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It Takes a Village But the Village is Gone

It takes a village to raise a child and it also takes a village to keep us healthy and sane but guess what? We have eliminated the village and trying to put everything the village used to give us on our work and even on one partner.


We set expectations nobody can meet. Well done!


We expect our partner to be our best friend, soulmate, travel partner, confidante, gym buddy, the person who looks after our physical and psychological needs, the one who comes with us to the cinema, does the weekly grocery shopping with us, to gossip with, to make us happy, laugh and smile.


Jesus! And you wonder why people rather be single. This is unrealistic. Nobody can fulfil these expectations.


Let's let's look at the expectations we place on our employer/work/HR. We want work to look after our mental health, wellbeing (social mental, financial, physical), happiness, work-life balance, social life, and psychological fulfilment, give us a sense of achievement & purpose, set goals for us, make a career plan, train & develop us, keep us engaged, offer us promotion, notice us for promotion, care about us as individuals, notice when we are not feeling well and give us support, consider our circumstances and offer accommodations accordingly, provide or be our counsellor/therapist/coach/mentor, feed us, tackle societal issues that are important for us, psychological safety, engagement, motivation etc.. Take all the HR buzz words...


All these used to be provided by the village that surrounded us. Your immediate family, partner, spouse, children, parents, grandparents, neighbours, friends, random people in the pub you chat shit with now and then, activities in the local community centre, colleagues, etc...


But today this village is gone (watch the video!). People built virtual networks that provide none of the above. We followed work like the 12 apostles followed Jesus believing that it would give us the fulfilment that we need only to end up thousands of miles away (often dragging our partner and kids with us) from our villagers feeling empty, lonely or unhappy. We then get upset and ask the job "Hey, I made the sacrifice, I followed you, now you need to make me happy and satisfy my needs." it sounds insane but this is exactly what we do.


Maybe, just maybe, it is not that organisations need to drastically change but the employees' circumstances outside of work and things will fall into place. My grandparents or parents never expected so much from work as we do. For them it was something they did so we could live. Work wasn't their lives. Their lives were the villagers.


How can we expect HR/work/employers to take on this responsibility while we abdicated all of our responsibilities over our wellbeing? Employers are trying but people are just whining, moaning and complaining and I am not even surprised.

We cannot replace a village with HR activities. Sorry.

Maybe it is time that employers and employees sit down and set clear expectations around what is expected from the parties. It is not that complicated. What we cannot continue doing is people constantly using mental health to justify their performance, absence, quitting etc. We cannot have employees telling managers "Your feedback is stressing me out and impacting my mental health." We would not be that fragile if we had the village behind us supporting us mentally, emotionally, or financially. But we got rid of the village and opted for a peaceful life.


Well, you got it. It is peaceful because all you have left is your job, cats, dogs, social media, Netflix, and travelling with strangers so you can make a video about how happy you are titled "Single ladies travelling."


PS: It doesn't mean that we don't have work to be done from the organisations' side. This is not your get-me-out-of-jail card!


Also, maybe we went to the extreme with this self-love narrative. This is what it looks and feels like when you only love yourself. It is lonely and depressing. So maybe, knock on your neighbour's door today and ask that 85-year-old if you could do something for them. See what happens.



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