This past week the Browne household went through a massive change !! We dropped our son, and second child, off at college. He is now blazing his own path at my alma mater Ohio University. I am geeked that he’s a Bobcat now. In fact, he even chose to live in my old dorm and dorm room !! (Note: He did this all on his own without suggestions from his Dad who bleeds green and white.)
The move went very smoothly and was pretty emotionless . . .
When it was time to go, I thought he’d say Goodbye in his room and move on. He wanted to walk my wife and I out to the car, and then it hit. My 6’3″ gentle giant hugged my wife first and the tears started flowing. He then turned to me, and we hugged so hard I thought I’d burst. As we were both crying, I told him that I loved him. Our embrace ended and he headed towards James Hall and we started on our way back home misty eyed.
I’m excited to see what the future holds for my son. I’m sure he’ll have great adventures and grow as an adult just as his older sister did when she started her college path three years ago. Another change which occurred was that my wife and I became empty nesters. We hadn’t been alone in the house for the past 20 years !! This is exciting but also a bit unnerving. Our story is no different than every family. Transitions happen every day.
The thought that came to mind during this change was how this affected me at work. Why does this even matter to what I do? I think it’s everything. I think the family changes/transitions that occur in our lives are the REAL generational issue we face.
The recent trend about amplifying generational differences just makes me crazy !! Let me ask you this. When have there been generations in the workplace? And, secondarily, when has one generation ever thought that the generation that followed was odd, didn’t work as hard, or had poor habits? The answer to both is that these facts and feelings have always been a factor in the workplace !!
The area where we have missed in truly working with different generations is to help them through the life events we all face. Times such as the birth of a child or grandchild. Or, when there’s someone going off to kindergarten, elementary school, high school or college. Marriages, deaths, divorces, health issues, the care of elderly parents, the loss of a pet, etc. These events are where HR can, and should, make a difference with both their presence and their understanding.
We have tried to take all of this changes and force them into some form of leave system that’s tracked and accounted for. We try to keep a tight rein on these systems to make sure that people comply versus allowing them to fully experience these life events.
We should know our people for who they are and what’s going on in their lives. This shouldn’t be a hassle, or feel like it’s a waste of time. These personal connections are the most meaningful connections you could make !! Great HR happens when you have a personal knowledge of what’s going on in the lives of your employees. You can celebrate with them, empathize with them and care for them. This is something missing in our workplaces and is sorely needed.
It’s time to change how we see the life events of our people. Let’s walk alongside them and experience the ch-ch-ch-ch-changes that happen naturally !!