We dropped my oldest daughter off at a YMCA overnight camp for the week, this past Sunday. This is the second year she attended and, this time around, my anxiety levels are a little lower and I'm getting a little more sleep than last year. Not by much, but it's better. Even writing this post makes me a little anxious.
For the week, we only have one-way communication. We can send her emails, but she can't reply. The camp prints and delivers the emails to the campers everyday at noon. Each evening, the camp posts pictures of the day's activities and we scour them to find her. It's our way of knowing she survived another day!
I remember last year's experience all too well. I was a mess. While our daughter had been to sleep-overs and I'd been away for numerous travel trips, she had never been away and in the responsible hands of complete strangers. To make matters worse, I had to travel for work most of the week and was away from my wife and other daughter. To say I was a little unfocused and disengaged, that week, is the understatement of the year.
So this is my frequent reminder to you that your employees are thinking about more than just the tasks you assign to them. They are dealing with their kids being away at camp. Their aging parents. Their sick pets. A difficult relationship or a messy breakup. They are struggling to make ends meet and wondering how they are going to pay off massive credit card or student loan debt. All of these things while trying to stay in good standing with you and the company. That's a lot.
Be compassionate. Be empathetic. And be a good human being. If you need some help on how to do this, check out this Harvard Business Review article. Employees want to be heard. As the article says, skip the happy hours. Adding alcohol and taking away time from family or reducing the amount of sleep in your people is a recipe for disaster. That combination only increases the anxiety levels one may be experiencing.
Cut your people some slack. Reach out to them and see how they are doing and make sure they have the resources they need to cope. Whether that is an extra day off, a chance to work from home or duck out an hour early, or knowing about the company employee assistance program, make a connection and be a good person. And, most importantly, take care of yourself.