requests, customers are counting on empathy, and they reward personal interactions that help them feel respected and understood.

The importance of empathy on internal, remote teams

Research reveals we expect empathetic service and communication from our employers, too. In fact, organizational and leadership trends indicate empathy is already reshaping the way employers hire and retain in-person and remote workplace talent.

Still, as LinkedIn reports in their Global Talent Trends 2020 report, most teams struggle to find the resources to meet the challenge. LinkedIn found that more than half of survey respondents said there aren’t enough people or funds inside their organization dedicated to employee experience. And while 48% of talent professionals say improving compensation and benefits are part of employee experience, 38% of HR professionals agree that companies can see results by investing in cost-effective technology solutions.

38% of talent professionals say their company can show empathy and help remote teams express it if team leaders improve three essential resources:

1 Open and effective management

2 Intuitive tools and technology

3 Ongoing employee training

How to create systems that help ensure empathy in the workplace

In the near term, leaders can offer intuitive tools and technology, including cost-effective software investments, to show teams they empathize with organizational communication goals and individual contributors’ needs. 

For example, with Grammarly Business, employees get individual, real-time feedback on how to calibrate tone of voice and uplevel communication skills, including empathy. Our AI-powered tone detector can detect over 40 tones, inviting people to flex their communication style and adjust word choice so their tone is always appropriate for the audience, situation, and communications channel.

Whether the goal is to sound friendly but respectful or curious but not accusatory, this AI-powered tone detector gives your teams a powerful, confidence-building resource. Using a real-time tone detector allows team members to adapt their tone without risking judgemental feedback from a colleague or manager. Plus, it prevents lost time since there’s no need to interrupt team members for feedback.

Using AI to Communicate with Empathy and Confidence

It may seem unconventional to use artificial intelligence as a tool that brings warmth and personalization into the workplace. But an AI-powered writing assistant can empower multilingual speakers, customer support agents, engineers, and anyone who is more inclined to technical terms than tone nuances to communicate with confidence and empathy.

Ultimately, artificial intelligence isn’t too far removed from human intelligence. Software engineers have coded our written language conventions into AI tools. From spelling and grammar suggestions to word choice recommendations and sentence-by-sentence tone detection, AI-powered writing assistants use our natural language systems and processes to give feedback. It simply appears as text rather than face-to-face feedback.

Short-term success and long-term advantages with AI-powered writing assistance

Remote work is here to stay, and customer-facing teams will always need to help people feel heard and appreciated. So as socially diverse teams continue to work from geographically diverse locations, digital communication may all but replace in-person feedback loops. Empathetic communication built around real-time feedback and appropriate tone detection will only increase in business value.

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