In the current market, there’s a great deal of competition for the best talent. Employees consider more than salary when making a decision about their prospective employer. Generous paid time off and great health care benefits are an expectation. To stand out from the competition, the most sought after companies understand it is necessary to create a culture that shows they genuinely care and allows team members to bring their whole selves to work each day. Employees need to feel like they can be honest about the challenges they face in and outside of work while simultaneously secure in knowing their job won’t be in jeopardy. Facilitating a culture that embraces transparency, support, and genuine care for employees can be tricky while balancing expectation and job demands, though. So how do you do it? Here are our tips on how to create a culture of care in the workplace.
Build Flexibility into Your Culture
It’s important to have policies and guidelines for your workforce. However, understand that circumstances arise in employees' lives that are truly beyond their control. Making reasonable accommodations will pay dividends in loyalty and future engagement. Talented, valuable employees can suddenly find themselves caring for a spouse with cancer, a new baby with a heart defect or a parent with Alzheimer’s disease. You send a clear message about your culture each time you decide to support or alienate employees facing a crisis.
Letting employees know you are willing to be flexible when these situations arise can put you in a power position when it comes to attracting and keeping talent. If possible, allow employees to work from home, stay late, or come in early if they have to miss hours for medical appointments. Have a policy that designates paid leave hours specifically to care for a loved one. You can also let other employees donate their paid time off to help a fellow employee who has used their allowed hours. You can get creative in your solutions, but the more you're willing to support your employees through your policies, the more dedicated to you they'll be. A culture that encourages employees to support one another is a culture that cares.
Recognize Working Caregivers
You may think of a caregiver as a woman in her 40’s or 50’s caring for aging parents. This is only one caregiving role employees may find themselves in. How many employees do you think are caring for a new baby? How about a child with a physical or developmental disability? The reality is that 25% of your workforce is caring for an aging parent and 50% have a new child each year. 1 out of 3 is caring for at least one child and 42% have cared for or are caring for an aging parent. Add to these figures, siblings with mental illness or chronic disease and you can see that it is more likely an employee is in some caregiving role than not.
Caregivers don’t talk about how they are struggling. They are afraid of appearing incapable of performing their job duties, being passed over for raises and promotions, or being questioned about the time they spend on caregiving tasks at work. Acknowledging working caregivers by having appreciation events, management education, and open conversations about the stress of caregiving will promote an environment that encourages open conversations and ultimately a culture of care.