I really enjoyed talking to this Wellspring business. (But given the circumstances of this story, I’ll keep them confidential.) In interviewing the COO, she talked candidly about the challenges and benefits of ensuring an inclusive environment. One where people feel they can bring their “whole selves” to the workplace. The purpose of this is to build relationships with people that are much more authentic. You can be who you are, and not be afraid of judgement. This can be incredibly powerful and liberating for some people. We are sometimes used to hiding at work who we might be, whether that is being a different gender, sexual orientation or dealing with significant family issues, sharing the truth about yourself can feel very empowering.
I’m in service to them, not just that they work for me. How can I make their working life better? They give a lot to us, so how can I give back?
While this can create a positive relationship with employees feeling comfortable in offering who they are to the world, it can also create circumstances where recognizing the truth of who someone is means understanding mental health challenges. This is where this employer really shines. In offering work to people that she knows might be transitioning back to work after time away for mental health issues, accepting and supporting them can be complicated. What I found incredibly compassionate is the level that she goes to, including showing up at her employee’s home and seeing where they are. What happened to them that they aren’t at work. This kind of support is very crucial to trying to build social capital and a powerfully authentic relationship.
But we both were shocked to realize that we weren’t sure what kind of relationship this is. It’s certainly more than an employer, but at the same time, she knows that if the absenteeism continues, she can’t always show up at their door. There has to be a limit. So it’s not really family or close friend. And it’s not a coach either, because that is something that is less invested in the outcome. Anyway, that’s the dilemma. What do you call someone that is doing this?