Employees want more empathetic leaders, new Facebook research finds

Empathetic leadership is now needed to retain top talent in UK organisations, according to new research by Facebook.

More than half (58%) of employees said they would consider leaving their job if company leaders didn’t show empathy to staff needs.

The research, commissioned by Workplace from Facebook, found a growing demand from UK employees for more empathetic leaders since the pandemic.

More than one in four (27%) have already considered handing in their notice for this reason.

Head of Workplace from Facebook, Nazir Ul-Ghani, told HR magazine the business world is changing, and employers therefore need to ensure they don’t lose top talent post-pandemic.

He said: “As restrictions continue to ease in the UK, it’s people that will be key to helping even the hardest hit industries rebuild in this new normal.

“Now more than ever, companies will want to hold onto talent that understands their business and can help navigate recovery, as well as attracting specialists who can bring new skills and encourage evolution and growth in a post-pandemic, distributed world of work.”

Ul-Ghani said it is understandable why the pandemic has made employees want more empathic leaders

“We’ve all been tested in the last year, both personally and professionally, and many have had to balance challenges from isolation to home-schooling and health concerns to new ways of working,” he explained.


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Almost a third (32%) of UK employees said communications from leadership during COVID-19 were cold and impersonal and 31% said leaders didn’t show empathy towards people’s personal lives.

As a result, Ul-Ghani said there are some clear shifts in the characteristics employees now want to see in leaders.

A third (35%) of workers agreed that before the pandemic, bravado and tough leadership were important leadership qualities.

Yet the majority now think working for an organisation with an empathetic and authentic leadership team is more important than it was pre-pandemic, with evidence that this shift may already be in the works. 

Over half (51%) of workers said their leadership teams are now prioritising people and their wellbeing over productivity.

Ul-Ghani added: “It is encouraging to see that some UK leaders are on the right path, but there is still work to be done to ensure people, and frontline workers in particular, are being listened to and catered for when it comes to employee experience.”

Register here for our upcoming webinar on creating a workplace that works for all on 29 June at 12:30 BST. 

Workplace from Facebook surveyed 2,000 UK working adult in April 2021.