Sliding Doors of Corporate Policy Response

The name Olark is on the tip of many tongues in the b2b Twittersphere. Even beyond! It isn’t often that People Magazine is writing about HR issues at a live chat software company.

To get you up to speed: a web developer wrote the company’s out of office email listserv to announce she was taking a day off for mental health reasons. There were, of course, an infinite amount of reactions that could have followed this email — many negative. This story, however, is positive.

The CEO of the company thanked the employee for her honesty via email and used the opportunity to remind all staff that they should take time for their own mental health.

This is a departure from the expected norm at a corporation — that sick days are only for physical sickness, or that employees are encouraged to soldier silently through any issues. Kindness from a executive in a cut-throat industry? That’s a recipe for viral success. So, the employee asked if she could Tweet out his response and here we are.

In this instance, a kind and IMO correct answer led to great exposure for a company. But the opposite could have just been true. The CEO could have responded negatively, saying this is not an acceptable reason. The employee could have posted the same response without consulting the boss and then Olark would have a very different story to tell.

And, who knows, someone who had a very different experience than advertised here could go tell their own story, muddling the narrative. Attention is cheap and plentiful and the Internet is constantly lapping up more. Companies would be wise to remember that every day.