Profits Through Compassion! Is It Possible?

Many people, especially business owners and HR executives are of the opinion that compassion has nothing to do with business. They argue that they will be harming shareholders’ interests by doing business compassionately. To some, it is possible but a tough task to accomplish. Yet there are some who cannot even think about introducing compassion in their business while other fear that people will start taking them for granted if they show even a little bit of compassion.

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However, a recent research conducted by Stanford University implies that compassionate organisations have more satisfied and happy employees and as a result, high level of employee engagement. According to these organisations, compassion has become one of their most important competitive advantage of which their rivals are devoid of.

Unfortunately, most of the people holding administrative positions in various organisations are not willing to believe in this. They have become a sort of apathetic cynics who take negativity for granted. Subsequently, this negativity spreads throughout the workplace, adversely affecting the performance of the employees and as a result, the profit of the organisation plummets.

A compassionate organisation takes care of the interest of everybody ranging from their stakeholders to employees. It is a fact that many leading companies are very careful about their clients but are very apathetic towards their employees or vice versa. If a company wants to become compassionate, the benefits or facilities should not be limited to selected few but it has to be across the business landscape. An organisation must not only focus on the functional responsibilities of the employee but should also analyse the impact of surroundings and environment in which they works.

12 Elements of Compassion:
Following lines explain 12 elements of compassion in business which have been derived and conceptualized from Karen Armstrong’s book “12 Steps to a Compassionate Life.” These are actually 12 things that can help you to make your organization more compassionate.

  • Embodying Compassion:
    Embodying compassion simply means practicing compassion within your organisation. The definition of ‘compassion’ is very flexible and you have to mould it for your own organisation. Similarly, you have to make compassion a part of your business language that is how compassionate you are towards your clients and each other. The following illustration indicates the percentage of business leaders who think they embody compassion in their organisations.


  • Organisational Culture:
    Organisational culture is an important indicator that determines whether your organisation is compassionate or not. For instance, it will be compassionate if organisational culture is pleasant, stakeholders are sympathetic towards each other, systems are religiously followed and they don’t compromise humanity under stress.
  • Compassion for Individuals:
    Your organisation is truly compassionate one if you understand the career aspirations of your employees and align their professional and personal goal in addition with encouraging healthy lifestyle within the organisation. Often it is because of absence of this knowledge that major leadership development and coaching initiatives fall ‘flat’.
  • Empathy:
    You have to understand the difference between empathy and sympathy to make your organisation more compassionate. You might be sympathetic towards your employees but are you empathetic as well. Similarly, you should not base your decisions on judgement but should thoroughly understand the situation. Most importantly, you should give due respect to both internal and external stakeholders.


  • Awareness:
    You have to respect diversity in your organisation and prevent your employees from mocking others due to their race, colour, nationality and/or gender. Similarly, you should draw a line between laughing with each other and laughing at each other. It is also imperative that your provide everyone with equal opportunities to grow and prosper.  This is meritocracy at work.
  • Action:
    You should try to develop an organisational culture which gives value to the opinion of everyone and where a junior can disagree with a senior. Compassionate businesses create a principle-oriented culture and not a person oriented business. A principled organization has clearly articulated the corporate values and practices it through actionable and observable behaviours.
  • Learning:
    Learning is one of the major characteristics of a compassionate organisation. It helps you self reflect on mistakes instead of simply accusing others. In such organisations, learning from mistakes is encouraged instead of admonishing employees for what they have done. Most importantly, change and innovation is an integral part of the organisational culture. Interestingly, even in organization and functions that think they only need process efficiency due to repetitive task, success lies in innovating the ‘repetitives’.
  • Communication:
    In a compassionate organisation, communication is not all about giving orders and expecting employees to abide by. These organisations encourage use of reason in an argument, prefer dialogue over debates and fully respect individual self-esteem of the employees.


  • Concern for Everyone:
    An organisation is not compassionate if it doesn’t show concern for everyone.
  • Knowledge:
    In a compassionate working environment, executives and employees have full knowledge of their areas of expertise. In such organisations, departmental challenges are discussed openly and understanding of Trans-National Diversity is encouraged.
  • Recognition:
    An organisation will be compassionate if it gives due credit to employees for their good work. They need to provide talented individuals with full opportunity to express their abilities and also discourage negative labelling.
  • Competition:
    Healthy competition is an important feature of a compassionate organisation. Such organisations understand how to distinguish between dislike and disrespect. Finally, they believe in raising the standard of their services through competition whereas business ethics are also on their priority list.

Finally, there is nothing wrong in saying that compassion and kindness are not expensive at all but they can produce priceless results for you. This might sound strange to a pure businessman but when you calculate the overall cost of bad practices like suffocating culture, nasty managerial behaviours, hoarding information and establishing fake relationships with customers, you will realise that  compassion can help you earn a lot more profit while spending virtually nothing.

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