We are starting 2020 with U.S. and global political uncertainty as well as the cost of continued results of climate change; these could lead us into recession, according to experts. One result if that happens is that businesses – even the ones that usually value and protect their employees – often respond to economic downturns with layoffs and downsizing.


There is a huge advantage to solidifying your work position so that you “recession-proof” your career, no matter what the economic environment is. I strongly believe there is a way to do that: when your workplace interactions are compassionate, you benefit professionally.


Here are five ways compassionate behaviors can recession-proof your career – or improve your career at any time. These also are just really good behaviors to adopt.


  1. Using Kind Words. Encouraging peers and managers is great; kindness to people who are considered “the least of these” in corporate America is a way to stand out. Being nice to interns, for example,isn’t just an exercise; we honestly never know who we’ll be working for in the coming years (big ups to Gen Y 😊)


  1. Mini-Mentoring Peers.Raising our hands for new assignments in front of key members of the organization is great for visibility. But are we just as willing to spend 15 minutes sharing ideas, leveraging intelligence, and bringing alternatives to colleagues when no one is looking? Inviting a colleague to coffee to think through their work challenges may not get you face time in front of your CEO, but it does build you a reputation as a person who cares. A colleague with this compassionate reputation isn’t out of work for long, no matter the economy.


  1. Delivering with Excitement. I’ve heard no one likes dryness. When presenting, speaking, selling, or persuading internally, it’s great when natural enthusiasm comes across. We can tell someone’s commitment to and passion for their work by their preparedness and their excitement for the topic. It infuses others with renewed excitement, too – that’s the kindness others feel.


When I bring a solution to a situation or help support a product, my confidence and energy levels fly off the charts. Knowing our stuff and bringing it with excitement differentiates people in the marketplace.


  1. Leading Outside the Cubicle.Many companies offer opportunities to show compassion and grow skills outside our day jobs. Employee Resource Group (ERG) leader, product committee chair, volunteer project leader, sustainability champion are all opportunities to build operations, marketing, and sales acumen. These showcase your compassion and strengths as well as bring positive impact to your company and community.


I’ve worked in these types of roles for years, and I’m amazed at how transferable these skills are to most corporate roles.


  1. Keeping the End Goal in Mind.Working from a place of compassion will make your end results more fruitful. In your business division, for example, how can you encourage others to generate better ideas, come up with solutions, and work harder for “the team”? If your purposeful kindness and encouragement result in better performance and productivity from your group, then you’ll all get noticed (and you can bet your company leaders will hear about your role in the group’s achievements!). My intent isn’t to be Machiavellian; I truly believe that a rising tide lifts all boats – including your own.



Whatever the business economic climate, compassionate behaviors will make your work and purpose more fruitful as well as more pleasant for you, your company, and your colleagues. When downturns come…well, bottom line is this: you will have done all you can, and been the best person, employee, and colleague that you could be.



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