Why You Should Care More About Your People

Here’s a fact: employees who feel more caring concern and love from their employer and colleagues perform better on the job. Now we’re not talking about romantic love here. This is all about respect, concern, and compassion, or what is being called companionate love.

Do you have policies and practices that promote compassion, caring, and concern, in time of need?

Consider what former Cisco CEO, John Chambers, expected from his staff. He wanted to be notified within 48 hours whenever a close family member of an employee passed away so he could make an appropriate response and action.

What do you do to show care and concern for your employees?

Caring Makes a Difference

Researchers Sigal Barsade, from the Wharton School of Business, and Olivia A. O’Neill, from George Mason University, surveyed over 3,200 employees from seven different industries to learn about a caring culture.

Whether from financial services or healthcare, they found people who worked in cultures where they were free to express affection, tenderness, caring, and compassion for one another, were:

  • More satisfied with their jobs,
  • Committed to the organization, and
  • Accountable for their performance.

Southwest Airlines, with their heart at the centre of their logo, and stock exchange ticker symbol of LUV, actively demonstrate care and concern for all their employees. They take on the attitude that if one of us hurts we all hurt. When something merits celebrating they do that too.

Southwest Airlines treats employees like family. They have an Internal Customer Care (ICC) team of super dedicated people whose sole purpose is to recognize employee life events on behalf of Gary Kelly the Chairman and CEO. The team sends cards and gifts to employees going through a life event—be it a time of celebration or a time of sadness. The goal of the ICC team is to “celebrate in good times and comfort in difficult times.”

Life events range from what you would expect to those that show a higher level of caring.

Consider the following life events that could happen to any of us:

  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries, work and personal
  • Births
  • Adoptions
  • Marriages
  • Illnesses
  • Surgery
  • Accidents
  • Deaths
  • On the job injuries
  • Military leave
  • Even the death of a pet

They have dozens of customized cards perfect for all of the life events listed above. ICC team members have also created a vast library of genuine and heartfelt words to write inside.

Don’t forget the perfect gift items to accompany these messages of celebration and comfort.

Staff could receive a teddy bear to celebrate the birth or adoption of a child or a Southwest Airlines-branded plane-shaped piggybank. There is the red, plush blanket for an employee who just had surgery and oodles of other wonderful items that go beyond the words to express care and respect from the Southwest family.

The ICC team receives over 10,000 notifications a year of employee life events from managers and employees throughout the company. Station managers and Human Resources managers also pass along reports and information they’ve received.

Treat Employees Like Family

Then there’s Zappos, the online shoe company, renown for its unique customer service culture, also strives to create a family-like ethos with its employees. On the Zappos website they state:

“We are more than just a team though – we are family. We watch out for each other, care for each other, and go above and beyond for each other because we believe in each other and we trust each other. We work together, but we also play together. Our bonds go far beyond the typical ‘co-worker’ relationships found at most other companies.”

They even expect managers to spend a significant amount of time with team members outside of work – at events, dinners, and bars – and will not hire individuals who are uncomfortable or unwilling to do this.

Incorporating Caring Into Your Recognition Programs

Messages of caring and greetings can be incorporated into your online employee recognition website.

It’s important to celebrate good things that happen in one another’s lives. It’s also essential to acknowledge the sad things when they arise, where employees need our support.

James Autry, in his book “Love and Profit – The Art of Caring Leadership”, said, “Good management is largely a matter of love. Or if you’re uncomfortable with that word, call it caring, because proper management involves caring for people, not manipulating them.”

Think about adding the following features to show you care in your online recognition program:

  • Have available online e-cards so you can wish your employees a happy birthday. Check to make sure they’ve made their birthdate public on their profile page and send them a greeting.
  • You might even enlist services like CardIsle, where you can set up kiosks onsite to let employees design and create personalized greeting cards to send to people.
  • Make card options available, both digital and paper-based, to express your sympathies when a family member, friend, or pet, of an employee, has died. Take some time to write a personal message of caring.
  • Join in and celebrate a personal anniversary – it could be a wedding, work milestone, or other noted life events. You can always make this a private message if the recipient as so indicated.
  • Remember your employees whenever they’re sick by sending something to them to lift up their spirits. You might choose to send a gift like get well flowers, chocolate, or other selected gift.
  • If someone is going for surgery make sure to send a message of comfort and hope with a fitting token of caring like flowers or special plaque. And don’t forget to send a Welcome Back message upon their return.
  • Don’t forget to welcome and congratulate employees on the arrival of a new child to an employee’s family – whether a birth or an adoption – and even for that brand new pet!
  • When unfortunate accidents happen, as they sometimes do, make time to send a consoling message to them. Put extra thought into the wording of your message.

The bottom-line in all these activities is to show you care.

Reflective Question: Are you demonstrating sufficient caring and concern to your employees in good times and sad times?

Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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