Why Compassion at Work?


“The cultivation of compassion is no longer a luxury, but a necessity, if our species is to survive.”
– The Dalai Lama

Empathy and compassion are among the top leadership skills needed for the future of work, according to Tracy Brower, PhD, author of The Secrets to Happiness at Work.  Researchers report 44% of employees are planning to quit their jobs in 2022 as part of “The Great Resignation.” And there is no indication of this trend slowing any time soon. They are leaving for better pay, greater opportunity, more flexibility, and a more compassionate work culture.

The top reasons people are leaving their jobs have been cited as:

  • Low pay
  • Few opportunities for career advancement
  • Feeling disrespected by toxic bosses and toxic work cultures
  • Inflexible work schedules

There’s been a fundamental shift in workers’ mentality, and their willingness to prioritize other things in their life beyond whatever job thy hold.  We’re never going back to how things were in 2019.

People aren’t tolerating toxic bosses and toxic cultures anymore because they can leave and find other ways to make money without being in a negative situation. And those who are staying are tired!  Pandemic fatigue is real, people are working extra hours filling in for vacancies, all while navigating grief associated with the loss and isolation of the past few years.

Wouldn’t it be great to create workplaces where people want to stay?

When leaders demonstrate compassion for their employees, it improves both retention rates and overall employee happiness. By empathizing with their employees’ situations, it sends a clear message that they’re willing to accommodate them in their times of need which can be inspiring.

Compassion increases our willingness to trust. Simply put, our brains respond more positively to leaders and co-workers who have shown us empathy, as neuroimaging research confirms. Employee trust in turn improves performance.

How does compassion training impact the workplace?

According to healthcare education researchers:
Overall learners reported reduced burnout, emotional exhaustion, anxiety and perceived stress, an improved emotional balance at work, an increased feeling of personal accomplishment, less frustration and anger, and a renewed sense of enjoyment of work.

Learners were better able to work as a team, learn from each other, and support each other’s wellbeing.

Leaders participating in workplace-based compassion training reported an increase in their ability to

  • lead the delivery of compassionate care,
  • support peer learning,
  • manage conflict,
  • demonstrate consideration and empathy in interactions with people they support, and to
  • build trust with individuals and families.

Employee participants reported

  • an improved sense of responsibility, accountability, and professionalism, and
  • an understanding of the necessity to adapt their practice according to the needs of the other person.
  • This led to increased sensitivity towards others’ perspectives and fewer assumptions about how others might wish to be supported.

The 15 Compassion Practices we explore during Compassion@Work will support your personal journey of resilience and renewal and provide practical strategies that can have a lasting impact on the wellbeing of your workforce and those you support in the community.

 Registration is still open for Compassion@work 2023 starting May 9th. We hope you will join us.

Brower, T., Empathy is the Most Important Leadership Skills According to Research. Forbes Magazine. June 2021 https://www.forbes.com/sites/tracybrower/2021/09/19/empathy-is-the-most-important-leadership-skill-according-to-research/?sh=4a95ecc43dc5

Parker K., Menasce Horowitz, J. Majority of workers who quit a job in 2021 cite low pay, no opportunities for advancement, feeling disrespected. Pew Research Center, March 9, 2022 https://pewrsr.ch/3hVWMfr

Sinclair, S., Kondejewski, J., Jaggi, P. et al. What works for whom in compassion training programs offered to practicing healthcare providers: a realist review. BMC Med Educ  21, 455 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-021-02863-w