I have made a strong effort to apply caritas (brotherly love) in the workplace. I believe in the value of humble work. Though I’d be hard-pressed to describe myself as humble, I am willing to provide the fundamental labor that creates a comfortable community environment.
For example, I spent eight years working at a start-up company where the hours were long and the work was hard. I got permission for a small freezer, and kept it stocked with frozen meals and other treats as part of a ‘cantina’ to keep staff from getting hungry as they missed dinner at home — again.
My experience was that the people who used the service were very respectful and grateful that I provided it. Nobody ever complained about any aspect, though they often thanked me when I had bought their favorites. We only charged enough to cover the cost of the purchases, and in five years, we were NEVER short. That kind of thing is only possible in small companies, but I like to think it also reflected a willingness on the part of all of us, to create a workplace that was somewhere we wanted to be.
In addition to my official workload, I made a concerted effort to provide comfort to my colleagues. I am not naturally outgoing, but it turns out that being personable can be learned as a skill. Now it feels natural to use people’s names, to smile and make eye contact, to assume a listening posture and provide my whole attention when someone is looking for connection.
By focusing on the interests of each individual, I kept everyone’s trust, and was therefore able to help us all get farther.