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  • Writer's pictureLacy Starling

#167: Keep Giving Grace

It's been a hard year for everyone. Whether your business is doing well, or not, whether your health has been good, or not, whether your family is thriving in isolation, or not. It's been hard.

And without a clear end in sight, it is going to continue to be hard. As business owners, though, we need to be able to see beyond our own circumstances and continue to give grace to our employees.

On a call last week, some business owners I know and love were complaining about the loss of productivity from some of their at-home workers. They were talking about needing to bring people back to get more work out of them, or to implement stricter KPIs and productivity measures so they could get more work from their folks.

And all I could think was...these people are most likely struggling, mightily. I don't know anyone who is doing great right now, but I know plenty of people who feel like they are drowning, trying to stay ahead of their work, home-school their kids, stave off a mental health crisis from the isolation of nearly 12 months of social distancing, quarantines, and now winter.

Pretty much everyone is exhausted, stressed, wrung out, and feels like they are failing in every aspect of their life. They aren't spending enough time on their work, so their boss is bitching about their productivity, but their elementary-school kid can't handle NTI without help because what tiny kid can? When they get done with school, they have to log back in for another five hours just to try to get caught up on work, so they aren't spending any relaxed, meaningful time with their family.

They can't see their extended families, they can't use a babysitter, they can't go out to eat or to a movie, and they are terrified about getting sick, or losing a parent or aging relative to Covid. (Or having them die for another reason and not being able to be with them when it happens, or have a funeral afterward.) Maybe one of the people in their house had to quit their job just to take care of their kids, leaving them with half as much income and one person without a huge part of their identity. (There's a reason 865,000 women left the workforce in September - someone had to stay home to get the kids through NTI, and unfortunately, that burden falls disproportionately to women.)

And here are business owners, many with way more resources than their employees, or with grown children out of the house, or with a vacation home they can jet off to when they get tired of their regular house, complaining about the fact that Jim in accounting isn't completing as many audits as he did in February of last year. And there's Jim, depressed, stressed, overwhelmed and honestly just trying to do his best to get through all this.

I get it. We all have businesses to run. I understand that as well as anyone, working in a volatile industry with thin margins and no room for error. But for Pete's sake, people. Have some human compassion. Look past your bottom line and into the humanity of your employees. Is 5% more productivity worth grinding everyone who works for you into dust? Or are you capable of giving folks a little more grace so we can ALL emerge from this whole, instead of just those of us with more wealth, options and resources?


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