Company culture may be a bit of a buzzword lately, but it’s more important now than ever—and it’s even more important to get it right.
Any organization that both values its people and wants a sustainable competitive edge will work toward a heart-based company culture. Empathy and compassion aren’t only for charitable well-doers; they’re also for organizations who want to find (and keep) the best people. That means people who collaborate together, support each other, and take action for the good of the team and company as a whole.
If you’re not yet sold, it’s worth remembering that employees of companies operating through compassion have less stress, better engagement, and stronger loyalty to their organization.
So what does empathy and compassion look like in the workplace?
Every company culture looks a little different, but every culture founded on the values of empathy and compassion (the latter being arguably more important) shares a few key elements:
- The beliefs and values of the organization are well-defined. Companies that truly want to invest in a more empathetic culture must first outline their belief system. This ensures that the most important values—like integrity, fairness, and respect—are clearly outlined for both leaders and employees to see.
- The organization uses compassion and empathy to guide it through shared assumptions and norms. Compassion and empathy are the foundation of the company culture, leading to a firm belief that all within the company belong to a single team and family. Each person within the company acts in the best interest of the team as a whole, which over time contributes to the strong foundation of trust that permeates the culture. The long-term benefits of this type of culture include higher morale and engagement, as well as lower turnover and absenteeism.
How can you add empathy and compassion to your workplace?
Changing your company culture takes time. As mentioned above, a company culture based on empathy and compassion has a strong foundation of trust—both in the value system itself and between the leaders and employees in your organization. This type of trust is impossible to construct overnight, meaning that all you can do in the beginning is take steps toward this outcome and have faith that your culture will shift as you go.
Furthermore, any shift in company culture takes a great deal of conscious energy and thought. In covering the steps toward reinventing your company culture, we mentioned the three most critical steps to help you make the change: your leaders’ actions, your company messaging, and system changes. Both you and your top leaders will need to adjust your mindset to focus on empathy and compassion above all, envisioning a heart-based culture in which employees trust each other (and themselves) to take smart risks, act with empathy, and work for the best outcome for your team as a whole.
Taking small steps toward a more compassionate workplace will be a major boon for your business, and long-term culture shifts will offer even more benefits. Even small changes will have an immediate impact on your people—and thus an immediate impact on your organization as a whole.