13 years ago, I experienced my first major life event in the workplace. My first daughter was born. I was 31 years old, about 7 years into my HR career, and I had no clue what I was doing. And yet, I had to fill out the forms within 30 days of the “event” to make sure my daughter was insured. This event was one of the happiest moments of my life. (During those happy moments, I still was thinking about HR.) While we may only see these life events as HR transactions, at any time, our employees are experiencing the happiest, and sometimes saddest, moments in their lives.
Throughout an employee’s career, there is a strong chance they will experience at least one life event. In HR terms, a life event is when an employee can make changes to their benefits outside of open enrollment due to events such as the birth of a child or marriage. Many times we hear about those happy moments because we see the baby showers or hear all about the beautiful wedding weekend.
But there are also life events that may not get our immediate attention. Divorce, loss of a spouse’s coverage due to a job elimination, or a dependent no longer qualifying because she turned 26.
All of these life events come with the emotional toll that can be exhausting. You may not be getting the very best of your employees during these times. And that’s ok.
We need to be aware of what everyone is going through at any given time and be empathetic. Give someone the benefit of the doubt and allow some “space for grace.” My boss uses that term a lot and I love it. (Thanks, Carol!).
Life events are not always wedding bells and baby gifts. They are not just another HR change in the system. These events are always happening and they may never show up outside of the system. But they are showing up deep inside our employees. Let’s show some compassion.
Now, I’m off to deal with the fact that I’m the father of a teenage. Any advice?