Compassion in the Workplace: How Corporate Empathy Can Transform Your Business
Do you want to make your workplace a better place and cultivate real camaraderie among employees? The Awakening Compassion at Work book could be just what you need.
It outlines how businesses can create compassionate workplaces where genuine relationships and positive feelings are fostered throughout the organization.
Through this book, you’ll get to understand how using compassion in the workplace can result in higher productivity and lower staff turnover.
Ever wonder what Hurricane Sandy has to do with running a compassionate business? You’ll learn that too!
Lastly, the book provides advice on setting up ‘support pods’ that could further foster employee well-being.
So if you’re looking to boost morale and create a company culture where team members truly care for each other, give Awakening Compassion at Work a read!
Compassionate Leadership: The Key to Minimizing Employees’ Suffering
When we go to work, it can often be difficult to endure the stress and workload of the job.
But what many people don’t often realize is that work doesn’t have to be a stressful, suffering experience.
That’s why it’s so important for employers and company leaders to understand the impact their management styles have on their employees – because when a company fails to take into consideration the employee’s needs, it can lead to unnecessary suffering.
To illustrate this point, consider Patty, an executive assistant in a company that underwent restructuring.
As part of the change process, she was relocated without warning to another facility, suddenly finding herself isolated from her former colleagues and unable to exercise her natural skill of relationship building with managers anymore.
This caused her great distress and undermined her self-esteem – all because no one thought about how this change would affect those lower down in the hierarchy.
In contrast, consider another leader called Andy who offered compassionate leadership in his own company.
When he saw one of his bests employees mourning his sister’s death he respected Xian’s personal life within a professional setting by granting him whatever time off he needed as well as speaking with him any time he felt necessary.
Andy even invited Xian over to spend time at his home with his family.
In this situation compassion worked – and Xian was able not only cope successfully with his grief but also come out of the situation strengthened and more secure in himself under Andy’s guidance.
The Power of Compassion in Business: How Showing Compassion Can Lead to Innovative Results and More Profit
Compassion isn’t just good for individuals; it can have a positive impact on businesses as well.
In 2004, administrative science expert Kim Cameron published his research on what he termed “virtuousness”, which revealed that compassionate companies perform better and are more productive than those who aren’t.
His research showed that these kinds of businesses were better at retaining employees and clients, thus having healthier finances.
A Gallup poll conducted soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States confirmed the benefits of showing compassion in the workplace.
Companies that provided compassion to their workers saw a rise in motivation and engagement levels amongst them.
On the other hand, companies who expected business to continue as usual without factoring in their employees’ reactions to such an event saw a decrease in engagement and even incidents of harm to the work environment.
Moreover, this same compassion can be used as a potential source of innovation.
Dr Govindappa Venkataswamy’s Aravind Eye hospitals is one example of this – he established an eye clinic in Southern India 1977 and maintained its high-quality services by allowing patients to pay what they could afford out of their own resources.
This proved to be a successful business model- by 2011, the hospital was treating 7000 patients daily with one-third of treatments being done pro bono, while still maintaining profitability due to wealthier clients paying higher costs.
Compassion in the Workplace: How Inquiry and Curiosity Can Help Managers Spot Suffering
Noticing suffering at work isn’t always as easy as it looks.
That’s why it’s important for employers to be aware of any changes in their employees’ behavior and to take notice of any issues that may arise.
One example of this is Dorothy, an insurance company employee whose husband was hospitalized yet she didn’t tell anyone about it.
Instead, her absences became more frequent, putting her at risk of being laid off due to her lack of attendance.
Fortunately, Dorothy’s boss Sandeep had noticed the change in her behavior and invited her to open up about what was causing her problems instead of chastising her for missing time.
This is a great example of how inquiring gently and staying curious can help us learn more about our employees’ feelings and prevent suffering from occurring in the workplace.
By asking questions and doing our best to understand what employees are going through, we can create a supportive, compassionate work environment where everyone feels heard and respected.
Why Compassion Must Be a Priority in the Workplace instead of Unhelpful Clichés
Human beings tend to interpret and react to suffering in ways that can limit the level of compassion present in a workplace.
When people are quick to pass judgment on someone, they often would blame that person instead of looking at the potential underlying causes.
This type of attitude is damaging, as it perpetuates the myth that compassion has no place in a professional environment.
Three different types of appraisals can be made when dealing with suffering.
The first appraisal is when you quickly attribute responsibility for the suffering onto another person or party; this reduces your capacity to empathize with them.
The second is when someone is deemed “undeserving” or not worthy of your compassion; this can happen if you believe someone does not have a job, for example.
Lastly, some people may rationalize their lack of compassionate action by believing they simply do not have the time or resources available to help out – this results in them mentally shutting down any trace of empathy they may have had initially.
It’s important to remember to take a step back and pause before reacting when faced with suffering.
Reacting too quickly by passing judgement could lower levels of compassion and make workplaces less desirable places for everyone involved.
Instead, look for the reasons behind why something happened – like if an employee was late due to effects from a natural disaster – so you can provide understanding rather than blame or criticism.
We Can Recover Our Empathy by Trying to Step Into Someone Else’s Shoes
Empathy is a powerful emotion that all of us possess, and it can often be the thing that helps us relate to one another and nurture positive relationships.
Unfortunately, when we fail to consider and understand other people’s perspectives, empathy can fall by the wayside, leaving us unable to connect.
Numerous neuroscience studies over the last two decades have discovered that we humans are naturally wired for empathy.
While it should come naturally, there are occasions where we may unknowingly block our own potential to empathize with others.
This can be due to fear or discomfort with certain situations and so we may fall back on more hostile feelings such as anger or frustration in order to deflect from putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes.
Cognitive empathy is an exercise that we can practice in order to overcome this problem.
It means deliberately attempting to imagine what somebody else may be thinking or feeling and thereby gaining further insight into how best help them out of their situation.
This was demonstrated in a law firm where Juana, a copy clerk, was feeling down about not being able to progress her career despite wanting desperately to become a paralegal.
Her boss Rosita reprimanded her for making mistakes but luckily the staff manager Veronica stepped in and asked Rosita to consider Juana’s perspective before taking any actions – as a result Rosita found new ways she could help Juana on her way up.
In summary, while empathy is innate within all of us, sometimes it needs awakened if we fail put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and view the world through their eyes.
Showing Empathy Through Action: How Ed Supported Nazima in Her Time of Need
When it comes to compassion, empathy and support in the workplace, it needs to go beyond just having a kind thought.
While feelings of empathy towards another colleague is certainly important, if there’s no action then such feelings are ultimately meaningless.
That’s why it’s essential that we do more than just feel compassion; we need to turn that compassion into tangible action.
No matter how big or small the deed might be, taking the initiative and showing genuine care for our coworkers is the goal when displaying compassionate behavior.
Nazima was fortunate enough to have her key-worker colleague Ed by her side when tragedy struck in the loss of her sister’s daughter.
While Nazima couldn’t attend an important board meeting on time due to grief, Ed stepped in and supported her through simple daily gestures like checking up on her regularly with emails and phone calls.
This type of gesture helped Nazima cope with the situation while also showing that Ed cared.
Compassion without action is akin to not caring at all – therefore it’s always important to remember that genuine care must lead to actions which will truly help your coworkers in times of difficulty or hardship.
How a Company in Omaha Encouraged Compassion and Community Through Their Innovative ‘Support Pod’ System
It may seem counterintuitive, but workplace settings can be places of compassion and support.
The key to achieving this is active encouragement from the companies involved.
Take Midwest Billing, for instance – an Omaha-based firm that does paperwork for local hospitals.
Despite its mostly female staff and lack of promotion opportunities, the company is incredibly efficient and profitable – and all thanks to their culture of compassion.
For instance, one Monday morning when organizational researchers visited the offices, they found an employee named Dorothy faced with a mammoth pile of mail – mostly updates about insurance claims that needed sorting through.
What happened next was incredible – all the other women in the office put down their coffees and jumped up to help Dorothy get through her workload quickly.
This team effort showed how much Midwest Billings values worker solidarity and compassion – qualities that don’t just happen out of nowhere but need to be actively fostered by companies.
To this end, they created smaller sub-teams within their workforce so that employees got to know each other better, with supportive “support pods” helping new staff members learn what different parts of the company do as well as giving them access to additional resources when needed.
It’s clear from Midwest Billings’ example that workplaces can indeed become compassionate environments if all stakeholders take collective action towards it.
Compassionate Leadership: How to Encourage Compassion in the Workplace Through Example and Direct Communication
Great leaders understand the importance of connecting with their employees on a personal level and leading with compassion.
Compassionate leaders recognize the potential in their team members to grow and develop, and they work to provide guidance and support that foster that growth.
Pat Christen, CEO of HopeLab, is an example of what it truly means to be a compassionate leader.
Every day, she took time out of her schedule to get to know her employees and find ways to best support them.
Included in this effort was a fund for each individual employee so they could further their own education if something sparked their interest.
This is not typically seen in a business setting but rather speaks to Christen’s dedication as a compassionate leader who seeks actively to make her employees’ lives better.
In addition to providing support, great leaders act as role models and embolden others with their example of compassion.
Jeff Weiner spoke candidly about how difficult it was for him as LinkedIn’s CEO to lead with compassion but he understood its importance and made it one of his goals at the company.
By open communication and by embodying these key principles in his leadership, Weiner set an example for organizations everywhere on the positive outcomes that can come from leading with kindness instead of power.
The Awakening Compassion at Work book gives us a great look into the importance of compassion in the workplace.
It outlines the positive impacts that compassionate behavior can have – from greater company performance and innovation, to improved employee turnover rates.
We also learn that compassion takes effort, attention, and investment – but these actions ultimately yield worthwhile results.
In conclusion, if we want to foster more compassionate workplaces, it starts with each individual reflecting on their own behaviors and attitudes towards colleagues.
Managers should take what they’ve learned from inspiring leaders they’ve encountered in their lives and employees should be aware of any patterns of lack of compassion which may exist within their company culture.
By taking active steps to make workplaces more understanding, there is no limit to how much stronger and successful our working environments could be.