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Why We Need A More Compassionate Workplace
I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t exactly screaming with delight by the passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act that took effect. Many of the reasonable accommodations employees can now “ask for" like the ability to eat, sit, and take breaks while pregnant sounded more to me like a basic human right. Beyond posting it on our social media pages, I asked my team to get back to what we’ve been focusing on which is how we elevate care in the workplace.
In today's fast-paced corporate world, the narrative often revolves around productivity, growth, and profit. And so we need laws to remind employers that they are dealing with people, not machines. Amid the unending quest for efficiency, we’ve overlooked a fundamental human aspect – compassion. Compassion is not just understanding someone’s pain, but recognizing their struggle and taking active steps to alleviate it. It's about humanizing the workplace, fostering emotional wellbeing, and ultimately, contributing to a more constructive work environment.
Compassion in the workplace goes beyond mere empathy. While empathy refers to understanding and sharing another person's emotions, compassion takes a step further. It involves recognizing a pregnant employee, connecting with their need for care and support, and taking actionable steps to help alleviate their stress or discomfort. A compassionate workplace will promote and prioritize the well-being of its employees with children, disabled partners, aging parents and more.
Hence, as we take a victory lap over the passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, we must hold business leaders, managers, and coworkers accountable in designing a fair, just, and compassionate workplace. Promoting compassion in the workplace is a collective effort that starts from the top. Leaders should set the tone by exemplifying compassionate behaviors - listening actively, providing supportive feedback, offering help when needed, and promoting work-life balance for pregnant workers, parents, caregivers, and employees of all kinds.
Contrary to the often-held belief that compassion might derail productivity, several studies have shown that a compassionate work environment can, in fact, boost productivity. Employees who feel cared for are likely to be more engaged, passionate, and invested in their work. They are more resilient in the face of setbacks, able to bounce back from adversity more readily due to the supportive work environment.
I honestly did not think I would be writing about a celebrity mom today, but Chrissy Teigen’s story touched me like no other earlier this week. After a very painful miscarriage, and ultimately the birth of their third child, she and her husband, John, welcomed their fourth child by surrogacy and he is perfect. In an emotional post, Teigen shared that the baby boy, Wren Alexander Stephens, was delivered via surrogate just minutes before midnight on June 19. His middle name is an ode to their surrogate, Alexandra.
In other news, the childcare crisis is about to get worse. How are you prepping for childcare this summer?
3.2 Million children could lose a childcare spot, with Texas projecting 305,976 kids. The ARPA stabilization funds that staved off the child care sector's collapse will come to an abrupt end in September 2023," the report stated. "When these resources swiftly and suddenly disappear, this funding cliff will once again place the sector in danger, as it will be forced to contract, shedding caregivers and care slots in a cascade that will not only upend millions of families' child care arrangements but also hurt regional economies.
I think one of the thinks that has been clear for me after so many years of doing this work is that the type of organization you work for matters, the leaders matter, and what’s even more important are the coworkers you are surrounded by. I remember very vividly how exciting it was to come back to a workplace after baby knowing that my team had my back, that my manager looked forward to my arrival but also gave me enough time to ramp up as needed until I was comfortable taking over my tasks. And so we know that the workplace is capable of care. One of the leaders I absolutely love and respect is Sarah Hardy, Co-Founder and COO of Bobbie, an organic infant formula company who shared with me during one of our numerous catch ups, how the company was able to support a parent whose newborn ended up in the NICU with additional parental leaves for every week the newborn was on admission. That to me was a compassionate and caring leader, and I have linked that article below for you all to read and hopefully draw inspiration from.
Why Companies Should Expand Parental Leave To Include NICU Stays: Approaching benefits in a human-first way isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t cheap. I won’t pretend it is. But it’s a superpower we’ve embraced at my company and a mindset I believe is critical when it comes to creating best-in-class benefits. It requires a level of financial investment alongside a unique mindset that is equal parts responsive, nimble and humble enough to look to your team to find out what they need rather than assuming. But it more than pays off when it comes to employee retention rates and employee satisfaction across the board. Since the implementation of our NICU policy, we’ve heard from NICU parents and non-parents alike about how meaningful the company's commitment to offering critical and unique employee support is. In short, it’s completely worth it.
Without Paid Family Leave, Teachers Stockpile Sick Days And Aim For Summer Babies: Karli Myers had her son, Luke, in November, while working as a high school English teacher outside Tulsa, Okla. Her district didn't offer parental leave, so she used sick leave to get more than two months at home with Luke – sick leave she spent years collecting, with a baby in mind. "So we accrue 10 sick days a year, so I essentially never took a sick day in seven years of teaching to be able to account for all of this," Myers said. According to a survey by the National Council on Teacher Quality, less than one fifth of the nation's largest school districts offer paid parental leave for teachers. And only a handful of states guarantee it, including Delaware, Oregon and Georgia.
What employee caregivers really want from work: While employers continue to cite finding and retaining talent as one of the biggest challenges they face, many companies are lagging in implementing support and benefits for family caregivers—the fastest-growing employee group. Employees with adult care responsibilities frequently report having to switch to a less demanding job, take time off, or quit work altogether in order to make time for their caregiving duties. With a national shortage of paid caregivers creating more care work for family members, and with 10,000 people turning 65 every single day, employers can no longer afford to leave the retention of caregiving employees to chance.
As of June 16, 20 states have banned or heavily restricted access to abortion. At best, these bans require women who need abortions to travel hours, or even days out-of-state, often at a significant cost.
Emotional labor is essential to our society and economy, but it’s so often invisible. In this groundbreaking, journalistic deep dive, Rose Hackman shares the stories of hundreds of women, tracing the history of this kind of work and exposing common manifestations of the phenomenon. But Hackman doesn’t simply diagnose a problem―she empowers us to combat this insidious force and forge pathways for radical evolution, justice, and change.
Drawing on years of research and hundreds of interviews, you’ll:
How emotional labor pervades our workplaces, from the bustling food service industry to the halls of corporate America
How race, gender, and class unequally shape the load we carry
Strategies for leveling the imbalances that contaminate our relationships, social circles, and households
Empowering tools to stop anyone from gaslighting you into thinking the work you are doing is not real work
Emotional labor is real, but it no longer has to be our burden alone. By recognizing its value and insisting on its shared responsibility, we can set ourselves free and forge a path to a world where empathy, love, and caregiving claim their rightful power.
LUMO prepares expecting parents for the transformation to come, helping managers carry on in their absence, and facilitating a positive reintegration for everyone involved. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with LUMO in the past year to better understand their offerings and how they’ve supported countless of parents, managers, and employers in leading with their humanity.
Happening today! Please join LUMO, MH, and Tilt as we provide a framework for optimal workplace parental leave. In this workshop, you’ll learn about innovative leave management solutions, how personalized coaching can enhance the parental leave experience, and strategies for ensuring business continuity with skilled talent during parental leave.
Thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed this issue of Caring Matters. My name is Blessing Adesiyan, I’m the Founder & CEO of MH WorkLife, a company building care infrastructure for today’s workforce providing, 1:1 work + care guidance, care reimbursement, and leave gap coverage to today’s foremost employers. Our memberships provides resources and support to employees of all kinds to effectively manage their parenting, caregiving, work, and life. You can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our offerings.