So, how do you bring compassion to the workplace?
Throughout this month, we have dived into what compassion is, the kind of power it holds, and how we can be kinder to ourselves. But an area we are yet to explore is an area where we spend the majority of our week. That being the workplace. But what does compassion in the workplace look like? Does it really matter? How can it benefit me? How can I use it? This blog post will explore this and help you learn how being compassionate can not only increase your performance but also the performance of your team.
So what is workplace compassion?
The biggest thing about compassion is that it literally means to “suffer together”. When we start to feel compassionate, we start to feel like we want to lend out a hand and help that individual be relieved of their suffering. In the workplace, this is when leaders within the organisation or business attend to their employee’s emotional needs and are wanting to provide them the necessary support. An example of this could be when you suspect a colleague to be facing some personal or work stressors. You may want to ensure that the person feels secure and comfortable at work.
Why does this matter?
Whether you’re a leader or an employee, the way you show compassion can make or break the culture in the workplace. Over the years, the research on compassion in the workplace has increased sufficiently. Especially in 2020 when compassion was more important than ever. If leaders don’t show compassion, it can lead to an unsupportive work environment where employees are less productive, not engaged with their work and don’t feel valued within the workplace. As a result, this affects not only the performance of the individual but the performance of the company. However, a barrier to this is that employees choose to hide their personal struggles and keep quiet as they feel their personal lives should not interrupt their working lives.
How can showing compassion benefit you?
According to Monica Worline and Jane Dutton’s book, ‘Awakening Compassion at Work’, they mention that previous studies indicated that when given the opportunity to show compassion at work, it can create an environment where all individuals can feel safe to express their concerns. This leads to an increase in the quality of work relationships, communication, collaboration and loyalty within the team. Additionally, it can reduce stress, retain employees and increase interpersonal bonds.
How can I express compassion in the workplace?
In the book, it’s said there are four different factors that individuals need to express compassion appropriately in the workplace. These being NOTICING, INTERPRETATION, FEELING and ACTING.
This first factor means to be aware of others and the signs of suffering. This includes verbal behaviours such as voice tone or abnormal work patterns, and non-verbal behaviours, such as body language or withdrawal.
Interpreting one’s behaviours and struggles means to view it as both real and worthy. Due to our biases which can be both automatic and unconscious, this can be a challenge. The best way to overcome these biases is to acknowledge and become aware of the automatic thoughts and beliefs we may hold. Once you have acknowledged the biases you hold. Keep these in mind when you look to make a decision or reach out to someone to ensure you remove the bias out of this process.
This involves empathising with others who may be suffering. This can be little things such as making time for the individual, listening actively when in conversation and ensuring the individual knows that you’re there for them.
This means to take practical steps in showing your compassion. Ultimately, it can also help you set a positive example for others within the workplace. Some actions can include empathic listening, publicly celebrating employees for their hard work and achievements. Other formal ways of showing compassion can include scheduling regular meetings where employees are given the opportunity to share both work achievements and mistakes. As a result, this creates an environment where individuals aren’t afraid of their mistakes but use it as an opportunity to learn. Lastly, another way to show compassion in the workplace is to simply show compassion to yourself. As discussed in the previous blog post, to be able to show compassion to others, we need to start with ourselves and set the example.