Simon Biles’ Story Is Closer To Home Than We Think


The summer Olympics look a little different this year due to post pandemic protocols and many Olympians are feeling the effects. With new training regulations, strict travel rules and fear of contracting the virus, athletes participating in this year’s summer Olympics have a lot to contend with.

Perhaps the most concerning effect the pandemic has had on the 2021 summer games is Simon Biles’ surprising withdrawal. Considered one of the top gymnasts of her time, Biles' brave withdrawal was about protecting her mental and physical health.

With empty stands and enhanced isolation, athletes are subject to a challenging era of Olympics that no one has experienced before. And with no support of family and friends nearby, the mental stress has proved to be enormous.

Reflecting on our own workforce

This story has captured headlines around the world, but we cannot neglect the fact that post pandemic rules and regulations may have an impact on our own people. Now, more than ever, our job as leaders is to acknowledge this, to adapt and change the way we are leading to account for the mental health issues our people may be experiencing.

In a recent Conner Chat webinar, we spoke to several top leaders in business today about how the pandemic has changed the workforce and what we, as leaders, can do. A key take away from our chat is the importance of listening to our people and how digging in and representing each person individually within your company is essential for company culture.

You may ask yourself how this is possible. How can we consider all of our employees as individuals?

If you look at Netflix and Amazon, they interact with you, they know what to recommend on your feed and this is part of the reason they are so successful. Everything is attuned to us as individuals and as family, so if we make similar decisions with how we approach our benefits, we can bring our people into our culture and allow them to really feel they are a part of the business.

Recovering from the pandemic together

To ensure the summer games were able to proceed this year, many adjustments were made and new protocols were established. As we begin to move forward with our own businesses we too, need to be flexible to post pandemic problems and procedures. Just as the Olympics needed to address each sport and athlete, we need to consider each of our employees and their positions.

Some employees may be eager to return to the office because they have young children that make working from home difficult or some that are living alone and feel isolated and lonely. On the other hand, we have some employees who could find it difficult to return to the office because of the long commute or are single parents who have no childcare options.

There are many different environments that we need to pursue as leaders, reaching out to our employees individually to know what they need. Then we can invest in our people by investing in our benefits plans. By doing so we can also unlock sources of revenue that can be reinvested into the business in a meaningful way.

We can help our people navigate easier 

We've never had to deal with a global crisis such as this as a society, making us the first leaders of our time to help navigate our employees through such an impactful event.

Armed with empathy and understanding we can look at how employees respond to us as an organization. We need to acknowledge that our people are facing challenges that no one expected. Once we achieve this we can look at our benefits program holistically to address mental health resources and provide our employees with as many of these resources they need to engage in a way that is comfortable for them.

Perhaps we need to provide flexible policies, child care benefits or paid time off for our employees. Knowing what our people are going through and understanding what they need to feel comfortable when returning to the office or dealing with post pandemic problems is important so we can provide the benefits to help.

We need to reach into our company culture and let it guide the way we lead. Simon Biles felt comfortable making a tremendous decision at this year’s summer games perhaps because she knew she had the support of her coach and team behind her. Let’s make sure we support our people.


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