Can empathetic leadership make your business more resilient?

In May of 2020, Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb sent a message to his employees regarding layoffs.  It was a devastating blow to thousands of individuals and families, and unsettling to “survivors” who had immediate concerns of their own. Chesky successfully outlined a process that reinforced Airbnb’s core values of belonging, connection and being truly human. He wrote from the heart, provided a fast, clear process for alerting every employee of their individual status, reinforced and thanked all employees for their value and reiterated how decisions held to company values of diversity and equity.

In addition to respecting the need for fast, clear information, he made significant investments to ensure the difficult step was softened by providing ongoing healthcare coverage and even a laptop for those leaving to help cope with the pandemic.

The Airbnb message showcased best-in-class C-suite communication, combining  clarity with the deep sympathy people crave.

Last week, goBeyondProfit released a new poll of Georgia employed adults reinforcing the importance of empathy from the very top of business. The Georgia Employee Insights Poll/The Empathy Imperative added data to the instinct that people crave more than facts in times of uncertainty. They desire authentic human connection from business executives that conveys compassion and understanding.

Could this vulnerability from the CEO actually have made Airbnb more resilient?

In May, Chesky announced a 25% cut to the Airbnb workforce. The travel industry suffered unrelenting blows to traditional operations and remains precariously vulnerable. Yet just seven months later, on day one of Airbnb’s closely watched IPO, the newly public stock skyrocketed to over $80 billion market cap. Chesky’s reaction to the news on live-tv doubled down on his humble approach as he recalled the debt financing he had to secure just a few months prior.

A full 69% of Georgia employed adults trust their employers to lead well into 2021, giving business executives a tailwind of confidence to try this empathetic approach in the new year.

Combined insights from the recent goBeyondProfit poll and the Airbnb journey might help all those running business in Georgia reimagine their approach to employee care.

For more insights into why Georgia business earned a B grade for the year, and more importantly, guidance on how to achieve an Easy A you’ll find the full survey here