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Too busy to care: study reveals lack of compassion in workplace

Demonstrating compassion and empathy in events industry regarded as unprofessional, according to mia study

Pictured: The results were unveiled at an mia event in London

Compassion, understanding and empathy have not been offered to employees of meetings and events businesses because demonstrating these emotions is regarded as unprofessional, or colleagues are simply too busy and over-burdened to care. 

These are some of the findings revealed by the results of a study by the Meetings Industry Association (mia) and leadership and organisational development expert Roffey Park Institute into mental health and compassion in the workplace.

According to the study, which considered feedback from focus groups and the results of an online survey, 75 per cent of people working in the industry have been managed in the past by someone who, in their view, lacked compassion, while a similar number – 78 per cent – said they had seen others miss opportunities for compassion because it wasn’t seen as part of their job.

When probed about the reasons for showing compassion at work, 35 per cent confessed to missing an opportunity to be compassionate themselves because they felt it wasn’t professional to express emotion or be caring while 68 per cent said it was because people were too burdened or burned out to feel empathy with their colleagues.

Some of the barriers to being compassionate in the working environment noted by those surveyed included concerns that it would be seen as too ‘soft’ and emotional for the professional environment and a lack of understanding of what being compassionate is.

Our increasing reliance on technology was also blamed, with email removing the human element provided by face-to-face meetings or a phone call, while the main barrier was the fact that many people were simply too busy trying to ‘get the job done’ to care.

Michael Jenkins, CEO of Roffey Park Institute, said: “Our survey results suggest that the sector both wants and needs more compassion. Fortunately, the survey also reveals strong support for building more compassionate organisations, particularly at a time when employees and managers alike see that we are heading into a period of increasing uncertainty and volatility.

“Increased stress levels and growing challenges around finding and retaining talent are on the cards: the need to nurture and keep good people is going to come under sustained and continued pressure.”

Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the mia, added: “It is clear that as a sector we need to focus more energy on creating desirable and rewarding places to work. So, a key part of the mia’s work for 2018 will be supporting the sector with a number of dedicated workshops to create environments to foster improved wellbeing.”
The results were unveiled at the ‘Cultivating compassion in the work place; an effective tool with big benefits’ event at the BMA in London, which also included a workshop on emotional intelligence by Tracey Powiesnik of Core Process. It was the first in a series of events planned by the mia to explore the report’s findings and help business leaders cultivate a more compassionate working environment for their staff.

A copy of the results can be downloaded from the mia website:

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