Forgiveness is not a term that many of us associate with the workplace. There are a number of reasons for this, I think, starting with the fact that it just sounds so soft. We believe that running a productive and efficient workplace means holding people accountable for their actions—and indeed it does. But does that mean there’s no place in your company culture for forgiveness?

I hope the answer to that is no. Because while I whole-heartedly affirm the need to ensure your team members are doing their job—and understand the consequences of not doing their job—I also think it’s important to make forgiveness a key workplace value.

Why Forgiveness Matters

Why? Because a lack of forgiveness can cause your employees’ sense of confidence to become completely eroded. Your team members need to feel like you trust them to do their job well—but if you spend all your time documenting their wrongdoings and keeping track of every screw-up they’ve ever made, how are they supposed to feel trusted? How are they supposed to feel empowered?

A lack of forgiveness in the workplace, then, doesn’t just hurt people’s feelings. It can actually lead to much higher employee turnover, as the members of your team increasingly fret that you’re focusing too much on their wrongs and not enough on their achievements—that perhaps they’re not cut out for the job you’ve given them after all.

Bringing Forgiveness To Your Workplace

So how do you ensure that your workplace culture is one that embraces forgiveness? I’m not going to offer any easy answer or silver bullet here. I think forgiveness is something you work toward daily. With that said, I think it’s worth considering these questions:

  • Do you have an overzealous documentation process, keeping track of all your employees’ wrongdoings to the extent that it does more harm than help?
  • Do you regularly practice forgiveness—even if that just means offering a second chance or cutting employees a break for an honest mistake?
  • Do you expect your employees to forgive you, when you mess up? Is forgiveness something you ask for?

Maybe meditation on these questions can point you toward a workplace that’s built on forgiveness—and, thus, a workplace that empowers its employees!