Companies today, regardless of size, industry or company maturity, consider identifying great talent and retaining their best employees as top priorities. The drilling world faces particular challenges engaging employees for a career known to be labor intensive and dirty — and downright hard! How do we keep employees engaged? How can we prevent our best drillers from leaving the industry for less-demanding work closer to home?

In today’s article, I explain how the 3 Cs – creating a culture of caring – are crucial to both recruiting and retaining the best employees. More importantly, I provide some realistic best practices that any leader can implement to create an ideal workplace culture.

Empathetic Leadership

Start to create this culture of caring by embracing empathetic leadership. Empathetic leaders tune in to how their employees feel and what they need. These leaders show a genuine interest in the people around them, and works to understand what motivates, inspires and drives those people. Leaders who demonstrate empathy build trust, and trust is a pillar of employee engagement. Employees who trust their leaders tend to collaborate more, and have higher productivity and job satisfaction.

The practice of “active” listening forms the basis of empathetic leadership. Think about active listening as more than just the words someone says. Tune in to the body language, emotions and other non-verbal messages conveyed. Leaders who actively listen don’t simply wait for someone to finish talking so that they can respond. They take the time to hear what the speaker says, reflect on it and ask questions for clarification. Being a good listener goes a long way toward building trust and creating a culture of caring.

Being an Advocate

Another best practice for creating a culture of caring is to act as an advocate for your employees. As leaders, we want to help not hinder. If employees face roadblocks or challenges they cannot navigate around on their own, it’s imperative that leaders step in to remove those blocks. This can sometimes prove difficult, especially if the challenge stems from conflicts with other people within the organization. When employees leave a job, they often cite their immediate supervisor as a reason. This can happen when a leader is unwillingness to address challenges and conflict. If something happens in the workplace that causes stress or conflict among employees, leaders must respond immediately.

Take time to learn what motivates your employees and design incentive strategies around those motivations.

Another tactic for creating a culture of caring that I want to mention involves building comradery and morale. Take time to learn what motivates your employees and design incentive strategies around those motivations. A well-cultivated, team-oriented environment with high levels of trust and job satisfaction contributes to higher retention and productivity. Morale and comradery give employees a sense of “being in it together,” and can help push employees through tough times they might encounter on the job.

Get Employees Involved

An easy way that leaders can get employees involved is through shared decision-making. Of course, not all decisions can or should be shared with employees. But involving employees appropriately before making some decisions helps facilitate trust and shows employees that the company values their input.

Another easy win for employee involvement is delegation. Identify an employee’s strengths and leverage those strengths by delegating new tasks. Employees can find this both motivating and inspiring. Delegating is a strategic way to empower your employees! It gives them a sense of control and meaning within their work and, often, the challenge brings out the best in your employees.

Lastly, never underestimate the value of employee feedback. However, acting on that feedback is even more important than just asking for it. If an employee shares an idea or a concern, take the time to listen and consider it. Communicating the outcome of that feedback also helps demonstrate that the company values and appreciates the employee’s voice.

Creating a culture of caring isn’t rocket science, but it also is not something that happens without consistent effort. If you want your employees to be engaged and loyal to your organization, you need a caring culture. Being empathetic, advocating for employees and getting them involved will set you apart as a leader that truly cares.