Recently I’ve noticed there has been more discussion on ‘levensloop stress’ (life stress) in the workspace. It seems there’s more openness to break this taboo, that personal crises do happen, even to the best of accomplished professionals.
As a former academic/engineer expat from Indonesia, I know quite well what this life stress could be about for expats.
As an expat psychotherapist, I’ve been privileged to be the one that walks along other expats’ life journey.
As a corporate wellness consultant, I’m advocating wellness that’s aware of and attuned to the expats’ life situation. It’s cross-culture and thus more complex. But paying attention to this will greatly benefit your team as a whole, expats and non-expats altogether.
International professionals – expats – may be dealing with any of these:
- homesickness, and missing their loved ones back home,
- feeling lost in the new culture – and yes, social interactions could feel awkward,
- loneliness, while having no close friend nearby to talk to just like friends do,
- anxiety about their work performance – for some, their sense of home (i.e. visa status) is tied to their job contract,
- financial worries – as they send parts of their income to support their family back home,
- a heartbreaking long-distance relationship,
- or their romantic relationship may go through a rough patch because their joining partner has a hard time adjusting,
- family member back home not doing well or sick,
- they may silently suffer from mental illness and fear the consequence of telling their employer.
Compassion goes a long way. Yes, we are all professionals and we care about delivering results. In a compassionate workplace, employees (not only the expats) feel safe to open up about what could be a hurdle to their performance. They care to ask for support. That’s how it should be.
It’s about human being bros, whilst building the bottom line.
In compassionate work environments, research has found that employees are happier and more engaged in their work; they also foster better teamwork; have more satisfied customers, and they stay longer. Compassion is therefore not just about being kind to one another, it also builds the bottom line. – HRZone
If you’re the one being asked for that support, that means this person trusts you. You very likely have the power to influence more compassion in your workplace – even if you’re perhaps not yet aware of it. Choose always to act with compassion.