Caring for employees results in a more productive work environment (see earlier post for research details). Yet not enough companies realize it is in their own interest to invest in their employees. Fortunately, we have many positive examples where a caring environment extends past the typical Silicon Valley habitat with its free food and ping pong tables at the expense of burning people out by working them 60+ hours a week.
Paul Spiegelman, the Chief Culture Officer of Stericycle and The Founder of BerylHealth describes how caring is integrated into his company's work culture:
"We care about our employees in the totality of their lives. They take Beryl home with them and they bring what's at home to Beryl. Having an ingrained culture of caring translates directly into every interaction a member of the Beryl family has."
Beryl's four step methodology for caring about their employees is a great guide for other companies to follow:
1. Create a process to know what's going on with your staff.
2. Acknowledge your people offline.
3. Be sensitive.
4. Let your employees loose.
You can read Paul Spiegelman's full blog post on Beryl's caring practices here.
There is a "dark side" to caring for employees and creating a caring work environment. A liability.
We now know what is important to our employees, because we have listened to them, cared for them, asked them what we could do for them at the workplace to help make their lives better. Next comes the hardest part. Doing the work. If we make our employees believe that we care, that their thoughts and values matter, but we do not act on their inputs, then we may lose their trust forever. Our employees will feel even less motivated, their work will suffer as a result, and they will likely leave the company at first opportunity.
Not doing what we know needs to be done is an abrogation of responsibility. It may be that we do not truly want to know what works, because then we will have to get out of our comfort zone, reject the old ideas and prejudiced ways of doing business. We will need to abandon the "extractive mentality" ('sit down, shut up, and do what I say,' or alternatively, 'you should just be glad you have a job'). We will need to work on creating a sustainable, compassionate approach to the human beings that work for and with us.
We need to understand our "baseline" approach to valuing others. Are we comfortable with creating an inclusive, regardful atmosphere at work, one that listens first, asks questions, is thoughtful, and then responds? Or do we fire first and aim later, like so many others who ignore servant leadership?
We may have some excuse to not changing out ways. We may be hijacked by our own limbic system, which can become an embarrassment to us and a liability to our shareholders.
Our limbic system governs our motivations, addictions, and engagement with the world. It also lights up on functional MRIs when romantic love is involved. On the down side, our limbic system is also home to prejudice, bias, and preconceived notions about all people, and specific races, genders, ethnicities, etc.
Future posts on caring will present challenges that will help replace the erroneous reactive 'we' with a thoughtful, more caring 'we' through the use of values centric, clear conscious thought.
Let us resolve to break out of the old habits together to create thoughtful, mindful, respectful, and regardful work environment.
The above excerpt is borrowed from the upcoming book by Dr. David Paul and Val Dobrushkin: "Tapping into the Future Want: How Caring for Your Customers, Employees, and Other Living Things Is a Strategic Imperative."