Discussion Thread

  • 1.  Importance of Emotional Support from Your Office Team.

    Posted 11-11-2019 11:08 AM
    In my short career, I have always felt very supported by my peers, both emotionally and technically. From allowing me to take a few days off after a family problem to help me be prepared for my PE. There is something to be said about that kind of support in your life and work. Another example I can think of is when we bought our first home; everyone at the office volunteered their Saturday to help us move in. This kind of support makes me feel like I am part of a family and not just another employee at the company. 

    How have you felt emotionally supported by your company? How have you supported someone else who needs support?

    Luis Duque EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Broomfield CO

  • 2.  RE: Importance of Emotional Support from Your Office Team.

    Posted 11-12-2019 09:36 AM
    I agree - it is a wonderful thing to work with people who care about each other. But, I think it is important to note that, in order to receive the emotional support we need, we typically must make ourselves vulnerable to those around us. If we keep our struggles to ourselves, then those around us might not know we need support, or they might feel afraid to bring something up themselves.

    In July of this year, I gave birth to my 4th child. During the pregnancy, at our 20-week anatomy ultrasound, we found out that our baby showed signs of spina bifida. I am naturally pretty open with people, so I asked my boss if I could share the news at our department meeting. I am still amazed at the love my work family showed to me and my husband. They generously donated funds to us to help with extra expenses that were involved with my daughter's birth. My bosses were incredibly supportive of me during the pregnancy and were very understanding with all the extra doctors appointments. It was such a relief not to feel like I had to worry about my job during the pregnancy. Instead, I knew that I could talk to my boss and he was willing to help me if things got too stressful. (Honestly, though, God sustained me through everything and I had so much peace during the pregnancy!)

    I have also been on the other side of things, when I knew someone was going through something, but they didn't openly share it with me. I know not everyone is as open as me, but I hope that my coworkers know they can share their struggles with me and I will be there to support them. Ultimately, in the situations where we need to respect someone's privacy, we can still be supportive through indirect means - such as finding ways to help with their workload if they seem overly stressed out, or simply by being kind to them in daily interactions.

    Kelly Farabee P.E., M.ASCE
    Savannah GA

  • 3.  RE: Importance of Emotional Support from Your Office Team.

    Posted 11-18-2019 10:37 AM
    I am also blessed to have coworkers that feel like family. I agree with Kelly that in order to foster that kind of environment, we have to let each other in. To what degree and how quickly people are okay with that will vary person to person. It just takes some discernment to know what/how to share with others.

    This last year I struggled with some medical issues, and one of the side-effects was depression. I didn't want to go anywhere. Every little thing that didn't go right felt like a devastating blow. My "inner voice" constantly told me that people were going to resent that my contributions weren't what they had been previously.
    I was honest with my bosses about what was happening. I didn't give all the details, but enough that they understood that my changes in my routine and attitude weren't a reflection of how much I valued my job.
    I told the guys I sit with what was happening and things that helped or made it worse. They were nothing short of understanding and accommodating. The guys are sometimes more like brothers than just coworkers, and knowing that they cared helped me though so many days of fighting what was happening while trying to get my projects out the door.

    One of my favorite things to do for others is write notes of thanks or encouragement. I try to occasionally write notes to my mentors or peers thanking them for the contribution to both the company and my career development. If someone has confided in me about a specific loss or hurt, I will write them a note letting them know that I am here for them.  I also ask my coworkers questions about how they are doing outside of office hours. Questions can be about their spouse or kids, a hobby, some trip they've taken, etc. I think that knowing that the people around you care about you beyond what you have to offer them makes a huge difference in office culture.

    My desk area is covered in sticky notes and cards from friends, coworkers, interns, and my elementary school students from Reading Partners and church. They range from silly drawings to sweet words of encouragement. They serve as a reminder that there are people that care, and that means more than they could know.

    Heidi Wallace EI, A.M.ASCE
    Engineer Intern
    Tulsa OK