Care is the purpose of our existence at Helen & Douglas House and this extends to how we look after our employees. We have to recognise the scale and nature of emotional pressures put on our staff in this line of work – it is not your usual 9 to 5 job and requires a healthy dose of resilience.  

However, emotional strain is not exclusive to our sector, and there are therefore methods to keep in mind for all industries when caring and motivating your workers in a sensitive workplace. 

Acknowledge the pressures 

In any given job, staff will assume a huge amount of responsibility.  In our case, our staff accept the incredible responsibility of caring for patients at the most difficult of times, as well as raising valuable funds to uphold an organisation that offers services that are often a lifeline for families. It is vital for us to acknowledge these responsibilities and the pressures that they inevitably come with. 

If employees know that the people at the helm of their organisation recognise the difficulties that come with the job, they will feel more equipped and supported to deal with them. At Helen & Douglas House, we make sure our staff don’t become indispensable to families as this is where pressure and emotional strain can build. We work with our teams to build an organisational relationship with a family, not a personal one, thus lessening the burden on individuals.  

Put a menu of support in place 

It’s important to give your employees a range of support options – what’s good for some isn’t good for others. Some feel comfortable and confident to speak about their concerns, but others can see emotional self-care as a weakness. Encourage people to speak out and create a culture where emotions aren’t seen as a flaw but as a natural form of expression. If this is embedded culturally, staff will look after each other too and de-brief with one another, and this will complement the more formal supervision structures that need to be in place.  

It is also vital to have robust human resource policies in place to support all different situations and to support individuals as they develop their own skills in resolving concerns and issues – empowering them to take control. With different types of support in place, an environment is created where people like coming to work because they feel they are treated fairly.  

Value your staff 

It can be easy for employees to blur personal boundaries, especially in an emotional environment, but adopting a good work-life balance is absolutely essential. As a boss and leader, encourage this as much as you can and really challenge anyone who oversteps the boundaries. Having a valued employee who goes home on time to spend time with their friends or family and then can turn up to work, full of energy and life, is much better for the organisation than a person who works late, is unfulfilled in their personal life and eventually burns out. Taking care of your employees in this sense shows that you value your staff as your best asset and want them to be fulfilled in every aspect of life.  

Also, make the effort to include staff at every level in strategic planning - all have the potential to influence the future direction of the organisation and make a worthwhile contribution and this further inspires determination and workplace loyalty. Equally important is making the time to speak to your team; asking how they are and taking an interest in them, remembering things they have told you previously and giving praise where it is due.  

Smile and be kind 

Simple, but true – smiling and being approachable is important. Kindness can go such a long way at work, especially in an emotionally charged workplace. Lead by example with kindness, compassion and a smile from the top. Ultimately, if staff feel supported, they are less likely to feel unsure and by definition will feel more resilient to tackle new challenges.