The concept of caring being something positive should be fairly obvious, but the title of this piece is not meant to be redundant. Instead, I hope it emphasizes the importance of a positive attitude and how it can impact those around you, notably your co-workers that you likely spend a lot of time with in your life. Besides helping to relieve stress, which can in turn enhance productivity, efficiency and effectiveness, positive attitudes can help people perform better when dealing with customers. Hopefully you realize that helping improve the customer experience ultimately has a positive impact on the bottom line for a business or organization.
As we all deal with the seemingly ever-increasing workloads thrust upon us, you might be struggling to figure out ways to let your employees know that you really do care about them. Recently Jacqueline Whitmore wrote a piece for Entrepreneur, 6 Ways to Be Certain Your Employees Know You Care, that may help fire up your brain's creativity center on the topic. Her suggestions include:
- Praise for colleagues and co-workers - especially when it is communicated in person so the recipient can receive the full impact of your message via body language, facial expressions and even your tone of voice.
- Gifts - even something small, when combined with a personal, handwritten note, can be quite meaningful for a recipient. At the very least, it should be something that shows some awareness and appreciation for the things they enjoy in life.
- Lunches and meals - these always seem to be a big hit with employees, whether it is a meal "in-house" or going out somewhere. From some experience I've had, to be effective, be sure to also combine this with being flexible with time so employees can enjoy themselves.
- Earned awards - Whitmore suggests putting in place some programs so that teams or individuals can "earn" some recognition for their work. I tend to be skeptical of these types of programs as I have seen them used far too often as a way to reward the "pet" employee. I'd suggest that if you do implement something like this, structure it so that everyone has a chance to be a "winner" (even if that means there may be multiple winners). Winning in the workplace should not come at the expense of fellow co-workers.
- Thank-you notes - in this day and age of computers and smartphones, handwritten notes may seem archaic. Nevertheless, they can have a much greater impact than an email. At the very least, employees have something tangible they can refer back to or share/show-off to others instead of an email that gets buried within minutes under an avalanche of new bits and bytes flowing in. I also think that as the writer this may help you (but that could be the fountain pen/writing stock nerd in me coming out).
- Opportunity - finally, create opportunities for employees to do something different. This may be something like being involved with a special committee or attending some training. Or perhaps you could let an employee represent the organization with a local charity event.
Don't worry about these actions feeling contrived - no doubt they will, especially if you are the type of person who does not normally practice giving this kind of feedback. Kind of like with writing, sometimes you just have to start doing it, but once you start you will find your groove. And hopefully you will help your co-workers find their groove as well.