Why a Compassionate Workplace Matters

/ By Cowan Insurance Group

Mental health disability claims have surged to the forefront, now ranking as the primary cause for disability claims. These claims, however, often face significant hurdles. The stigma surrounding mental illnesses leads many sufferers to conceal their struggles. In Canada, approximately 30% of disability claims are associated with mental health issues and illnesses. According to a study by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC)1, in an average week, 500,000 Canadians miss work because of a mental health problem or illness.

This feels like a herculean task for companies to overcome. So, where can you start? Compassion is a good place. Compassion, often regarded as a soft skill, plays a pivotal role in shaping workplace dynamics and employee well-being. As organizations recognize the value of fostering a supportive and compassionate work environment, HR professionals must embrace empathy as a strategic tool for managing mental health effectively.

Compassion in HR refers to the ability to understand another person's emotional state and the desire to alleviate their distress. It involves empathy, active listening, and a genuine concern for the well-being of employees. When HR staff embody compassion, they create a culture of trust and openness, encouraging employees to speak freely about their mental health challenges without fear of judgment or reprisal.

Help your employees live healthier lives.

Why Compassion Matters

Essential to a workplace where employees can thrive. Compassion:

  • Promotes a supportive work environment. Compassion in the workplace fosters a culture of understanding and empathy. When employees feel that their colleagues and managers genuinely care about their well-being, it creates a supportive environment where everyone feels valued and appreciated. This not only enhances job satisfaction but also promotes a positive work culture.
  • Enhances employee engagement. Compassionate workplaces often see higher levels of employee engagement. When employees feel understood and supported, they are likelier to take ownership of their work, contribute ideas, and strive for excellence. Compassion acts as a catalyst for employees to fully invest their best selves in their work.
  • Reduces workplace stigma. Compassion helps in reducing the stigma associated with challenges like mental health issues. When compassion is a core workplace value, employees feel more comfortable discussing their issues and seeking help without fear of judgment or retribution. This openness can lead to early intervention and support, preventing minor problems from escalating.
  • Improves retention rates. Employees are more likely to stay with a company that demonstrates compassion. Feeling valued and cared for increases employee loyalty and reduces turnover. It also enhances the company's reputation, making it a desirable place to work, which aids in attracting top talent.
  • Fosters resilience. Compassionate workplaces foster resilience, helping employees bounce back from difficulties more quickly. By promoting a culture of mutual support and understanding, employees are better equipped to handle stress, adapt to change, and navigate challenges, contributing to the overall resilience of the organization.

The importance of compassion in HR cannot be overstated when managing employee mental health. It is not just a moral imperative but a strategic one that can lead to a healthier, more productive, and more resilient workforce.

As organizations continue to navigate the complexities of the modern work environment, those that place a premium on compassionate HR practices will be well-positioned to thrive.

Boost your workplace mental well-being and performance

Talk to a Cowan consultant today for more information about boosting mental wellness in your workplace.


  1. Mental Health Commission of Canada. (2015). Case Study Research Project. Retrieved from URL.

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