The importance of compassion in the workplace

Categories: Care, Featured, and Policy.

Hospice UK has launched Compassionate Employers, a programme designed to help employers support staff dealing with terminal illnesses and bereavement. Carole Walford, Hospice UK’s Chief Clinical Officer, explains why compassion in the workplace is vital for both the employee and the organisation.

As Chief Clinical Officer at Hospice UK, my team and I work daily with hospices and palliative care providers to help improve end of life care for everyone, everywhere. My passion for this work comes from over 30 years’ experience specifically in palliative and end of life care, and seeing the knowledge, skill and compassion that is needed, for not only the person who is dying, but also their family, friends and whole support network.

I believe that in addition to care given by the healthcare teams there is a need for compassion in the workplace. This is vital, not only for a person’s wellbeing and supporting good mental health, but also for creating a culture and environment where an individual feels supported and valued.

Here is why:

Why we work, where we work

Nowadays, we are working longer hours and work has become not just somewhere you clock in and out of every day, head down in isolation; it is a place where we spend the majority of our time and make some of our closest friends.

Choosing where to work has become more than just picking a high salary and convenient location, but somewhere we choose to be, based on a match between their values and how they support their employees. In short, a compassionate employer will attract better talent and more invested staff.

Our lives are complicated

We are in a position where we’re faced with an ever-aging population alongside a generation of young adults who are struggling to achieve financial independence. Nearly half (47 per cent) of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent aged 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older). The sandwich generation is working longer and caring more than ever before.

Alongside the sandwich generation, the number of single-income households are increasing, and family dynamics and structures are in a constant state of flux.There is a growing sense of   responsibility for workplaces to have the tools and practical guidance in place to support their employees as they live life at pace and meet these increasing pressures.

Retaining the very best

There is often that feeling when someone hands in his or her notice of disappointment and sometimes anger. Time and money invested in recruiting, training and developing the person and now there will be a need to start over. There are times where this can be celebrated; someone has thrived in your employment and is looking for the next step up or relocating or changing career, but what about the times it could be for other reasons?

Take bereavement for instance:

Organisations are losing talented individuals due to something that is within their control: compassion. By increasing the support offered to employees, organisations can help retain their employees. This is not only good for company morale, but the loss of a good employee could cost you between £20,000 – £40,000 due to recruitment costs, temporary work and loss in productivity.

Because we don’t have a reason not to be

As an organisation enduring fast paced environments and unstable futures, we need to be doing everything we can to sustain our businesses. As people, we need to be doing everything we can to support and live our lives alongside our colleagues.

We need to be ensuring we have robust workplace programmes in place and that we are working together to create cultures that are compassionate for all.

Hospice UK’s new Compassionate Employers programme offers practical support for employees and line managers. Find out more here: Hospice UK: Compassionate Employers

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