How to support caregivers in the workplace: Advice from Greenhouse, Uber, Something Major and Glossier
4 mins, 31 secs read time
November is National Caregivers Month – a time to recognize caregivers in the workplace, raise awareness around caregiving challenges, educate communities and work to increase support for caregivers.
At the MH Worklife Care at Work Summit at Industry City in Brooklyn, impactful leaders came together to discuss the power of recognizing and supporting caregivers year round. The room was buzzing with attendees across some of the world’s leading organizations who gathered to learn, laugh, cry and connect on some of the most challenging topics facing today’s caregivers in the workplace.
At the summit, Greenhouse Senior Director, Dinah Alobeid, hosted an honest and candid panel discussion focused on how to lead with care. She was joined by Greenhouse Chief People Officer, Donald Knight, Uber Director of DE&I, Paul Saiedi, Something Major CEO and Author, Randi Braun, and Glossier Director of Culture, Inclusion and Internal Communications, Halah AlQahtani.
The discussion had too many gems to not share, so we’re bringing them to you here in a recap so you can learn how to best support your people too.
Empathetic leadership isn’t a nice-to-have – it’s a must
Dinah kicked off the conversation by sharing that “companies that want to be successful need leaders who are trained in empathy and compassion and care not only for their people, but also themselves.”
This is supported by a 2021 study from Catalyst that showed that 76% of people who experienced empathy from their leaders reported they were engaged at work compared to only 32% who experienced less empathy. Results for innovation, inclusivity, retention and work life were all drastically higher for people also who reported empathetic leaders.
One of the most radical things we can do to support our employees is to treat people for who they are and what they do, not just what they do.
– Paul Saiedi
And according to the leaders in the MH Worklife session, we can lead with empathy for caregivers in the workplace by modeling this from the top. Paul shared, “I make space for people being themselves, by being my whole self.” Randy chimed in with a fabulous improv “yes, and –” to add, “I give to myself so that I can give to others. Every morning I take a walk and make myself breakfast before work – and I am unapologetically ruthless about my boundaries and priorities so that I can serve others.”
Inject humanity back into the workplace
We don’t suddenly become immune to the wider issues in the world when we clock in for work. These things impact our people every day. Donald shared that we have to “Inject humanity back into work and treat people like humans. Create space for them and allow them to say they can’t show up today.”
He candidly shared that “we still have to be strategic about how we authentically show up in the workplace” because not all workplaces or leaders are there yet. But some of the best leaders know that empathy, transparency and inclusion are table stakes.
If people aren’t in a position of power, they often don’t feel like they’re able to speak up. It stifles innovation and creativity and joy that we all deserve to have as human beings.
– Randi Braun
Some practical ways leaders can create space:
Ask quieter folks in meetings if they’d like to add anything
Host office hours where people can ask questions
Ensure 1:1s also include a human check in on morale
Pro-tip from Dinah: Lay out your life authentically on your calendar – the quick workout, the breakfast block, the dentist appointment. Lead by example to show your caregivers in the workplace it’s okay to be human.
Model behaviors and get buy-in from other leaders
Truly compassionate leaders help drive the culture forward, rallying other leaders to also lead by example.
Driving the culture forward
One of the most relatable workplace experiences is being told to “take the time you need,” but then receiving an after-hours email from leadership that you feel like you must respond to. Little things like this matter.
Halah mentioned that culture means something different to everyone, but it’s important to define what it means for your organization, and then to commit to it. For example, at Glossier, they might have their CEO join cooking classes with her daughter to show that this is what being a working parent looks like.
“And culture means more than just the fun stuff,” Halah added. Truly compassionate leaders maintain a positive culture even when things are hard – from budget cuts to layoffs. That’s when it matters most.
Showcasing the power of culture
Executives and leaders love data, so show them the power of creating a positive culture for caregivers in the workplace. Paul frankly put it, “Low engagement equals high attrition.” And that is costly. A 2019 SHRM report showed that bad company culture costs companies billions of dollars.
Randy added, “What do a lot of companies care about? Money. Culture isn’t a soft issue. It’s the difference of how much it costs you to train someone. It is money.” Executives have to understand this, or they’ll get left behind.
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