Caring as a Shared Value
Caring for the Employees and Caring for the Organization
Why is Caring Important?
Caring is an integral component of our shared values, shared results, positive organizational health and Win-Win Philosophy. Individuals and groups of like-minded people understand and care for the values and situations of other individuals and groups. In an organizational environment and culture this includes senior leaders, managers and supervisors and all other employees. Caring is demonstrated every day by expressing and accepting caring in our personal and professional relationships. For those of us in the health, wellness, and well-being fields, we communicate caring on a daily basis.
On July 12, as I was writing the first draft of this blog, I watched President Obama deliver his respects to the five fallen officers and their surviving families in Dallas; to the several others and their families who were physically and emotionally wounded; and, to the hundreds of others in the country who suffered emotional pain. The President’s message was for each of us to understand and care for each other. His message of caring is consistent with our Win-Win Philosophy. Two weeks later, as I was writing the near final draft for this blog, I watched Michelle Obama give her heart-felt presentation at the Democratic National Convention where she emphasized the need for the caring in decisions we make and the impact of caring upon others, especially for the youth of this country.
Where has our field been for the past nearly 50 years?
Have we adequately recognized the impact of caring on the health of individuals and organizations? For the most part, the outcome measures of health and wellness initiatives focused on some of the most difficult measures of success: sustained participation, behavioral change, time away from work and, environmental and cultural change. In addition, we focused on the financial benefit to the organization compared to how much was invested, financial return on investment; total value of the investment; avoidance of dollars spent on healthcare, absent and disability days; and, lost time while at the worksite.
The above typical organizational outcome measures were in the category of lagging financial-indicators while we relatively ignored the day to day leading human indicator measures. In summary, we focused on what we believed organizations and employees needed rather than the context of their situation and more importantly what they wanted. This final factor alone would have been enough to predict less than optimal success. We forgot that most journeys begin with purpose, shared values, vision, mission; initial shared working strategy, and a shared process for determining appropriate results. Thus, the answer to the question for this section is, “No.” Not all organizations or employees have expressed or recognized caring to the combined extent that they would qualify as a true caring organization.
One of the major outcomes we proposed is the Value of Caring (VOC). This measure could be estimated in financial terms and perhaps more importantly, in my opinion, we prefer estimated as VOC in terms of demonstrated human and organizational values and activities.
How do we get to the Value of Caring?
As a first step we suggest the use of two questions where caring can be observed by surveying the perception of senior and mid-level managers and all other employees on “who cares” and “how is caring demonstrated?” This observation requires an assessment of the overall response of the organization (management) and the employees.
A. Questions for the non-management employees: Do you feel senior leaders or other management level individual’s care about you? Yes or No?
If yes, how do they demonstrate their caring? See a few examples below:
- offer personal and professional development opportunities
- provide and celebrates meaningful work opportunities
- share meaningful results with employees
- develop a shared values, purpose, mission, vision with employees
- conduct on-boarding- and exit interviews, and an emphasis on retention
- provide for promotion from within and help with clear career paths
- provide for autonomy at the employee work station
- provide for the physical, mental and social comfort for the employee
B. Questions for the senior leadership and other management personnel: Do you feel the employees care about the organization? Yes or No?
If yes, how do they demonstrate caring? See a few examples below:
- provide suggestions for performance improvement opportunities
- provide suggestions for improved work strategies and tactics
- provide criteria to recognize superior leadership from supervisors, managers, directors, and senior level leaders.
- actively support health, safety and quality indicators
- develop mentor opportunities among employees
- develop award and recognition opportunities
C. If either of the management or employee answers to the first question is NO then rephrase the second question accordingly.
The total Value of Caring has an integral role in our model for Positive Organizational Health as a Win-Win Philosophy. This can be observed by adhering to at least the following six examples:
- Most good working relationships begin with good person to person relationships. This is true whether individuals are at the same level within the organization or at different levels.
- There are several good places to begin and maintain win-win relationships such at the on-boarding stage, active mentoring, and coaching throughout the employee’s career.
- The win-win philosophy is “employees win when the organization wins and the organization wins when the employees win.” This attitude promotes the shared values, purpose, goals, vision and results.
- Positive Organizational Health and the Win-Win Philosophy can be demonstrated by the organization encouraging supervisor-employee relationship-building opportunities.
- Employees and management each sharing their respective context, needs, and wants.
- Win-win human relationships also can be built by promoting management and employee involvement at work or in community activities.
- Community and non-profit service days for all employees to engage
- Family activities beyond the summer picnics
- Recognize model employer-employee cooperation and collaboration at work and as community and non-profit volunteers
- Promote the voices of the employees and management in community town hall meetings and activities
The successful Win-Win Philosophy typically begins at the senior level as an enterprise philosophy or policy as a part of the organizational environment or culture. However, when considering the day-to-day impact, the influence of the local environment and sub-culture is likely more impactful than the overall central influence.
When employees feel the organization is the best possible place for them to work; the senior leaders feel the employees are the organization’s most important resource; and, there is a respective sense of caring, we have the makings of a Win-Win Philosophy.