I was on a Zoom happy hour with a women’s group I’m involved with a while ago and one of them — who is a recent(ish) grad from law school, but was working in Very High Places — noted how shocked she was that there has been no emotional support from her employer and boss during these crazy times. “So if you’re a boss,” she told the others on the call, “check in with your people! Because people are not ok!”
It was an interesting point, and I thought it might make an interesting discussion here. How is your employer (or immediate superior) supporting you during all of this, either in an emotional, physical, or business sense? Have they done things you’ve really appreciated? (I’ve heard stories of office snacks being sent to people’s houses, or regular “mental health check-ins” on Zoom calls.) Have they changed their expectations of you during this time period? (I can’t find the link right now but I keep thinking about that Ask a Manager question where a boss wondered if he should fire his formerly stellar employee since she “often seemed distracted” managing her two kids at home during the pandemic…)
On the flip side, have they done things you haven’t appreciated, either in an emotional, physical, or business sense? (Has inaction from your employer in some way exacerbated things?)
If you manage people, how are you supporting those under you? Are you taking more time to check in with people and connect 1:1, or doing anything else?
Stock photo via Deposit Photos / pressmaster.
I am severely immuno-compromised due to active lymphoma plus immunotherapy treatment that – while keeping the lymphoma in remission – lowers my immune function even more. Lymphoma itself lowers the immune system. Lymphoma patients who contract covid-19 have a 30-37% mortality rate, per new studies released this month. Staggering statistic.
I mentioned here that I don’t expect that my boss will ever ask me to return to the office to work but I suggested that the ADA and its “reasonable accommodations” rules might help me, if I need to talk to my HR department about staying home. But since my coworkers and boss and the other bosses have all been working at home since 3/12/2020, working at home is a reasonable option.
Here is a site that has information for employers and employees: https://askjan.org/blogs/jan/2020/03/the-ada-and-managing-reasonable-accommodation-requests-from-employees-with-disabilities-in-response-to-covid-19.cfm
Quote: “Must employers provide reasonable accommodations under the ADA in response to the pandemic coronavirus situation?
Yes. …This means that when an employer receives a request for accommodation to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus, an employer must consider this request under the ADA and engage in the interactive process to provide reasonable accommodations, barring undue hardship.”
https://askjan.org/ Hope this is helpful to others with immune system issues or other co-morbidities.
My site director hasn’t reached out to me, personally, since I began WFH in March. He might send an email to the team every couple weeks about something. My direct site supervisor holds one weekly telecon to ask us what we are up too but doesn’t reach out or respond to emails/IMs/calls/texts. My department was told to go find work since we weren’t going into the office (vs the other half of the site, who is on the job site working and being supported in every way).
Luckily, I have been able to find work from my other site on the West Coast and I love WFH (probably has to do with the fact that I strongly dislike my site management team, who aren’t really managing or leading anything at all). My company is a matrix org; my ‘real’ manager is great and helps me whenever I need it. I have zero female managers at any site and I don’t feel that my site is providing any help, assistance, reassurance, work, or care to those of us at home (the company in general is better). I do like that I’m not micromanaged but had I not drummed up my own work, I’d be REALLY struggling right now.
I manage a team that has always been remote except an admin who is co-located with me during ordinary times. I have a 30 minute check-in call with each of them to go over projects and provide input as needed. I also use those times for a little water cooler talk, which is essential because I would otherwise have no personal relationships with my team. Junior/admin staff are earlier in the week so I can give them input and direction on their work. Senior staff are later in the week because they mostly work independently in their respective functional areas. I also have a 30 min call with all senior staff later in the week where I brief them on everything going on in the business (that I have learned from my management meetings). All of this takes a lot of time and I am sure there are better ways to do this, but it does keep everyone on my team on the same page and *I think* fosters a stronger sense of team and engagement.
I’m one of those who would find getting probed for my feelings quite cringey. My difficulties with articulating how I might be feeling at any given moment are for my therapist to deal with, not my boss or coworkers. My supervisor does open our check-ins with an open-ended, “How are you doing? Anything I can do for you?” That gives me some room to talk a bit about what’s going on with life in general, but it also means I can just say that things are going good and move on if there’s nothing I’m willing/able to share.
Our performance metrics still remain where they are, but our contact volume is really high with no signs of slowing down (IT help desk). We finally figured out why: these are problems people would usually ask their nearest coworker about, or they would ask a second-level person when they passed in the halls, or in some locations there was even a place where they could specifically take things directly to second-level. None of that exists now, so they call us for absolutely everything. Our management is at least aware that this is nuts and out of our control, so the approach to metrics right now is basically “This is still the benchmark but do your best.”
Honestly, the thing I’ve probably found the most helpful was that they recently provided us all with a fairly generous stipend to put toward our home office setups, and are retroactively approving purchases back to the start of the shutdown. Back in June I finally decided to replace my aging desk chair and splurged on something a bit nicer, and just rearranged the budget a bit to make it work. Now I’m even more glad I invested in something nice that will last rather than getting the cheapest thing that was decent.