The Transformative Power of Workplace Compassion

Discover the impact of employee disengagement and how fostering a culture of compassion can significantly boost engagement levels.


A culture of compassion sets organizations apart in today’s business world as a place where employees truly matter. Organizations that craft that type of culture unlock higher levels of employee engagement and innovation.

A recent Gallup poll shows that employee engagement in today’s workforce is continuing to decline. In 2020, only 36 percent of US employees reported being engaged at work, and in 2021, the number fell to 34 percent. As 2022 began to unfold, it hit 32 percent.

To appreciate the significance of these findings, understand that disengaged employees aren’t as productive as those who are engaged. They are more likely to be absent, and collaboration is difficult for them, which means innovation wanes.

In extreme cases, disengaged employees become the cynical naysayers in the workplace, spreading their disengagement to coworkers. If your workplace is average, nearly seven out of every ten employees are disengaged to some degree.

When the consequences are considered, it is easy to see why turning around the disengagement trend is critical for businesses. Luckily, recent research shows that creating a more compassionate workplace can significantly boost employee engagement.

Creating a culture of compassion

Compassion at work is rooted in seeing employees for who they are and not just what they do. Compassionate leaders see beyond their employees’ output. They pay attention to how employees are feeling as well as how they are producing, understanding the connection between the two.

When employees are struggling, compassionate leaders take steps to provide relief. They leverage empathy, understanding, and a commitment to employee well-being to address the stress employees are feeling.

Encouraging emotional intelligence (EQ) in the workplace is one of the keys to increasing compassion. High EQ leaders are more attuned to the ways in which emotions affect their employees’ motivations and performance. They are also better equipped to empathize with employees and engage with them in a way that shows genuine concern and support.

Fostering inclusive communication is critical for creating a culture of compassion. Employers can model compassion by creating space in meetings for employees to share personal victories and challenges. By prioritizing personal and not just professional check-ins, employers create opportunities to exhibit compassion.

Inclusive communication is especially important for remote work environments, where it is more challenging to observe signs of stress or other emotional struggles. Leaders should be proactive in asking about professional and personal struggles during video meetings and on workplace messaging apps. Regular surveys assessing employee well-being are another way to show compassion, opening the door for employees to share concerns and receive assistance.

Employee well-being programs can also contribute to workplace compassion. Programs that encourage flexible schedules, remote work, and healthy work/life balance demonstrate a compassionate view of employees’ personal needs. Mental health days, which allow for “no questions asked” paid time off, are a benefit that can effectively show employees you value their unique needs.

Overall, a culture of compassion will foster a workplace in which every employee feels valued, supported, and empowered to thrive. It encourages strong relationships rooted in care and concern for fellow workers. Compassionate leaders foster a workplace where humanity matters.

The interplay of compassion and innovation

A culture of compassion inspires deeper levels of trust within an organization by showing employees they can share without the fear of judgment or rejection. While such an environment is important for employee well-being, it has the side effect of encouraging the collaborative synergy that drives innovative thinking.

Innovation flows from inclusion. Bringing together employees with unique backgrounds and perspectives allows innovative solutions to be found. Compassion sets the stage for that type of collaboration by creating an environment of open communication, mutual respect, and a shared sense of purpose.

A culture of compassion can also encourage innovation by ensuring employees’ emotional needs are addressed, as personal issues left unaddressed will distract employees from their professional responsibilities. Employers who provide compassionate support for those needs free up more bandwidth for innovative work.

Inspiring higher levels of employee retention

Several factors contribute to employee retention, including engagement, morale, and a sense of shared purpose. Compassion has the power to have a positive impact on all of those factors. Consequently, it can play a significant role in helping employers improve their employee retention rates, which provides a competitive edge in a workplace plagued by staffing challenges.

Loyalty grows exponentially as employees feel valued and cared for. Employees across all demographics desire a workplace where their needs — both professional and personal — are understood and addressed. When employee well-being is supported, motivation and commitment to the company grow.

Compassion also communicates that employers are supportive of their employees’ long-term success, acknowledge the unhealthy impact of prolonged stress, and encourage steps designed to avoid burnout. As a result, employees see the workplace as committed to their ongoing professional and private goals.

Compassion is a powerful force that deepens connections, increases resilience, and supports people on their journey toward becoming their best selves. When unleashed in the workplace, compassion is transformational. It inspires employees to become more engaged and empowers organizations to be more innovative, productive, and impactful.

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Craig Goodliffe,

CEO and founder at Cyberbacker

Craig Goodliffe is a respected entrepreneur, leadership expert, and business coach. As the CEO and founder of Cyberbacker, his expertise in cross-cultural business development has led the company to become a global industry leader, transcending geographical boundaries to empower businesses worldwide. His insights have been featured in esteemed publications such as Top 100 Magazine, CBS, International Business Times, Inc., and Forbes Business Council.