Category Archives: Leadership

What’s an Employer to Do During a Tripledemic?

COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, but remember when other things made us sick? They’re still around, lingering and ready for mingling. ‘Tis the season… for a tripledemic.

Medical experts and health officials are worried about this winter’s rising flu, COVID-19, and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) cases colliding into a so-called “tripledemic.”

The Situation

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Unfortunately, children are among the hardest hit this season for a variety of reasons, including lack of exposure during COVID contributing to more severe illness once kids do get sick, and viruses surging earlier. The current surge in illnesses is even contributing to shortages of over the counter children’s cold medications used for symptom relief, as well as certain prescription drugs. All of this contributes to the stress of caring for a sick child, even when moderately ill and recovering at home.

Even normal cold and flu season sets off a certain chain reaction of scrambling: kids are out of childcare or school, parents have to figure out work, and employers have to fill in the gaps. COVID took this scenario to a whole new level. But here we are in the final stretch of 2022, and according to recent US Department of Labor data, absences from work due to childcare issues hit a record high just this past October.

You might think that the past two plus years taught us something about how to plan for illness, absence, and “plan B” a bit better. But the fact of the matter is: employers are still figuring it out (some better than others). COVID’s hard lessons, when everyone seemed to be sick, and no one could go to work or school, at times seem easily forgotten now.

While entire school and childcare facilities aren’t closing these days, employees caring for kids sick with the flu, COVID, RSV, or something else are feeling the squeeze during this latest surge of sickness. But employers need to keep things going, too.

Obligations and Opportunities

So, what’s an employer to do during a tripledemic? Much depends on the details, of course, but these steps are a good place to start.

  1. Comply with leave laws. An employer, and more specifically those handling absence and leave requests for an employer, should know and understand the state and local leave laws that apply to the organization. When an employee needs time away from work to care for a sick child, employer reps must be able to recognize what’s covered under the law to ensure that an employee receives all the time off to which they are entitled. This may include leave under temporary leave laws that sprang up during COVID, as well as permanent paid sick leave laws, family and medical leave laws, and public health emergency leave laws covering vaccination, quarantine, or other specified events. But employers should also not forget about the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which may provide eligible employees with job-protected leave if a child’s respiratory illness meets the definition of a serious health condition.
  2. Follow (or implement) time off policies. An employer may have paid or unpaid sick leave, family and medical leave, or other time off policies that may apply to eligible employees with qualifying child care needs. Employer reps need to know and understand when these policies apply to childcare-related situations, too. Also, if your organization is in a jurisdiction with mandatory leave laws, ensure that the organization’s own policies do not conflict with the law’s requirements. An employer without such a policy may wish to consider implementing one to address childcare-related needs.
  3. Consider flexible work. An employer may wish to consider temporary flexible work arrangements (remote work, flexible schedules, shift swapping, etc.), either in conjunction with a leave of absence or after an employee has exhausted their available leave time. Be mindful, however, of how you handle these requests and avoid discriminatory treatment (e.g., denying an older employee unpaid leave or the opportunity to work remotely while allowing younger parents to do so; or treating a childcare-related accommodation or leave request differently based on an employee’s gender). Administered appropriately, flexible work can bridge gaps for an employee with temporary childcare challenges while allowing an employer to retain talented and valued employees.


  • Start with a conversation. Employers should involve employees in discussions about childcare challenges and possible solutions (and document them).
  • Communicate expectations. If flexible work will be part of a childcare challenge solution, an employer should clearly communicate its expectations of the employee during this period. For example, you can use a remote work agreement to memorialize what you expect from the employee in terms of performance, work hours, responsibilities, and timekeeping.
  • Accept that separation may occur. Understand that in some situations, employee separation (whether voluntary or based on an employer’s business needs) may be unavoidable. For example, an employee may resign if no leave options or remote work options are available.

Final Thoughts

‘Tis the season for empathy and understanding, too. A little grace can go a long way towards helping everyone get through this sanity-stealing season.

This tripledemic may not be the holiday gift anyone wants, but it may provide employers with a lesson worth revisiting: planning for illness and absence, and having a “plan B” is critical, no matter the season.

Source:  XpertHR

These common, well-meaning phrases have a negative impact

Whether they realize it or not, leaders have a disproportionate impact on others. It’s not just what they do, but also what they say, that influences how people feel, think, and act.

Unsurprisingly, a range of recent scientific studies show that CEOs’ language (e.g., more positive words, more realistic claims, more trustworthy remarks) predicts the future stock price of their companies, as well as the success of their business strategy. Likewise, AI-mining of a leader’s words, which can be translated into a valid profile of their personality, predicts their ESG policies.

Importantly, it is not just machines, but also humans who are sensitive to leaders’ language; so, if you are a leader, paying attention to what you say and how you say it is critical to effectively influencing others, not to mention closing the gap between what you say and what you do.

In particular, understanding potential mismatches between your desired intention and others’ actual interpretation of your language is crucial.

Consider a few common leadership phrases that may cause unintended problems, especially when we judge their potential effects on followers.


On the one hand, this is a statement of impeccable logic. On the other hand, it’s a sure way to kill any debate or discussion. In fact, this line is a call to inaction. It’s a self-defeating acceptance that nothing can be done to improve on a poor state of affairs—to be used if you are interested in instilling a sense of helplessness in your team, smashing the doors of hope in their face.


Problems come in different sizes, and there’s no question that one person’s problems may be another person’s dreams. For example, microaggressions are preferable to overt violence and discrimination, and a slow Wi-Fi connection is surely better than lacking water, electricity, or heat.

However, people don’t measure their happiness relative to other people’s suffering, and the fact that second or third world problems may have been extinguished in certain places is testimony to people’s hard work, and their dissatisfaction with their status quo. For example, if you think that gender inequality or racial injustice is a trivial matter today, relative to what it was 50 or a hundred years ago, then you are clearly not contributing to making things better.

Things don’t improve by osmosis, but through nonconformity, defiance of the status quo, and a relentless desire to make things better. The things you enjoy today are the result of actions that were triggered by a strong opposition to yesterday’s norms. Hard work is required to create tomorrow’s first world problems, and ensure that they are an actual upgrade.


At the end of one of his plays, Oscar Wilde wrote, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us look at the stars,” which is a rather appropriate illustration of optimism. Yet, while we tend to assume optimism is a strength, there is also a downside to positivity.

People generally suffer from an optimism bias, which should make realistic, skeptical, and brutally honest leaders an asset. The ability to provide your team and organization—even your nation—with a reality check can trigger the necessary changes in their behavior to drive progress. If you don’t understand what’s wrong, your chances of getting better are limited.

Looking on the bright side is okay, as long as you also contemplate the dark side. A realistic assessment of risks and rewards should be the norm in all leaders, but leaders are often rewarded for telling people what they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear. Imagine you have a doctor that only tells you the good things about your health. That’s surely more rewarding than someone who tells you the truth—good and/or bad. But what’s better for you in the long term?


This is an appealing notion, but rarely true. As a matter of fact, there is always something to worry about. Of course, nobody wants to be paralyzed by worries, and there’s usually no reason to turn your concerns into clinical anxiety or pathological fear.

However, part of being a responsible human is to have the emotional and intellectual maturity to process events as what they are: opportunities that tend to come with certain risks. There is always an upside and a downside. If your approach to interpreting reality is to distort it in your favor—as if a positive outlook would somehow translate into magical events—you better never wake up from your dreams.

Many of these phrases are attempts to give people what they want, or tell people what they want to hear. However, the essence of leadership is not to please others. It’s not a popularity or likability contest. Leadership is the ability to coordinate human activity, to enable people to collaborate effectively, and to turn a group of people into a high-performing team.

This requires a certain maturity in your followers and employees, but part of your job is to create it. You do this by building an honest relationship with people, and convincing them that your expertise, experience, and judgment can help them make better decisions. Populist shortcuts designed to boost leaders’ popularity or power in the short term tend to harm the team’s performance in the long term.

Source:  Fast Company