Employees are looking for more than just a paycheck from their job — they want to feel connected to both their work and their coworkers. Whether an employee has been with a company for five minutes or five years, employers should take the opportunity to step up communication and find out how their teams are feeling.
With the right approach, leaders become aware of struggles: for example, 80% of Gen Z employees feel their work is suffering because of stress, according to ADP’s 2023 People at Work Report. Additionally, connecting in the right ways can create an inclusive work culture, which one in five employees say is foundational to positive mental health.
“Work is emotional, and one of the things that organizations are missing is creating the space for people to talk about how they feel,” says Amy Leschke-Kahle, VP of performance acceleration at The Marcus Buckingham Company, an ADP company. “Work is two pieces — the head and the heart — so create the space to say, ‘We not only see you for your skills, abilities and expertise, but we also see you for the unique human being that you are.'”
To do so, employers should check in, instead of check up, on their employees. This means more frequent interactions where a manager simply asks how an employee’s week is going, and then listens without judgment, says Leschke-Kahle.
“Frequency is the new currency,” she says. “That light-touch check-in every single week: ‘What is the most important thing you’re working on this week? Do you need anything from me? Are you doing okay?’ is all you need [to address] the head and the heart.”
Creating this “pay attention” culture is an investment that pays back in recruiting and retention efforts, and elevates an employer’s status to one that provides a sense of belonging. These practices can also benefit every relationship within an organization, says Leschke-Kahle.
“Emotional investments and time investments show the underlying culture that we all deserve to be paid attention to at work,” she says. “Everyone will benefit: your customers, your patients, your community, your employees, and your bottom line.”
For all employees, especially the younger generations and new hires, this focus on how they feel about work is top priority, and something that can be enacted immediately, says Leschke-Kahle.
“Any organization could do this today,” she says. “We use technology to help facilitate and make it more effective and more efficient, but the practice itself is simple to implement. How do we help people do more of their best work? How do we make and keep that promise through the entire lifecycle of someone in our organization?”