Dr. Andrea Hollingsworth
Hollingsworth Consulting

Is work a place where people feel they can be fully human? A place they can feel supported even when they’re stressed or struggling?

Read on to learn more about characteristics of maximally compassionate, marginally compassionate, and minimally compassionate organizations.

Maximally Compassionate Workplaces

Your organization is a place where people can count on feeling empathy, support, and care. Leaders regularly check in on employees—taking time to connect with them at both professional and personal levels—which makes workers feel seen and understood. Respect, belonging, and fairness are built into the organization’s policies and everyday environment. Employees trust that work is a place they can be “fully human” – even when they are stressed, grieving, ill, overwhelmed, or experiencing other types of pain. While expectations for excellence are high, self-kindness is prioritized whereas self-berating is rare. People generally have the sense that work is a place where wellness and connection are just as important as efficiency and performance.

Marginally Compassionate Workplaces

Your organization has pockets of caring, positive human connection, but it isn’t consistent. Leaders don’t always model or prioritize empathic communication. Also, leaders may be unaware of what employees are dealing with—especially if work is a place where everyone generally feels overwhelmed. When special problems or needs arise, it’s not immediately clear where to turn. Supports for wellness, especially mental wellness, seem to be “too little, too late.” People can be quite hard on themselves and others when things go wrong, and frustrated criticism is seen by many to be quite normal. Inclusive policies are generally in place; however, some or many employees may still struggle with feeling disrespected, unsupported, and/or like an “outsider.”  

Minimally Compassionate Workplaces

Your organization is a place where people often don’t feel connected and supported, even or especially when it matters most. Those struggling with mental health concerns feel mostly invisible. Some might even label the work environment “toxic” or “dehumanizing.” Emotions, especially difficult ones, are generally expected to be kept separate from work. Expectations for workers’ performance may feel unreasonably demanding, with many experiencing the work environment as harsh and critical. Leaders seem disconnected: they often don’t appear to notice or care about issues of overwhelm, burnout, disrespect, unfairness, and/or lack of inclusion amongst employees. Workers don’t generally trust that their organization will back them if they experience a significant stress or setback—whether in their personal or professional life.

About Andrea

Dr. Andrea Hollingsworth is Founder and CEO of Hollingsworth Consulting, author of the bestselling book The Compassion Advantage (2024), and one of today’s leading global experts on compassionate leadership. Since 2008, she has been studying, speaking, and writing about the science and spirituality of human emotions and relationships. Her articles have been published more than a dozen times in peer-reviewed journals, and she has taught at prestigious institutions like Princeton, Boston University, and Loyola University Chicago. In addition, Dr. Andrea has delivered talks to audiences at some of the top-ranked universities in the world—including Cambridge University in England and Heidelberg University in Germany.

Dr. Andrea spends most of her time inspiring leaders and teams to use The Compassion Advantage to build supercharged organizations through cultures of care— especially in times of challenge and change. Andrea lives with her family in Minnesota where she cheers hard at her son’s soccer games and relishes every opportunity to visit the north shore of Lake Superior.