The Practice of Compassion in a Global Reckoning
Let’s be honest, there’s a lot required of all of us right now. From navigating our social and political climate to nourishing our own mental health, our faculties for stress management, critical thinking, and compassion are working hard for us.
So what are some ways we can strengthen bonds and practice compassion in the workplace?
Trauma-informed and compassionate workspaces result in a more inclusive culture. It’s all about acknowledging and honoring that everyone deserves a safe and welcoming work environment where any identity can belong. Companies who take a holistic trauma-informed approach can create more openness, understanding, and increase team trust, idea sharing, and connection, all conditions for compassion to thrive.
Not everyone can be a therapist or certified counselor, but we can all do more to be trauma-informed and mitigate compassion-fatigue in our workplaces. As leaders and managers, it’s important to uphold the conditions for a compassionate workspace to ensure an inclusive and equitable team culture.
Let’s examine our work settings, highlight opportunities to make changes, and earnestly metabolize the state of the world so we can continue to guide our teams with heart.
Here are a few key tips to strengthen team bonds and uphold a culture of compassion, even in a remote setting.
Create Opportunities for Honest and Open Conversation
Sometimes the simplest advice is the most overlooked. 38.2% of people say their company has not asked them if they are doing okay, and those same people are 38% more likely to say their mental health has declined.
To improve on this, managers and business leaders should work to be active and empathetic listeners, reciprocate when appropriate, communicate available resources, and be consistent with their interest in their staff’s mental health.
By showing up with a genuine interest in your team’s wellbeing, you can help support their mental health and combat feelings of isolation and mental exhaustion.
Set Boundaries and Clear Expectations
Compassion-fatigue can easily settle when there are unclear or inconsistent boundaries. Without clear expectations around work hours, communication norms, and overall team structure — team members can find themselves burned out by navigating dynamics like this. Team respect may also dwindle.
In contrast, staff who feel like they know what is expected of them have shown to be 30% more likely to have been more productive since switching to remote work.
The best thing managers and leaders can do is provide clear and consistent communication, ensure team members have access to the resources they need to do their job effectively and set clear expectations and goals for team members’ work.
Include Your Team in Decision-Making
As we continue to work from home, it’s not uncommon for teams to feel like high-level decisions are being made without them. Feeling like a new announcement, change, or update could drop in your inbox at any time often results in feelings of detachment or potential forms of cognitive dissonance. These are difficult conditions for compassion to thrive in.
Managers and leaders should work to create a feedback system for team members to provide their thoughts and insights on upcoming decisions. By communicating potential changes and providing opportunities for feedback in advance, leaders can help instill confidence, create buy-in, and improve team trust in their decisions.
Plan Clear and Inclusive Onboarding Practices
The first week of a new job is always a bit stressful and uncertain. And this easily doubles for new ‘quarantine’ hires who need to virtually navigate an entirely new team, work culture, and job expectations.
In a recent workshop I hosted, a participant said that when a new hire couldn’t get a sense of the team culture and dynamics, she eventually chose to resign. Not having clear and consistent onboarding practices can cost your business time, energy, and the ability to attract and retain talent.
As you virtually onboard new hires — make sure to share clear expectations, set ‘welcome meetings’ with team members, and provide helpful resources that communicate team culture to establish an early sense of belonging for new hires.
Overall, having an onboarding process that balances professional expectations with personal needs is the best way to ensure that your newest team member feels empowered and excited to tackle their new role.
Create Structures for Trust
Due to social distancing, managers that relied on ‘water cooler’ check-ins and ‘drop by your desk’ style communication needed to shift to new methods of ensuring that work is progressing.
Without these in-person check-ins, managers may feel like there’s a lack of trust and transparency in workflow and project progress. This can lead to over communication, micromanagement, and other practices that lead to bad boundaries, exhaustion, and team burnout. It’s important for managers and team leaders to create structures and systems that balance their need for updates with the team’s need for feeling trusted. It’s easier to extend compassion when there is trust.
Although there may be a bit of a learning curve, creating reliable systems and processes can help increase trust and transparency in your team’s work.
In conclusion, regardless if you’re front-line staff or a manager yourself — we’re all at increased risk of compassion-fatigue. By creating clear expectations, remote work norms, and open lines of communication, both managers and staff can enjoy a more supportive and inclusive work culture despite the times we’re in.
This is a guest post by Katie Zink, a strategist and facilitator that helps visionary leaders put actionable plans in place so they can create a positive, dynamic working culture that hears, recognizes, and supports all voices. Learn more about her signature program at katiezink.co.