Photo of Stacey Harris, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Contributor

Stacey Harris, HR Tech Weekly Co-host and HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Contributor

It is inevitable that time passes and seasons change. Too often we shift from one season to another without taking the time to mark the passing, acknowledge the changes, and say “Thank You” to those who have shared our journey. As many of you are aware I am experiencing a significant change in my life this season – my courageous husband lost his battle with cancer this summer. We mourn him deeply.

When I started writing this post I had not planned on mentioning my husband directly. It seemed inappropriate to mention such a private thing in a professional setting; however, I felt compelled to say “Thank You” to so many people who supported me, my colleagues, and our labor of love, the Annual HR Systems Survey, while I was focused on my husband and family over the last year. I didn’t want to be cryptic in saying, “Thank You for that mysterious thing that necessitated family leave for this summer.” It felt too sad to think that I couldn’t mention an event that has obviously had such a deep impact on me as a person and, without a doubt, will have an impact on my work – because it simply cannot be any other way.

As HR professionals, we see first-hand how important it is to help people find a way to blend their personal and professional worlds in a way that is healthy and meaningful. Everyone finds that balance a little differently, based on their own upbringing, professional experiences, and work environments. One irrefutable fact remains – belonging to a caring community is crucial in helping individuals bear the inevitable losses of this world.

thank you image for Sierra-Cedar Annual HR systems surveyI want to take time today to reflect on an HR Technology community that has consistently answered the call to support the Sierra-Cedar Survey, and has always been willing to share a part of each of themselves in the process. Normally, I spend my summer encouraging, coaxing, and yes sometimes badgering people to take hours out of their limited free time to respond to a very lengthy HR Systems Survey. Our annual research is only as good as our data, and my primary focus during the long hot days of summer is supporting that survey.

This summer, everything was turned upside down for me. Instead, my colleagues and the HR community gathered around me. Not only did I receive prayers, thoughts, cards, meals, and a few giggling baby pictures to make me smile – but I also never once had to worry about the Survey responses. So many of you helped to get the word out this year, and whether you knew it or not, your assistance and responses meant a great deal to me and my family.

I came back from family leave unsure of how to move forward – yet knowing that I must keep moving onward, knowledge that everyone who faces a loss soon realizes. My first reaction was to dive right back into work, answering emails and analyzing data – only acknowledging my personal loss when I needed to explain my absence. When a heart is grieving, sometimes the best thing we can do is stay busy. That worked for a while, but eventually we all need to slow down.

This week, in the silence of my office, I took time to reflect on some of the questions we all reflect on when faced with life and death – Why is my work important? Am I personally doing something that makes a difference? Was any of this work worth one less hour with my husband? The answer for me this week came in the form of statistics. The number of survey responses we received this year was heartwarming, but also a bit overwhelming – we received 27% more individual responses this summer compared to last year. We are currently analyzing data from over 1,528 individual organizations that provided over 4,000 written comments and shared their insights from 54 countries around the world. Every person who responded to our survey had a voice, and desire to be heard. We were their megaphone. We could help them make a difference. I just have to figure out a way to tell their story.

What does your continued participation in the survey tell us at Sierra-Cedar? It reminds us of the generosity and the importance of paying it forward by working together to understand the challenges and successes of the industry as a whole. This way of giving back increases collaboration and helps us all hone the technology and processes that mean so much to our employees when they are facing their own need to blend their personal and professional lives.

My husband was a youth and high school football coach, with a never-ending passion for his work and the kids he helped each year. He saw first-hand the impact that career choices could have on the families he worked with each day and the kids he watched graduate throughout the years. He never let me forget how important our work was in HR, that each choice we made, each person we supported, each technology we improved touched someone’s family. He was my biggest advocate.

Today, both Sierra-Cedar and I would like to personally thank all of our participating organizations and our distributors – in your own way you made a very big difference.

In the fall, I’ll once again take to the road as an HR Technology analyst, visiting vendor events and sharing our findings at conferences around the world.  I’m grateful for this annual project which gives me the opportunity to continue to give back in both large and small ways, and provides a connection to our amazing community.

If you’d like to stop me, please do. A hug will tell me all I need to know. If I tear up, don’t worry – they are simply tears of love.

Cancer is a something that has touched all of us; it plays no favorites and it takes something from everyone. Our gift as HR leaders, managers, and co-workers is that we can give something back; we can provide security, time, understanding, and sometimes, eventually, a shoulder to cry on.

Thank you everyone.

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