Over the past months, people with seemingly nothing in common bonded together in grassroots efforts across the country over an out-of-control pandemic that is perpetually “rounding the turn”. One thing’s for sure: This has united the masses in ways not seen since the civil-rights movement and there is no turning back.
I am the head of HR for a very socially conscious politically active organization staffed with brilliant citizens of the world; and what’s clear is that the politics of the past 4 years, particularly 2020 has taken a toll on my employees. Instead of following the politically safe HR rules and ignoring a population of people eager to share, discuss, and process during a period when morale levels are rapidly decreasing. I chose to step outside the margins of the “but we’re HR” rule book, and NOT miss this opportunity to show some empathy through a letter to all employees:
Whether we are pleased or disappointed by the outcome, remember: This election is not the end of the struggle, but the beginning of our work to revamp, renew and reset what we can all agree is a flawed system — regardless of our political beliefs, remember: This election is not the end of the struggle, but the beginning of another opportunity to change what we can all agree is a flawed system — regardless of our political beliefs.
Every one of us is needed here to restore a sense of connection with our communities and country over the next several years regardless of who is in the White House. Here are some ideas to consider to ready ourselves for this work:
1. Stay close to your support networks
Our association with like-minded people comes in handy when we seek understanding and validation — from our family to our neighbors to our “best friends here at work.” Venting, crying, even cursing can be restorative, and support and empathy from your support circles can do wonders for your mood and optimism. Chances are, they could use the same from you during this time where everything that we hold sacred is up for grabs.
2. If you fall, get right back up.
Over the next couple of weeks, unplug. Take a mental health day without news. Be sad. Ask, “Why me?” feel despair. Then come up for air, take a deep breath and get back into the game. Otherwise, you may find yourself slowly sinking into an abyss of worry and anxiety that simply negates your political hiatus. Take time to embrace your fears: Imagine the best and the worst, and what that means to you personally, during this period of post-election, pre-pandemic resolution. and a struggling economy. When you embrace what scares you, you can reduce its intensity. We’ve walked through the fire. It’s time to come out the other end.
3. Relax. Your work is done for now
Don’t make plans to move to Canada just yet. While clearly I understand the temptation, this is our home, and this is where our support systems are. What better place to grieve or celebrate optimism or simply plan for a better future? The past 4 years have been entertaining, tragic, scary and amazing. We have seen and survived it all, and we will survive whatever else comes our way as an organization and individually. Relax and allow gratitude to take hold. Know that you have put in the work. The rest is up to the universe.
4. Embrace your values
Continue to take actions that align with your values. Focus on a couple of issues you’re passionate about and explore ways to advocate for them. Think about how much you’re doing in your everyday life to promote things you care about and do more of that. Turn your anger and fear into productive action. Finally, learning this lesson for me was like donning a teflon suit.
Adlai Stevenson, the former Illinois governor, said, “As citizens of this democracy, you are the rulers and the ruled, the law-givers and the law-abiders, the beginning and the end.”
In all things – take the time you need. Take time to reach out and check in with your colleagues now more than ever in this remote and isolated work environment; and be sure to include our Human Resources team as a part of your circle of support.
We are here for you!
William J. Wiggins
Director of Human Resources and Administration
If there is ever a time to lead with your heart and not with the compliance manual, this would be it.
William has held consulting and strategic HR roles at Virginia Mason, Mercer Human Resources Consulting, Kaiser Permanente, and Williams-Sonoma. He has a proven track record for building employee satisfaction through building leadership competencies and strong collaborative HR partnerships with leadership teams that focus on the staff retention and fostering cultures of engagement. William regularly shared his insights and experience though for a number of Talent publications including Fistful of Talent, Career Crossroads (CXRWorks), and The HR Gazette and believes that an organization’s human capital is their most valuable asset.