Compassion researchers helping companies

A company’s profitability and the engagement of its employees are dependent on its values and attitudes. Compassion is a competitive asset, according to professor of church and society Anne Birgitta Pessi, who is leading a research consortium addressing the topic.

The researchers studying the power of compassion have received a seven-figure sum in research funding from Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.

“Compassion is a valuable immaterial asset,” says Anne Birgitta Pessi, professor of church and society, who runs the Revolutionary Power of Compassion programme at the University of Helsinki.

“Our project asks what compassion means in the everyday life of an organisation and in its interactions with partners. How is it generated, maintained and strengthened, and how can it improve profitability?”

The CoPassion project is being launched at the beginning of January. Its goal is to help companies and communities recognise the potential in immaterial value creation which can be made into a competitive asset.

“In particular, we’re studying the impact of compassion exercises on different communities, in relation to innovations and creativity, employee engagement, workplace wellbeing, sales, customer experience as well as an atmosphere and culture of compassion and motivation."

Values at work and school

”The project suggests long-term development towards a more value-based leadership and work culture that emphasises the significance of work,” says Professor Pessi. She believes compassion is a rising trend in the business world, so research information and company experience in this area are sorely needed.

In addition to developing work and management for the future, the focus will be on learning. New learning solutions generate motivation and help learners absorb new information through compassion exercises.

The project also intends to help make workplaces better, and to participate in the development of attractive, sustainable cities that serve contemporary values.

Art, companies and researchers

“Professor Pessi’s project has not only drafted an excellent research plan, but it has also created active connections to the business world,” states Professor Ismo Dunderberg, dean of the Faculty of Theology.

The three-year project involves researchers and steering group members from the University of Helsinki, the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Aalto University and the University of Jyväskylä. Other partners include an insurance company, art museum and television channel.