Reviving Our Workplaces with Compassion

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Many of today’s organizations have become transactional and dehumanized.

The professionals that I work with increasingly tell me that they feel their employer treats them more like a human resource than a human being, and we have become so reliant on technology as a means of communication that opportunities to connect and care for one another at a basic human level are decreasing.

We are so caught up in a culture of ‘busyness’, we have little time to care for ourselves, let alone our colleague down the corridor. In an attempt to seek out human connection, many people spend more time at work than they do with family members, yet few of us have a colleague who we trust enough to share our vulnerabilities and talk to about the things that worry us.

To be human is to suffer, yet our struggles can remain hidden from work. Consequently, compassion as a core human value is too often overlooked in business. More often than not, compassion is positively disregarded, with many leaders believing that too much kindness is weak leadership and instead advocate toughness and strength. However, there are plenty of reasons to disregard that approach.

Companies that embed compassion in their business generate better financial performance, experience higher levels of employee retention and drive customer loyalty, because employees and clients give back when they feel cared for and valued. Spontaneous acts of compassion take place between colleagues in workplaces every day, when we are moved to help someone who is going through a difficult time. However, companies where compassion is both systemic and systematic are few and far between. So, what does it take to build a compassionate culture?

There are four building blocks to help companies embed compassion into their organizational DNA:


Companies can have the brightest visions and the best plans, but if the culture is not conducive, compassion will never flourish.

In compassionate companies, hierarchy can be difficult to detect. The physical spaces in these organizations also look and feel different, such as office layouts, where those in formal positions of power are often indistinguishable from other employees. Colleagues treat one another with a sense of equality and mutual respect, with no one person being more important than anyone else.

When compassion is embedded in culture, the company places its people firmly at its heart. Its values are likely to include words such as ‘trust’, ‘equality’, ‘balance’, ‘respect’, and ‘care’, and employees at all levels embody these values in the way they relate to one another as well as the way they interact with their clients or customers.

Take the example of Innocent Drinks, the smoothie and fruit drinks company based in London. Their aptly named Fruit Towers headquarters building is designed around communal spaces, with a shared kitchen at its heart. Employees use this space on a daily basis to meet and eat together, so relationships can be nurtured and maintained.


Compassion is not something that can be mandated from the top down; however, leaders are an inescapable focal point, as they have the power to facilitate compassion and to mobilize […]

Source: Bonusly Blog

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