(Or today, in the snowshoes of others)

December 17, 2020

The sun sets early today in Portland. To be precise, at 4:05 p.m. That moment, when the sun says goodbye to the horizon, marks the last night of Hanukkah. In my house, that means sizzling potato pancakes (latkes) with sour cream and applesauce and nine candles flickering in the menorah as a reminder that there is light around the corner.

That corner is a bit farther away this year. We’re missing our holiday gatherings. We’re missing our friends. We’re worried about our loved ones. As HR leaders, we recognize this almost universal experience among our employees.

So, how do we search for that light? The concept of Tikkum Olan translates from Hebrew literally as “healing the world.” It starts by putting oneself in the shoes of others, and I see it as a two-part journey for my company.

First, the team at Strategic HR has built that into our community values. It’s why we support the Good Shepherd Food Bank, OHI, Preble Street, the Southern Maine Area Agency on Aging and other social service organizations. This year, they all cry out for our kindness.

Second, as conference curator, I try to place myself in the shoes of others when piecing together the jigsaw puzzle that we call a conference. This year, I’m imagining what life is like for working women, particularly working moms. Journalists, sociologists, and psychologists are thinking and writing about this. While I’m more than a bit removed from the direct experience, my exploration of this subject is intended to bring meaningful sessions to the Maine HR Convention screen next spring. How has Covid 19 disrupted the career paths of professional women and all working women disproportionately? What does this mean for the workforce of the future? What are the generational differences? What’s the impact on employee engagement? And maybe, just maybe, is there some counterintuitive hope for a better approach to work/life balance resulting from this experience?

These two journeys in the shoes of others keep me and my team hopeful.

Wishing all our HR friends peace and a meaningful journey in search of that light. May it arrive on your doorstep soon.

Bud Bernstein
Curator for Strategic HR U.S.