We talk so much about knowing your customer --truly knowing their wants, needs and desires. Understanding when and where they experience pain points throughout their day and how to be there to solve them. But are you applying the same type of thinking to  your employees?

When most organizations talk culture, they point to things like fun perks, benefits, transparency and autonomy, and team building activities. All important and necessary components of a strong company culture, sure. But how connected are you to your employees pain points?

How well do you know the things that impact your employee's day to day or what they deeply value? Not as a whole, but on a individual basis? When you're connected to the individuals on your team and the things they experience, you'll naturally approach leadership with more empathy --and that goes a long way in the eyes of your employees.

Accommodating for current events

How keyed in are you to what's happening in your community, and even around the world for that matter? Could current events be impacting your employee's stress level, wellbeing or even disrupting their daily routine?

For instance, here in Arizona educators voted to stage a walkout as part of the Red for Ed movement, in which educators and supporters are rallying for increased pay, funding for classrooms and improving school conditions. As a result of the walkout, schools throughout the Valley are closing for the day leaving parents scrambling to figure out what to do with their kids during the school day.

In this case, local businesses might make it a "bring your child to work day" or allow parents to work from home that day. If you have employees who rely on the school for their child's meals during the day, you might even help by hosting a potluck or providing lunch or organizing a food drive.

Every community experiences their own unique happenings or circumstances that inevitably impact the lives of your employees. Whether it's a natural disaster, a virus running rampant, or something more joyful like your sports team making it to the playoffs for the first time in a decade. Sometimes, making adjustments to accommodate these unexpected occasions will make the world of difference to your team.

Supporting in times of need

On that note, happenings occurring in other parts of the world can also strike close to home if your employees have ties to that community or movement. Sometimes those connections will be more apparent, but other times they may be more acute and harder to detect which is why truly knowing your employees is vitally important.

For example, when the string of natural disasters hit across the US, a number of businesses with remote workers or offices in those regions responded by providing emotional support to employees, organizing relief efforts, making donations, and even giving employees time off to aid colleagues in recovering from the disasters.

When it comes to giving back or advocacy in the community, many organizations will have their team choose a nonprofit or cause to give back to rather than the decision being made at the corporate level. And some employers have gone a step further, building in paid time off for community service.

Of course, you won't be able to do everything for everyone, or ever be able to please everyone, so you'll have to find balance between what will best serve your team as whole versus catering to every individual. But the seemingly simple act of acknowledging and showing you care about the matters near and dear to your employee's hearts sends a message that they are a valued part of the team.

Naturally you'll also have to find a happy medium between between what is a value add to employees versus something that should be deemed a sick day or vacation day. After all, you have a business to run.

The bottom line is, when you are more in tune to the team and the things happening in your community and abroad, you'll be better able to make those judgment calls and support their needs. These unspoken benefits often do far more to boost culture and morale than any free lunch or fun outing ever will.

Published on: May 3, 2018