Compassion in the Workplace

Compassion in the workplace
Written by Charlotte - 16 Aug 2018 Category: HR news

Compassion is increasingly recognised as a foundational aspect of leadership and the building block for a positive work environment.

Compassion is increasingly recognised as a foundational aspect of leadership and the building block for a positive work environment. Studies have found that organisations with compassionate leaders have high rates of collaboration and employee satisfaction.

What is Compassion?

Compassion literally means ‘to suffer together’. It describes the intention to consider and support the wellbeing of others by listening to their concerns, taking time to understand their situation and having empathy for their position - being able to feel, to some degree, something of their suffering -  however uncomfortable that might be.

With an emphasis on consideration, compassion translates neatly to the working environment where different teams have to find ways of communicating with and supporting one another to solve various problems and get the job done. Facilitating such a harmonious way of working is where compassionate leadership comes in.

Compassionate leadership means taking responsibility for the growth and development of employees, leading with the heart as much as the head. Not to be confused with kindness, compassionate leading goes beyond being ‘nice’: to lead compassionately means taking time to connect and truly be present with employees while still adhering to the organisation’s standards, code of conduct and other defined boundaries that are conducive to employee growth and happiness.

Why We Need Compassion at Work

Teams thrive when the members trust their leader cares about them, and there’s a powerful link between productivity and compassionate leadership.

Compassion also creates a sense of psychological safety so that staff feel able to raise concerns about mistakes or problems that they encounter in the workplace. Psychological safety also encourages employees to develop and implement ideas for new and improved ways of doing things.

How to Cultivate Compassion at Work

Organisational psychologists Monica Worline and Jane Dutton have written in detail about cultivating compassion at work. They describe several scenarios that organisations can use to foster more opportunities for compassion:


  • Create sub-groups within a larger organisation where people with shared duties can develop camaraderie
  • Have regular meetings where people are encouraged to share mistakes alongside achievements to make workplaces safe for learning
  • Formally recognise acts of compassion at work to promote more generosity and consideration
  • Ask leaders to role-model their vulnerability to create an atmosphere of safety and trust.


The case for compassionate leadership is strong; the challenge now is to build a workplace environment that leaves room for compassionate ways of working, despite looming deadlines and other organisational pressures. HR professionals and other leaders need to heed the call and prioritise leading compassionately for a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.

Are you a compassionate leader? Take this quiz to find out.


Effective Communication in the Workplace

Written by Charlotte - 02 Aug 2018 Category: HR news

We know that effective communication in the workplace is a good thing.

We know that effective communication in the workplace is a good thing. With clear communication, productivity increases, employee conflicts reduce and customer relationships improve. With all these positive side effects, how can HR managers encourage effective communication at work?

What exactly is effective communication?

There’s more to communication than merely making eye contact and talking frequently. The type of words we use and the tone in which we use them can have a significant impact on changing the meaning of what we say.

For example, think about a situation where a staff member has made a mistake that has cost the business and caused extra work for their team. Errors of this kind are something that a good leader would want to address. But the way in which the leader discusses the issue can have a significant impact on how the employee receives the information.

Consider the statements below:


  • I am angry that you made this mistake

  • I’m concerned that this mistake happened

  • This mistake happened. What do you think went wrong? What can we learn from it?


Each addresses the mistake but the meaning conveyed is very different. The first statement is confrontational, the second is indirect, and the third is more collaborative and constructive. We can see, then, how tone and word choice can make such a difference to communication and influence future behaviour.

Tips for more effective communication  


  1. Meet Face to face: Organise face-to-face meetings where possible, especially if you have something challenging to discuss. It’s easy to misinterpret emails and almost impossible to read tone. It may be more time consuming to meet face to face, but it’s a much better way of connecting with colleagues and more likely to produce a positive outcome, even if you’re meeting to discuss sensitive issues.

  2. Create a receptive, open atmosphere: Staff need to know that their opinion is valued. Make sure there are clear channels of communication for staff to ask questions (without fear of being judged incompetent), provide feedback of their working environment and HR experience, and know that they have someone to talk with if any issues arise.

  3. Experiment with different communication channels: It’s easy for people to disengage, mainly if they are expected to read long, dry policy updates on top of an already overflowing inbox. Mix it up a bit and keep staff engaged by communicating to them in different ways. Try weekly round-up meetings, fun social media posts, data visualisations or eye-catching emails to get your message across.

  4. Encourage communication within teams: It’s not just managers that need to know how to communicate effectively. Good communications within teams boost productivity and help to create a more positive work environment. Activities and team socials outside of work can help teams to get to know one another better and feel more comfortable communicating more openly with one another.

It’s evident that fostering effective communication in the workplace is beneficial for both managers and employees. Although it may take some effort to establish a culture of healthy communication, it can make a real difference to the employee experience and positive work outcomes.  

The Top Traits of Highly Productive Employees

Written by Charlotte - 25 Jul 2018 Category: HR news

We all know at least one person at work who seems to thrive under ever increasing workloads, powering through tasks at twice the speed of other employees. How do they do it?

We all know at least one person at work who seems to thrive under ever increasing workloads, powering through tasks at twice the speed of other employees. How do they do it? Today we unpack the traits responsible for maintaining the efficiency of these 'Productives' and discuss ways to emulate their behaviour and translate it into the wider workplace.

Productivity Research

The Harvard Business Review collected data on over 7,000 employees rated by their managers as being exceptionally productive. When analysing this data, a defined grouping of traits began to emerge across all subjects.

We’ve outlined below the top traits of these employees identified in this review so that you can incorporate and promote these techniques within your workplace to improve productivity across the organisation.

Traits of Highly Productive People


  • Show Consistency: When you're at the top of your productivity game, efficiency will not ebb or flow over time. The most productive people stay productive. They figure out how to consistently deliver results and make the most of the working environment to enable this to happen.

  • Have Knowledge & Ask for Help when Needed: Lack of knowledge or expertise will stop productivity immediately. All the people interviewed in the study were confident in their area of work and had a certain level of mastery, meaning they were able to get on with the task at hand. Crucially though, if an issue arose that they were unable to solve, highly productive people were not afraid to ask for help, meaning they could move forward and overcome hurdles more quickly.

  • Take the initiative: Productive people throw themselves into the most difficult, time-consuming jobs first, meaning they were less likely to procrastinate and already able to start working on any challenges. They don’t wait for permission or direction at every stage of the project. And while this sometimes caused a little friction, managers were generally far more lenient when having to catch up with a productive employee who was one step ahead of them than when having to spoon feed and direct with every new development.

  • Anticipate and Solve Problems: Highly productive people are great problem solvers. Productives tend to anticipate severe problems in advance which means they’ve had a head start thinking about the best solution. As such, they see obstacles as speed humps rather than complete roadblocks and tend to come up with innovative ways of steering through these small hurdles while maintaining momentum.

  • Collaborate: Although the productive attributes listed here describe an individual’s qualities, working alone achieves very little in the grand scheme of things. The study showed that the most productive people were highly collaborative and worked well with others.


Improving Productivity in the Workplace


If you are looking to improve your productivity levels, or encourage a culture of productivity within the workplace, take a look at the traits listed above and see if there’s something you can improve. Perhaps, with a bit more planning and thinking ahead, you’ll create space to think through and anticipate potential sticking points and how to solve them. Traits such as working collaboratively with colleagues and asking for help are aspects HR can help to develop to encourage productive ways of working.

About CiviHR

CiviHR is a project to create affordable HR software for non-profit organisations. By developing open source technology the benefits can be shared with non-profits everywhere.


CiviHR is a project to create affordable HR software for non-profit organisations. By developing open source technology the benefits can be shared with non-profits everywhere.