When you employ people, it is inevitable that something bad is going to happen to one or many during the course of their employment. When these things happen, it is the HR department who often (if not always!) handles FMLA, disability claims, and other items designed to protect both the employer and to provide some peace of mind to the employee. These actions can be viewed as either a necessary function or as a way to put the human back in human resources.
I was fortunate enough to be chatting with one of our employees this morning. This is someone who has been employed by our organization for about 12 years. Back in May, while sitting at her desk, she suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. Because of quick medical intervention and treatment at one of the nation’s leading trauma centers (just a 25 minute and $7000 helicopter ride away!) she has been able to recover and has now returned to work on a full-time basis. Although she is still having some struggles, her being here at all is fortunate.
During our conversation this morning, she remarked to me how much she realized during her absence that our organization truly cares about the people here. Our health insurance worked for her, she received her short-term disability without a hitch, and we ensured that everything was set for her upon her return. Beyond those basic things, we never once expressed anything but caring and concern, even when asking for forms or getting periodic updates. She came to the conclusion that the people side matters as her husband, after being out a 2 weeks taking care of her (a protected leave under FMLA,) was given grief by his employer.
To me, when someone who has worked hard and been dedicated to the mission of the organization for so many years needs some compassion and basic kindness, it really seems appropriate that it’s allowed to come from the workplace. Being human shouldn’t be optional and surprising, but expected and appreciated. Show good will in the bad times; you will likely make someone’s life all the better for doing so.