We spend a lot of time talking about the importance of creating a positive candidate experience so people will come to work for our companies. Then we talk about creating a positive employee experience, so individuals are engaged and productive. And we discuss the need for a positive company culture to retain employees.
All of these things are true. And we must do them all. But let’s be real, no matter what we do, every day will not be sunshine and roses. Sometimes organizations have tough days. They experience setbacks.
Last year, I had the privilege of hearing former President Barack Obama speak at the Association for Talent Development’s (ATD) International Conference and Expo. He said something that has stuck with me. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was about being there for people when times are good as well as when times are tough. In our organizations, do we think about the principles of our company culture when times are difficult? I know we consider the positive…
President Obama’s comment reminded me of how I arrived in human resources. I was involved in a major auto accident that put me out of work for almost a year. Some companies would have probably tried to figure out some way to get rid of me. And it would have probably been easy. This was pre- the Family and Medical Leave Act. But this organization kept me on the payroll, paid my medical insurance, and found me a new role (in HR) when I was ready to return.
Has your organization thought about what they feel is appropriate when:
- An employee faces the death of a close friend or family member
- The organization experiences a safety issue or emergency
- The company discovers a major data security breach or hacking
- An associate finds themselves without a home or transportation
- The company is considering a layoff or major restructuring
I’m not talking about what is commonplace in today’s business world. Or what is legally required. Does the company offer assistance that is aligned with their culture? For example, it seems like there would be a huge disconnect to say that the company is all about being an exceptional place to work but, when an employee loses a parent, they get the standard three days off for bereavement after submitting a copy of the obituary. You get the point.
Organizations are working on creating outstanding company cultures because it makes them competitive in today’s job market. They should absolutely continue doing that. But the way a company treats an employee who is facing some hard times will define the organization. I still remember to this day when I called my boss to tell him that my father passed. He said, “Don’t worry about a thing. Come back when you’re ready.” That was it. I was able to focus on my family.
Employees want to know that the organizations they work for will support them through good times and bad.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Seattle, WA16