Having compassion means showing sympathy and concern to those around you and it’s one of those qualities that we possess which amplifies happiness that we and those around us feel. In fact, without giving and receiving compassion, humans are often left feeling empty in silent moments.
Contrary to popular belief, compassion is not just an act carried out in religion, amongst loved ones, or by human rights organizations; in fact, it’s integral to all human connections, especially in the workplace. The Dalai Lama put it very well when he said: “Compassion is not religious business, its human business.” Compassion helps leaders and their companies be more successful too.
Although many managers believe that putting pressure on their employees will lead to better productivity and yield – the truth is quite different. Instead, it leads to high amounts of stress and anxiety amongst the employees causing different problems that bring added costs both to the employees and the employers. Health care costs are increased by stress, so are the rates of absenteeism and employee turnover.
A study done by Bio-Med Centre researchers in Canada revealed that high amount of stress at workplace caused a 46% increase in the health care costs borne by employees compared to those with no stress at the workplace.
Work-related stress has also been linked to coronary heart diseases through retrospective and prospective studies.
A lack of compassion shown towards the employees by their manager also results in high turnover rates which is not just detrimental to the reputation of the company but also results in lower profits. A study done by the American Psychological Association reported that 52% of the employees left their jobs, searched for new jobs and declined a promotion because of work driven stress.
Adding weight to the importance of having a less stressed and a more compassionate approach to work are recent studies which reveal that not only are employees happier in such a place, but also the bottom line is improved. Social Market Foundation and the University of Warwick’s Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy conducted the 700 person survey which showed that productivity in happier individuals increased on the average by 12% and peaked at 20%. It was observed by Dr. Sgroi in his research that this scientific support for creating happiness-productivity cycles within the workforce ought to… aid managers in justifying work practices intended to boost happiness on productivity grounds.
This remarked increase in productivity is because acts of compassion do not just create happiness to the person who receives it but also gets passed on from that person to the next as people comply with sharing that feeling. In a workplace that translates as the Head being kind to those under him and then each manager passing that on and around, creating a nurturing atmosphere where workers feel safe, appreciated and inclined to put their best foot forward.
Studies have even tried to gauge and understand this phenomenon and have successfully observed that compassion and acts of generosity create a ripple effect which are passed on by human social networks to hundreds of other people whom they don’t even know about or have met. In one study by researchers at UC San Diego and Harvard, it was found that every contribution a subject makes to the good of others in the first period gets tripled over the progression of the experiment by other subjects who were directly or indirectly encouraged to give back more as a consequence.
If one singular experiment’s show of compassion can have that far-spreading of an impact, then the impact of an entire company of people who show compassion will be huge. It just requires a leading pioneer to take the first step.
Hence, it’s no surprise that workplace productivity is increased when companies treat their workers with compassion and care. It doesn’t have to be big rewards or other fancy compensations rather, it’s about smaller acts of thoughtfulness done by the management like making sick employees feel cared for and respected and providing them with a good working environment.
If being compassionate in the office is gaining more productivity and allowing employees to be happier and better at work then there really isn’t any reason to not incorporate a more compassionate attitude.
For those leaders who feel that their kindness will be perceived as weakness, they need to be more self-reliant on their ability to lead their teams in a conscious, smart and firm way. Such an approach will not only be for their own benefit as a respectful attitude towards others earns respect but will also be in the benefit of the company.