A Practical Guide to Hacking Compassion in the Workplace

What is Compassion
Compassion is simply caring in action. When we notice that people around are going through challenges, and we respond with an intent to help them out of their challenges, we are being compassionate. We are also being compassionate when we notice and respond kindly to our own challenges (self-compassion). Compassion is part of our human nature, and belongs to every sphere of human activity. Compassionate people are happier, less prone to stress, depression and anxiety. Compassionate people have 2-times the level of DHEA which slows down aging and 23% less cortisol, the stress hormone. Compassion improves human connection and health. When we are kind, receive kindness or even witness kindness, our bodies produce Serotonin, similar to medical antidepressants. Practicing kindness produces endorphins which reduce pain perception and make us feel good. Kindness produces Oxytocin, which, among other things strengthens the immune system. When we are compassionate, we acknowledge the value of the person receiving our compassion, and we are inadvertently creating a ripple effect in the world at large.

Compassion in the workplace
Workplaces typically undervalue or even discourage emotions such as kindness and compassion. This often stems from fear that employees may perceive compassion as a leadership weakness, or take advantage of the compassion offered to them and undermine the system. These are flawed perceptions. Accumulating research shows that compassionate workplaces have higher productivity, innovation and profitability. One key reason is that compassionate workplaces offer a sense of emotional security and belonging. The feeling of emotional security is a key driver of productivity and loyalty. Modeling compassion is critical at all levels of the organization, especially in leadership roles. When compassion is a core value of the organizational leadership, it gives everyone in the organization permission to be compassionate to one other. Compassion is a valuable tool for organizational success irrespective of the industry, products and service the company provides.

Compassion as a success tool
Organizations that invest in the personal and professional well-being of their employees motivate them to give the best to their organizations. Compassionate organizations have higher innovation, employee retention, productivity and customer satisfaction. Compassion is a skill that can be cultivated and maintained in organizations. However as with any skill, it takes time and commitment to implement compassion as a mainstay of an organization’ s work culture. Creating a sense of community with shared values is an integral part of the effort. The ability of leadership to consistently inspire and model compassion, encourage positive conversations, and importantly recognize and reward those who show positive workplace behaviors are all critical for work culture change to happen. Organizations can encourage a work culture of compassion by providing opportunities for employees to learn compassion skills, and by implementing programs to keep ongoing conversations around compassion. More importantly decision makers and leadership must model compassion as part of their policies and actions.

In part 2 we’ll discuss the 9 PILLARS OF WORKPLACE COMPASSION:

1 | SELF-COMPASSION
2 | PEOPLE FIRST
3 | ABUNDANCE MINDSET
4 | MINDFULNESS
5 | EMBRACING ‘ONENESS’
6 | FEARLESS VULNERABILITY
7 | THINKING BIG PICTURE
8 | GRATITUDE
9 | THE PLATINUM RULE

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