Stephen Trzeciak, Anthony Mazzarelli, and Emma Seppälä wrote an article for Harvard Business Review titled Leading with Compassion Has Research-Backed Benefits (27 February 2023).

« With burnout rising, employee engagement falling, and people continuing to quit their jobs even in the midst of economic uncertainty, organizations must sharpen their focus on employee retention. While compensation and benefits are an important part of retaining employees, the source of lasting loyalty to an organization is typically something deeper. »

« Loyalty is not something you can buy; it is a deep connection in which you feel valued and supported. They have your back. »

« Contrary to what many employers currently believe, the recent wave of employee attrition has less to do with economics and more to do with relationships (or lack thereof). The data support that employees’ decisions to stay in a job largely come from a sense of belonging, feeling valued by their leaders, and having caring and trusting colleagues. Conversely, employees are more likely to quit when their work relationships are merely transactional. So, how do leaders foster more meaningful relationships in organizations and inspire loyalty? In a word: compassion. »

« Researchers define compassion as an emotional response to another’s struggles that involves an authentic desire to help… Think of it like this: empathy + action = compassion. When a colleague is going through a difficult time, meeting them in their time of need with compassion can be something they will never forget, and it deepens relationships. »

« One finding was especially striking: Among health care workers, showing more compassion is associated with less burnout. That is, compassion can have powerful beneficial effects not only for the receiver of compassion, but also for the giver… Our latest research extended these findings beyond the health care industry to everybody, everywhere… Numerous studies show that selfless giving to others is associated with happinesswell-beingresilience and resistance to burnoutfewer depression symptoms, and better relationships. »

«  Research also shows that motives do matter. If you display kindness or compassion to others for strategic or selfish reasons, you might as well forget it. Research shows that you have to be authentically altruistic — not strategically helping others or forced into it — or it won’t work. »

« Creating a compassionate culture has been linked with lower employee emotional exhaustion (one of the elements of burnout) as well as lower employee absenteeism from work. »

« being “too busy” should not be an excuse. In fact, a Johns Hopkins study found that giving just 40 seconds of compassion can lower another person’s anxiety in a measurable way. »

« We need to ask the right questions and avoid asking the wrong ones. When a colleague is struggling on a personal level, ask how you can support them. Instead of yes or no questions like “Do you need help?” or “Is there anything I can do?” (which often sound like an invitation to say “no”), try asking “What can I do to be helpful to you today?”, “What can I do to make your day a little better?”, or “What can I take off your plate today?” You’ll be surprised how often asking the right questions in the right way will give you something actionable… Again, ask­­­­­­­­ not “if” but “how.” ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ »

« Elevation is the state of emotional uplift that we feel when we bear witness to another person’s compassion, moral excellence, or heroism. Elevation motivates us to be more compassionate and altruistic ourselves. But it cuts both ways; it only takes one toxic “it’s all about me” person in the room to drag everyone else down. Research confirms that both compassion and rudeness are contagious.  »

Stephen Trzeciak M.D. and Anthony Mazzarelli M.D. co-authored the book Wonder Drug: 7 Scientifically Proven Ways That Serving Others Is the Best Medicine for Yourself (2022).

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