With everything going on in this COVID reality, employers are working hard to take care of employees who are facing challenges created by the pandemic, whether it is financial instability or taking care of family members.
Laura Hamill, co-founder of Limeade, an employee experience technology company, wrote a children’s book titled Take Care, which will be published on Aug. 8, to show how fundamental caring is, especially in today’s society. It’s a message that not only empowers children but also can improve the workplace, she says.
“Recently, my team at the Limeade Institute did research showing that employers can improve retention, inclusion, wellbeing and engagement at work, simply by showing employees they care about them as individuals,” Hamill adds. “It’s such a simple concept – but one that many companies struggle to prioritize, much less put it into practice on a daily basis.”
According to research conducted by Limeade, employees who feel cared for by their employer are 10 times more likely to recommend their company as a great place to work, nine times more likely to stay at the company for three or more years and twice as likely to be engaged at work. Especially during the uncertainties of the pandemic, employees are essentially in survival mode, Hamill explains. As a result, there is added stress of maintaining job security while caring for families and helping their children with remote learning, and still working remotely themselves.
“Whether it’s having our kids or pets interrupt conference calls, or top executives swapping ties for T-shirts, this notion that we can ‘leave it all at the door’ is becoming more and more a figment of the past. These are ideal conditions for employers to insert care into their cultures,” she says. “Employees are hungry for more flexibility, more trust and transparency and a feeling of psychological and physical safety and security.”
Employers can apply the “take care” rule to the workplace by investing in manager support. Throughout the pandemic, managers have had to take on even more responsibility, which could create a stressful environment, not just for managers but also their employees. Hamill says, a lot of wellbeing “maintenance” can happen during manager and employee one-on-one meetings and can be as simple as managers asking employees, “How are you really doing?” And then, of course, actually listening and supporting their employees in their work.
One issue that many companies are dealing with lately is keeping up employee engagement and morale. In order to combat the challenges the pandemic is creating, Hamill says, a “take care” approach could be an essential tool. Limeade research found that 94% of employees feel personally engaged at work when they feel cared for by their employer, compared to 46% who don’t feel care.
There are a number of ways to increase care in the workplace, Hamill says, including encouraging “free” time for employees to manage outside stressors, offering support and connection to show employees they are cared for, and investing time and resources into financial wellbeing to help employees feel more financial stability.
“When a crisis hits, culture is often the first thing to be put to the test. Now is a great time to do a reset and sit down and examine aspects of culture,” she says.
Four areas can greatly improve office culture, adds Hamill: trust and transparency, communication, social connection and caring about people as human beings. “Be honest about your organization’s challenges and explain why you are making the decisions you are. Now is a time when employees expect to hear from their organization often, Hamill says.
Communication and focusing on employees’ wellbeing can be one way to keep employees engaged and morale up, even while working remotely, Hamill explains.
“Leadership should be communicating what your mission and values are, why they matter and how employees are contributing to these elements. Create opportunities for formal and informal social connection, whether it’s through employee resource groups or fun things like virtual trivia. Focus on your employees’ whole person wellbeing and actively support and encourage them to prioritize their well-being,” Hamill says.