In the past year I have often made reference to the fact that we cannot underestimate the impact of COVID on our emotional lives. I never highlighted the importance of the indirect impact of COVID.
As I write this I am at the beside of my father who fell and is now being admitted to hospital with broken ribs and a broken wrist. My father is in his eighties and is frail both mentally and physically and I am responsible for his day-to-day care. Typically when I say I have this I covered, I mean really covered, from meds, to finances to small rituals and routines. This is not the first hospital visit and normally I would be able to take this in my stride, I’ve so got this. Except I don’t…..
With COVID I will shortly have to leave him alone in the hospital and I will not be able to see him for a few days, even if he has surgery. Even though his ailment is unrelated to COVID it touched our lives. As I sit here a thousand scenarios are playing out in my mind and I feel really vulnerable – vulnerable for him, vulnerable for me and vulnerable for feeling vulnerable.
This makes me wonder how many people in the past year have been overlooked? How many people have been impacted indirectly by COVID? How often have people complained about illness or mental health issues to be told “at least it is not COVID”. It may not be COVID but it is still real, still scary, and it still impacts our sense of general safety and well-being.
Now before I fall into a level of self-pity that requires at least one container of Häagen-Dazs, it is important to reflect on a few important points.
- I work for myself, there is no foot-tapping, timesheet watching boss to appease.
- I have a wonderful tribe of associates who are helping me postpone meetings, taking over for me where they can, and who are sending paired down to-do lists so I only need to focus on the most essential work.
- I have a bunch of friends who stop at nothing to help me keep my household going.
- I have long-standing and generous clients who are willing to be kind at this moment.
- I have a job and business I adore and which leaves me energised.
I wonder how many other people feel the same? Probably not many. In a time of such vulnerability, I wonder if there is more we can do in business to create productive kindness. Can we:
- Use smart collaboration to provide the support team members and colleagues need while still meeting business expectations.
Think of multi skilling and cross skilling as a staple along with proper succession planning.
- Create a company culture that is as employee-focussed as it is client-focussed.
Think of personal and professional development and coaching – specifically around wellbeing and resilience during these challenging times. This will not only create a support network now, but create a resilient company culture to manage future challenges.
- Accept that work needs to be purposeful and meaningful and that team-members would like to show-up, be present and perform.
Think of ways to link business strategy to team member performance at their level. Be clear about linking expectations to team member contribution and strengths. What do they do, why is it meaningful to the business and why they are the best person to do it. Use recognition, work and job satisfaction to re-energize team members.
For too long it has been okay in the business world that team members are treated as mere resources. Right now organizations that can rise to the challenge of productive kindess are going to become key players in the search and retention of the best skills and talents. They will also show the best of what humanity has to offer, when the bottom line is not only measured in currency, but also in team member growth and engagement.