I Couldn’t Care More

Posted on March 28, 2024

Feelings scale with faces moving from green positivity to red negativity, with the needle pointing to green.

Today’s Morning Buzz is by Jackie Wehmeyer, Senior Director of Strategy and Intergovernmental Affairs for the City of Parkland, Florida. Connect with Jackie on LinkedIn.

What I’m cooking:  Party-sized amounts of hummus – I recently made it homemade for the first time, and will never go back to store-bought.

What I’m watching: Just finished “The Dynasty: New England Patriots.” I’m not a New England fan, but this series was pretty engaging.

What I’m working on: Preparing for our city’s Strategic Planning retreat


If you know me, you know that I am genuinely an employee advocate, especially in my former life in Human Resources. And my articles are usually upbeat or give people the benefit of the doubt. I believe in people and default to positivity. I may get some negative responses for saying this, but that’s okay.

For as hard as we may try, some employees just don’t care.

If you think this is another article that tells you to just foster a positive work culture, this isn’t it. We can all agree that to encourage a workplace where employees truly care, organizations should create and maintain an environment where employees feel valued, motivated, and engaged. That’s true, and it’s the first answer you’ll hear to the motivation conundrum, but as leaders, we need to go well beyond that. We should make some less obvious efforts to ensure that our excellent workplace culture connects individually with those we think should already be on board.

Because the truth is, you can’t make people care, but you can show them how caring matters, and the benefits of doing so. Then it’s up to them.

How do you steer employees toward the value of caring about their work? Here are a few strategies:


Understand the root cause by taking the time to talk.

Sit down and actually address the issue by sharing your observations and asking questions. Is it a misalignment of values, feeling unrecognized, burnout, or something else?

Be clear about what the organization values.

Understand your organizational culture and be able to discuss it with your employees. If you haven’t incorporated that talk into your onboarding, do it now.

Expect employees to take ownership and responsibility.

Suppose employees don’t want to be invested in organizational success. In that case, they should at least be concerned for their personal success. Portray to them that those successes go hand-in-hand by assuming responsibility for their work and being accountable for the results.

Walk the talk.

If your employees don’t see examples of you taking ownership and exhibiting passion in what you do, they assume it’s not essential for them to, either.

Ask them to explain what they feel “good vs. great” is.

I’ve experienced employees who feel they go above and beyond expectations every day when, in reality, they are just doing what is expected – or less. If there’s a disconnect when they explain, clarify.

Give specific examples of expectations.

You can’t be vague when explaining the expected work product or, more importantly, expected behavior. Sometimes, employees may not care because they’re unsure about what’s expected of them. Set clear goals, deadlines, and performance expectations. Ensure that employees understand how their role contributes to the overall success of the team and the organization.

Give specific consequences if the change isn’t made.

What are the consequences if change isn’t made? Explain it clearly, ensure they understand, and hold them to it. Always follow through because you’ve failed your entire team if you don’t.

Set goals with your employees, not for your employees.

If employees have a say in what they are expected to accomplish, they will own their work. They will care more about what they want (as long as it aligns with organizational needs) than what you want.

Find out your employees’ strengths and allow them to use them.

You know what your employees do well and what they don’t, so invest in their strengths. Employees who understand and use their personal strengths are more engaged, productive, and caring about their work.

Pay attention to what your people are doing.

Burnout can occur in even the best workplaces if you don’t regularly communicate with employees and check in on them. Your organization’s Employee Assistance Program can also assist in assessing and treating employee stress.

Ensure you show gratitude when change is made.

When employees show they care about their work, remember to thank them, and tell them you’ve noticed. That’s the best follow-up you can do.


Again, I believe we must first create an excellent work culture for our employees. Ultimately, for our organization’s overall success and sustainability, the responsibility of ensuring that employees understand the benefits of caring about their work and their customers lies with each of us individually as leaders. We need to address accountability and ownership issues head-on and transform “I couldn’t care less” into “I couldn’t care more.”

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