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What’s the ‘secret sauce’ for improved retention and productivity?

New research underscores the importance of employees feeling valued at work.
By: | September 30, 2019 • 2 min read

Laura Hamill has a simple message for employers: You should care more about your employees.

The chief people officer and chief science officer of the Limeade Institute says the modern workplace demands an intentional shift from one that prioritizes the needs of employers to one that prioritizes the needs of employees, and she’s got new research to back up her advice.

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A new whitepaper by the Limeade Institute reveals a connection between perceptions of care and people results that are critical to compete in today’s talent war. Specifically, the whitepaper reveals that when employees feel cared for:

  • 60% plan to stay at their company for three or more years (as opposed to only 7% of those who don’t feel cared for);
  • 95% say they feel included in their organization (compared to 14% of those who don’t feel cared for); and
  • 90% say they’re likely to recommend their organization as a great place to work (compared to 9% of those who don’t feel cared for).

For the record, the Institute recognizes “care” as the provision of what’s necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance and protection of something. Basically, it’s looking after and providing for the needs of someone or something.

In order to do this, Hamill says, companies “must take a ‘whole-person’ approach to managing the employee experience – from well-being to diversity and inclusion to employee engagement and other programs that make employees feel cared for both as organizational members and humans.”

Hamill will further discuss the new findings as a panelist at a session titled “The Second Shift: Women and Well-being” at the HR Tech Conference in Las Vegas this week.

“Care is about those day-to-day human interactions,” Hamill says. “It’s about being flexible and understanding when an employee needs to leave work early to pick up a sick child or fostering positive manager-employee interactions over a cup of coffee. While things like margarita Mondays and pet insurance are nice-to-have perks, we believe showing employees care through organizational support is the ultimate foundation for the employee experience.”

There was strong motivation to undertake the research because, Hamill says, after she began hearing from lots of “care naysayers” who are prone to offer stale thinking like: “You’re lucky to have a job,” or “I pay you, that’s why you come to work,” when it comes to thinking or showing 0rganizational care for employees.

“A lot of the people who tend to feel that way are in positions of power,” she says. “So much of that is what they experienced. They tend to think about work in a traditional way. What they don’t understand is the value of caring about people and how it can be better both for those workers as well as their business.”

After meeting enough of such naysayers, Hamill began wondering: What if we actually used science to show them that care matters?

While most of the outcomes from the Limeade research may not be groundbreaking, Hamill says, it did produce some interesting findings.

“The ‘wow’ for me was how care is actually related to an employee’s intention to stay working in the organization,” she says, “and how closely care is related to their likelihood to recommend the place as a great place to work.”

For HR leaders pondering an increase in the care levels at their organization, Hamill says the first step is to identify the problems you’re trying to solve as an HR leader.

“Lots of HR leaders are focused on engagement,” she says. “But the only way to sustain high levels is when there’s a mutual feeling of caring. It can’t just be give, give, give all day long; workers also have to receive care as well.”

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When putting together a program of caring, Hamill urges leaders to consider a wide-angle approach.

“When there actually is a strategy across all siloes, you start thinking about all the work as an integrated employee experience,” she says. “You need to actually be solving this from the employee’s perspective, not from the HR perspective.

“There’s more to dig into,” Hamill says, “but it’s so important to change the dialogue and stop really building all our HR practices around traditional work assumptions and think differently about work. Feeling cared for by an organization is an important part about how we need to think differently about work.”

Web Editor Michael J. O’Brien has been with HRE for more than a decade and holds a degree in economics from Boston College. He can be reached at [email protected]

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