The following is an excerpt from our employee letter this week. It’s important because I believe so many service businesses are struggling to rebalance right now. I want to encourage those who struggle with taking time off, or worry their clients will suffer when they need time to recharge, they’ll be in the same precarious position they felt in 2020.
We’re Not Robots
The last thing I want is for any of us to get lazy and entitled. I’m thrilled with the number of clients we’ve kept through the pandemic and are signing even today. That said, I have been wrestling with something, and I have heard it echoed in some things you all have said as well.
“I don’t think I can afford to get sick…”
I spoke to a friend a few weeks ago and told her I honestly thought me getting COVID would be a death sentence to the Branch. I didn’t think it could work without me for one, two, three weeks. Frankly, for the last three years, I have been terrified of taking more than a day or two at a time fully off work (thank GOD for Christmas week!!) Then last week, in a private agency group, I learned of a VERY successful agency owner who DID get sick and was in the hospital for three weeks. He said it was exactly as he feared. Untold damage was done, his meetings were all postponed, he came back to unsigned business, unhappy clients, and basically the worst, all while recovering from COVID.
Other business owners commierated, turns out a lot of small businesses (especially service businesses) suffer from this fear, and I believe it’s because we create the veneer of invulnerability. We act bulletproof, buy into the “hustle” and create a codependent relationship with our clients in many cases.
Owners aren’t the only ones though. I have heard some of you say you didn’t feel you could take extended time off either. That is NOT the kind of agency I want to run. Our clients need to know we’re vulnerable (it’s a global pandemic for heaven’s sake!) to the exact same things they are: sickness, burnout, attrition, deaths, births, exhaustion, mental health resets…the works.
This will take some time to get used to. We’ve bent ourselves into pretzels to keep our clients happy, scared shitless we’d lose them. Now it’s time to be polite, empathetic, and firm. We can only do what we can do. Sometimes that means their last minute timelines may not be adhered to, and that is OKAY.
That said, we will still deliver our BEST for our clients.
We will respect deadlines and go the extra mile when we are well/rested/working.
We will support one another when we need help.
We will adhere to all the same values as always but start focusing a little more on Balance.
I hope you all know your vacation days are NOT just for show and are there to provide you with an opportunity to recharge to be your best selves at work.