Leadership requires Compassion

Since the introduction of managers into work, the focus has always been profitability and productivity. As we move past post-industrial era, the work that we are becoming more and more unquantifiable with many of us doing creative work or work that just aren’t by per piece. However, most managers are still stuck with the traditional way of management, leading by the ‘seen effort’ not by heart. They have long been taught to split personal from work and work comes first. However, in the current generation, this is no longer applicable. The demand of employees have changed and the way we look at productivity has also changed.

Previously I spoke about having compassion in the workplace and bereavement leave. Why is it that some companies are unable to embrace that? Changing from a per piece culture to the current creativity era, the way leaders lead has got to change too because we have changed from a effort based work culture to a result oriented focused society. So how does compassion comes into place?

Leadership and compassion aren’t that stranger actually. Compassion is a quality that is required by leaders because of the increasing need to building relationship with the employees. How can companies or managers engage with their employees without compassion? How would the employees feel?

Humans are reciprocal. So compassion is a trait that is very power. Leading by heart wins heart. And the more engaged the employee is, the more motivated is the employee and generally work harder and better. It may not be in relative to the other employees, but this is how we can unleash the full potential of the employee. Employees will only be committed in their job when they feel the company is committed to them. Therefore compassionate leaders inspires their followers, they motivate, energize and generally have higher productivity.

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Compassion in the Heart

This may sound weird coming from a HR standpoint, but I truly wonder why there is no regulation for bereavement leave policy in the labor code of Philippines. Trumped by one of the employees whose mother just passed away, is there no sense of empathy for the employees? Though as much as I want to extend a helping hand to this colleague, there is pretty much nothing that I can do other than words of condolences and assisting in the application for time off to take care of her mum’s funeral matters.

It is never easy being a HR professional. On one hand, we need to abide by the company’s policies and regulations, on the other hand, we need to consider the emotional impact on the employees. Knowing that the policy has been structured to protect the best interest of the company, this is also the standpoint that I took when attempting to change the policy towards bereavement leave.

Although company always takes the stand that personal matters should never be mixed with work, how can an employee not be affected by her personal matters especially when it is a life and death matter? Instead of showing the company’s empathy towards the employee providing necessary assistance and building a stronger relationship, we are sending a message to the employee that your personal matters has nothing to do with the company and we are not obliged to provide you with bereavement leave to attend to your family matters. We are simply telling the employee that we only have a transaction relationship, we pay for your services and that’s it. Likewise, this will be the same kind of mentality that the employee undertake while working. However my efforts were not successful.

The company has decided to stick to its no compassionate leave policy. Besides the labor code of Philippines does not require companies to provide such leave benefits to the employees, leaving such benefit to the company’s prerogative. Furthermore, regulated leave benefits in the Philippines is only 5 days. How will that be enough? Hopefully during Duterte’s administration, we will see some positive changes.

Update: After months of deliberating with the company and discussion and meeting, we finally have a bereavement leave policy that allows the employee to take 5 days of leave to attend the funeral of immediate family members including the grandparents. However, only regular employees are entitled to the bereavement leave. For probationary employees, they can still take the 5 days of leave but if they are not able to meet the standard to become a regular employee, then the 5 days will be deducted from the salary.