Compassion without Boundaries

Authentically Being News   •   July 04, 2021

Having spent a decade in Human Resources helping to uphold or develop archaic and fear borne policies I feel I’m more qualified than most to say that many just suck.

Spurred on by the sudden and very unexpected death of my 11 month old puppy which left my family devastated and heartbroken. The policy at the forefront of my mind at the moment is Compassionate Leave…and for the benefit of specifics….death.

When our puppy died my partner busied himself by getting straight back to work. Me, well I cancelled all my commitments, I messaged a friend, went comms down and cried for 3 days solid.  The only thing that kept me going at the time was our 7 week old daughter.

We dealt with it in different ways and perhaps in the only way we were able to individually but it got me thinking “what if I had been constrained by an employers policy?”  Would I have been afforded compassionate leave for my dog or would I have received a black mark against my name? Maybe I would have been seen as overly dramatic and trying to pull a fast one abusing a policy?

A compassionate leave policy that specifies the circumstances and parameters to when it will be considered may be an indication that it’s time to review and rewrite.

Many of the policies I’ve come across have specified the relationships people are able to use compassionate leave for.  Often reserved for immediate family members only – like spouses or children.  Often, there’s no consideration for the other relationships held which are sometimes stronger.

If an organisation really is committed to supporting their staff, is it right to specify what relationships they can or cannot use compassionate leave for?

At a time where many businesses claim to put people first or hold trust at the forefront of their values, I wonder how many do offer this kind of support to those in need?

It goes beyond a marketing campaign or award winning tick box exercise; this is about  the operating systems and culture of a business.

Shouldn’t empowered and trusted employees be the ones to decide who or what they grieve for and when they the need to lean on the compassion of their employer?

What would teams look like if they were supported at their most vulnerable times? How might an employee give back having had the opportunity to grieve the loss of their family pet or good friend on their own terms.

These are all questions I ask myself and wonder whether others have considered them too?

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