The concept of empathy is beginning to generate a surprising level of discussion, debate, and exploration in the business community. According to the Harvard Business Review, it is time for an “epidemic of empathy in business.”
I confess to being more of a left-brain or analytical type. So as I read current articles on the topic of empathy, it has me thinking about what role it plays in workers' comp. Are we just supposed to be nicer? More sympathetic? And coming back to the analytical side, I have to ask, “Is there a business benefit to empathy?”
It’s important we honestly explore that question. Empathy is defined in psychology as understanding a person from their frame of reference. There is some research referenced in a Wall Street Journal article by Christopher Mims that suggests “one of the most important elements of collaboration is empathy.” The plight of an injured worker requires collaboration between that worker, their adjuster, provider, employer and case manager, among others.