Why a Supervisor Should Tuck In Their Employees
The author talks about the basic need for people to feel cared for, secure, and safe - feeling "tucked in." This included the hospital where he works. As I reflected on this post, my first thought was that patient caregivers certainly need an extra measure of support given the significant emotional expense of working and caring for individuals who are ill, in pain, and often scared. That made sense to me.
However, as I sit on my sixth plane ride in three weeks, the concept of wanting to be "tucked in" is feeling applicable beyond just the hospital setting. Certainly my 11-year-old is wishing my plane would land in time for me to tuck her in for the night. (I probably won't make the official bedtime but I should be able to sneak into her room for a quick hug before she's sound asleep). My thoughts wander to my small group of close friends. They may need to be tucked in too given that this handful of people are dealing with their own serious and chronic medical issues, the final months of their son's life due to cancer, the potential of bankruptcy, the care of their elderly parents, and extensive work travel. All of these women have busy lives in addition to the current challenge(s) they are facing . . . and all of them are employees. How can they possibly function at their full potential at work with all these other serious and disruptive events are occurring in their lives?
My guess is that any group of employees, if they were willing to share, would reveal a similar set of significant and emotionally draining life events as my friends. So, what should supervisors do about this dynamic? How can they possibly impact such personal yet enormously distracting situations? "Tucking them in" is a good start.
"Tucking them in" is just another way of saying that managers can have a significant impact on the well-being on those around them in the workplace by caring about the whole person, not just the "employee" role that the individual is paid to do for their organization. This can be accomplished by creating a work environment where employees feel safe talking about what life is like for them outside the walls of the workplace. It can be accomplished by an organization providing a broad range of supports that touch areas of an employee's life that employers traditionally have thought were off limits - such as financial, legal, and dependent care supports. Finally, employees can feel "tucked in" when they feel that their supervisor has a genuine concern for them as an individual, with a variety of roles that are important to them (parent, spouse, child, sister, aunt, friend, spiritual observer, community volunteer), in addition to that of employee.
It may feel like a lot to ask of a supervisor. In addition to all the tangible components of their job description, now we are adding the more "fuzzy" concept of supporting employees' well-being. Doing that well may take some practice but the return on investment of the supervisor's time and efforts will ultimately result in an employee who is more able to reach their potential in the workplace, which is the goal of every manager.