I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou
Small meaningful moments of connection have been shown to significantly improve company culture. Making room for compassion at work boosts productivity.
Australian employees are highly disengaged, according to a Gallup study in 2016 less than a quarter (24%) of employees in Australia are engaged and employee engagement has not budged in a decade. 60% are not engaged and 16% are actively disengaged at work.
There is a major disconnect between what people want to feel at work and what they experience daily. Why are we so disengaged? How can we make our workplaces feel more uplifting? According to recent science, feeling engaged at work is highly connected to whether employees feel cared about, and a part of a community at work. Research shows that not only our productivity increases when we’re encouraged us to express emotions like compassion and caring there is also improved employee health. Compassion impacts every aspect of the workplace: staff attitudes, team chemistry, and overall performance.
As our workplaces get busier it’s easy for our relationships to become transactional. We get caught up in meetings, to-do lists, and clogged inboxes that consume all our time and energy. It’s not uncommon in such organisations for employees to start emailing people who sit a few desks away from us rather than getting out of our seats to talk to them.
But when we choose to get caught up in the ‘stuff’ we miss out on the power of meaningful connection. This comes from the heart and is linked to feelings of belonging and acceptance. Such relationships at work can positively lift key measures of a business including engagement, retention and even profit.
Often when people talk about their work, what they are really talking about are the tasks, the “Doing” part of their jobs. While these aspects of the job are important, but they are only part of the work experience. Equally important is the relational and emotional part. Often these emerge as small expressions of caring, affection and vulnerability that are powerful and deliver meaning to our work lives.
Unfortunately, compassion at work is still a relatively new concept and some business leaders still struggle to understand what compassion at work means and therefore believe compassion has no place in the business world. While some managers fear showing too much kindness could be perceived as weakness, others think pressures is a more effective way to keep employees productive.
Plenty of people might even tell you to check your emotions at the door before coming to work. Many of us have unfortunately experienced work places where there is like little eye contact and even less conversation about how you are really doing. Multiply those transactions over the course of days and weeks and it is easy to see why many of us can feel drained and disconnected and how negativity spreads. Leading to workplaces where absenteeism and presenteesim are rife and people ultimately burnout or leave.
When leaders and employee are genuinely caring, it changes the energy of the organisation that’s tangible in meetings or around the office in general and with customers or suppliers. You can’t have a great customer experience if there isn’t a great employee experience.
But the good news is that any organisation can introduce compassion to the workplace. At a leadership level, there are some notable examples that can be followed. James Shani CEO at Madison + Vine is creating a new kind of workplace. Shani encourages a “compassion culture” at his company, which he described as an openness among employees to discuss any personal issues or problems they may be having, without fear of shaming or guilt. Read more at https://www.businessinsider.com/madison-and-vine-ceo-compassion-culture-2017-3#23117Uacfr3YQrXP.99
But everyone can make small steps that over time can begin to make a significant difference: Here are a few of my favourites that are genuine and easy to do
- Say good morning, greet everyone as you make your way to your desk.
- Ask a colleague how they are really doing. Don’t forget to pause to listen!
- Get to know a bit about your co-workers lives and have a genuine conversation about family members or what they did on the weekend
- Simply delivering an employee a much-needed cup of coffee can set the tone for a compassionate environment.
- Organising team days that are about ‘giving back’ like working with a charity have been shown to foster a compassionate and caring workplace
Showing people, you care, and creating policies that foster compassion, are simple but effective ways to improve business.