Employees Deserve to be Treated Beautifully

05/04/2015 10:23 am ET | Updated May 04, 2016


You deserve to be treated beautifully.

I have made this statement countless times over the years, yet I always run into leaders and employees who are confused by what "beautiful" means. Once I explain it -- they want it!

Treating employees beautifully also makes great business sense.

So let's start by reviewing the definition of beautiful from the dictionary.


  1. Having beauty; possessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc.; delighting the senses or mind:
  2. Excellent of its kind:
  3. Wonderful; very pleasing or satisfying.

How do I share this concept at work? Here's one example.

When I chat with employees in LinkedIn's Business Leadership Program (BLP is our program for new college graduates), I share my leadership principles. During that discussion, I say -- treat each other and potential candidates "beautifully."

When attendees thank me for my time -- what do they remember? That phrase. I've spent 60-plus minutes with the group, I've covered a lot of territory and that is the one concept they repeat consistently. Why? Because it grabs their attention and their emotions. They want that "beautiful" experience for themselves.

Here's what a couple of our recent BLP employees had to say after our time together:

... I really felt an emotional connection to your presentation, specifically regarding treating people beautifully ... it inspired me!

I loved your comments about treating those I speak with "beautifully" and will make sure to bring these values into this new chapter.

Emotions are powerful motivators. Like Brian Grazer, Academy Award-winning producer said: "Only communicate when igniting emotion. You can build from emotional energy."

Let's dig a bit deeper. Although every employee is different, they all come to work to be a member of a winning team, to be recognized for their contributions, and to be treated fairly. However, I don't hear anyone say in an interview, "I also expect to be treated beautifully." I really think they should. I do.

Imagine if, when you are interviewing for a new job, whether you get an offer or not, you were better served by having had a beautiful interaction. Imagine that you gained insight into your values, your marketability -- and that the company where you interviewed helped you progress on your personal and professional journey. Wouldn't that be beautiful? I think so.

This is why I set a "beautiful" goal at LinkedIn.

Our recruiting team regularly measures Net Promoter Scores (NPS) for all candidates, whether they are hired or not. We hope everyone who interviews with us walks away feeling good about their experience because they were treated beautifully. If we're successful, they won't forget that experience. They become our best referral network, talent brand champions and perhaps our next hired employee. Make business sense? Absolutely!

Let me be clear. I believe compassion, respect and treating someone with dignity is a basic requirement. However, it isn't sufficient. It doesn't evoke an emotional response. It doesn't pull employees in. By treating your employees beautifully, you give them the sense that you care about the "whole person," not just their work product. They will know that even in tough times, perhaps even when receiving difficult feedback, you will treat them well.

Leaders and employees can readily accept the terms "compassion" and "respect" but they often trip up on the word beautiful when I first use it. But they definitely remember it. Like I said, I use it intentionally. It conjures up a pleasant feeling. You smile. You want it for yourself. The opposite of treating someone beautifully is treating them poorly. We all know that isn't acceptable.

Creating an inclusive work environment where everyone is treated beautifully, enables employees to bring their "best self" to work. They will be motivated to contribute more, to be more creative and go the extra yard. It also creates a competitive advantage for companies that create this type of culture.

So if you are focused on creating a great place to work, hiring and retaining the best talent, shouldn't you also treat your employees and each other beautifully? What do you have to lose? I think we all have a lot to gain.