Things have changed.
Over the course of the last few years, our circumstances have changed, the way we work has changed and we have changed. Our lives may look differently than they did five years ago but it seems we are stuck in a time where we mentally try to separate home from work. Managers try to avoid getting involved in employees’ personal problems and companies still prioritize employees’ productivity over their health and wellbeing. But with burnout running rampant, more people working from home and the pressure to be connected 24/7, there are no lines between our work life and home life anymore. In our new normal, our work lives and home lives coexist side by side, seamlessly so, making the ability to separate the two increasingly difficult.
How support creates loyal employees
No doubt our personal lives impact our work. A few months ago, our friend Brenda suddenly lost her mom. It was a tremendous shock and Brenda openly admitted that she had a hard time focusing and didn’t have much motivation to do anything for weeks, including her job. When our colleague, Keith, was going through a divorce, we noticed how withdrawn he became. He stopped contributing in meetings and requested extensions on project deadlines time and time again. It was obvious when Kate, a coworker, announced she was selling her house and was moving because we had seen a marked change in her behavior — she had never been so scattered and as noticeably stressed in all the years we knew her! Let’s face it, whatever is happening in our personal lives can absolutely alter our attitude, mental capacity, motivation and productivity at work.
We have to recognize that our employees show up at work with everything in their lives (good or bad!). We have to see the whole person, not just the worker in the person. When leaders shift from not wanting to know about employees outside of work to caring about the whole person both inside and outside of work, a powerful transformation occurs. Employees are recognized as human beings, not objects. (After all, they are people first!) As a result, employees feel seen, valued and supported, and coworkers begin to help one another both at work and in life. It also forges a bond of loyalty between colleagues and between employees and bosses. We’ve seen cultures transition from cold and transactional to cultures of trust, care and support.
If you want to build teams of loyal, happy and thriving employees, it’s time to begin supporting employees in life, and not just focusing on their productivity at work. Supporting employees in life looks a lot like trying to eliminate difficulties and stresses from people’s daily lives. Below are three easy ways employers can lend tremendous support to their employees:
1. Provide resources and relationships
Build relationships with vendors, childcare providers, moving companies, dentists, doctors, nutritionists, auto shops, etc. Ask these vendors to deliver VIP service, and possibly offer discounts, for the employees of your company in return for your commitment to promote their business and market their services to your entire staff.
2. Provide education and training for life skills
Times are tough for many people right now (COVID, post COVID, inflation, general burnout, etc.). By providing financial education such as how to save for retirement, planning for college, how to get out of debt and what to know about 401K contributions, you can provide real-life education that employees desire and need more than ever. You could also offer unique education for life skills such as cooking, sewing, gardening and Do-It-Yourself home improvement projects to develop employees’ knowledge and set their families up for success.
3. Create an Employee Support Committee
Call it whatever you want but establish a group of employees who can lead a specialized task force to help fellow colleagues in need, and it’s backed by the company. They could organize rides for an employee whose car is in the shop, schedule meal delivery for employees who have had surgery, undergone a cancer treatment or just had a baby. Perhaps they send flowers (paid for by the company) to employees who’ve lost a loved one. Imagine if a tragedy struck — a fire, flood or tornado — and this committee orchestrated donations, food, clothing and other necessities for the employee and their family. What if the company established an Employee Assistance Fund, where any employee having a difficult time could ask for help and in return the company rallied to provide money or assistance with what they needed at that time?
These are easy ways to show employees you genuinely care about them. As more leaders experience the results of quiet quitting, now is the time to show up for your people! When a company strives to support employees in life, it speaks volumes to who the organization is and what its priorities are. Building engaged, loyal employees starts by demonstrating your loyalty to them first. In a time when companies are doing everything possible to attract and retain their workers, it’s the simple things such as caring, supporting and showing commitment that create upbeat company cultures and positive employee experiences. True leaders strive to support their people in life, not just in business.
Three and Jackie Carpenter have spent their careers in the private club industry, where customer service must be at the highest level. With a track record for creating connected teams, upbeat work cultures and thriving organizations, Three and Jackie have helped some of the most historic and respected country clubs become profitable and have enriched the lives of hundreds of coworkers through the process. They coach, speak and mentor others on the topic of their book: People First: The 5 Steps to Pure Human Connection and a Thriving Organization.
Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.