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Inspiration for Action
The Newsletter / Edition 015
From Sylvain Labs, this is Progress Report.
In our Off-White Papers, we provide practical guidance on how to respond to our rapidly-changing world. This weekly newsletter explores those topics in real-time, with information and action steps on how to make progress now.

In today's newsletter...
  1. The woo-woo of spiritual consultation from Steven Ebert
  2. The problem with paid leave from Jess Vander
  3. Progress on a small scale from Aaron Powers
And as always, our illustrations from Katie Sadow.
From the Field

01 / Searching for God Knows What

From Steven Ebert
Workplace spiritual consultants are becoming all the rage as employers combat burnout and the natural entropic force that comes with distributed teams. Companies (and employees alike) are grappling with the line between meaningful support and inadvertently creating new workplace dogma.
Why It Matters
For over a decade, Silicon Valley has been on the bleeding edge of redefining workplace culture-new norms have developed across myriad industries as a result, with workers expecting their employers to provide lifestyle benefits during the workday for example. As working from home has become standard procedure for knowledge workers, companies are wrestling with new ways to keep morale high - especially as the pandemic has put inordinate pressure on businesses (and thus, employees) to make up for lost time and revenue with increased productivity. Spiritual consultants are the latest manifestation of employee perks, the en vogue approach to deepening the relationship between employer and employee.
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Explore avenues to provide new or unexpected forms of support for your teams.
Spiritual consultants may be a bit too woo-woo for you-you, but finding novel ways to demonstrate care for employee well-being is a good idea. You can start by reading the room: what kind of support is my team looking for? Are they feeling disconnected and need more opportunities for group interaction? Or is it the opposite? Whatever it is, finding specific, unexpected solves to common problems can make all the difference when it comes to protecting the vibe.

02 / The Paid Leave Paradox

From Jess Vander
The World Economic Forum shows us how employers are looking at-or not, as the case may be-paid leave right now. There are so many variables at play: designated vs floating holiday schedules, employees reticent to take "pretend time off," working caregivers desperate to dip into future PTO for the extra time now, the list goes on. And while some businesses are flexing to accommodate, most are not. According to a Willis Watson COVID-19 Benefits study, few companies are putting up defenses to manage inevitable time off surpluses through the end of the year (e.g. adjusting paid leave programs to flex into next year), most businesses are not making changes to their plans unless forced to by law.
Why It Matters
Paid leave usually pays for itself in productivity and employee wellbeing dividends, but this standard benefit has devolved into chaos. Employees are skeptical of "the Staycation" when they're still at home, busier than ever, watching the clock run out on their PTO. And employers, paralyzed by variability of what their employees need to keep productive through the year's end and beyond, are defaulting to inaction. But even if you're not overhauling your leave program, making your teams aware of how paid leave can benefit them-or how it can serve new WFH needs-might be key to helping your employees help your business stay productive.
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Get productive with paid leave.
Consider the many forms paid leave may take, especially the asynchronous ones. It may inspire you to make changes to your paid leave plans or at least supply employees with more creative ways for employees to take PTO. To give you a head-start, here are some WEForum and original 'paid leave archetypes' potentially better than "The Staycation":
  • The Long-Weekend Plan: spread PTO across the upcoming months by taking one day off a week, and give resourcing a heads up to accommodate project timelines accordingly
  • The Home-Cooked Dinner Plan: end every day earlier to make room for feeding kids at home and checking in on their homeschooling focus
  • The Official Holiday Plan: officialize Election Day, the start of Hannukah, and more as designated holidays through the end of the year. Thinking ahead, consider what a much more generous designated/floating holiday calendar might look like in 2021 for important occasions like Eid and Juneteenth
  • The PTO Lending Plan: enable employees to borrow PTO from next year's allotment to make for greater flexibility in the immediate term
  • The Rollover Plan: (are these sounding like cellular bundling options?) up to a designated limit and with extra advanced notice to your resourcing team, allow employees to roll over PTO from 2020 into 2021

03 / Small Wins, Big Progress

From Aaron Powers
Counting the non-work related, often minuscule wins during the pandemic is essential to seizing a sense of progress - especially when big wins can be few and far between.
Why It Matters
While some may have grown accustomed to today's extraordinary working circumstances, the reality of living in a pandemic can't be overlooked, nor can its impact on our mental health and ability to produce quality work. Counting the many micro-wins that populate our day can help us feel a sense of progress, remain engaged, and stay grounded.
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Close each work day this week with a "wins" list - every accomplishment, big, small, or in between that made a difference for you.
While counting our wins isn't new news, the ability to refocus on positive progress amid the current health crisis can be unexpectedly rejuvenating. Further, by mixing personal wins with professional wins, we gain a comprehensive sense of our progress - rather than siloing professional from personal. Further, ritualizing our own positivity can turn into a lasting, healthy contribution to our self-esteem.

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