We need a culture of compassion at work

Don Jones discovers the Human Moment

Social distancing is one of the flurry of new words and terms that has swept through our language in 2020, spreading at the speed of Covid-19 itself. For many, social distancing and isolation have been hard pills to swallow. We are, by nature, social creatures. We crave connection and human-to-human contact. It sometimes takes a crisis to fully appreciate how deep that goes.

The Human Moment is a timely book about our workplaces. Its core message feels even more relevant as a result of the pandemic. In a world where people are being physically separated – whether due to viral threats, or the growing impact of artificial intelligence and automation at work – Amy Bradley is keen to underline the importance of human-to-human connections.

Bradley’s research has focused on trauma and compassion at work. As she notes, “One thing that connects us all as human beings is that we all suffer.” She shows that sharing even the smallest moments with other people can address some of the biggest problems in the workplace, including high employee turnover, declining productivity levels and dismally low engagement scores.

She crafts a compelling case that compassion is one of the most overlooked and important elements in creating better teams, companies and lives. Compassion is a word that is not often used when describing the workplace: we, and the organizations we serve, are the poorer for it. Compassion is a human need. It doesn’t go away when we go to work. In fact, it binds us together as social creatures, creates trust in teams and aligns us around a shared purpose.

As Bradley defines it, “A human moment is simply making the time each day to connect with someone at a basic human level and asking them how they are.” It means “being genuinely interested in their response, listening without judgment, and being open and attentive to whatever experiences they may share.”

In my research around complex systems it is the overlooked, simple solutions that often provide the most profound and lasting effects. It would be a shame to overlook compassion and the power of ‘human moments’ in how we lead others to achieve shared goals. Bradley’s ideas may be arriving just when we are most able to hear them.

— Don Jones is president of a global simulation-based leadership development company, Experience It Inc.

The Human Moment: The Positive Power of Compassion in the Workplace, Amy Bradley, LID Publishing (2020)