The workplace can be a stressful place, and with little compassion it can become a cold evacuation area for creative productivity. Compassion can be a crucial piece of your management toolbox. While it seems like an easy oversight (and it might be laughable that I am writing about this particular subject…) compassion has transformed the workplace here at Red Branch Media. It leads to more inspired discussions, easier performance reviews, better relationships and more empathy when one of us (sometimes me!) inevitably messes up.
So how do you show compassion to your employees? It starts with empathy. Remember when you started in the workforce and were eager to show off all your new skills? Well, that’s how they feel. Even veteran hires have an innate desire to impress their boss. “Tough love” tactics are proven to be less effective than good ol’ fashioned compassionate tactics. Understanding where your employees are coming from and then relating to them a time when you had the same issue and how you solved it can instill trust.
Here, management greats from entrepreneurs to Hollywood directors give you a lesson (or two) on how to use compassion to create more engaged, productive employers.
Notice the tough stuff.
Attitude can change everything encouraging an employee that is visibly going through a rough time can mean the world to that individual and establish a sense of trust. In this study, health care expenditures for employees with high levels of stress were 46% greater than at similar organizations without high levels of stress. Establishing trust between you and your employee is crucial in the expansion of your company.
How to: Using real time reviews, surveys or even a simple intranet will ensure that you know at least how engaged your employees are. Take it one step further by letting employees know when they are going through a “life event” (family illness, new baby, marriage, MBA program, et al) that you are ready and willing to help them if they are honest with you. While this may seem like a “pushover move” it will pay limitless dividends when you have employee loyalty. Trust me, employees rarely forget bosses who got them through tough times.
Employees rarely forget bosses who got them through tough times. Click To Tweet
Compassion for your employees builds healthy employee-employer relationships.
Show common ground in your work ethic. Everyone wants to be a success story, show employees you’re there to help them achieve their success too. According to The Pew Research Center, Millennials are not only the most connected generation technologically, but emotionally as well. In fact, Millennials (the largest group in the workforce today) are uniquely positioned to experience compassion on a much broader scale.
“When I was growing up, I don’t remember being told that America was created so that everyone could get rich. I remember being told it was about opportunity and the pursuit of happiness. Not happiness itself, but the pursuit.”-Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese is a director/screenplay writer/producer/you name it, that has a vast body of work in film, and writing and research. Scorsese has won countless awards for his achievement in his field.
How to: Show your own work ethic when it counts. It’s good to be the boss and I certainly take plenty of vacations but I make sure that I am in the office ready and willing to answer questions, pitch in and assist with the latest and greatest project. Even if your office hours are limited, they should be consistent. Don’t be a flaky boss.
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Research says that psychological well-being accounts for 10 to 25% of an employee’s job performance. Working to cover these gaps can maximize your company’s profits, especially when you apply them to decidedly unemotional areas like PTO. From SHRM: Nearly nine out of 10 organizations provide some form of paid vacation leave to their full-time employees: 42% of organizations offer paid vacation leave through a paid time off plan, which includes sick, vacation and personal days all in one plan, and 46% offered a stand-alone paid vacation plan.
“Unfortunately, to succeed in business, organizations need to make difficult choices all the time–what to do and, more important, what not to do. The truth of the matter is that whenever we make a difficult choice, some people will win and some will lose. The winners will be happy and the losers unhappy. It’s impossible to make everybody happy all the time. If everybody in your organization is happy, that may be because you’re failing to lead them.” –Costas Markides
Costas Markides is a professor at the London Business School. He has done multitudes of research and published on the topics of strategic innovation, business-model innovation, diversification and international acquisitions.
How to: While voting and polls work sometimes, part of being a compassionate employer is realizing that what’s good for some employees may not work for others. This can be harder in larger employers but it makes plenty of sense in small ones. Teaching your employees that sometimes they don’t get their way is part of building their resilience.
Research says that psychological well-being accounts for 10 to 25% of an employee’s job performance. Click To Tweet
Upping your employees’ confidence can attract new hires.
The more employee friendly your company is, the more new hires will pick up on your good vibes. Thus, enticing quality workers to your company. This instant lift to employer brand can pay in the long run, but you’ll only see it if you celebrate the uniqueness of each employee, rather than trying to fit each of them into a specific mold.
“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, “Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner.” I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.” –Carl Rogers
Carl Rogers is one of the founding fathers of the humanistic approach to psychology. His research is widely renowned and respected as one of the great voices of thought.
How to: If you see a worker struggling in a specific role or if an employee comes to you asking for a transfer, do what you can to make it happen. People do best when they know their strengths are being used to the best of their ability. While it’s impossible to say yes to every request, this is a case when you should bend over backwards to make it work.
While work isn’t just about being compassionate, a little compassion can go a long way. In this study by Wharton management professor Sigal Barsade and co-author Olivia “Mandy” O’Neill, assistant professor of management at George Mason University units with higher levels of companionate love had lower levels of absenteeism and employee burnout. Harbor your employee’s qualms, listen, contemplate, and advise your employees. Your workers cradle the reputation of your brand daily, take the time to create meaningful relationships and watch your employees’ productivity soar!