Submitted Hero Stories
We had a new mom experiencing difficulty with our current Nursing/Mother’s room, which other employees would use as a space for taking breaks/lunches. In addition, the room itself was very bland and didn’t provide a welcoming experience. I pulled together a handful of expecting, current and new moms together to identify what their dream mother’s room would be. We met a few times and brainstormed ways of enhancing the space and making it equally beautiful as it was functional. The room included: 4 storage cubbies to store pumping supplies (no longer needed to walk mid-day awkwardly with a backpack through the building), a baby brush, soap and drying rack for cleaning/drying supplies, a fridge to store milk and added it as part of our email/conference room for booking. After we announced the reveal of the new space, current parents and non-parents were complimentary and appreciative of the accommodation. I felt like it was a pivotal moment in my career, and it made me realize that HR has the capability to really make the work environment, whether in-person, virtual, or a little bit of both, a great experience. As an added bonus, we created a separate wellness room for when people were not feeling well and needed time away from work. They previously were using the nursing room, and we wanted to keep it separate.
When we started going back into the offices after working completely remote during the pandemic, I worked with multiple people regarding mental and physical health concerns around working on site. In each case, we gave the employee the ability to work from home as much as they needed – we have since allowed all employees to be remote first. For me personally, I feel honored any time an employee is willing to share such personal information with me. It takes bravery to bring up concerns and ask for accommodations. Through these conversations, I’ve learned to listen first and ask employees what they need, rather than automatically suggesting solutions. This allows the employee to have more control over the outcome.
The story I have is of a young man who was in my Leadership class where I teach. He is on the autism spectrum and is a grown-up adult male. He was intimidating to those teachers who did not know him well. A gentle giant with tons of anxiety! He, however, was a hero to me because he self-disclosed his ASD. We met with our accessibility office and developed an in-class plan if he became nervous. I would signal him, and he would get up and go outside the classroom to “cool off.” It worked splendidly, and he made it through the class with personalized accommodations! Because I have a child on the spectrum, I ask myself what I would want a teacher of theirs to do for them. The secret is empathy!
Recently, we rehired an employee who needed a few accommodations to perform the new job they were hired for. The person works for the organization as a customer care specialist and was not able to navigate to different screen views easily because of vision limitations. We worked with the employee using an engaging and interactive discussion process. We met with the employee frequently to discuss ideas for accommodations in computer settings, enhancements tools, and adjustments to the duties of the position. It was a process of trying, adjusting, and altering or reworking until we found solutions that worked well for the employee to succeed in the role. This process also included reaching out to technology service providers to inform them of the limitations of their technology. We offered specific requests for enhancement to their tools to meet the needs of the visually impaired. The employee was grateful for the work that was done in modifying the tools and aspects of the job to meet their abilities. They show their appreciation daily, as demonstrated through their engagement with colleagues and customers. They are a pleasure to work with and continue to be a loyal employee of the company. The approach we had taken to working with the individual not only created a great relationship with the employee, but their sharing of the process with others also encouraged others to share their own requests. This experience was perfect for both the employee and for us. It feels good to continue to do the right thing.
A good employee started to have attendance problems which seemed abnormal. At first, when asked, they said there was nothing we could do to help. It really didn’t sit right with me, so I asked if everything was ok. Finally, after a few months and even some warnings regarding their attendance, the employee felt comfortable telling me what they were struggling with. In a matter of hours, I worked with them and figured out a schedule that would help improve their attendance and give them the time they needed to deal with their personal matters outside of work. I will never forget the look in that person’s eyes when they said thank you this is like a weight has been lifted off of me. I felt GREAT, but when I think back, how do I get to ensure we reach out and help sooner, were there other people I overlooked, too quickly judged???? That situation that happened years ago shaped how I look at doing my job. Sometimes, people don’t realize we can help, and they just need you to make them feel comfortable talking with you about it.
Any format for the story is great, but if you were looking for help organizing your thoughts, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- What was the concern of issue you were addressing initially with your team member?
- How you helped or what you did provided to the employee?
- How they told you or expressed to you that you helped?
- How did it make you feel about yourself and the job you get to do?