In challenging times, employees look to their leaders for guidance and coaching to navigate uncertainty. Unfortunately, many feel that strong leadership is lacking in their current workplaces. This is evident in Randstad’s 2024 Employer Brand Research, where workers did not select “strong management” as one of the top 10 factors provided by their current employer. This absence of leadership erodes loyalty, impacts productivity, and increases the risk of turnover. 

To retain top talent and maintain a productive workforce, it is crucial for organisations to develop leaders who can inspire and support their teams. In turbulent times, one of the most important qualities of a people leader is empathy. Here’s how to foster empathetic and inclusive leadership to help drive organisational success in 2024 and beyond.

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qualities of a people leader in 2024

Leadership in 2024 is about more than just strategic vision and decision-making. Effective leaders must possess a combination of qualities that address the evolving needs of their teams:

  • empathy: Understanding and sharing the feelings of others to build trust and connection.
  • inclusivity: Creating an environment where all team members feel valued and respected.
  • resilience: The ability to adapt and bounce back from challenges.
  • communication: Clearly conveying expectations, feedback, and support.
  • vision: Providing direction and inspiring others to work towards common goals.

empathy: the cornerstone of effective leadership

Empathy helps build strong relationships, fosters trust, and enhances collaboration. Empathetic leaders are better equipped to understand their team's needs and challenges, making them more effective in providing support and guidance.

how to foster empathy:

  1. active listening: Encourage leaders to practice active listening, where they fully concentrate, understand, respond, and remember what their employees say.
  2. personal connections: Promote one-on-one interactions where leaders can get to know their team members personally, understanding their aspirations, concerns, and motivations.
  3. training programs: Implement empathy training as part of leadership development programs, focusing on emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills.

become an inclusive leader

Inclusivity goes hand-in-hand with empathy. Inclusive leaders create a sense of belonging and ensure that every team member feels valued and heard. This not only boosts morale but also enhances innovation and productivity.

strategies for inclusive leadership:

  1. diversity training: Offer training that helps leaders understand and appreciate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles.
  2. open communication: Foster an environment where open dialogue is encouraged, and diverse perspectives are welcomed and respected.
  3. equitable opportunities: Ensure that all employees have access to the same opportunities for advancement and development, addressing any disparities that may exist.

insight: According to Randstad’s 2024 Employer Brand Research, equity is a top EVP driver for workers this year when considering their next employer. However, there are areas warranting improvement to enhance overall equity within the workplace. Notably, the provision of opportunities for the most deserving employees lags behind other equity statements. Additionally, there is a significant disparity between men and women concerning equal pay for equal work, with 70% of men believing their current employer offers equal pay compared to only 56% of women. This stark contrast highlights the urgent need for employers to address this discrepancy.

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Two female having a conversation

learning and development for empathetic leadership

To cultivate empathetic leaders, organisations must invest in continuous learning and development. This involves creating programs that build emotional intelligence, communication skills, and resilience.

key learning and development initiatives:

  1. emotional intelligence workshops: Provide workshops that focus on developing self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.
  2. leadership coaching: Offer personalised coaching sessions where leaders can receive feedback and guidance on how to improve their empathetic and inclusive leadership styles.
  3. scenario-based training: Use real-life scenarios to help leaders practice empathy and inclusivity in a controlled environment, allowing them to develop these skills effectively.

build a culture of empathy and inclusivity

A workplace culture that values empathy and inclusivity starts at the top. Leaders must model these behaviours to create an environment where everyone feels supported and valued.

cultural practices to promote empathy and inclusivity:

  1. lead by example: Leaders should demonstrate empathetic and inclusive behaviours in their daily interactions, setting a standard for the rest of the organisation.
  2. recognition programs: Recognise and reward behaviours that reflect empathy and inclusivity, reinforcing these values within the company culture.
  3. feedback loops: Implement regular feedback mechanisms where employees can share their experiences and suggest improvements, ensuring that the workplace culture continually evolves to meet their needs.

insight: Randstad’s Employer Brand Research highlights the five most important EVP drivers for workers when choosing an employer are: work-life balance, attractive salary and benefits, job security, good training and development, and equity. These drivers are critical not only for attracting new talent, but also for retaining current employees. Furthermore, the report identifies that many employees leave their jobs due to a lack of strong leadership and ensuring a good work-life balance, fair compensation, career growth opportunities as well as interesting and challenging work.


Developing strong leaders who can navigate through challenging times with empathy and inclusivity is essential for retaining talent and maintaining a thriving workplace. By investing in learning and development, fostering a culture of empathy, and promoting inclusive leadership practices, organisations can build a resilient and loyal workforce ready to face any challenges that come their way.

To obtain your copy of the Randstad 2024 Employer Brand Research Report to help you develop strong leaders for your organisation, go to: 

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