Compassion is one of those words that is possibly becoming so over-used that it is losing its real meaning. By drilling down and reasserting its true sense we can begin to understand how encouraging more compassion in the workplace will help an organization create a more emotionally healthy working environment, and extend this out to the local community and beyond.

Compassion can be defined as ‘sympathetic pity and concerns for the sufferings or misfortunes of others’.   

However, sympathy is a relatively passive and inward-looking concept. By replacing sympathy with empathy, you can create a more proactive and empowered sentiment that looks to listen and, if necessary, support through positive action.

The workplace is an important environment in which to sow the seeds of compassion and nurture them into growing strong roots. Studies show that acts of kindness in the workplace can both benefit the employees’ well-being, and has a positive impact on the performance of the organization as a whole. They foster a sense of purpose and meaning that we are investing in something bigger than ourselves and that the time spent in the workplace is having a far wider-reaching impact than simply earning a living.

In one study, 3500 businesses employing more than 50,000 individuals were analysed in terms of acts of kindness and courtesy. The results highlighted how the more acts of compassion, courtesy and affirmations there were, the better the rates of productivity, efficiency and employee retention.

Fundamentally, a kind and compassionate working environment engenders a culture of collaboration and innovation.

Acknowledge Successes, Learn from Failures

The workplace is a high stress environment. There are successes and failures, but in general the successes are applauded and the failures are picked apart and tutted over. 

The way management responds to successes and failures will have an impact on an employee’s anxiety and stress levels. The more worried they are about making a mistake, the higher the stress they are going to generate, which in turn makes it more likely for them to make that mistake. Psychological, excess stress and anxiety can make someone more hypervigilant and therefore more focussed on the one thing they are trying to avoid!

Failures need to be acknowledged, understood, and used as a learning step – not as a stick to be beaten with. Success and failures are all part and parcel of life, and introducing a more compassionate way of dealing with them will actually help to lessen the impact of the losses, and use the gains for greater momentum.

Choose a ‘monthly charity

Giving to charity quite simply makes you feel good. There are ample studies that highlight how donating is a major mood booster. Focusing on activities and causes outside the workplace but that have meaning for different employees can supercharge this mood booster.

Setting up a system whereby your employees can choose a ‘charity a month’ to focus any fundraising activities is a great way of getting everyone involved, and give them the opportunity to introduce issues that are close to their own hearts. Click here to help and discover how easy it is to set up online charity donations.

Be a radiator not a drain

There are people you work with who are positive and full of energy, and there are those who walk into a room and literally suck the life out of everyone. We call them emotional vampires. 

Don’t allow these people to set the tone of your workplace. You will always encounter a proportion of your workforce who are resistant to any change or initiative you are trying to implement. The best thing is to not force them to change – simply respond in the polar opposite way. The more they try to bring you down, the more upbeat and positive you respond accordingly.