As the year speeds toward the finish line, I look to my most popular posts for insight into what people are focusing on in the workplace. This year’s top posts show that our community cares about empathy, fighting bias, increasing diversity, speaking out about menopause, and building strong interpersonal relationships. I am thrilled to see these topics get so much attention, because it is precisely topics like these that give organizations solid building blocks for thriving in the dramatically evolving U.S. workplace.
Here are the posts our community liked the most this year:
Empathy is not a “you either have it, or you don’t” quality in human beings. Unless you’ve experienced a particular brain trauma, you have the ability to be empathetic. And so does that rude team member of yours! But what exactly is it? Empathy is the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.
Bias—a tendency to believe that some people and ideas are better than others—wrecks havoc in the workplace. It’s easy to identify and limit bias when it’s overt, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes bias is completely unconscious. Even those with the best intentions behave in biased ways and simply have no idea they’re doing it. But how can you manage something you can’t tell exists?
An average of 27 million women between 45 and 64 years, which comprises 20% of the American workforce, are experiencing menopause each year. Often, menopausal symptoms make it extremely difficult for women to do their best work. Yet, they feel afraid to speak about their symptoms for fear of the agism and sexism that rears its ugly head when the word “menopause” is mentioned. It’s time for leaders to talk about the real impact menopause has on women and organizations, and come up with a plan for creating a menopause-friendly workplace.
Despite the variation of locations, industries, and audience, there is a common denominator in all questions I get asked when working with clients: working relationships. No one is asking me how to create the most effective spreadsheet or improve a technical skill. No one asks how to make a widget or fly a plane. What everyone struggles with is interpersonal skills and relationships, otherwise known as soft skills.
Google, known for having its finger on the pulse of the future, has an employee base that is only 2% black and 3% Hispanic. Yet 92% of the net workforce growth over the next two decades will come from immigrants and their children. Can organizations really survive without employing large swaths of the population? Future-focused leaders know the answer is no.
Many are tackling this priority by adding a diversity officer to their leadership teams. What does a person in this role actually do? What kind of candidate is the best fit? Where does this role fit in the organizational structure?