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Behind A Successful Employee Stands a Supportive Family

Every year in December, we get buried in corporate Christmas greetings and presents. We get bottles of wine, boxes of chocolates, diaries and calendars, among others. But when I say “we”, I mean my husband, who receives all these gifts from his corporate contacts, clients, and service providers. We, his family, simply get a share of the loot from time to time.

What About Us, The Family?

It was thus a big surprise when the doorbell rang on Saturday morning, with a special delivery addressed to me. It was a Christmas basket from the best department store in town, filled with gourmet goodies including a bottle of red wine, 85% dark chocolates, a bottle of extra virgin olive oil, and many other goodies. It came with a Christmas card personally addressed to me from somebody I don’t know. But when I started reading the hand written note, it all became clear to me. Here are excerpts from the note (translated from German):

“It is the time of the year when I think not only of my employees but their families as well. I am aware how much effort your partner has exerted this year in keeping our company going, sometimes at the expense of his so-called work-life balance. It required a lot of understanding and support from your side to keep him going. I personally want to say thank you for your important role in your partner’s outstanding performance and productivity.

The card and the present were sent by my husband’s boss whom I’ve never met. Unlike in the US and other countries, corporate parties and events do not include spouses and partners in Switzerland. It’s a culture where career and personal life are kept separate. I’ve never meet his colleagues and their families. They do organize events that would sometimes include the children but the spouses are always left lurking in the background.

Genuine Sentiment or Just a Ploy?

Skeptics would say that the card and the gift were just corporate ploys to keep their employees happy. Maybe they were. But it sure feels great to be acknowledged in any way. I think it is an excellent corporate practice to give credit where credit is due. Because we, the family, do play an important role in our partners’ career. It’s not just about attending cocktail parties or making small social talk which I never get to do. We are the invisible helpers, the valet service who keeps the keep the shirts clean and ironed, the suits dry cleaned, the shoes polished. We are the cleaning service who keeps the house warm and clean, the catering service who cooks dinner and gets breakfast ready, the entertainment service who keeps everybody relaxed and happy.

It’s a cliché, but now more than ever, when times are hard, the adage “Behind every successful man stands a woman” holds true although I’d like to rephrase it as “Behind every successful employee stands a supportive family.”


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