Compassion – the key to meaningful and decent work

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 11:30
Location: Hörsaal 5A G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Jenni SPANNARI, University of Helsinki, Finland
Finding meaning is an increasingly central need and value in the late modern societies – and working life. In the context of ’decent work’ the aspect of meaning should not be overlooked, although it is traditionally seen as ambiguous and difficult to define and dissect.

Meaning and sense of significance is most profoundly achieved in compassionate interactions, involving  two or more persons or entities.  The research project ‘CoPassion – the Revolutionary Power of Compassion’ investigates compassion in the workplace, on the levels of individuals, communities and organizations.

Compassion is  conceptualized in the project as 1) knowlegde and skills, 2) empathy and willingness to help and 3) compassionate deeds big and small, including corporate volunteering. The claim of the CoPassion project is, that focusing on and offering opportunities for compassion has positive impacts on wellbeing at work, work satisfaction, commitment to work, to colleagues, and to the working community, creativity, and through this also new patterns of productivity.

Thus, compassion could be the ‘missing link’ between micro and macro levels; larger goals of i.e. social sustainability in the organization and the everyday life at the workplace.

Compassion can and will be measured in the project, accompanied by various neighbouring  concepts and measures ranging from empathy to meaningful work and work-life balance, from wisdom to spiritual leadership.

This paper discusses compassion in the context of decent work, and presents relevant measures and preliminary results. The aim of this paper is to open up ways of examining compassion as a component of and viewpoint to decent work.

Authors: Jenni Spännäri, Anne Birgitta Pessi, Henrietta Grönlund, Susanna Toivanen, Jari Hakanen, Tii Syrjänen, Anna Seppänen