Creating a Care Culture in the Workplace

June 14, 2022
De Goede

It was a Wednesday morning that I arrived at work and my team member mentioned they were feeling anxious about a decision they were needing to make. We got to working and a little while later the conversation turned to their experience of this anxiety again.

Have you ever wondered how workplace wellness and organisational culture link? I started to grapple with this concept some time ago and became much more aware of my interactions with coworkers and how those could not only affect the individuals I was working with but also the larger organisation.

Photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

My colleague and I could have just ignored the topic or swept it aside and continued with our to-do list but instead, we took some time to chat through this decision that needed to be made. We spoke about their uncertainties and their concerns regarding the impact of whichever decision they chose to make.  We then spoke about how we experience anxiety and stress and how each of us experiences it slightly differently.  We spoke to the point where they felt confident enough to take their first action step.

I couldn’t shake the sense that this is what being part of a team is all about.  I think we are schooled that teams are there to reach the aim of the company and while I fully believe this, I also believe that a team cannot reach the aim of the company if they are not well.

You may be wondering what workplace wellness is...

The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.  (I encourage you to go read their article on wellness: Wellness is not something we can attain if we just wait for it to happen. It is something that requires intention and action from our side, to experience it.  As cliché as it sounds the key in all of this, for me, is that working towards wellness takes us from a position of surviving to a position of thriving, whether that be on an individual level, departmental level or even organisational level.If we can create a culture of care within our companies I am convinced we will see stronger teams, which ultimately means we should see more successful companies.

So what does it take to create a "care culture"?

C – consistency

A - authenticity

R - respect

E – empathy

In order to create a care culture within our organisations, it is important for our efforts to be consistent.  It also doesn’t necessarily matter what your position within the company is – culture can catch like wildfire.  My thoughts are that it probably does more harm than good to be inconsistent in your efforts. If you are wanting to build a care culture within your company, then it needs to be a priority, not an afterthought.

Consistency is easier if one is being authentic; whereas it is challenging to remain consistent if what we are doing is, in fact, just part of our to-do list.  When engaging in conversations try to bring your authentic self – this enables others to do the same.

Respect is an obvious element but I thought I’d add it because sometimes we don’t realise how our responses could be perceived by another person.  Remain mindful of your preconceived opinions or judgements.  If somebody is feeling a certain way, it isn’t our responsibility to tell them they shouldn’t feel that way or to even give them advice (unless they have specifically asked us for advice). Our responsibility, as a team member, in that time is to listen and support.The fourth element of creating a culture of care is to be empathetic where possible.  Sometimes someone might be sharing something that we have experienced in our own lives. In these moments, it would be appropriate to relate to their experience and to share this with them, it could, however, be experienced by the other person that we are trying to make this about us. To avoid this, make sure you don’t hijack the conversation.

Slowly but steadily, we should be able to create a culture within our team, department or even whole organisation for individuals to really show care to and for one another.  If we look after the mental health of our team and support where necessary, our organisational health will be directly impacted.

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Keep an eye out for the next blog post (which will be uploaded here) which will tackle the subject of how we can balance the scales to avoid the workplace becoming "overly sensitized".

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