Remembering Dee Edington: Caring for Employees and Organizations

This year, the wellness industry lost one of its greatest leaders and champions. Dee Edington was a professor, researcher, and visionary known throughout the industry. In honor of the work he did to improve the corporate wellness field, we're reviewing the thoughts he shared with us as a guest blogger in 2018.  As a renowned workplace wellness expert, he shared why caring is important in an organization and how to measure the Value of Caring (VOC). Here are his words, which are just as relevant today (if not more so) than they were three years ago:

Why is Caring Important?

Caring is an integral component of an organization when individuals and groups of like-minded people understand and care for the values and situations of other individuals and groups. It is demonstrated every day by expressing and accepting caring in our personal and professional relationships. For those of us in the health, wellness, and well-being fields, we communicate caring daily.

How do we get to the Value of Caring?

One of the major outcomes we propose is the Value of Caring (VOC). This measure could be estimated in financial terms and perhaps more importantly, in my opinion, we prefer estimated as VOC in terms of demonstrated human and organizational values and activities.

As a first step we suggest the use of two questions where caring can be observed by surveying the perception of senior and mid-level managers and all other employees on “who cares” and “how is caring demonstrated?” This observation requires an assessment of the overall response of the organization (management) and the employees.

1. Questions for Non-management Employees

Do you feel senior leaders or other management level individuals care about you?  

Yes or No? Or as an alternative you could use a 1-5 or 1-10 point scales.

If yes (or above 6 on the scale), how do they demonstrate caring?

Examples of Management Caring:businessman hand shows gear business success chart concept.jpeg

  • Offer personal and professional development opportunities.
  • Provide and celebrate meaningful work opportunities.
  • Share meaningful results with employees.
  • Develop shared values, purpose, mission, vision with employees.
  • Conduct on-boarding and exit interviews with an emphasis on retention.
  • Provide for promotion from within and help with clear career paths.
  • Provide for autonomy at the employee’s work station.
  • Provide for the physical, mental and social comfort for the employee.

2. Questions for Senior Leadership and Other Management Personnel

Do you feel employees care about the organization?  

Yes or No? Or as an alternative, you could use a 1-5 or 1-10 point scales.

If yes (or above 6 on the scale), how do they demonstrate caring?

Examples of Employee Caring:

  • Provide suggestions for performance improvement opportunities.
  • Provide suggestions for improved work strategies and tactics.
  • Provide criteria to recognize superior leadership from supervisors, managers, directors, and senior-level leaders.
  • Actively support health, safety and quality indicators.
  • Develop mentor (management or other employees) opportunities for employees.
  • Develop award and recognition opportunities.

If either of the management or employee answers to the first question is NO, then rephrase the second question accordingly.

Now, what do we do?

The total Value of Caring has an integral role in a healthy and win-win organization. This can be observed by adhering to many of the following six examples:

  1. Most good working relationships begin with good person-to-person relationships. This is true whether individuals are at the same level within the organization or at diverse levels.
  2. There are several good places to begin and maintain win-win relationships such at the on-boarding stage, active mentoring, and coaching throughout the employee’s career.
  3. The win-win philosophy is “employees win when the organization wins, and the organization wins when the employees win.” This attitude promotes the shared values, purpose, goals, vision and results.
  4. Positive Organizational Health and the Win-Win Philosophy can be demonstrated by the organization encouraging supervisor-employee relationship-building opportunities.
  5. Employees and management each sharing their respective context, needs, and wants.
  6. Win-win human relationships also can be built by promoting management and employee involvement at work or in community activities.

Does your organization?

  • Offer community and non-profit service days for all employees to engage?Happy environmental activists in the park on a sunny day.jpeg
  • Provide family activities beyond the summer picnics?
  • Recognize model employer-employee cooperation and collaboration at work and as community and non-profit volunteers?
  • Promote the voices of the employees and management in community town hall meetings and activities?


The successful Win-Win Philosophy typically begins at the senior level as an enterprise philosophy or policy as a part of the organizational environment or culture. However, when considering the day-to-day impact, the influence of the local environment and sub-culture is likely more impactful than the overall central influence.

When employees feel the organization is the best possible place for them to work; the senior leaders feel the employees are the organization’s most valuable resource; and, there is a respective sense of caring, we have the makings of a Win-Win Philosophy.

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