Are you lucky enough to have one, perhaps several people you can turn to when you want to hash out a concern? Chances are these companions engage with you easily and completely. They listen intently, care about what you’re saying, and respond objectively, yet keyed to who you are and your needs. What a blessing. They have a certain knack, a gift to be treasured. It’s called “empathy.”    

Empathy is “both a trait and a skill.” An all-encompassing way of being, of interacting with the world, it’s an always-on mindset that functions across all facets of our lives. 

There are many dimensions of empathy. And there are just as many, if not more, benefits to individuals and companies alike in embracing and strengthening this capability, especially now. This post sets it all out. 

What’s in this Word — Empathy?  
Merriam-Webster defines empathy as “the action of [or capacity for] understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”  

Don’t confuse empathy with sympathy, advises this same source. They’re not the same. Sympathy “implies sharing (or having the capacity to share) the feelings of another.” Empathy is different. It is “imagining, or having the capacity to imagine, feelings that one does not actually have.” The distinction: Empathy “is the ability to emotionally understand what other people feel, see things from their point of view, and imagine yourself in their place. Essentially it is putting yourself in someone else’s position and feeling what they must be feeling.” Empathy gives you the capability “to walk a mile in another’s shoes.”  

Empathy is broad and complex. To depict this concept, two psychologists deconstructed it into three main stages. Think of this roadmap as a hierarchical set of blocks that builds on one another to illustrate how empathy works: 

  • Cognitive empathy: This first step relates to awareness and power to get into another person’s head, discern their state-of-mind, and sense what they’re experiencing.    
  • Emotional empathy: From the initial base, this phase goes deeper to engage with a person, establish rapport, and emotionally connect. 
  • Compassionate empathy: This next level pertains to taking action, responding, comforting, and otherwise helping to address a person’s situation.

Putting This All to Use 
There’s no disputing it. Empathy offers practical and prized advantages. And they pertain to our lives on and off the job. Let us count the ways.  

Empathy offers a host of pluses, says a post on  It acts as the glue to make social relationships. It provides not only the insight into emotions but also the ability to keep them in check. And as noted, it fosters “helping behaviors” in social interactions, both when giving and receiving it. captures the significance of empathy in a single sentence. “It’s one of the five key components of emotional intelligence, and it helps to build trust and strengthen relationships.” There’s more according to “Five Ways Empathy Is Good for Your Health.”  

This Psychology Today piece explains that empathy reduces stress. How? It aids us in managing difficult situations. It provides the wherewithal to communicate effectively and collaborate. What’s more, empathy “guides our moral compass” along the lines of the Golden Rule to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” CNN adds: “Empathy is a fundamental building block for conflict resolution and understanding and bonding with others.”  

In all, empathy “enables people to get on with others, whether it be a loved one, colleague, friend or complete stranger.” And here’s a pivotal point for this discussion. “Ultimately, it is essential for developing good relationships, both in your personal life and at work.” 

The Merit of Empathy in Business 
Why is empathy desirable in a business setting? reports that “this traditionally soft skill yields hard, bottom-line results for organizations big and small” by: 

  • Boosting brand purchases, loyalty, and recommendations. Empathy enables sales/marketing teams to home in on what customers need and want, pitch products/services, drive repeat business, and generate recommendations.      
  • Enhancing “productivity and innovation.” Employees who possess and wield strong empathy tend to be high performers and thinkers. They excel at working well with others and solving problems. 
  • Outpacing the competition. Who knew sensing and feeling could have such a favorable effect in the dog-eat-dog commercial arena? The 2016 Empathy Index identified the “Most Empathetic Companies” and crunched the numbers to show that they generated superior market share and industry ranking.   
  • Creating a collaborative culture. Organizations high on the empathy spectrum “attract highly engaged individuals,” who typically choose to remain with the company and have high levels of job satisfaction. 

No wonder a post touts empathy as “the most important business skill.” This point of view comes from the power it exerts to enhance product development, customer service and team dynamics. For the many reasons cited, it suggests that “empathy should be embedded into the entire organization…. There is nothing soft about it. It is a hard skill that should be required from the board-room to the shop floor.” “The Importance of Empathy in the Workplace” adds to this list. It says that empathy engenders an atmosphere where employees can take risks, enables managers to identify performance issues, and encourages them to help employees “improve and excel.”  

Now More than Ever 
Empathy in the business space is of genuine worth at any time. But in today’s Covid-infused world, it is a vital lever for success. That’s why a World Economic Forum post frames it as “a must-have business strategy” at this juncture. Burned out from the pandemic, overstressed and overburdened, both employees and companies would benefit from a strong shot of empathy. It acts as a force to buttress work-life balance and other issues that result from ongoing pressures.   

This notion flows from new research by Catalyst. Findings show “not only is empathy an effective business strategy, it is a strategic imperative to respond to crisis, transformation, and a critical ingredient for building inclusive workplaces where everyone can belong, contribute and thrive.”  

Others agree. Forbes frames empathy as “The Next Business Disruptor.” Why?  Covid produced undue demands and anxieties on people and organizations. As such, brands need to generate superior human-centric experiences for their stakeholders, namely customers and employees. To this end, this post opines that the top brands will be “the most empathetic” to deliver customer value. They also will focus on imbuing their internal culture with empathy “to bring out the best in its people.” In all, when empathy is the hallmark of a business, those who are part of it “understand that we all have different needs, challenges and perspectives.” These attuned employees “are more likely to cultivate strong relationships with customers and their team members — going the extra mile for them and for the company.”   

Can empathy “Fight The Great Resignation”? Fortune thinks so. “Empathy, not efficiency, is the answer to burnout and the way for companies to avoid finding themselves on the losing end of The Great Resignation.” This post urges organizations to design people-centric ways of thinking and operating. “No matter the industry, empathy can and will be the defining variable that creates trust. And trust builds loyalty.”   

How to Strengthen Empathy 
Is empathy inborn or acquired? The debate rages on. But Psychology Today notes: “Empathy is an innate capacity that needs to be developed, and to see it as a detail in a larger picture.”    

That said, what are ways to fortify empathy?  On a personal level, consider tips from Indeed:  

  • Take listening to another level. Practice “active listening,” which is “listening to a speaker to understand their question or request before thinking of a response.” It laser focuses your attention and gets you inside their head and heart. 
  • Craft what you say for the intended target(s). Think about the composition and needs of your audience, then adapt your messaging to make the best impact. Vary words and terms used, delivery, and other factors to those on the receiving end. 
  • Practice compassion. Put the third phase of empathy into motion. Swing into action. Offer to help. Then help. It shows you understand and care.   
  • Rewind and recast. Clear your own cache, your usual way of thinking to welcome in other perspectives.  Learn to get outside yourself. It enables you to start with a blank slate to detect others’ drifts and desires.
  • Pop the questions. Ask away to ensure you’re on the right track. Don’t assume you know what someone is expressing. Get to the root of an individual’s purpose, views and feelings.  
  • “Validate their feelings.” Communicate you heard what a person said. Confirm you know it’s important and you are available. “You practice empathy by acknowledging what they are experiencing, which can have a positive impact on the conversation.”  

What can companies do to foster an empathetic work environment? Forbes advises to:  

  • Go top down. Empathetic company culture starts at the highest reaches. The top tier “must commit to doing whatever it takes to give employees a great working experience so that everyone across the organization has everything needed to deliver their best.”  
  • Bake empathy into responsibilities. Spread the empathy word to managers; make them accountable for committing to and practicing empathy. 
  • Engage employees. Solicit feedback, involve in decisions, convey news, and make them part of a transparent culture. Give all “the freedom to explore and have the chance to give voice to their ideas.”  
  • Craft a safe environment. Make everyone feel comfortable to share their experiences of achievement and failure. “Celebrate vulnerability” because “vulnerable discussions involving differing perspectives go a long way toward creating an empathetic culture based on trust.”    
  • Determine true values. What does the organization stand for? Identify, communicate, and see it through. “Organizations that commit to their values and lead with empathy will see a powerful first-mover advantage.”   

“Take the leap” is the message to draw from these last bullet points. And what is the overriding takeaway from this post? Two words: Empathy Matters.


About the author. 
You name it, she covers it. That’s the can-do attitude Sherry M. Adler brings to the craft of writing. A polished marketing and communications professional, she has a passion for learning and the world at large. She uses it plus the power of words to inform and energize stakeholders of all kinds. And to show how all of this can make a difference, she calls her business WriteResults NY, LLC.

The ongoing pandemic, coupled with Americans’ fast-changing attitudes about their life at work, has radically reshaped the labor landscape.  
Sluggish demographic growth and a growing legion of burned out workers who are opting out means that the pool of available labor is diminishing. Employees have made such a dramatic beeline for the exit that Texas A&M professor Anthony Klotz coined the term The Great Resignation 

Organizations are struggling to fill roles and retain burned out employees, which means that workers have become increasingly important stakeholders. Employers need to rethink work and management styles, adjust their strategies, and innovate quickly because right now, the odds are not ever-in-their-favor. Job openings are near an all-time high, and with talent pipelines at a slow drip, hiring has become a rough and tumble full contact sport. 

But as the game ratchets up into ever-higher gear, one innovative solution is hiding in plain sight: older workers.  

Baby boomers may just be the answer to the labor shortage challenge 
When most of us think of freelancers, we envision millennials. While they have embraced the gig economy, they are increasingly working alongside middle-aged and older Americans seeking alternate ways to stay employed past the traditional retirement age. 

Workers age 55 or older have been leaving their jobs at higher rates than before the pandemic — the share of older workers who exited increased by 7.6% points during the pandemic — but many are not ready to retire. The Pew Research Center estimates that 20% of the American gig economy — from marketing consultants to Uber drivers — are over 50. 

Businesses may pay a high price if they don’t recast their labor market lens. A 2021 report by AARP estimates that excluding older workers could cost the United States economy nearly $4 trillion by 2050. Today’s labor shortage is an opportunity to evolve thinking for individual and collective benefit.  

Generational diversity does a company good. 
Employers get a lot of proverbial bang for their buck when they create an age-inclusive workplace. A 2013 study of 147 German companies, published in the Journal of Management, found higher profits and growth projections in organizations with a mix of workers of various ages and higher employee productivity and retention rates.  

Older workers bring cognitive diversity to their teams, which improves business performance. Mixed-age work teams have higher relative productivity. An AARP study found that age diversity in a group involved in complex decision-making tasks performed better than mono-age teams. And age diversity within an organization can lower employee turnover.  

Hiring older workers can both ease the challenge of hiring in this tight labor market and result in greater generational diversity for businesses, bestowing the benefits that diversity in all its guises brings to operations and the bottom line. For this to happen, organizations will need to shift their acquisition strategies to be more all-encompassing and be conscious of moving past implicit age bias that often hampers older workers’ employment searches.  

Hiring managers need to remove coded language like “recent college graduate” from job descriptions and dispense with terms like “ninja,” “digital native,” “rock star,” and “guru,” among others. Older workers being tech-illiterate or overqualified are common assumptions that need to be left aside. Instead, talent acquisition teams should focus on the knowledge and expertise that come with experience, which are the main predictors of job performance. Older workers frequently outperform their younger counterparts on many success metrics, like stronger interpersonal skills, less turnover, and less absenteeism.  

Say hello to returnships and partnering with organizations dedicated to older adults. 
One way to leverage older workers’ skills is to offer “returnships” — full-time paid internships for adults who have been out of the workforce for several years. Returnships help get people back to paid work while giving employers a chance to diversify their workforce to reflect the communities their businesses are serving more accurately.   

Another smart way to access job-ready older workers is to partner with organizations that can help recruit talent across age groups. AARP Foundation has several job skills training programs, such as the Digital Skills Ready@50+ initiative, which focuses on training more vulnerable older adults, like women and people of color, in underserved communities. Its goal is to help this demographic group gain the digital skills to succeed in today’s tech-driven workplace. Partnering with organizations like AARP can offer companies a pipeline of older candidates to consider who have the necessary digital skills to be job-ready from the jump.  

Bottom Line:  
Today’s hiring challenges can become tomorrow’s opportunity — but nothing will change if employers don’t abandon hiring and firing practices that favor the young. To be competitive in this market means companies need to reinvent how they approach diversity, including age in the matrix, and rethink whom they invest in. It’s the dawning of a new day indeed. 


About the author
An award-winning creator and digital health, wellness, and lifestyle content strategist—Karina writes, produces, and edits compelling content across multiple platforms—including articles, video, interactive tools, and documentary film. Her work has been featured on MSN Lifestyle, Apartment Therapy, Goop, Psycom, Yahoo News, Pregnancy & Newborn, Eat This Not That, thirdAGE, and Remedy Health Media digital properties and has spanned insight pieces on psychedelic toad medicine to forecasting the future of work to why sustainability needs to become more sustainable. 

Posted in DEI

According to Gartner’s 2020 CMO Spend Survey, during the first year of the pandemic, a whopping 32 percent of marketing work formerly completed by an outside agency moved in-house. While the obvious benefit is cost-savings, this technique also increases efficiencies and allows strategic creative control.

Because they are fully dedicated to one brand, in-house agency teams are generally smaller than marquee agencies of record, and a slimmer team equals less overhead. However, during major communications and marketing campaigns, this can pose a challenge. When a significant amount of top-quality content must be produced and disseminated — social media posts, graphic design assets, blog posts, etc. — the in-house team can find themselves overwhelmed. What if you’re on multiple deadlines and your in-house agency is tight on bandwidth and in need of content production support?

Enter overflow support. “Adding contractors and freelancers will help you avoid hiring too many full-time equivalents (FTEs) unless and until a full workload is warranted and sustained by business needs,” writes Sally Witzky of Gartner. Tapping into flexible resources allows in-house agencies to “monitor resource allocation and to effectively use in-house talent.” In fact, 36 percent of survey respondents told Gartner they develop their digital marketing strategy sets in-house but depend on agencies and third parties for execution.


Creative360 is Creative Circle’s solutions division that helps clients with in-house agencies ramp up content creation during major projects. We draw from Creative Circle’s nationwide pool of creative, marketing, and digital talent to build overflow production studios that work seamlessly as extensions of in-house agencies. The in-house agency drives the overall project strategy, while Creative360 selects a team to provide clients with the highest-quality deliverables, whatever they may be.

Hiring freelancers to churn out content is a familiar strategy. But Creative360 provides even more value to clients by providing an experienced marketing expert to serve as engagement lead, free of charge. The engagement lead assesses how best to relieve the client’s pain points, curates a team, integrates them into the client’s existing systems and workflows, and oversees them to ensure they consistently deliver high-quality work on time. Engagement leads also provide full financial oversight, keep track of a client’s budget, and manage team onboarding, timecards, and training.

This is all done without the retainers and high fees of AORs and without the headaches of working with unfamiliar teams.  And if a client loves a candidate, they can convert them to a full-time employee with ease!

Overflow production studios at work

One example — an international CPG house of brands was in the final phase of a campaign to boost brand equity but lacked a channel strategy to socialize the campaign. They needed a partner to help deliver a one-month campaign concept and social calendar and create more than 70 digital assets, in less than four weeks. Creative360 assembled a team of an art director, two designers, and a copywriter, and in three weeks, we created four animated banners, 51 social assets, and a newsletter. The client has retained Creative360 to direct its organic social strategy and take on more overflow projects such as sizzle reels, new product splash pages, and animated Instagram gifs.

“The challenge is to monitor resource allocation and to effectively use in-house talent,” writes Sally Witzky. “Adding contractors and freelancers will help you avoid hiring too many full-time equivalents (FTEs) unless and until a full workload is warranted and sustained by business needs.”

Another client, a national commercial real estate firm, needed speed, skill, and labor to manage the ever-growing workload of their local marketing teams. Specifically, they needed to relieve their teams of the ongoing, pressing task of updating templates for business and marketing collateral. Creative360 assembled a group of outstanding production artists and paired them with a skilled project manager to create a production design hub. Working closely with their leadership team, we deployed a process and tracking tool that aligned seamlessly with their established process. Our quick support and process implementation significantly increased output during the pilot phase, and nearly all Creative360 talent has been retained by the client for future strategic initiatives.

The bottom line

There are myriad situations where it makes sense to let Creative360 support your in-house teams with stellar content — you’re on deadline and understaffed and overwhelmed; you don’t need a permanent, full-time creative team but you need to produce a volume of impeccable content in a short period of time; you’ve just launched a massive campaign and your in-house agency needs some outside help to drive the project… Whatever your need, Creative360 has the people, the expertise, and the agility you require. Find out more at
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Situations where you could use an overflow production studio

An overflow production studio is the perfect solution when you have the strategy covered, but you need extra hands to create assets during a major project. Maybe your agency of record is too expensive, or your internal team just doesn’t have the bandwidth to keep up. Clients often face these problems in situations such as:

  • Developing assets for a marketing or advertising campaign
  • Designing and launching a new website
  • Rolling out a new line of products
  • Leading an internal digital transformation
  • Targeting new customers, or existing customers in a new way
  • Implementing a new workforce or project management system
  • Transforming your customer experience program
  • Rebranding your company or products
  • Building a diversity, equity, and inclusion program
  • Transitioning to a refreshed companywide intranet