Editor’s note: This article was originally published on May 18, 2020. It has since been updated.
In the United States, we have seen record numbers of unemployment owing to the ongoing pandemic. With this in mind, you’re probably doing everything in your power to retain your job – even if it’s ruining your mental health and slowly killing your drive in the process.
A good leader, however, recognizes the importance of taking time off and filling in the trust deficit that employers share with their staff members. Taking to career networking platform LinkedIn, international keynote speaker Brigette Hyacinth shared a conversation she had with one of her newer employees.
Hesitantly, the new employee had asked Hyacinth for some time off, which the latter approved without a second thought. This took the employee by surprise. After all, isn’t it protocol for our bosses to ask at least why we need that time off? Well, this leader is all about shattering the status quo. “My new employee asked me one day for time off. I immediately approved it,” Hyacinth explained. “She was shocked and asked, ‘Don’t you want to know the reason why?’ My reply was, ‘I don’t need to know the details. I hired you to get the job done and I trust you to get it done.’” If only all employers took that approach to leadership.
In a day and age when everything we know about the traditional nine to five job is changing, this keynote speaker highlighted the importance of flexibility.
She continued in her LinkedIn post, “You choose how to get your work done. Come to the office fine. 9 to 5? Fine. Work from home. Fine. Leave early. Fine. Work from the garage while they fix your car? Fine.” Ultimately, it comes down to one simple factor: “We are all human,” she affirmed. If we were just able to take the power structure out of the equation and add the human value back to employment, we would perhaps all be a little more empathetic to our employees and coworkers’ struggles.
“I don’t need to know you will be late because of a doctor’s appointment, or you are leaving early to attend a personal matter,” Hyacinth stated. “It’s sad how we have infantilized the workplace so much, that employees feel the need to apologize for having personal lives.” She implied that perhaps a leader’s method of dealing with such requests says more about who they are as leaders than who their employees are as people. She concluded, “I am not a clock watcher. I trust you to get your job done. Keep clients happy. I am happy. The future lies in flexible work patterns.”
Her post quickly went viral on the networking platform. Since it was first posted, it has received over 240,000 reactions and almost 13,000 comments. Some folks shared their own experiences of toxic work environments with even more toxic leaders. Amelia Sofis, for instance, wrote, “I’ve gotten in lots of trouble for being five minutes late to a desk job when the maintenance men unexpectedly showed up or when my dog was barely breathing and I waited at the door of the vet’s office…
I rushed to work only to sit at a desk answering phones nine to five or eight (with no overtime, but if you were [in] a minute after 9 a.m.. off with your head). If only that boss thought [as] you do. Thankfully I have found a career I love… But many people struggle with management who only think of the exact time you walk in versus the quality work you produce. This is great!” At a time when we’re all struggling with work-life balance, maybe more leaders should tune in to Hyacinth’s approach.