While this sentiment might not be ideal in such situations, there is one place where I think it is usually not a problem – the relationship between employers and employees. In the case of companies today, you can never “care too much” for employees. In fact, the more you invest in and care for your employees, the longer they stay.
I often say that for an organization, the business is the brain while people are the heart. An organization for whom its people are the heart truly cares for them in very tangible ways. Research shows that employees who feel cared for by their organizations are not only happier but also more productive. Such people are more likely to recommend their organizations as great places to work at, are more engaged, and less likely to leave. On the other hand, according to Gallup, disengaged workers who don’t feel valued, secured, supported, and respected miss more workdays and make more work errors too. Ultimately, there’s a connection between care and engagement, with the positive outcomes far outweighing the negative.
The heart of the matter is that it really is a matter of the heart.
Here are some ways in which organizations can truly care for their employees.
Building a Culture of Care
Organizations today have realized the importance of building a culture of care and this has reflected in the investments they are making in enhancing the employee experience, with the people front and center. No longer can you simply brainstorm about various strategies to engage your employees, be they physical or even virtual especially in today’s post-pandemic world. Building the ideal employee experience involves genuinely caring for your employees, listening to what they have to say, engaging them collectively in business strategy, the vision, and the direction of the firm, caring for their needs and those of their families—an aspect that was emphasized during the pandemic—and really just making them feel more integrated in the organization’s journey.
In other words, investing in employees and developing that aspirational work experience for them today goes beyond the traditional view that if you take care of employees, they will take care of you. Organizations that want to develop an employee experience that leads to loyal partners for the long term must genuinely care for their employees in authentic and transparent ways. A culture of care begets trust and support in employees, leading to bonds that last.
Building such a culture takes time and must be nurtured carefully over the years into a lifestyle that gets ingrained into the very DNA of the company. This culture of care consists of lived experiences based on shared values, and leaders should lead the way by demonstrating these values and caring for their teams through their actions. They should also encourage such positive behaviors by rewarding them appropriately, which not only helps perpetuate a positive culture but also enhances employees’ feeling of being valued.
A fundamental aspect of employee experience is feeling heard and connected to the organization and the people in it. An organization that truly cares focuses on building a culture where every single employee is heard and assured that their voice matters and is valued.
To do so, an organization should create several listening posts and transparent communication channels for employees to feel empowered to share their inputs and feedback without fear. This can only happen in a caring organization that treats its employees as family. People spend many of their waking hours through the day at work, and with virtual working, the lines have been blurred even further between work and home. Employees should feel comfortable sharing their deepest concerns and even contributing their inputs on various aspects ranging from business to work, life and everything in between, to feel valued and have a say in the experience that they want. Studies show that in such an atmosphere of trust and partnership in which employees feel they can grow, thrive, and succeed in their careers, they feel a close bond with the organization and want to contribute their best to its success.
Additionally, the channels of communication with employees should always be open, to enable constant and consistent conversations and ensure the organization is constantly tuned to the employee’s voice.
Creating inclusive experiences; moments that matter
The pandemic affected all of us in many ways. But more than anything else, it brought out our shared human connection. To build on this human connection, especially in these days of virtual working, employees need to be engaged anywhere and everywhere, as partners with a clear voice that is genuinely appreciated. This could be through town halls, webinars, business-focused events, and fun engagements that deepen the bond between the employer and employee.
An important aspect to be considered when creating such positive employee experiences is the rich cognitive diversity that exists across an organization. Hence, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. Employers should take this diversity into consideration and design diverse experiences based on both the unique as well as shared needs of employees.
The experience that employees derive from their organization is largely based on how companies make them feel. Employee experiences, like customer experiences, are not one cohesive narrative – they are made up of a series of discrete moments. In the customer experience context, these are called moments of truth, while in the employee experience context, they are called moments that matter. These moments can be exceptionally powerful.
Employers can tap into multiple moments to create that superlative experience for their employees. Choose what resonate with your employees and make these moments memorable for them. More often than not, it is the small things that matter and are remembered.
Benefits that evolve
Organizations’ care for their employees is also demonstrated through the benefits they provide. The pandemic brought this to the fore and revealed different company personas. Some chose to provide one-time allowances that employees could use to cover any of their requirements, without any specification. Others gave allowances for specific requirements such as work-from-home setups and the like. However, what I believe was the truly mature model that defined the caring company was the third kind whose benefits program was not only built on a firm foundation crafted for the long term, but also had the flexibility to evolve according to the changing requirements of a dynamically changing situation. These companies put employees right at the center of all their actions.
Investing in relationships
To build an authentic, caring environment where people and their unique experiences are valued, organizations should invest in building a relationship with its employees… one that is built to last. Like any other relationship, this too is a two-way street.
As Maya Angelou said: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is so true. For an organization to truly care for its employees, it should invest for the long term, genuinely realizing the value of people as partners in its journey and as family who are equally passionate about its success. When people are the heart of an organization, it shows in its health. The organization then becomes a place where people don’t just go to build a career, but also, to build a home.