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4 Min Read

Making “Coworker Care” a Valued Organizational Competency

Nicole Klemp

In our series on self-care at work, we’ve covered topics like how to create a self-care culture and top reasons why HR leaders are struggling right now.

We’ve talked about the importance of employee self-care and how HR can lead the charge in normalizing it as part of a healthy workplace. But while creating a culture in which employees feel empowered to take care of their personal wellbeing is so important, we should also prioritize employees caring for one another too.

Self-care and coworker care go hand-in-hand

A culture of self-care is proven to have a positive impact on workers. In her paper, Mental Health Social Workers: The State of Their Well-Being and Support, Laura Conway shares her research on how the stress of their work impacts social workers. She found that an “organization’s mindset towards self-care is extremely influential in a social worker’s maintenance of well-being.” 

If enabling employees to take care of themselves can make such an impact on their wellbeing, imagine how that can multiply when their coworkers care for them too. We’ve discussed how team members can share gratitude and kindness with each other, but we can also weave concern for others’ wellbeing into the company culture. 

Put coworker care in the job description

In her article for Higher Ed HR Magazine, Sarah Lobb discusses how weaving self-care and coworker care into the fabric of your company culture can make an impact. She even recommends creating an organizational competency for knowing how to take care of one other. 

“How can coworker care become an expectation in our job descriptions? Alter the description of a team player to someone who engages in self-care that allows that person to be a more productive and positive member of the team,” she writes.

When recruiting new talent, you probably look for core competencies like “problem-solving ability” or “a growth mindset,” but what about competencies like “empathy” and “consideration of others”? To build a more empathetic team, consider hiring people who exhibit more of those soft skills and competencies that can translate into coworker care.

Ask for care-specific feedback

HR leaders and managers can make both self-care and coworker care an essential part of the organization, by baking care-related questions into places like engagement surveys, employee check-ins, and performance reviews.

For example:

“Are you taking care of yourself? What are some things you’re doing to prioritize wellness?”

“Are you caring for others on the team? How are you supporting your coworkers’ wellbeing?

“How can your manager best support you and your team to ensure you’re able to take care of yourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally?”

Encouraging employees to care for one another 

In Hubspot’s blog The Art of Being a Great Coworker, they share some ways to improve your work relationships, including the importance of listening:

“Sometimes the most helpful thing you can do for a coworker is to give them a chance to get a few things off their chest. Active listening is an empathic skill that will help you truly understand what your coworker is going through, so that you can better help them arrive at a solution.”

Some additional ways employees can care for each other include:

  • Sharing gratitude
  • Avoiding gossip 
  • Treating colleagues with kindness
  • Lending a hand when someone needs some time off
  • Taking an interest in people’s family or hobbies
  • Being inclusive
  • Advocating for others
  • Checking in with remote colleagues

Building a workplace full of people who practice self-care and value the wellness of others can be a great place to work. It can also equate to a more productive, more engaged team that delivers great business results.

Get the self-care guide for HR leaders

Learn the factors that are driving HR burnout and the proven tactics HR leaders can deploy to engage in more self-care in the workplace in Overcoming HR Burnout: The Guide to Self Care for Strategic HR Leaders.