Your Work Relationship

Love your job? The pandemic crisis offers a pause to assess.

It is March of 2020. You are most likely working differently right now than you were at the beginning of the year, and noticing differences in how that feels.

The rat-race of business-as-usual is like an energized flywheel of momentum. We throw ourselves into our jobs as the activity and urgencies of everyone around us compel — and this drives a frenetic productivity across the workforce.

But the necessary responses to the Covid-19 pandemic have sent a shock through the system. In one direction, health care workers are called upon to sacrifice their time even more deeply, while trusting they will be granted the resources and discretion to be effective in their job — but also protected. In the other direction, many experience a pause due to the dramatic reduction in business activity and/or work-from-home, combined with closure of schools and child care. On both extremes, we experience an important contextual moment to assess our relationship with our employer.

Relationship Advice as a Lens

Over the past few years, my personal life led me to avidly consume a variety of offered wisdom on what constitutes strong (or toxic) relationships. I urge for such advice you look to the wisdom of the likes of Kris Gage, Jessica Wildfire or Karen Nimmo.

Of course, applying the relationship lens to employment is imperfect — but the perspective offers some insights you may find valuable. Consider the following (adapted) statements:

  1. You trust your company to treat you fairly and respectfully.
  2. You are confident in your value to the company.
  3. The company gives you the authority and resources you need.
  4. You identify as a company employee with pride — and share its values.
  5. You feel your job encourages you to learn, grow and develop your career.
  6. You and your company respect each others’ well-being and development.
  7. You and your employer double-down for each other in times of hardship.
  8. You are proud to work for the company — not making excuses for doing so.
  9. Your career progresses over time, not continually revisits the same issues.
  10. You have a passion for your products, customers, & employees: not apathy.
  11. The present and future look bright — you are not bound to the past.
  12. You have not fallen for “potential” — and recognize reality with clarity.
  13. At work you project a genuine self — not hide behind an awkward mask.
  14. Communication is open and honest — trust in place of blame/punishment.
  15. You feel confident and safe to be creative, innovative and take risks.

These are all transpositions of statements to consider when evaluating if you are in a good romantic relationship / marriage. Another metaphor common in dating and relationships is the “red flag” — a behavior, belief or characteristic that is symptomatic of a more fundamental issue sufficient to constitute a dealbreaker.

The financial stresses from the pandemic’s shut down may expose more plainly some red flags which would be otherwise hidden. For example, whether the company’s declared mission, culture, priorities and loyalties match the actions taken under duress.

Perhaps this is when we select how to devote our energy and loyalty to an employer we trust to double-down on us, even in the valleys — so that our talent, knowledge, skills and experience may raise them to new heights.

Further Reading

Samples from the relationship experts

STEM+Arts Advocate. I work in applying computational methods and digital technology at an industrial R&D lab. Views are my own.