Empathy has long been a useful trait in designers, because we’re more likely to design products and services that offer utility, usability, and desirability if we care about customers. By extension, it’s therefore a useful trait for business people as well, as authors like Dan Pink point out.
When hiring, the tricky part is figuring out who feels empathy. Maybe, while talking to someone, you could spill hot coffee on yourself and see how they respond? Maybe you could ask them to talk through an approach to a business problem and see if they overlook the customer (I’ve seen user experience designers do this. It ain’t pretty.)?
If you’re lucky enough to find someone who talks to their plants, hire them. We know speech doesn’t actually help plants grow, but anyone who cares enough to treat their plants as if they were people will probably treat customers very well.