How far would your boss go for you?
For some people, it’s a question they’d sooner not know the answer to because the chances are that it would turn out to be “not very far.” For others who have a good relationship with their employers, the answer actually ends up surprising them more than anything else, and a manager who normally stays remote and aloof can transform into a saint when they see an employee dealing with difficulties. Maybe this is just because complaints tend to ring loudest, but you typically hear more about the former breed of manager than the latter.
Sadly, in large corporations staffed by thousands upon thousands of people, human resources often considers employees expendable and makes no effort to understand the individual, or listen and take note of what challenges they face beyond token gestures.
Inevitably, this attitude leads to employees feeling undervalued, unappreciated and ultimately miserable. In a lot of jobs “stress” is seen as being something to be endured without complaint, and any consideration of the mental health of employees is little more than a vague afterthought.
This fact is why this next story inspiring and proves that there are plenty of bosses out there who are caring enough to really look out for the employees under them. A woman’s e-mail has gone viral this week after she shared her manager’s compassionate attitude towards mental health issues with the rest of the Twittersphere. Do you think your boss would do the same?
Madalyn Parker, who works as a web developer and engineer at Olark Live Chat, was feeling anxious and depressed and came to the conclusion that she needed to take some time off work for the sake of her mental health and well being. Now, unlike say, a case of the flu, a fever, or a virus, many of us would probably feel slightly uncomfortable about asking for sick leave for a mental illness, even though it is every bit as debilitating as a germ-borne disease. Yet Madalyn was bold enough to e-mail her office to let them know the situation, and that’s when her boss sent her a message that will surely restore your faith in humanity.
CEO Ben Congleton responded:
“I just wanted to personally thank you for sending emails like this. Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health – I can’t believe this is not standard practice at all organizations. You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can bring our whole selves to work.”
Madalyn shared a screenshot of the email exchange, and it soon got a lot of attention online.
In an article on Medium.com, Mr. Congleton shared his thoughts on the issue in a post entitled; “It’s 2017 and Mental Health is still an issue in the workplace.” In the body of this post, he stated “I had no idea my response would become so visible — the reactions revealed that my stance on mental health in the workplace is unconventional, to say the least. I started realizing how impactful [sic] my email had been after I began reading some of the responses to Madalyn’s tweet. Some of the responses brought tears to my eyes.”
He added, “There were so many stories of people wishing they worked at a place where their CEO cared about their health, and so many people congratulating me on doing such a good thing. This should be business as usual. We have a lot of work to do.” It’s good to see that employers like this are beginning to take mental health more seriously. Personally, I hope that more employees will find the courage to be more open about their the issue.
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