• Katie Avila Loughmiller

The Power of Compassion at Work

Two years ago today, people all over our country and world, watched the police murder George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN. Not even two weeks ago we watched families in Buffalo, NY grieve the loss of their family members' lives after they were senselessly killed at the grocery store in a racially motivated attack. And 24 hours ago, we watched more children, and their teachers, get murdered at school Uvalde, Texas. In between these events, we’ve dealt with similar horrific stories, a global pandemic, inflation, war, and so much more.


It’s hard not to wake up every morning and doom scroll before we’ve even had our cup of coffee for the day. We’re then supposed to shake it off, commute to work, whether that be to our home offices, co-working spaces or office buildings, and be productive at our jobs. Some days, we can do this. We can work through the tragedies and stay focused. But some days, like the day I had today, it all feels like too much. Today, I almost called in for a weekly standing meeting to say, ‘Not today.’ Instead, I logged onto my computer and without turning on my camera, I joined our virtual meeting.


We always start our meetings with a check-in, sometimes with a creative, get-to-know-you question and other times, with a simple, ‘How’s it going today?’ Today, our founder/CEO, started with the latter. In the past, I have been a part of teams where I would have lied. I would have said I was doing great and performed happiness for my colleagues. At Colorful Connections, however, we operate on a different model of working and that is to allow one another to be vulnerable and to show up with empathy and compassion for one another. So I knew that I could be honest about how I was doing and tell my team, that today, I couldn’t pretend that the tragedies happening in our country weren’t weighing heavy on my heart. In turn, my colleagues made space for me, validated how I was feeling and shared perspectives on how they get through similar moments. It was exactly what I needed. We didn’t take our whole meeting time to discuss my or other’s feelings but we did take time to address them. That small act of making space for difficult topics is important. Getting validation and support helped ease my tension and ultimately helped me get back on track. We went on to have a productive work call.


According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2019, Americans worked an average of 34.4 hours per week. There’s no other way to put it but we aren’t robots. We’re humans experiencing grief but also joy on a personal, national and global scale. If we want to create healthy work environments where employees know they won’t be punished for having a hard day and can share personal wins, then we must lead with empathy and compassion.

And don’t just take it from us, last year, The Washington Post reported on the benefits of showing empathy and compassion in the workplace:

  • 77% of workers would be willing to work more hours for a more empathetic workplace; meanwhile, 60% would actually accept a slashed salary for the same.

  • 92% of HR professionals note that a compassionate workplace is a major factor for employee retention.

  • 80% of millennials noted they would leave their current job if their office became less empathetic. 66% of Baby Boomers also shared this sentiment.

I can't thank my colleagues enough for creating a workplace that I can show up as my true self and to know that they've got my back when things get tough.

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