Compassion may seem like too much of an expectation at the workplace. After all, we are repeatedly told to leave our emotions at home and just deal with the excessive workload, office politics. Those who can’t, can consider themselves to be very sensitive and fragile in the work environment. Yet, compassion does indeed play an important role in the workplace, especially for leaders.
Compassion – no place in business?
In the business world, success is solely measured by numbers or target metrics like profit margins, market share, and revenue generation. With a priority like that, it often seems like the hard-driving, competitive, results-oriented business environment has no room for concepts such as compassion.
While this seems like an easy conclusion to draw, many leaders believe that it narrows our understanding and leads to less effective business leadership.
Stress harms the organization as a whole
The top management in most organizations mistakenly thinks that putting pressure on their employees will increase performance. But unfortunately they are very far from the truth.
What this actually does is induces stress and eventually leads to burn out- mentally, emotionally and physically. High levels of stress affect not only employees, but also the employers too. Studies confirm that workplace stress brings high health care and turnover costs, and of course absenteeism, which automatically hampers the performance of an organization as a whole.
Health hazards at the workplace
Workplace stress has particularly been linked to coronary heart disease, clinical depression, diabetes, weak immune system, substance abuse, anxiety and panic disorders, chronic aches and pains, PCOD/S, back issues, to name a few.
Factually, over 50% of employees confirm that the workplace environment led them to quit a job, deny a promotion, or just compromise in whatever way possible for the sake of a running source of income in their lives. As it’s often said; people do not leave companies, they leave their bosses.
People decide to stay or go because of the teammates who surround them on a day-to-day basis. The quality of those teams and those teammates is determined by trust, connection and compassion that they extend towards each other.
Numerous studies in neuroscience have suggested that individuals and groups who have trust and self-respect issues with their respective companies or colleagues perform poorly in solving problems. This could be because the working memory and prefrontal cortex structures of the brain shut down to a remarkable degree when we feel stressed, at risk, or demoralized.
Going Hand-in-hand: Compassion and business
As human beings, we are creatures of not just logic but emotions as well, and we can only thrive together – not in isolation. When people feel a sense of purpose, they will work hard to achieve a goal that they are proud of, not just for themselves, but for others as well, including the organization.
It is often said that the relationship you have with your own self in your personal life is going to reflect in EVERYTHING you do, especially at work. The way you do one thing is truly the way you do everything. The quality and depth of our relationships and the trust that is cultivated between people is an adhesive that keeps us grounded in life – private or public; business or personal.
When we build trustful relationships at work out of compassion, we begin to listen and understand instead of listening to prove a point and argue, i.e, we respond rather than react, come to understand the power of having a dialogue.
Compassion simply refers to a sense of connection. It involves recognizing and honoring everyone’s shared humanity.
Instead of treating employees like they are a means to an end, compassion ensures that they not only care about one another, but are willing to show it. We all want a sense of connection. We want to feel valued and appreciated – it is a part of being a human being, and when employees feel that connection and validation at work, they don’t “take advantage” of the system. Instead, they flourish, just like the profits.
Effects of Integrating Compassion in the workplace
- Happy employees also make for a more congenial workplace and improved customer service
- Employees in positive moods are more willing to help peers and to provide customer service on their own accord
- Compassionate, friendly, and supportive co-workers tend to build higher-quality relationships with others at work & boost coworkers’ productivity levels
- Their feeling of social connection increases
- Commitment to the workplace and their levels of engagement with their job deepens
Compassionate and successful
CEO Tony Hsieh of Zappos is widely known for leading his team with the goal of compassion or “connectedness.” His company culture is steeped in compassionate leadership. The aim is to keep the employees happy and build profits in the meantime. Both goals can coexist, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
History is filled with leaders who were highly compassionate and equally powerful—Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, and Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, to name a few.
Other successful leaders and billionaires such as Ratan Tata, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Azim Premji, Narayan Murthy, have built their businesses on a strong foundation of compassion, of not just their employees, but humanity as a whole. This has resulted in making them not just wealthier in terms of monetary value but in terms of respect as well. Their companies and brands are trusted because of their compassionate selves.
Jonathan Haidt of New York University shows that seeing someone help another person creates a heightened state of well-being known as “elevation.” Not only do we feel elevated and charged up in our minds and bodies when we watch a compassionate act, but we are then more likely to act with compassion- to both ourselves and others.
People don’t really “care how much you know” until they “know how much you care.”
Compassionate workplaces are a win-win for everyone involved. Employees who work in such spaces benefit by feeling more connected, less stressed, and have the freedom to be their authentic selves.
Companies, on the other hand, benefit through greater productivity, enhanced problem-solving, better collaboration, increased performance, better name and fame, and of course, better figures to show.
Nothing builds relationships more than compassion does, which is a key characteristic trait of a leader. At the end of the day, people don’t really “care how much you know” until they “know how much you care.”
About Ishita Iyer
Ishita Iyer is a trained Psychotherapist and Clinical Hypnotherapist. She has successfully aided countless individuals suffering from anxiety, depression, illness & post-surgery trauma, relationship & body image issues. She believes in holistic solutions, using a range of tools such as Clinical Hypnotherapy, Transactional Analysis, Reiki, and so on.
She has over 15 years of experience in working with the underprivileged in Zambia. Ishita is also closely involved with numerous projects and camps dedicated to teaching English, general etiquette & physical hygiene to underprivileged children and young women. She also assists the Child Cancer cause, at Tata Memorial Hospital.
Ishita’s desire, passion and persistence are dedicated to serving humanity as a whole, and empowering people to be the best versions of themselves.
We are proud to have Ishita Iyer on board as a Thriive-verified wellness coach. You can connect with her here: https://www.thriive.in/therapist/ishita-iyer