Tag: creating culture

Back from #PaidFamilyLeave

I started a paid family leave on January 3rd, when my wife and I welcomed Baby Ellis, as his big brother calls him, into the world. I just made the transition back to office life from my six week stint at a stay at home mom.

I’m incredibly fortunate to have an employer who introduced six weeks of paid parental leave as a benefit for all employees last year around this time. The intention was to provide our employees with time to spend bonding with the newest member(s) of their family without worrying about the amount of vacation/sick time they had stored up or what they’d do if they didn’t have a paycheck coming in. When you remove those kinds of stressors, it creates a healthier environment at home for all that good stuff to happen.

When our three year old was born in November 2014, we didn’t have that benefit. Not a lot of companies did. I used two weeks of sick time to be there during his birth, our hospital stay and about 1.5 weeks of being at home. My wife had an emergency C-section after 44 hours of labor and ended up needing a blood transfusion while she was in the hospital.

And then she struggled with postpartum depression, along with 15% of women that give birth, as she adjusted to being alone with a newborn seven days after major surgery with complications. That’s a brutal thing we ask parents to do and yet, as a country, that’s what we expect them to do.

I’m not saying anything could have made her PPD not happen three years ago. Those things happen. But what would have made a world of difference to our family is knowing that I could be there to support our transition of adding another human to our family.

Parents and children deserve the right to start off their lives together with as much support as they can get. We need to keep talking about it. If it doesn’t apply to you directly, I guarantee it will impact someone you work with. And you know it’s easier to work with someone that’s not stressed out all the time, right?

Keep talking. Keep telling your stories. Encourage your non-HR friends to start the conversation, too. This isn’t a controversial topic, you guys. We can all work on making this happen together.

Photo by Amy at Amy Wurdock Photography.

What else can I get for you?

First things first, here’s your formal introduction to Ellis Berry. Born on January 3rd at 2:49pm. He weighed 9 lbs 14 oz and 21 inches long at birth. I can confidently say we’re all in love over here.

We experienced a lot of really amazing care from everyone during our hospital stay – nurses, doctors, acupuncturists, nursing assistants, room cleaning folks, you name it. It’s been exactly what we’ve needed to get through these last few emotion-filled days.

What I’ve noticed is that we were constantly asked, “What else can I get for you?” by these folks. And they mean it. It’s not a yes or no question, because we’re all “fine” and don’t need any other help because we don’t want to put anybody out or be a burden or all those other things we tell ourselves because we don’t want to ask for help. And it’s because these people who work at this hospital are working in a culture where they really want to help.

It’s pushed me to realize there is zero reason why I shouldn’t do that every day as an HR professional and as a leader. Think about the millions of applicable ways you can fit that question into your world.

Here are a couple from mine:

  • Employee has a question about X benefit. You answer exactly what they ask. But benefits are tricky sometimes. You ask them what other questions they have about it. You just opened a door that will all you to make them confident on something that impacts their lives. With one extra question.
  • As a leader, you try to meet with your employees regularly, right? Maybe it tends to be just a bunch of status or project updates or maybe it’s a difficult conversation for one or both of you. Before that meeting is over, what if you said, “What else do you need from me?” after every single meeting? (To be fair, I’m stealing this example from a couple of incredible leaders I’ve had.) That builds a partnership and a piece of support that encourages your employee to feel comfortable asking you for help.

In both examples, you will build trust. You’ll be able to better help the next person. You can begin to identify areas of improvement in what you, your team or your company does. You’ll be able to keep open lines of communication and foster so much more collaboration.

As long as you’re genuine and authentic in asking, I don’t know how you could possibly go wrong with asking just one more question.