How to Create a More Compassionate Workplace
It’s not exactly breaking news that the way we work is changing. The global pandemic ushered in a restructuring of the traditional office-based style of working. And while many may say the shift towards working from home is Covid’s silver lining, the concept of remote and hybrid work is not without its issues.
For example, how can managers and business owners really trust that all of their employees are working when they say they are? How do employees themselves deal with the isolation that often comes with working alone at home?
One takeaway from the pandemic is that we all need to have a little more compassion for one another - and that goes for within the workplace too.
Regardless of whether you are now 100% back in the office full time, or your people are allowed to work remotely or flexibly, a compassionate company culture has never been more important - particularly given the pandemic-induced Great Resignation.
And while the department you work for might be called Human Resources, that’s really not the way you want to approach your people. Too many employees complain that they feel like their employer treats them as a resource rather than as a human.
And that’s definitely something you want to take steps to address if you’ve noticed a tendency towards this within your company.
How to create a more compassionate workplace
But what is at the root of this feeling of disconnect within the workplace?
Our overwhelming reliance on technology to communicate with one another may be at fault. So too could the modern culture of ‘busyness’ - of actively enjoying being seen as someone who is rushed off their feet, who never switches off, who runs a dozen side hustles.
And of course some employers are terrible at respecting boundaries when it comes to sending emails late at night or at weekends.
But isn’t it crazy that we’re failing to connect with our coworkers on a human level? After all, if you’re office based, chances are you spend more time with them than you do with your own family.
And on a business level, a company culture that shows little to no compassion for its employees is not going to have much to shout about when it comes to employee retention.
So how can you create a culture of compassion in your workplace? Let’s take a look at a few ideas.
Use social media for good
Okay, bear with us here. We know you might be thinking that the last thing you want your people doing is wasting time on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok etc, but social media doesn’t have to be the swamp of negativity that it so often can be.
Take a look at the reason that Facebook came into existence: It was to provide a way for students at Harvard to interact and communicate with each other.
And there’s no reason why you can’t go back to the social media giant’s roots and apply a similar ethos within your company.
A private, internal company Facebook (or Instagram or ‘insert platform of choice’ here) page or account is an ideal place for people to share information and (lighthearted!) gossip, and to even offer advice.
Team lunches can be arranged in group chats, photos from the office party can be liked and commented upon, you could even create a fun company hashtag for people to tag their posts with.
It’s a way of getting people to connect, to form relationships and to have a little fun. An active and positive social network can create a real feeling of camaraderie and compassion within your company.
Make sure your culture is compassionate
There’s an awful lot of talk around ‘creating an awesome company culture’. From articles to job adverts, everyone’s talking about it. Sure, being part of a workplace with a fantastic culture is great - in theory. But has it just become another empty buzzword?
How many businesses really, genuinely, honestly back up their claims with the real deal?
For a company to be compassionate, the culture needs to be in place for it to flourish. There are a few building blocks to this:
- Coworkers treat each other with mutual respect - because the leadership does so too
- The lines of hierarchy are blurred - of course there are managers, but they don’t shut themselves away in an office with the blinds drawn
- The office layout is conducive to a friendly and sociable atmosphere - it’s open plan and people are comfortable stopping by a coworker’s desk to ask them a question
- There are social spaces such as an inviting kitchen/dining area or comfortable sofas for people to gather at snack or lunch time to chat and socialize
The phrase ‘your people are your company’s biggest asset’ is often thrown around, but for a company to truly be compassionate, that old cliché is the truth. When employees are trusted, respected, and recognized that is a huge part of a compassionate culture.
Look after your people
A company that truly cares about its people will put its money where its mouth is. After all, looking after your employees will mean that they’re not only in a better place mentally and physically and therefore more productive and profitable, but they’re also more loyal to you.
And we all know how costly and time consuming having to replace an ever changing cast of employees can be.
Read more: 6 Ways to Show Your Employees a Little Love
Consider allocating a budget to allow employees to spend money on something that really matters to them - such as a gym membership, yoga lessons, training, or even child care.
These are all facets of a compassionate company culture.
How to create a more compassionate workplace: conclusion
The world of work (and indeed of leisure) is becoming increasingly automated. From customer service chat bots to artificial intelligence being used as a tool in recruitment processes, now more than ever we need to start injecting a little bit of humanity back into our lives and workplaces.
Compassion is not ‘weak leadership’ or some airy-fairy new age concept. It is a valid way of ensuring that your employees are happy at work and therefore more engaged and productive.
Compassion and kindness will stop your people quitting - forcing them to work unpaid overtime or emailing them at midnight on a Saturday won’t.
When your company’s leadership practices compassion, the ripple effect will be felt far and wide.
When your employees are treated with care and respect they will respond in like, offering kindness to not only their coworkers but to your business’s suppliers, partners, and, crucially, your customers and clients too.
I'm a UK-based content writer here at Hezum. I've an interest in all things HR and company culture.