Engagement Practice _ 49: Build a Culture That Values Spontaneous Acts of Caring

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So far in this chapter, we have focused on benefits and aspects of culture

that are within the power of business owners and chief executives to decide.

But great employers are also characterized by managers who are empowered

to act with spontaneous acts of generosity and caring. Here are

some examples of how individual managers have helped relieve employee

stress and generate more loyalty in return:

Letting the team go out for a long lunch at the manager’s expense on

the condition that they not talk about work

Sending cards, free movie tickets, or restaurant gift certificates to the

homes of employees who worked long hours to complete a project

Bringing meals to the homes of workers who are grieving the death

of a family member

Providing a sympathetic ear when employees are going through divorces

or child-custody problems

Creating a Thursday ritual—free pizza in the office

Giving an employee the rest of the day off after a particularly stressful

morning

Allowing employees to work from home when it isn’t essential that

they be at the workplace

Pitching in to help with the workload on especially busy days

Stopping communicating by e-mail, having real conversations with

employees, and concentrating on listening with genuine interest

If they have been insensitive in the past, offering a sincere apology

The point here is not to provide a prescriptive list of things to do, but

to describe the kinds of things managers do when they are being spontaneously

sensitive to the needs of workers. Employees can tell when managers

are going through the motions, following a tip they read in a book, and

when they are acting sincerely in the moment. Like so many other practices

already covered in this book, the first requirement is paying attention to

the people you manage.