According to the Collins Dictionary, wholeness is defined as the quality of being complete or a single unit and not broken or divided into parts.
I am a great believer in allowing people to bring their 100 per cent personal self to work. As Director Global Business to Business, IT & Digital Solutions, at Telstra, with almost 700 members located in 14 offices across the world, and the added challenge of different time zones, a sense of wholeness is an essential component to our success.
Working for an organisation committed to diversity and inclusion, I don’t want any of my team members leaving parts of themselves at the office door, and collecting those pieces up and possibly leaving “work parts” behind at the end of the day. Each team member is not just a representation of their technical and professional skills. Their personal experiences influence the diversity of how and why they make their decisions and choose which actions to take in the workplace. This enriches our workplace and customers’ experiences.
Of course, in encouraging my team to bring their whole self to work I must reciprocate, particularly for those who identify as carers in my team. The global definition from International Alliance of Carer Organisation (IACO) defines a carer (or caregiver / family caregiver) as ‘an unpaid individual, such as a family member, neighbour, friend or other significant individual, who takes on a caring role to support someone with a diminishing physical ability, a debilitating cognitive condition or a chronic life-limiting illness’.
Most Telstra employees are entitled to use Personal (Sick/Carers) Leave to provide care or support to a member of their immediate family or household who is sick, injured or the subject of an unexpected emergency. Through All Roles Flex, our flexible working arrangements policy, individuals can explore flexible working arrangements with their managers and teams. I do this among my own team and encourage leaders in Global Business to Business IT to do the same with their team members.
Some of my team members have carer responsibilities. This may include needing to attend regular health appointments or being able to work from home. I encourage open discussions with my team so collectively we understand how we can support those accessing carer’s leave or flexible working and make appropriate arrangements fair to all team members and the business. It is part of our team’s culture.
One of my team members has a son diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. He attends various education classes for his fine and gross motor skills. To help manage her carer responsibilities, she works from home one day a week. I also recognise caring for someone with these challenges means there can be some days where life does not go according to plan. On those days I understand caring comes first. I also know because of that open arrangement and understanding around flexibility, I can still rely on her to deliver.
Which brings me back to my belief of ensuring my team members can bring their whole self to work. If they compartmentalise their life then challenges become distractions. If they are welcomed into an environment whole they will be supported to give their all.
Technology moves fast and we must meet the demands of our customers. But, the careers of my team members who are also carers are also valued. Through regular check-ins I can ensure my working carers can continue to develop, while drawing on the flexible work environment.
Telstra is a carer-friendly workplace and supports its people to bring their whole selves to work.