Empathy & Ethics

In nearly any professional (and even personal) situation, ethics and morals exist. Whether or not people acknowledge them is another story. In the workplace, in school, and many other places, there are moments or situations where ethics are practiced. But is empathy within ethics? According to a study [1], empathy contributes to proper ethics – especially in the workplace. Empathy contributes to the ability to identify and name emotions and the ability to see things from one’s perspective. Assuming these contributions, empathy and ethics can improve certain situations, such as unhealthy work environments.

Industrial/Organizational psychologists are usually your human resource agents in a given employer. They hire/train new employees, analyze employee behavior, implement policies and improvements, and ensure healthy workspace procedures. These are also the people with grounds to terminate employees with good reason. I/O psychologists can also be independent contractors that businesses hire to help them achieve specific goals or improvements. Since I/O psychologists are professionals, they have an understanding of the human psyche and behavior and can help implement proper changes to improve morale or something along those lines.

School psychologists can be your school guidance counselors or standalone professionals as a part of the school administration to support and implement mental health practices for students and teachers. They also help analyze student and teacher behavior to implement better learning/teaching plans.

These professionals understand that empathy can improve overall morale and ensure nothing unethical is taking place.

With mental health awareness on the rise, it’s imperative that we start integrating traits like empathy into the workplace. Another study [2] stated that untreated mental illness in the workplace costs the employer more money and negatively impacts productivity. Why not take a few steps towards normalizing the mental health conversation and allow empathy to be more human to the employees or students?

[1] Songhorian, S. (2019). The contribution of empathy to ethics. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 27(2), 244-264. https://doi.org/10.1080/09672559.2019.1619266

[2] McHugh, T. L., Fraone, J. S., & Zachary Zhang. (2022). Mental Health in the New Workplace: A Culture Shift Toward Transparency and Empathy. Journal of Total Rewards, Q1, 8–21. https://www.proquest.com/docview/2723857298?accountid=32521

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