As we continue our series on company culture and what makes a great culture great, we are shifting our focus to the importance of a culture of care. Organizations (and the people that lead and work within them) need to learn how to care for one another, now more than ever before. Bob Chapman, CEO and Chairman at Barry-Wehmiller Companies, Inc., believes that we need to learn how to care for people at work. Chapman acknowledges that we treat people we work with in ways we’d never treat our family and friends, proving that people know how to care, but they don’t extend it to the workplace.
The way people are treated at work impacts how they live. In his book, Everybody Matters, Chapman discusses his belief and shares quantitative case studies citing the benefits of people-centric leadership, called Truly Human Leadership. There is an undeniable return on investment to creating a caring, more human workplace.
Employees who feel valued, appreciated, and cared for by their leaders are not just more loyal to a team and an organization, but they are engaged and want to actively contribute to the organization’s success. They are also more willing to go the extra mile on work projects and actively seek ways to help other teammates. Rather than having to be held accountable, they hold themselves accountable for their work.
Other positive effects of creating a culture of care in the workplace include:
- Higher productivity, creativity, and innovative thinking.
- Greater adaptability to market and customer changes.
- Greater recruitment potential and increased employee retention.
- Lower absenteeism, fewer stress-related illnesses, and fewer health insurance claims.
Most leaders understand their influence on team members’ lives during work hours, but they don’t often think about how their leadership affects team members outside of the workplace. Chapman makes a poignant argument that “organizational stress is exacerbated by people feeling that they’re not appreciated. If we simply cared about the people whose lives we are privileged to lead, and send them home each night feeling valued, we could reduce health care costs.”
One of the profound truths he discovered is this: The way we lead impacts the way people live.
So, where do you begin? Start by intentionally deciding what care looks and feels like in your culture. This will vary from business to business, but for a culture of care to grow, it must start with authentic behavior modeled by frontline and senior leadership. Employees must feel valued and leaders must demonstrate care and connect with employees.
Investing in and creating a caring environment will take some time. You will see a return on that investment for your organization, but as Chapman says, “that pales in comparison to creating a better world both inside and outside your company walls.”
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