I have been a global senior executive for the majority of my working career. As a strategic planning and operations professional; I have often found myself responsible for developing and approving personnel policies. Having a true interest in those who work for me, I have strived to find small perks that could be granted to staff members without costing the corporation excessive amounts of cash.
Although pretty much standardized across most companies; I have always found bereavement leave to be one of the more compassionate benefits afforded to an employee. One of your staff loses a close family member and the company typically allows them three days of paid time off. The time is used for travel if needed, attending the funeral, and mourning with family members and friends of the deceased. To my way of thinking, it is one of the few true acts of compassion that most faceless corporations will ever extend to their staff members.
Using bereavement leave as a basis, it is now time to create a new benefit for your employees. I propose that effective immediately, all staff be afforded three days of enjoyment leave. The model is simple; everybody will be given three days of paid time off per year, to be spent with a living member of their immediate family! This policy will not replace bereavement leave; rather, it will enhance a benefit that already exists.
Each of us knows who in our lives may be on the threshold of the afterlife. There are those family members who are advancing in age, or perhaps battling some chronic disease. But realize too, simply through a moment of unexpected circumstance or inadvertent choice; even the youngest and healthiest of our family could be taken from us at any time. It is not a welcome thought, but it is simply the reality of life!
When we lose a loved one, our first impulse is to seek the security blanket of friends and family. We travel to the departed one’s hometown, cry together with the other mourners, and recount stories of our lost one’s life. Invariably the conversation will soften, as sadness is replaced by remembrance, and the celebration of a unique life begins to emerge! Often we will find ourselves chuckling as we share an episode where this individual touched our life in a unique and caring way! It is a phenomenon that we call healing!
This poses a question that each of us must contemplate and answer for ourselves. Would we rather mourn somebody once they are gone or would we rather celebrate them while they are still here with us? Do we wish to recount all the ways that a person touched us and bettered us after they have shed their mortal coil and are no longer there to hear it? Or it would it be preferable to share those same thoughts as they sit across from you?
While you are waiting for your human resources department to get around the approving an enjoyment leave policy; make a short list of those who you hold dearest in life. Use your own criteria to rank these people. It can be based on age, health status, or the amount of time since you last saw them in person. Pick the person at the top of the list and set aside three undistracted days to be spent with them. Once you are with this loved one, take the time to let them know how they made your life better!
You can mourn somebody tomorrow or you can celebrate them today! The choice is yours. As for me, it is time to take advantage of my annual enjoyment leave benefit!