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Patience for the People

This is not some crazy politically charged rant, nor is it a Ted Talk in print form. It’s not even akin to a motivational poster with S T R E N G T H emblazoned on the bottom and a powerful-looking tiger in close-up. 

This is simply a reminder for business leaders and management that their employees are hurting. It’s not an injury incident report-type hurt, or a scrambling-to-cover-bases-before-OSHA-gets-involved type hurt. 

The kind of hurt the collective is experiencing is on a whole other level. It’s an all-encompassing feeling that brings mental, emotional and physical pain into the forefront of our minds and hearts and ends up scattered across our desks.

COVID and its ravaging effects on business and the workplace are undeniable. Across every industry, supply chain issues and workforce shortages are still at an alarming high. 

Manufacturers are struggling, trying to source alternatives for components. Decision-makers are trying to allocate funds to the ever-increasing material costs and playing musical chairs with their budget line items. Managers can’t seem to catch a break between juggling staff (and dealing with the shortage) and customer concerns/complaints/issues. 

And the staff? They’re losing it. Truly. On any given day, employees are doing their darndest to complete their jobs to the best of their abilities, while completing another’s job kinda-sorta, and maybe even taking on tasks for a third role. This chart shows the reality – according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in 2021 have been deserted in alarming numbers. This is one consequence of the stress and anxiety employees are experiencing.

This happens in the workplace, right? Company changes, realignment, restructuring, a coworker on leave… we’ve all taken on more than our role requires at times. But typically, in those situations there’s an end date, a light at the end of the tunnel. We can sigh and tell ourselves it’s only six more weeks until XYZ falls into place and we can go “back to normal.” Meanwhile, we go home, feed the fam and then console ourselves with unhealthy coping mechanisms. But this once-in-100-years pandemic? When is the end date? Where is that light?

There’s no magical answer here, of course. Remember in the good old early pandemic days when we were gunning for 2021? Now we’re all focused on 2022, but it just feels like 2021 revamped with some new variants and more mask-vs.-no-mask arguments. This too, is a heavy, heavy weight on our minds and we can all attest to the toll stress takes on every aspect of our lives.

I certainly feel there’s been an increase in humanization, at least in my little, sometimes-quarantined-sometimes-not circle. I’ve seen an insane amount of “Be a good human” or “Kindness wins” tee shirts and messaging. I’ve seen hashtags that preach similar love-conquers-all type sentiments and social media posts that can bring people to tears with their heartfelt call-to-arms to just. be. nice.

But are we actually being more compassionate and sensitive to the needs and fears and feelings of others in our personal and work worlds, or are we just telling everyone else to do it? Perhaps it’s a little of both. 

For the sake of global commerce, ongoing employment, and personal survival, I beg each of us to take a page out of Nike’s marketing book and JUST DO IT until this crisis is over, however long that may be. We are all in the same global COVID boat and we’ll survive best if we row together. 

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