I have worked for more companies than I would like to admit - probably twice as many companies as are listed on my LinkedIn Profile. I have worked two to three jobs at the same time for most of my life. I have seen the good, the bad, the ugly, and the illegal. Today was a reminder about what an amazing company I work for - a company that views me as a human being instead of as a faceless number or another cog in the wheel of their strategic business plan.
There is no doubt that my company is not perfect, and could improve in a several areas. But, I have faced several health challenges since day one of working there, and they have been shockingly supportive. I accepted their offer of employment on the morning of Monday, May 6th, 2013. Later that night I found out that I was pregnant. I decided to withhold this information from them, but on my first day I had to run to the nearest bathroom during my tour of the building because I was overcome with morning sickness. I had no choice but to reveal my secret. Four days later I suddenly started having some scary signs of a miscarriage and had to rush to the emergency room. I was sure that I was going to get terminated for all of the trouble I was causing. To my surprise, my boss was incredibly caring and concerned and worked with me to help schedule my required bi-weekly ultrasounds since my pregnancy had been deemed high risk.
I was also certain that my contract would be terminated when I gave birth to my son and decided to take six weeks off from work even though contractors don't qualify for maternity leave. Once again, to my surprise, they made it work and reinstated my contract at the end of my six week leave.
Luckily, I haven't had any major health issues that interfered with work over the last seven months. Until yesterday. I had a scratchy throat when I woke up, but didn't have any other them symptoms of being ill. Then, very suddenly, around 11:00 AM my throat swelled so badly that it felt like it was taking up my entire neck, I could barely swallow, and I was having difficulty taking a full breath, along with a slew of other symptoms. I called my PCP and she told me to go to the ER. Being the cheapskate that I am, I called my husband and asked him to come pick me up and drive me to the ER because ambulances are expensive but I didn't feel like I could drive myself. My very pregnant coworker came and sat on the couch in the lobby with me while I waited. Another coworker passed by and asked what was going on. When he found out that it would be 30 minutes until my husband arrived, he immediately pulled his car up to the front door and insisted on taking me to the ER himself. He stayed with me until my husband arrived.
I was at the ER for seven hours, during which time I received text messages from my superiors one and three levels above me. When I saw the texts come through I was immediately dreading reading them because I was sure they were going to be asking me when I would be able to come back to work, or if I could make up the lost hours from home once the doctor released. To my surprise, both of them were sending me notes of kindness and support, telling me that they hoped I felt better soon and not to worry about work until I felt better because they would figure out a way to cover my workload. I was completely shocked because we are currently understaffed and going through a transitional period in our department.
It's important for you to know that, as a contractor, my company can terminate my employment at any time for any reason. They are not being supportive and caring because they have to be, they are being supportive and caring because they want to be and because that is the kind of culture that they want to spread throughout the company. Is it like this in every department where I work? I don't know, but I sure hope so!
What is the culture like where you work? Do you feel like a nameless, faceless desk-jockey for eight hours a day (or more)? Or do you feel like your company truly appreciates the work that you do and recognizes that you are a person and that your contributions matter?