The Undivided Life Blog


Medical Leave is NOT Vacation

company culture leadership mindset Oct 08, 2023
Jeff Schiefelbein in the hospital with his son

Have you ever taken time away from work for a medical need? Have you stayed with a sick child in the hospital, tended to the mental health of a loved one, had a new baby, adopted a child, mourned the loss of a family member, or had your own medical challenges?

Did your time away from work feel like a chance to recharge your batteries?

Of course not!

Yet we often hear how people in the working world seem to confuse medical leave with vacation.

I know from personal experience how taxing life becomes when you or your family member is admitted to the hospital. Over the past 18 months, I’ve slept on those uncomfortable hospital chairs next to one of my sick kids on seven different extended stays. I’ve also been blessed to welcome my 6th child in the summer of 2022 while juggling kids at home and the everyday demands of life.

I am blessed to have been in career situations where no one questioned my loyalty and work ethic when I still took family vacations after so many medical leaves. Unfortunately, that is not the case for many others.

I can recall hearing a business leader say he couldn’t believe the audacity of a team member for planning a vacation after the “time off” she had recently for a medical leave. And while that conversation occurred “behind closed doors,” the sentiment works its way into the communication and attitudes that exist within an organization.

I made a LinkedIn post about this topic that went viral for one reason – this concept struck a nerve with many people. I received countless messages detailing the trauma people had endured from their employers who made them feel guilty or flat-out denied their ability to take time off for short-term medical needs and vacations.

And we wonder why it’s so hard to keep good employees...

Let’s get clear about a few truths:

  • Staying with a kid in the hospital is not a vacation.
  • Maternity leave is not a time of rest.
  • Paternity leave does not recharge your batteries.
  • Mental health needs need to be addressed now, not on nights and weekends only.

Human beings should be given the freedom and support to address family needs AND take ample time off for recreation and recovery.

Employees who feel respected, appreciated, challenged, and dignified reciprocate with creativity, focus, an owner’s mindset, and loyalty.

Great company culture doesn’t happen by chance. But it can be designed and implemented when you work with experts like the team we have built at Undivided Life.

Contact Us to explore a better path forward for your organization today.

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