Coping with pandemic change? Reread ‘Green Eggs and Ham’

July 22, 2020

This paid piece is sponsored by SDN Communications.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said “change is the only constant in life.”

And the past four months have delivered plenty. Where better to turn for lessons in coping than Dr. Seuss’ well-known book “Green Eggs and Ham.”

You read that right. It’s one of the stories, though non-biblical, that Pastor John Warden with Corporate Care has used recently while sharing weekly devotionals with employees at SDN Communications.

The premise of the story is simple — the narrator adamantly does not want to try green eggs and ham. He is repeatedly asked to do so by his friend Sam I Am. Eventually — spoiler alert — he relents and, to his amazement, learns that he does indeed like green eggs and ham.

While Dr. Seuss’ books are for children, this simple message of trying something new — and learning that you may like it — is a great reminder for all ages, Warden said.

“Sometimes, change is exactly what we need. We need someone to push us. If you feel stuck, consider a change. If you’re trying things one way and they’re not working, try another,” Warden told those listening in. “You don’t have to wait for a new year to change course or start fresh.”

Changes in the way SDN staff members have been working because of the COVID-19 pandemic also have affected how Warden can serve them. Warden joined the SDN team in September 2019 as an added benefit to employees by providing on-site pastoral care and short-term counseling.

When many SDN staff members began working remotely in mid-March, Warden continued his services, initially using email to connect with employees. In working with director of human resources Amy Preator, Warden has been able to continue his outreach to employees — which is perhaps more important than ever in these unprecedented times with unprecedented levels of stress, he said.

Warden started his role with SDN by making rounds throughout the office to touch base with employees. He also had an on-site office that allowed for private conversations. Technology has enabled Warden to continue his service to SDN staff. Weekly devotionals take place Thursday afternoons via Microsoft Teams calls, and Warden is available for video chats, texts, emails and calls as needed.

“It takes awhile to build relationships and to build trust. I’m glad I had those six months in place to build some of those relationships,” Warden said.

He said the initial messages he has shared were focused on trusting God, fear, anxiety, stress — topics that were relevant to the world’s current situation. Many of the conversations Warden has had with employees these past few months have addressed concerns such as educating children from home, anxiety about the future, dealing with isolation and the fear of getting sick. These are all normal reactions, Warden said.

While Warden is Christian and shares messages from that viewpoint, he stresses that people don’t have to follow the same religion for him to be a resource.

“I’m there to support employees through personal issues or the challenges they face through work — not every conversation goes to the Bible. These conversations do branch into deeper things,” Warden said. “Even someone with very different beliefs (from me) can still benefit from someone encouraging and supporting them.”

Lately, Warden’s messages have been broader than COVID-19, including stories about people in the Bible and the trials they’ve gone through. And yes, that includes finding profound lessons in simple stories like “Green Eggs and Ham.” He’s grateful for the opportunity to serve the employees, to celebrate their joys and milestones, and to be a resource when there are struggles.

Warden quoted statistics that 69 percent of employees nationwide said work is a significant source of their stress and that 51 percent said they were less productive at work as a result of stress. Warden said having someone as a part of the team whose sole purpose is to encourage and support staff can make a huge impact on employee satisfaction and reducing job stress.

“I hear almost weekly ‘thanks for taking the time,’ ” he said. “Our role has changed from face-to-face to more digital, but we are still a great resource for any company that sees the need for coming alongside and supporting and caring for employees in a better way. I think we’re seeing that there’s a great benefit for the employees.”

SDN is a leader in providing business internet, private networking and cloud connectivity to businesses and organizations in communities such as Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Worthington, Minn., and the surrounding areas.

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Coping with pandemic change? Reread ‘Green Eggs and Ham’

“Sometimes, change is exactly what we need. We need someone to push us.” This company is using a corporate chaplain to help employees cope with change, and he shared some simple wisdom worth passing along.

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