Workplaces are a gathering place for people—people who sometimes bring pain, sorrow, suffering, etc. with them to work—whether we know it or not. Organization’s expectations have been that employees come to work and function at a high capacity with no excuses. That can be difficult for some who are consumed by these issues at times. Some common sources of suffering flow from outside work boundaries, when people suffer from illness, injury, loss, divorce, financial pressures, addiction, or other hardships. Forms of suffering that arise from work itself are, downsizing, restructuring, change processes, the stress of heavy workloads, performance pressure, feeling devalued, disrespectful interactions, and other organizational sources. Without compassion, organizations can become powerful amplifiers of human suffering.
Imagine in a busy, high-pressure workplace where competition is rampant, that an email announcement is sent out about a fire that destroyed an employee’s home. People who open the announcement in their crowded email box feel a fleeting sense of concern—a concern that has to compete with the competing objectives of their jobs. Unfortunately, the feelings of empathy are dismissed as they turn their concern to the next deadline. Compassion is an irreplaceable dimension of excellence for any organization that wants to make the most of its human capabilities.