2. Focus on Trust
Demonstrating a commitment to employee safety is also the first step towards building the foundation of Employee Care – trust.
The importance of trust in the Employee Care framework can’t be overstated.
For years, business and HR leaders have been inculcated with the idea that they must enforce accountability, or risk a dip in productivity. It is this mindset that gives rise to the micromanager.
In part, the office became a means of keeping tabs on employees and holding them accountable. As long as they were in the office working for their 8 hours, managers were doing their jobs.
But presence and productivity are not synonymous. The office provided a false sense of control.
As we enter a more dynamic, “work-from-anywhere” workplace of the future, this feeling of control is gone.
Trust must be bilateral. Managers have to both create trust and learn to trust.
Trust is built over time, from a combination of communication and action. While it does not requires perfection, it does require honesty. Managers must consistently act according to company values, back up words with actions, and always explain the why behind decisions. When you do make a mistake or need to change course, you must address it head on.
Trusting your employees is simpler, but much harder. For many, it involves unlearning the mindset we’ve been conditioned to adopt. It requires vulnerability, and a voluntary loss of control. And it can be scary.
If this is you, you have to engage in real talk with yourself and fellow leaders. If there are trust issues, investigate why. What are the fears underlying the lack of trust?
Ironically, the key is to expect more out of your team, not less.
It’s funny – people tend to rise or fall to the level of your expectations. If you expect your people to take advantage of a lax environment, they will. If you give your team power and space to optimize their quality of life along with the expectation that they strive to do the best work of their lives… more often than not, they will.
3. Manage the Whole Person
One unexpected effect of quarantine is that it has made us all more empathetic.
Mass remote-work policies mean that millions of us have brought our work home with us, and in so doing, we are also bringing our homes into work.
Our living spaces are suddenly present and visible for our colleagues and employers, in a way they weren’t just weeks ago and it all adds up to a better understanding of each other. We have deeper empathy for our individual circumstances, familial and otherwise. With this knowledge comes the opportunity to integrate the personal into the way we manage.
In practice, this means acknowledging an employee’s personal aspirations and placing them on equal footing with their professional ones. It means being more gracious and accommodating, and focusing on results rather than time spent at a desk or hours worked. It also means combining personal goal setting in our professional goal setting exercise.
The best way to think about this is to give your employees agency and space to design a way of working that optimizes their quality of life, while still hitting KPIs and fulfilling your company mission.
Perhaps the most important point of all–the entire concept of Employee Care rests on the belief that happier, healthier people make for better team members. Managing the whole person might seem like a radical departure for folks who believe that in order to get the most out of our people, our people have to give more and more of themselves.
But this concept begins to make sense when you accept the premise that a more well-rounded employee who leads a rich, full life outside the office is also a better employee. These are the people who more likely to step up and be there for a teammate, or to put in the extra effort to deliver an exceptional customer experience. These are the people who make your business better.