If Your Workplace Was More Compassionate, Would You Also Make More Money?

We have this narrative that only hard-charging assholes can drive true growth for the stakeholders. But is that even true?

Ted Bauer


Emma Seppala, a professor at Stanford, has a new book out called The Happiness Track. One of the most popular things I’ve written in the past few months, ‘You’ll Never Have A Good Work Culture Unless You Stop Promoting Assholes,’ is rooted in some of her research too. Now she’s got an excerpt from her book over at Wharton’s website, entitled ‘Why Compassion Serves You Better Than Self-Interest.’

If you find the overlapping theme of the three links above, it’s kind of somewhere in here:

  • People want to be generally ‘happy’ at work; they spend a bunch of time there.
  • Our managerial culture and best practices is not usually set up towards this end.
  • What is the role of compassion here?

Let’s chop it up.

Defining compassion at work

Seppala quotes some research from Kim Cameron, a professor at the University of Michigan, who defines ‘compassionate practices’ along these lines:

  • Caring for / being interested in / maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends
  • Providing support for one another
  • Offering kindness/compassion
  • Inspiring one another at work
  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work
  • Avoiding blame and forgiving mistakes
  • Operate with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity

OK — these are all great things, great ideas, great concepts, etc. It all comes back to the power of friends at work and the power of social capital at work.

But … if you’ve ever had a job and a bunch of different managers, you know it’s not…



Ted Bauer

Mostly write about work, leadership, friendship, masculinity, male infertility, and some other stuff along the way. It's a pleasure to be here.