Leadership / Employees / Caring

How Do You Show Your Employees You Care

Actions speak more loudly than words . . .

Mark McMillion
6 min readNov 29, 2023

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Photo by rawpixel.com from PxHere. CC0.

It’s almost a cliché — as a leader you have to care for your employees. But what does that actually mean? How do you do it? Is remembering the names of their spouses and children enough? Hugs? Foosball in the breakroom? Allow employees to bring their dogs to work? Free donuts every day?

Meh, not so much. Leaders need to have a relationship with each employee. When companies do foosball, donuts, pets to work, etc., they’re trying to buy their employees loyalty and caring. The thing is those things aren’t for sale. Anyone ever know a spoiled rich kid?

You know, one of those kids who always wear the latest brands, had the trendiest toys, then got a new car for their 16th birthday? Does anyone believe those kids love their parents more than a poor kid whose mom and dad invest in their relationship? I don’t.

Investing in a relationship is a phrase many use. Investments are supposed to yield a return. When you’re talking about people, that sounds more like a quid pro quo, a transactional relationship. That kind of relationship is for sale to the highest bidder. We want to get away from that.

Building strong employee relationships is about creating the environment where they can do their best work. They have the resources to do their jobs, perhaps not everything they want but what they need. The work is challenging but not overwhelming. Perhaps most of all, the people care for one another. Not just the boss but everyone cares for everyone.

Money and budgets matter, they really do, but you can’t buy loyalty and caring. I’ve written about this before (here and here), but so much starts with purpose. Purpose gives work meaning. After all, we spend a significant amount of time at work and it needs to mean more than a paycheck.

Look at non-profit organizations. Look at volunteer organizations. No one gets rich doing those things. The U.S. Census Bureau did a study and estimated that in 2021, Americans volunteered for about 4.1 billion hours. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure that’s exact or an estimate but it works out to a little over 468,000 years, give or take. If you…

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Mark McMillion

Retired Army officer with two tours in Baghdad, married with four kids. Proud West Virginian and West Point grad. Works available on Amazon.