Vital Ingredient to Creating a Better Workplace

My days as Devil Wears Prada

I don’t consider myself a warm and fussy person. There was even a time during my twenties when I detested huggers. Why are people hugging me I’d say to myself…they don’t even know me. And when it came to caring, first and foremost I cared about results. Granted I would take the time to get to know people, about their families and their hobbies.  It was what great books like “How to Win Friends and Influence People” told me to do.  I had grown up somewhat isolated, an introvert and awkward at best when it came to relating to people. My detached way of being seemed to work well when it came to the workplace.  In fact, between the promotions, restructures and bank mergers there were months when I felt like my job was just about firing people. Why get attached to people you might have to fire.

The Turning Point

Perhaps it was the years of studying growth, counseling, or Bible studies but I can remember the turning point clearly. Recently promoted to a new office, and things had settled down from my restructuring efforts to improve performance. Our team was starting to perform well, and the word came down about the next merger. Conversations about layoffs were swirling, and I received word about who had to go on my team. He was a young guy who hadn’t been in the position long.  On the surface, it seemed reasonable except I would need to fire him right before Christmas and right after he returned from paternity leave. He and his wife had just had their first baby, and he was the breadwinner. It turns out; I did have a heart. And at that moment it sunk.

The importance of caring in the workplace

As a result of that incident and others, I experienced against myself and others in the company; I came to realize the importance of caring in the workplace. At the same time, not sure why I’m so surprised. The number one reason people quit their jobs, across all industries is a lack of appreciation. To put it another way, people rarely demonstrate that they care about or are grateful for another person’s hard work or contribution. In general, hard work or contribution is an expectation. The paycheck is the reward.

Unfortunately, lack of caring in the workplace costs more than a high turnover rate for companies. It costs us mentally, physically and emotionally. Which inevitably translates to financially as well. Brendon Burchard’s latest book on living the Charged life he notes that when we don’t feel cared for in life, trouble begins to brew at a deep psychic level. Babies who are not cared for die. Suicide notes ring with the haunting assumptions that no one cared or will care. When we don’t feel cared for life loses its color and connection. On a cellular level hormones like vasopressin and oxytocin slow to a trickle leaving us feeling alone and emotionally deflated.

Noting all this it’s important to realize; caring is not a management job or a company job, it’s a human job. In essence, if we desire to create a better workplace, each and every player on the team has a responsibility to care for one another. To do otherwise is playing the role of victim. It’s giving away your power to positively impact your life to someone else. Ultimately, it’s stifling your growth as a human and the growth in your career.

Grab your journal; it’s your turn to grow

Take a few moments and reflect on the caring environment in your work.

  1. Make a list of positive examples of caring that occurred in the last few weeks.
  2. Make a list of the positive examples of caring you have exhibited during that time. How does the list and its items make you feel? Is it a feeling you’d like more of?
  3. What acts of appreciation or caring can you do today?

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