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Edition 328 – Connectedness

A couple of weekends back, I took part in the Ford Falcon Tribute Cruise from Sydney to Mount Panorama in Bathurst.  After two years of no cruise due to COVID, this year’s event was in support of, and raised money for, the victims of domestic violence.

As a passionate car guy, it was fantastic to be part of a procession of 250 Ford Falcons as we made our way up and over the Blue Mountains. Along our journey, the thumbs up from other drivers, the flashing approval of oncoming traffic headlights and the waves from the side of the road were a nod to Australia’s motoring heritage. Yet, it was much more than that.

I caught up with one guy I know at the first meet point at Eastern Creek. As the conversation moved from his car to his welfare, he passed on the sad news that his partner had passed away last August. I was shocked at his news and the depth of his loss was evident by the look on his face. When the conversation moved to his elderly father in the UK, he conveyed the news that his father passed away five days after his partner had. My shock continued, not only at how life’s fate had dealt him such a cruel blow, when we were all in lockdown, but at his resilience as he told me his story.

Another conversation with a young bloke, whose 1999 Falcon was in immaculate condition and was at the event with his younger brother and his father, also moved from cars to life. Both of these young men, who were respectful, humble and genuinely great examples of the love and caring invested by their parents over the years, had recently lost their mother to illness. Their father, during the conversation about cars, had confirmed that he and I were both born in the same year, one month apart. He was a widower at 54 and his sons lost their mother before they each came off their P-plates.

A one day car meet proved to me that, more than anything, the importance of connectedness in a world that has experienced so much upheaval in the past two years, is crucial to our mental wellbeing.

The same applies to your team. If they’re working from home, that might be efficient for some of the functions they’re performing, but is it right for their welfare, long term?

As I read the stories of large corporates struggling to encourage people back into the office in the post-lockdown world, I’m seeing it as a resource directive, not one aimed at connectedness and the wellbeing of the individual.

Similarly, if your team are always working in the field, I continue to remain astounded at businesses that aren’t doing anything about having their team reconnect physically and socially. Frankly, I can’t see anything but long term consequences for businesses that aren’t bringing their people together and just for a moment, engaging with them as people, not as resources.

A wise man once informed me that as people, we long for human interaction. As owners and managers of family business, that doesn’t necessarily mean we need to make everyday in our businesses one giant party. However, in an environment where almost every business is complaining about a lack of staff, what I’m not seeing from some businesses is anything different in terms of employee engagement.

This Week’s Tip

“If you’re not engaging with them now, someone else may well be before too long.”