How to help colleagues beat the summer strain

Quite by chance* I watched Robert Waldinger’s TED Talk last week on the longest longitudinal study of human happiness. The Harvard study has been running since 1938 and finds high quality personal relationships are the best predictor of happiness, health and longevity.

Here in the summer of 2021 employees’ relationships at home are under strain and it’s something employers should pay attention to.

Parents at Work

Through my work and lived experience I’ve noticed employees with children age 4-11 experience a straining of personal relationships over the summer. These employees (female especially) have the extra load of finding, organising and taking their children to different activities/childcare settings. They do this whilst striving to maintain high standards at work, including maintaining availability to direct reports, peers and bosses. This is difficult and what gets squeezed or lost altogether is their ‘me time’ and ‘we time’. (Me Time = self care activities. We Time = nurturing their relationship with their spouse/partner/significant other.

We’re not taking holidays – but we must

It’s not just employees without children who are at risk of fraying relationships.  New findings by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) show 39 per cent of UK staff have taken less paid time off since the pandemic began. Many people are choosing not to take their usual summer break from work because they can’t holiday where they’d like. Somewhat bizarrely, it was easier to get away last summer pre-vaccine than it is this summer.

As hybrid working becomes the norm after the summer, we want our colleagues to return to the office feeling rested. So what should business leaders do to help parents/carers who are under strain? And to encourage people to take leave?

Three ideas to support employees with caring responsibilities – and include those without

  • Take leave yourself and, when you come back, talk about how good you feel for doing it – humans are social creatures heavily influenced by the behaviour of others.
  • Gift parents an extra day off in September to spend with spouse/partner/significant other – and throw in a restaurant voucher.
  • Offer non-parents a day off to support a friend or relative with caring responsibilities and gift them a voucher to treat the people they’ll be with.

Would like you like more ideas to support strained colleagues? We have plenty more practical suggestions up our sleeves.

Coaching conversations for all

You might also want to make a stand-alone coaching conversation available to anyone who would like one. We’ve been doing this with some of our clients whose people we coach when they are preparing for, and returning from, any type of extended leave. Life continues to be very trying for many – not just parents – and having the space to think through challenges and worries about work and/or home has been a real tonic for them.

If you like the sound of this do drop me a line or call the office 01727 856169.

* With thanks to the YouTube algorithm – Robert’s Ted Talk was offered up to me after playing a Yoga with Adrienne film on YouTube. Stretching + learning before breakfast = perfect.

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