Quality (296) BMJ: Building compassionate and joyful workplaces

13 September, 2021

With thanks to Richard Fitton, a viewpoint on the UK National Health Service (with global relevance). It's notable that Compassion is one of the three pillars of the WHO Global Learning Laboratory for Quality Universal Health Coverage (GLL) [ https://www.who.int/initiatives/who-global-learning-laboratory-for-quali... ]. HIFA is proud to be currently working with WHO GLL to run a series of discussion on Learning for quality health services. Recognising and nurturing compassion in the workplace is critical.

CITATION: Rammya Mathew: Building compassionate and joyful workplaces

BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2148 (Published 07 September 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2148


'Whether we like it or not, work is what we spend most of our waking hours doing. So, finding joy in work isn’t a nice to have: it’s a necessity. An organisation such as the NHS—the world’s largest employer of highly skilled professionals—should conceivably have a highly developed approach to ensuring that people have fulfilling and rewarding jobs that they want to keep coming back to. This is key in terms of reducing staff turnover, increasing employee productivity, and improving overall organisational performance...

'The most unforgivable acts can almost always be traced back to a basic lack of kindness. Such as when senior staff don’t bother to learn the names of the more junior staff working for them. Or when we forget to thank or show any appreciation for team members who go above and beyond. Or when acts of bullying or discrimination get swept under the carpet or are diminished because it’s easier than dealing with them head on.

'A failure to cultivate compassionate leadership is what has predominantly zapped the joy from our workplaces... It’s high time we moved on from myopic short term strategies and made compassion and joy the central tenets of our long term vision for the NHS.'

Comment: In LMICs there are many barriers to 'compassionate and joyful workplaces'. One of these is the failure to meet the basic needs of frontline health workers and to ensure these needs are progressively met. HIFA describes these needs with the acronym SEISMIC: https://www.hifa.org/about-hifa/hifa-universal-health-coverage-and-human...

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator, neil@hifa.org www.hifa.org