Not so news flash: Compassion really pays dividends by connecting with people, motivating them, inspiring them, and helping them see how remarkable they truly are. When you treat compassion as a core business metric, it drives greater loyalty through the ranks, reduces turnover, and helps people feel connected to their work and the people they work with.
So why haven’t standard measures of business success evolved beyond revenue growth, working capital, customer satisfaction, and customer retention rate to include compassion? KPIs are meant to gauge success in pursuing business goals, but a closer look at the business landscape reveals that companies are missing a key quality that underpins all of their quantitative results: compassion. , which Brené Brown has recently defined as “everyday practice”. to recognize and accept our common humanity so that we treat ourselves and others with kindness, and act in the face of suffering.
If you Google “compassion in business” there is no shortage of information on the subject: some 140 million queries. The importance of compassion in the workplace has become such a popular topic that you might think it has become a universal norm. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and it is quite a serious problem because compassion is necessary for employees to feel engaged at work and enjoy healthy mental well-being.
As more and more employees struggle with anxiety, depression and burnout, leaders can help by embedding true compassion at the heart of company cultures, but companies can’t handle this. that they cannot measure. For this reason, compassion must be instilled as a core KPI to apply as a cultural constant. Whether measured by internal surveys, happiness quotients, regular chats, or something else, we owe it to our teammates to find the best ways to add a strong dose of compassion to our daily interactions.
The so-called Great Resignation is proof that people are no longer willing to settle for indifferent leaders or apathetic work environments. Everyone expects (and deserves) more, so it’s no exaggeration to say that an organization’s success in 2022 and beyond depends on leadership’s ability to cultivate true compassion.
The Makings of a Stronger Leader
Compassion begins with leaders who model vulnerability and understanding as a daily practice. At the height of the pandemic, our employees’ minds were occupied with concerns about their health, family, uncertainties, and a million other obligations and worries (for obvious reasons). They needed vulnerable leadership that identified with them as people and showed them compassion where they needed it most. Compassionate leaders became more honest and found ways to put themselves fully into the business. In the company I lead, this vulnerability and compassion struck a chord that reverberated throughout our team and amplified an ingredient often missing from a leader’s playbook: the heart.
From the day I started sharing more of myself, our team has felt comfortable doing the same. By leading with real compassion and real heart, our team has found more opportunities to grow personally and create memorable experiences for those we serve. Together, we have created a highly empowered, productive and competent culture. As a result, we are coming off of an incredible business year, surpassing business milestones that we once thought were unachievable. Compassion – and our culture of compassion – were the drivers.
Foster greater compassion at work
Leaders must treat compassion as the critical KPI it has become. For companies striving to create a more compassionate culture, here’s where I recommend starting:
1. Learn and cultivate compassion for yourself.Building compassion in the workplace is less about words and more about feelings. Compassion cannot be faked, it can be difficult to learn, and it backfires when forced. A survey found that 46% of employees believe that companies’ attempts at empathy ring hollow – and that’s the rub. Empathy is the spark that can ignite compassion, so if leaders lack this basic ingredient, developing full-fledged compassion is next to impossible.
It’s hard to create compassion without empathy, which is why leaders need to develop enough emotional intelligence to understand what each situation within their company requires. Whether through self-reflection, coaching, or any other means, accept that you don’t know everything and neither should you. Learn to lead from within.
2. Solicit and listen to feedback from the team.Effective and compassionate leadership requires you to understand how your team feels about the work they do and the processes you expect of them. This means you need to be comfortable asking for honest feedback. It’s easy to write about compassion and the impact it has had on our culture, but if I asked my team, would they share the same feelings? People are under a lot of pressure these days, and it affects their mental health. Give employees the space to share, ask clarifying questions when warranted, and then be brutally honest with yourself before any response.
I did, and what I learned was invaluable. I reached out to about 5% of our team asking for their feedback on how we’re doing on compassion and mental health at work. One person said our Employee Assistance Program was the lifeline she and her family needed during a difficult time. That’s the good news. What is serious is that she said that she had to escalate her situation to human resources to be informed of the existence of the service. She shared that we needed to do better to educate our team on this offer, which we did quickly. It was a prime example of how a management blind spot could unintentionally keep employees in the dark about beneficial services.
3. Be genuinely compassionate.Almost everyone would agree that people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. If you are truly, genuinely compassionate and always behave that way, your team will learn to do the same. It becomes a cultural norm. It supports the success of the business. He becomes the pathnot just an option.
During the pandemic, I took a leap of faith and began to connect with my team in a way I had never done before. I was experiencing the extreme stress of the unknown firsthand while trying to balance work and parental responsibilities, and wanted to make sure our team knew they weren’t alone. Starting in March 2020, I would email company-wide every Friday to share my perspective, personal challenges or triumphs, or come up with an upbeat or heartfelt story to connect with the team. Our team members, many of whom I had never met personally, began to engage with me and share their own stories. The resulting camaraderie and trust was more impactful than I could have ever imagined. As a result, my Friday emails survive today and have become another proof that we actually care, not just say we do. Writing something meaningful to share with hundreds of employees every Friday isn’t always easy, but it’s worth the effort. It sends a clear message to everyone about who we are, and it helps us attract the kind of people who can help our culture of compassion flourish.
The 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said that “compassion is the basis of morality”. Two hundred years later, the same can be said for commercial success. Leaders must answer the call to develop compassion and create a culture that truly puts people first. Once accomplished, that’s the definition of a successful business, no matter how you measure it.