Workers who are treated with kindly and fairly call in sick and quit less often.
Workers who feel they are treated unfairly at work call in sick more often and for a longer amount of time, according to a study of 19,000 workers released this week from researchers at Stockholm University and the University of Eat Anglia. And about half of workers have quit their jobs because of a bad boss, a Gallup survey found.
On the flip side, kind managers who treat workers fairly can keep employees happy, as evidenced by data released in November by job site Indeed.com. On its list of the “15 best places to work” in the retail sector — the grocery chain HEB took the No. 1 spot, with workers singing the praises of their bosses.
“The managers are all nice and understanding,” wrote one reviewer. “When working at HEB everyone there becomes family in a way. Everyone helps each other improve.”
15 Best Places to Work: Retail
When reviewing employee reviews of some of the other top retail spots, similar reactions to those for HEB pop up, hinting that the happiest workers work in a place with kind management who supports their goals. Indeed, Paul Wolfe, SVP and head of HR at Indeed, notes that the best places to work in retail have management with “an open door policy for its staff” and that helps train employees so they can be “set up for success.” Plus, “these companies have worked hard at creating an open culture and that has really resonated,” he adds.
So how bosses help create a workplace culture that fosters kindness and support to all employees? Here’s what experts told Moneyish.
Lead by example, says career coach Hallie Crawford, who adds, “you can’t just talk about it, show them with your actions.” This means treating your employees with compassion and empathy; do that and this kind of behavior may trickle down into how staff treats one another too, experts say.
“Compassion and empathy are what will retain your best employees,” says NYC-based career strategist Carlota Zimmerman. This means complimenting workers — using specifics — and rewarding them when they do good work, and taking an interest in them as a person, not just a worker. “When Karen’s mourning her beloved Yorkie, sit down with her and ask her to tell you all about the silly things he used to do. Make a donation to the ASPCA honoring the memory of the pet,” Zimmerman says. And, adds Crawford, “have their back if there’s an issue or problem — and help them solve it.”
Reframe how you make requests. You have to “treat your employees with respect,” which means “don’t order people around,” says Call to Career founder Cheryl Palmer. Instead, reframe the things you want them to do by asking for their help with the project and using words like “please;” if you have a seemingly annoying request, give them background so they understand why you want that. “The way you put a request makes a huge difference,” says Palmer — and can make you seem kind and empathetic versus dictatorial. Crawford adds that it’s important to avoid engaging in office politics and trash-talking others as well.
Develop concrete ways to encourage everyone to show kindness and support, says Palmer. One suggestion: Encourage employees to nominate one another for doing great work — and then have management give the winning employee something like a gift certificate to dinner out, says Palmer. You should also regularly reward great teamwork and collaboration: “Don’t wait for the annual review to recognize your employees. When someone achieves something worth recognizing, share and celebrate it in a team meeting or in a team email. If you have a communication platform you use for your team such as Slack, create a “shout-out” channel specifically for that purpose, “says Katie Bennett, career coach and co-founder of Ama la Vida coaching.
Have an open door policy with staff. “Ask any employee what she most remembers about her best boss and/or job, and more than likely, it’ll be the boss who nurtured her and made her feel competent, made her feel that she could take on the world,” says Zimmerman. That often starts with letting staff know they can come to you for advice and career development. “Talk to employees about their career goals, says Palmer — and make suggestions on how, whether it’s cross-training with another department or taking a night class — you can help them get there.
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