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The Value of Compassion in Business

What if compassion not only was compatible with running a business, but could actually be an asset?

Often times, business is viewed as an undertaking that should not be hampered by emotion or personal views. Personal issues do not belong in the workplace, distance should be kept between coworkers. Only strategies that produce the desired outcome – product, profit, market position, stock price – are important, and feelings shouldn’t get in the way. Nothing personal, it’s just business.

Compassion has several definitions, but generally it is the feeling of empathy for others that motivates a desire to help, with varying degrees of passion. However, there is also a rational element to compassion when it is examined in relation to fairness, justice, and interdependence. It is especially this last part that may prove useful in business.

Compassion Motivates Employees

It is widely accepted that personal views and issues should be “left at home”. Work is a place for work, and what goes on at home doesn’t have a place in the office. However, there is an increasing recognition that treating employees well yields better company performance and customer satisfaction. The growing view is that putting customers first is good for business- both internal and external.

This is where compassion comes in. While there of course needs to be some boundary between personal and professional interactions and roles, understanding of your coworkers, bosses, and employees, can empower some amazing outcomes. Knowing what motivates your team, what makes them feel rewarded, and to some extent what struggles they may face at home or what goals they are working towards can help you connect to them. In other words, being compassionate can help you tailor assignments and incentives that will make your team feel fulfilled and valued, and deliver incredible results. Knowing that you are personally invested in their success; that you empathize with their struggles and situations, triggers a hard-wired biological desire to reciprocate and want to work hard to show they care about their work and the company’s success.

Engaged Employees Make Customers Happy

There is a growing collection of literature and scientific studies demonstrating the positive effect of employee engagement on revenue and customer satisfaction. When employees feel valued and empowered, their connection to the business resonates with consumers. Even if your team isn’t directly customer-facing, knowing they are cared for and wanting the company to succeed will motivate them to make sure the client-facing departments they support are well-equipped to deliver the level of quality that customers deserve.

When your employees are compassionate toward customers, and desire to truly understand their needs, they can more effectively meet them. As above with the internal example, when customers feel valued, they feel compelled to reciprocate the level of commitment, which turns customers into advocates and generates positive reviews and referrals. Despite all the advances in technology, word of mouth is still the most powerful advertising (though how that opinion is shared has certainly evolved and multiplied).

In conclusion, especially as work styles become more flexible and employees increasingly need to feel valued and have some flexibility, compassion can help your team become more effective and grow your business. More often, if employees have to choose between family (like picking up a sick kid early from school) and work, family will win in the long run, and your business will suffer.

Be compassionate toward your employees, and when times are good, they will feel like they had a part in that. When times get hard, they will dig in be motivated to help your business get back to success.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with this!


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