This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

July 16, 2008

Supporting Family Centeredness

In this era when human resource professionals are practically expected to be magicians, any low-cost means for helping employees reduce their stress and be more engaged and productive is very welcome.

In our book, "Lean & Meaningful ", we defined "meaningfulness" at work with 12 elements; one was "Family Centeredness". Supporting family centeredness also helps to make an organization an Employer of Choice® (a registered certification mark of Employer of Choice, Inc.; for more about being recognized, visit

Helping HR professionals to support family centeredness is former "BusinessWeek" writer, Michelle Nichols. In 1998, Nichols unexpectedly lost her young son, Mark to brain cancer. Later, she put up two billboards along Houston's freeways in his memory, suggesting that parents hug their kids each day. The outpouring of response inspired Nichols to write her new book, "Hug your Kids Today!: 5 Lessons for Every Working Parent".

This 156-page, easy-to-read paperback book not only chronicles Nichols' story, but offers advice to stressed parents as well: "Don't try to 'balance'", says the author, "rather prioritize". She urges parents to "put family first and work a close second". "Spend a few minutes hugging your kids every morning", Nichols advises, "and you will have more peace of mind, joy, and success".

Her strong feelings about the value of hugs also prompted her to create "National Hug Your Kids Day". Next Monday, July 21, there are events scheduled in Georgia, Florida, California, and Nevada. In addition, eight of Major League Baseball's electronic billboards will highlight the special day. Several roadside billboards throughout the United States will promote the celebration. For more, visit (Incidentally, medical evidence proves that hugging is therapeutic for both parties, bolstering the immune system and creating endorphins that make people feel good.)

Encouraging working parents to hug their kids every morning is not a major undertaking and it will result in less-stressed employees. Expect more of these low-tech, yet effective ideas to support employees in many ways. We also anticipate seeing an uptick in the number of "lunch and learn" presentations with books like this one, delivered on parenting and other high-stress inducing challenges employees face.

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