What Are Some Risks And Opportunities With Wellness In The Workplace?

Full Transcript Below

[ANNOUNCER]: Breaking down everyday workplace issues and diagnosing the hidden sickness not just the obvious symptom, our hosts James and Coby.


[COBY]: Did we lose a patient?


[JAMES]: No that’s just my lunch.


[COBY]: Hey thanks for joining us. I’m Coby, he’s James. So let’s get started with a question. What are some risks and opportunities with wellness in the workplace?


[JAMES]: Yeah. Well first of all welcome to season two of Diagnosing The Workplace: Not Just An HR Podcast! We’re excited to be in officially in our second season, we’ve had phenomenal response and listeners are fantastic for putting up with us for an entire year. So congratulations to you too, but in all seriousness. Talking about the wellness in the workplace is a huge deal. And really important because wellness affects so many different things. So first of all I want to talk about a little bit, and just… when we’re talking about wellness in the workplace, we’re focusing on the actions that an organization takes to promote positive physical, emotional, and mental health. And the most important part of the definition is the word “and”. And this is one of the areas that I see a lot of mistakes being made, is that organizations if they are looking at how to provide better wellness supports, they oftentimes look at one of the aspects of wellness as physical health, or emotional health, or mental health. And all three really need to be present to take care of or to provide wellness, or to improve the wellness of our employees. So what are the risks and opportunities? I think generally speaking the major risk is to undervalue or underestimate the direct impact that wellness has on productivity and profitability. And I think a great opportunity we have with wellness right now is that honestly it doesn’t take an awful lot to set yourself above and apart from your competition by providing wellness supports that actually improve the physical, emotional, and mental health of your employees. There’s a great opportunity right now to as wellness, mental health, physical health, emotional health is hugely important and a major priority for employees or job seekers, when we’re looking for new opportunities these things are kind of a key aspect that people want in, or craving in their jobs. So if you can capitalize on this, you can set yourself apart from the competition and really help your talent attraction and retention efforts.


[COBY]: Yeah and that’s absolutely 100% true. There is a golden opportunity to really take this stuff seriously and I think the key to doing that is going to be thinking about the, you know about the physical, the emotional, and, the mental health all combined. But I mean, wellness and like burnout have become like major workforce topics, especially in the last few years. They’ve always been important, but it’s something that has always been, it’s always been needed but it’s but it’s not always been wanted by businesses, as a solution for it. But I mean like you know like we’ve seen the pop-up of you know lots of you know great wellness consultants a lot of like new businesses in the tech sector popping up around trying to find wellness solutions. We’ve been kind of a part of supporting the kind of promotion of a Workforce Wellness conference hosted by Reuters Events. We’ve been doing some stuff, like I moderated a webinar to kind of promote the fall conference event with with Reuters Events. And I mean, you know like, we are very… we really do care about wellness in the workplace and Workforce Wellness. But like it’s something that we don’t often talk about in the podcast, as it’s own topic. I think this is the first time we’ve really kind of carved out wellness as being its own standalone topic, we often talk about things that will improve wellness like we talk about managing expectations has a great role in reducing a lot of stress and anxiety when it comes to people figuring out more of their emotional health around what their managers expect of them. We talked about things like unlimited PTO in last season you know how that can actually impact you know burnout and improve wellness. So we talk about it a lot in the context that through other topics, but I’m really excited to kind of dig into wellness kind of as its own topic for the podcast. And I think that’s something that again we take very seriously, but we also, I’m very excited that businesses have always needed support with with their Workforce Wellness, but it seems like in the past few years now they want support with it. And that’s been kind of the difference, is that they’ve always needed it, but they didn’t want it.


[JAMES]: Yes. I’m not sure that it’s a want as much as it’s no longer an option. It’s no longer, you can no longer approach wellness as work is work, home is home, leave your home life at home. Right? Which traditionally has been a very common approach many businesses have taken is, I don’t really care what’s going on in your personal life you have a job to do so leave that crap at the door, and just do your job. It’s always, that’s never really been the most productive way to engage in this conversation. But it has been a very common way that many businesses have engaged. I don’t know, I suspect this started beforehand but as with many things that we talk about COVID was really a catalyst for the, it’s no longer an option to discuss we now need to actually figure out how do we address this. Because COVID took a huge toll on physical, emotional, and mental health worldwide. Pandemic lockdowns, people like, the fear, the anxiety, the stress that came with that took a massive toll collectively on how on our wellness as a society, as individuals, as businesses. And I really don’t see it as an optional piece anymore. It’s something it is a core factor of your workplace. And if you are not properly accounting for this core factor of your workplace, you will suffer the consequences. You will suffer increased burnout, you will suffer increased turnover, and you will suffer from generally lower productivity. Like it’s just…


[COBY]: Yeah no, you’re right that, again and this is going back to this has always been a need. Like it’s always been an important topic but it’s, but I think you’re right that COVID really propelled this to the front of the national conversation. And it also really put a spotlight on the impact that it has when we don’t really take care of it. Everyone’s wellness dropped dramatically and it almost took something that significant for everyone to stop and take notice of ‘wow this has been kind of slowly eroding our workplaces’, but now we see what happens, you know kind of what happens all at once. But I mean like we say this has been an important topic, but like you know pre-COVID, like there’s a stat that we use in some of our training from GCC Insights that talks about you know even before, pre-COVID, employees would take an average of four sick days a year but admit to being being unproductive an average of 57.5 days a year. So…


[JAMES]: It’s huge. it is so…


[COBY]: So like they, you know, they weren’t sick enough to stay home but they came in and really just tried to push their way through it. So they were present, but they weren’t productive. And this is the, this is the term that we use for, this is the definition that we kind of use for the term Presenteeism. So Absenteeism is people being you know, emotionally, mentally, and physically burned out and not able to go to work. Presenteeism is when they’re physically, emotionally, and mentally burned out but showing up anyway, right? So it’s important to realize that you know, this… so we talk about burnout in some of our training and some of our webinars, but we usually talk about it in terms or in relation to Presenteeism. You know that, I’m sick I can’t work but I’m showing up anyway. And that expectation of people, well I don’t care if you’re on death’s door, you need to go to work. That is one of those pre-existing kind of mindsets that almost like let’s burnout and poor wellness erode our workplaces.


[JAMES]: Well if people can’t afford to take time off to recover or if there are not the supports in place for them to be able to disconnect from work or to adequately address their physical, emotional, and mental health, then yeah they’re just going to keep going into work. Because they need a paycheck, right? I mean look at the buzzwords that have cropped up around in the last couple years. The Great Resignation was largely the Catalyst for a lot of… that was the changing expectations as people realize that the workplace, the factors of the workplace, were just in many respects not meeting their expectations. They were not Competitive, Sufficient, and Equitable. And which was causing undue stress and hardship and causing a lot of problems around their physical, emotional, and mental health right these major topics that you know have had academics and professionals discussing for years and at this point, have a direct relationship with wellness supports and the way that we provide for the physical emotional and mental health of our employees.


[COBY]: Yeah and one of the things that kind of always comes to mind to me when we really kind of see how we’ve traditionally undervalued wellness as being kind of essential component to employee productivity and the employee experience is, I mean we kind of give as an example like this when we talk about kind of Human Capital versus Capital. When it comes to think about about employees as expenses and assets. But in in a similar way of thinking about it like, companies have maintenance departments, departments that support our equipment. We have like engineers and we have like you know I.T and we have people that you know like maintain our trucks and maintain our equipment and make sure that they’re not over, they’re not misused or overused, and that we’re not wearing them out, and that we’re you know giving them the rest or fixing the parts that get broken in order to maintain productivity. We have you know often a big portion of our company expenses are in equipment maintenance, maintenance departments, and the functional role. But Wellness is like the maintenance department, but for people. It’s about the idea of looking after the the mental, physical, and emotional health of people, is kind of the same, in the same way that we take care of the physical, and the all the other aspects of equipment. I won’t lie I’m not very handy, I don’t really know how you fix stuff, so actually I might lose myself in this analogy. But but I do want to make the point that there is this idea that we invest in maintaining our equipment and keeping them as well running as we can. But we should be putting the same type of investment into the wellness of our people, to keep them as well running as we can.


[JAMES]: Yeah I mean preventative medicine. Whether you’re talking from a health care perspective, we know that… well what’s the old saying, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’, right? Like we know that if we invest more in preventative support that we will reap the benefits of that on the other end. I mean that’s why we have maintenance departments, right? You need to take care of the equipment and machinery because it is ultimately cheaper and better for us to make sure that the equipment runs properly for a long period of time than to ignore it have something break and have to replace that expensive piece of machinery. Now many people may not appreciate being compared to an inanimate object and if so well I apologize half-heartedly…


[COBY]: No one wants to be thought as a photocopier.


[JAMES]: Yeah but the analogy is not a bad one. Because we need to do preventative medicine for ourselves, right? We need to take care of our physical health because if we take care of our physical health we will have more energy, we will be healthier, we will live longer, we will be happier. We need to take care of our emotional health and our mental health for the exact same reasons. Preventative is always going to be less expensive than having to fix the problem when something goes wrong on the other side. And that’s where your wellness supports should be focusing on, what can we do as an organization to help people in their preventative…you may have some supports that actually do address some of the other side of things, so I mean with some, you know health benefit programs. There may be you know support for you know therapy or for you know different mental health or physical health or emotional health supports to kind of get you back into where a healthy standpoint should be. But they’re also there needs to be something to help people to break the cycle, or to rest and recharge or to… become like just even small things like taking a break through the day whether that is a, you know doing some sort of physical activity whether that is a you know guided meditation or yoga or stretching or whatever is going to respond to the individual. These things can be incredibly powerful and it is the employer’s responsibility now to not do everything, you can’t force people to take a break, you can’t… well you can in some situations, you can’t force people though to take advantage of some of the benefits programs or to engage fully in different initiatives that you’ve developed. But it is your responsibility to look at how can you provide the opportunity for people to engage in preventative care.


[COBY]: Yeah well and one of the things though that I do find in companies that are really trying to improve wellness is they tend to kind of fall into a bit of the trap of what is the easiest to implement and what is the easiest to measure, right? Because I mean you know those two things are important but they end up becoming almost like those are, that’s not a bad strategy to talk about the lowest hanging fruit and what you should you do first. But the problem is a lot of them don’t move beyond that. Because like physical health is something that’s a little bit easier to kind of conceptualize and measure. Like you know we have a running club or we do, like you know, we we put exercise equipment in the break room or we purchase gyms memberships and stuff like that, and whoever takes advantage of those kinds of things, that’s a bit easier. Mental health is also a bit easier, it’s not quite as easy in my opinion is physical health, but like you know you can access experts around counseling, and kind of therapeutic days, and also incorporate more wellness days and stuff like that. But one of the hardest ones to really measure and to really ensure kind of that short-term win is with emotional health. Because a lot of what robs our emotional health is often the daily interactions, it’s things like the morale of the organization, it’s things like the interpersonal relationships that we have with our co-workers and with our boss, it’s the stress that, you know it’s a lot of the stress that we feel when we don’t have, or we don’t know how, we don’t have clear expectations about what’s expected of us, or if we feel like we’re being we’re being picked on, or those types of things. So it’s kind of the idea of you know some companies see, okay our wellness numbers are bad so let’s, you know, let’s put treadmills and salads in the break room. But you can’t treadmill and salad your way out of workplace problems around poor expectations, or around harassment, or those types of things. So this is why when you say at the beginning you know physical, emotional, and mental health. The ‘and’ is so important, we have to realize that they’re not going to all be easy to implement, but they’re all important on their own, we have to look at it from all of them if you really want to move the needle on wellness.


[JAMES]: And I like what you said there, because there’s in that is the classic mistake of thinking of wellness as a siloed or as one singular thing, as we are going to do a wellness initiative. But if you look at the emotional side, I mean the stress, the emotional damage that can come from working under a manager who’s a micromanager, or who is only looking out for their own self-interest, or you know working in an environment that is toxic, or caustic at the very least. These take on, these take a huge emotional toll on the people who have to experience this. Which is why when we’re talking about wellness we’re not just talking about break rooms, healthy eating, fitness challenges, you know encouraging people to take breaks. Like there’s lots of great things that you can do, but it needs to also be spread through all of what you do in your organization, your operations, the way that you provide training, and support to your managers. Because it your managers should be the ones taking care of their teams, right? They should be looking out for the best interest and reporting back on, ‘okay you know we’re struggling right now and we need X, Y, and Z’. The role that the direct manager or supervisor has on the emotional well-being of their team is huge. I mean there’s, we’ve been using the same type of language for years around you know ‘people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers’. This idea that the direct supervisor, the manager, the boss, whomever that authority figure is, if they are not properly trained and supported to understand the role that they have in, over somebody’s emotional and mental health, and how it’s a trust that they have been given that they need to be, that they need to be responsible for, and the way that they handle that trust says a tremendous amount about that the integrity of that person.


[COBY]: Yeah no and you’re right. And the thing too is again, the not… we have to consider again and this is why you know we always talk about how impactful workplace culture is to organizational performance and productivity. Because this is exactly, this is exactly it. And one of the things that you know when we talk about the concept with individual businesses the idea well you know making those types of investments into manager training, or into improving kind of a more holistic part of wellness, those are expensive things that we don’t know, we don’t know if we can spend that kind of money. And one thing that we that we say back to them is we say, well you are already spending that kind of money, because of Labor Value Loss, right, the financial impact of these of these common workforce and staffing challenges. Because again according to Morneau Shepell, the cost of burnout related absence and loss of productivity can be close to 25% of an employee’s salary. So if you have a $100,000 employee who is burned out, every, you know for two years, each year that’s costing you 25% of their salary, or $25,000 in low productivity and absences. So that is, you know, so that is money we’re already spending, you’re already paying that. But if you could divert some of that into being more, into the more preventive medicine, then you know, and then you’ll start to see things turn around. But again that’s just one employee, if you if all your employees are that you’re talking to hundreds of thousands of dollars being wasted.


[JAMES]: Chances are if you’ve got, well in any organization, guarantee you’ve got some people who are burnt out or on their way there. If you’re a large organization or you’ve got a you know 50, 100, 500, 1000 employees, the impact of this. Yes, on an individual level it is huge, but organization wide when you start looking at the productivity loss that comes from this, it’s a massive waste of money and potential.


[COBY]: And it’s money and potential you’re already losing by doing nothing, by maintaining the status quo, by waiting another week. This is money that’s already slipping out and this is why it’s when we talk about opportunities when it comes to to Wellness in the workplace, you know one of the opportunities is you could stop the bleeding, right? You could actually start to see you know not just you know the loss…


[JAMES]: Even if you slow the bleeding. You’ll still be ahead.


[COBY]: Yeah absolutely. So I think one thing, so I think we did a pretty decent job setting up the importance of wellness in the workplace, and kind of the high level risks and opportunities, but I think it might be beneficial too for us to kind of dig into some like warning signs for people to kind of realize how serious this is in their workplace. And maybe move on after that to kind of some opportunities. So we have a short, like 15-minute on-demand course on Roman 3 Academy, our learning portal, where we talk about kind of the determining your vulnerability to presenteeism, and absenteeism, and disengagement. And in these short courses, and the one on burnout and presenteeism, we have a bunch of warning signs, but I think we’ll talk about a couple of them here just kind of drop them for people to start thinking about. Because it’s important for managers who are listening to start to identify these warning signs in their workplace, but also to the individuals going ‘is this me? Am I unknowingly burned out? Getting burned out?’. So it’s also could be helpful reflective, but yeah let’s just share a couple of those. The first one I want to share is when staff develop a pattern of contributing less. This can be kind of present as you know people are they’re staying late or… um or sorry. They’re people who have normally participated meetings or who are known for offering ideas kind of become quiet or start to consistently contribute less than they normally do. It’s like a slow degrade of their work quality and of their participation that could be a sign that they’re not doing well. A day or two here and there, that’s fine everyone’s allowed to have an off day and off week, but when it’s a slow decline that’s something that can be a big red flag.


[JAMES]: For many people it may not actually impact their work quality, but if probably one of the best indicators that you need to investigate what’s going on in your workplace is when your top performers become quiet. When good employees stop sharing, stop participating, that is such a massive red flag that there’s something going on. Because that doesn’t generally happen for no reason, right? Just the switch doesn’t get pulled and all of a sudden somebody who was highly engaged, and participating in conversations, and you know sharing their opinions, and thoughts, and ideas. When that… if you have somebody who has been doing that, like that’s part of how they’ve engaged with work and that stops, you need to take notice. Please take notice, because there could be something substantial happening in your workplace, or maybe that person needs some additional support. It is a warning sign of something needs to be investigated.


[COBY]: Absolutely. Another one is workaholic employees. So whether that’s you, yourself are a workaholic, or there’s an abundance or there’s a number of employees who are, who have display kind of that workaholic attitude. And this is where they are always staying late, they’re always responding to emails and requests kind of when they’re on vacation or after hours, and they really never really shut off. And again this can be you know some people have a very high, you know, high dutifulness work ethic. but why they are doing this is is often important to investigate. Because some people, this is actually more rare, some people really dig into their workplace and they really find something meaning and purpose in their job, and it doesn’t take a lot out of them to be this on all the time. But that is probably not the most common situation. The most common situation is probably people don’t feel like they can work less than this. They fell the expectations on them are you have to always be on, you have to always be responding to requests or emails, that the place really will fall apart without you, or there’s no ability for you to actually pass stuff off to other people, that you have to just be working 24/7, there’s just no other option.


[JAMES]: And again, manager expectations has a huge role to play in this, right? If you are, as a manager or somebody who falls into that first category, where you are highly engaged in what you do and you know working into the evening you know responding to emails texts it doesn’t really take a lot out of you, it’s it’s part of how you… like you have a thought at seven o’clock in the evening so you send it out to your team, great. That’s good for you because it allows you to get your ideas down and get it off your chest so to speak. However you need to understand the impact that has on your team. Because I have gone through that situation as an employee before. Where I had a manager who would be up at two o’clock in the morning sending emails with their thoughts, with the random whatever popped into their head at the moment. Now unfortunately the problem with that person was they expected you to respond by 8 AM, but the expectations that you have, that you can have unintended consequences from your actions. Are you inadvertently setting the expectation that people have to respond to your emails when you send them at seven o’clock in the evening? Are you setting the expectation that if you are working at seven o’clock that they should be working at the same time? This is what we want you to be considering is that it’s not wrong to work hard. It’s not wrong to work evenings and weekends to advance your career. However you do as a, especially as a manager or a supervisor, you need to understand how your actions will impact your team.


[COBY]: Yeah absolutely.


[JAMES]: And there’s I think one of my favorites warning signs around. this is kind of almost counter-intuitive, if you have suspiciously low absenteeism. That’s something to take note of, because you may unintentionally be creating unrealistic expectations with your staff about their ability to take time off. All these kind of play together, but if you, if your team never misses any time, that’s not usual.


[COBY]: Yeah like I know we talked, we’ve had this kind of conversation with clients, where it’s like ‘well you know things are going pretty well, you know our Wellness numbers are pretty good, because look how low our sick day stats are”. And we’re always like, I don’t think that means what you think that means. Because again just…


[JAMES]: We need to pop up The Princess Bride meme there. “I don’t think that means what you think it means”.


[COBY]: Right. But it’s one of those things where you’re, again, it’s a bit counterintuitive. Like ‘Oh, people aren’t missing time, that’s great’. We’re like, well there’s a possibility that they’re not missing time because you really are taking care of everyone’s mental, emotional, and physical health. But also, considered, like you know random flus or random illnesses or this kind of stuff that kind of just comes up, especially at certain times of the year. But it tends to be more often than not about those unrealistic expectations around stuff that they can’t take time off, that’s a sign of weakness to miss time, or that there’s this like unintentioned or this is unspoken punishment that kind of comes with it too. And when we talk about again the emotional side of wellness these are some good examples of the things that might indicate you know things not being done well, on more on the emotional side. Because again if I feel like the pressure’s on me, I can’t I can’t ever turn off, or I can’t miss any time, or like you know all the kind of stuff, like that those can be the kind of expectations that start to really rob the emotional health. Sure, I may have a treadmill and salads in the in the staff room fridge but if these are the expectations placed on me then my wellness is going to be low.


[JAMES]: Yeah I mean also investing, like if you already have, if you are already providing wellness supports, understanding their usage. I mean not individual usually who’s using what, but if you have an EAP program, an employee assistance program, if it’s never being used, again the question I would have is why is it not being used? Is it not actually meeting the needs of your employees? Or is it that people feel like they can’t really take advantage of the supports that you have in place?


[COBY]: Yeah and so one thing that kind of we’ve been noticing a bit too is, so we’ve been doing a bit of work with a different kind of workplace consultants, like we have a program that we call ODIN that’s going to helping consultants and business coaches kind of help bring this whole ‘workplace culture has a direct impact on performance and productivity’ kind of piece to their own consulting work. And we’re engaging with a workplace wellness consultant who goes into workplaces and provides a lot of this stuff around, like she provides stuff around like meditation, and daily exercise, and yoga and those kinds of programs. And she has like in some workplaces she has great success a huge uptake, you know noticeable like kind of positive responses. But then in other workplaces it just never takes off and one thing that she really found helpful with using our program was realizing that there’s, you know, that if you understand the culture of the workplace expectations placed on people, and if there is no psychological safety, if there is no consistency in how individual managers prioritize wellness, or there’s no belonging and people aren’t allowed to kind of be vulnerable and try new things, then these programs inserted without considering the culture that exists around it they ended up not being impactful. Because people don’t really feel they can try yoga or they could you know or they be vulnerable to look a little silly as they learn how to meditate. So it is important to really consider all of this stuff and how it all kind of plays together. Because you know the culture and environment that you work in has a direct impact on the way you’re going to use these programs. So if you bring in these people, if you’re bringing these health benefits but you don’t have a culture that normalizes people to be psychologically safe, and show consistency, and feel like they are connected, and they’re accepted, and they belong then these programs may be great, but you will not have success with them. Because people need to feel like they’re allowed accepted and can be vulnerable enough to try them and use them.


[JAMES]: Yeah and engaging with a wellness consultant like that can be a huge opportunity for businesses large and small. Again going back to the very beginning my first answer of the big opportunities you have right now is that most people most organizations, most employers are not adequately providing for the physical, emotional, and mental health of their employees. Most, a lot of people are doing something and something is better than nothing, but most are not really taking a long-term view of it from that preventative medicine perspective. And engaging with somebody who an expert like that, who understands and can investigate your workplace culture or you know and provide solutions in the context of your workplace culture, is a huge, huge asset.


[COBY]: I think these are the opportunities that we need to move into kind of sharing kind of before we end this discussion. Because again like you talked about the health benefits, if they’re not being used then you know then that’s a big, that’s another big red flag. So maybe we need to be doing more intentional health benefit reviews and we need to be doing more focus groups with employees to find out what are they going to actually… not only what they need, what do they want? What are going to be the things that will actually make a difference, even the kind of normalizing kind of the discussions around the struggles that we have. You know individually, and allow people to kind of be a little bit more vulnerable and they talk about what they need to kind of be successful in their role, the kind of accommodations, those kinds of… normalize those discussions as well.


[JAMES]: Yeah I mean there’s lots that we need to be, there’s lots to do. Like there’s lots of work that needs to be done in the wellness space, but there’s also there are a lot of opportunities. There are a lot of people who are trying to help you solve these problems and our biggest advice is to look at it as not as individual siloed pieces, or not to forget that it is the physical, emotional, and mental health of your employees. That is really the point and I think you articulated it really well, that the way your workplace culture, the expectations that you place on people, the way that your managers engage with their teams, these things are going to have a significant influence over the emotional side.


[COBY]: Yeah, yeah well I mean it all kind of plays together. It’s the whole idea of not looking them at silos because like again that there’s so much that plays off each other. Especially if someone suffers from you know like, anxiety. Then having expected clear expectations, and kind of any kind of transparency, and you know normalizing you know struggles and accommodations, that makes them have a lot less that will trigger anxiety in them. Which will benefit their mental health and benefit their emotional health. But then there are also things too, like you mentioned a lot of things today, let people unplug, when you have those  great email email ideas they want to send them out. don’t send them out at 2AM. Set an email delay so they don’t get delivered into people’s inboxes till say nine o’clock the next morning. Allow for people to not you know, don’t fill up their inbox during off hours. Incorporate more autonomy into the workplace, allowing people to have more freedom over their schedule, and over the way that they do their work. Maybe even shifting towards a more results measurements of success, than time measurements of success. But I think the one thing we talked, we did a podcast at the end of last season where we talked about performative expectations. And stop with the theater, stop with having to pretend that you’re working when your manager walks by so they know that you’re working. And stop expecting success to look like people busy you know when you’re looking at them. Stop the keystroke measure, measurement pieces. Let’s you know like stop expecting people to perform productivity rather than actually be productive. Because I mean that performative expectation of ‘oh no, my manager walked by and I wasn’t having my nose to the grindstone for that for, those three seconds, and now that’s gonna end up in my performance review.’ Right? Those types of situations that has to just flat out stop.


[JAMES]: Yeah I think the productivity theater piece, like it’s directly relevant to the whole conversation that we’ve had around presenteeism, burnout, quiet quitting, because it happens because of your expectations. It happens because the expectations that are placed on employees. Now yeah sure, one in a hundred might be because somebody’s tired or lazy and you know just going through the motions, but also why is that happening? But the performative piece especially with managers who are take a more Taskmaster approach to their management style. It’s just, it doesn’t work anymore. Just it’s time to look at how do we do things differently. How do we actually provide for the health and wellness of the people who are in our charge. And we need to start understanding that management, that leadership, that management role is about taking care of those in your charge. You need to take care of them, so that they can perform the business outcomes that’s going to allow your position to be successful, and your company to be successful.


[COBY]: Absolutely I think this was a great conversation, so I think I’ll just do a quick wrap up. So the question was; what are some risks and opportunities for the wellness in the workplace? Well there’s been this rise since kind of the onset of COVID around wellness and burnout as major workforce topics. It’s always been something that we’ve needed to discuss and find solutions for but, we haven’t really prioritized it the way that we have needed to, or at least the way that we do now kind of since 2019. So the idea is this has always been an important topic, like we have stats that say that the an employee takes an average of four sick days a year but admits to being unproductive at work an average of 57.5 days a year. So this has always been important, but when employees feel like they have to show up and at work even though they’re sick, or they’re unproductive, or they’re not going to be able to, they don’t have they don’t have it in them mentally, emotionally, or physically to do the job; we call this presenteeism. And it’s one of those things where presenteeism and burnout I’ll go hand in hand. But maybe we need to be looking at wellness through a different lens. Maybe we need to be considering you know employee wellness with the same type of priority, and investment, and resources behind it as we do maintenance departments in our organizations. Like if we invested in maintaining our people the same way we invested in maintaining our vehicles, for example, we might actually start to see that, you know, taking care of our assets and allowing them to have what they need to get the best use, and not be burnt out, is something that would be maybe allow us to shift the way that we think about the workplace. But there are warning signs that we need to be aware, for ourselves and for our employees, and our co-workers of signs of burnout and presenteeism. That staff develop a pattern of contributing less, your high performers start to slowly kind of fade Into the background. When you have suspiciously low absenteeism, that sounds like a good thing but if people don’t feel like they can actually be sick or take the time off then that can be a very, very bad thing. When you have workaholic employees who would normally present you know a very high performance, but if maybe because they don’t feel like they can do anything less than kill themselves every day just to just to be productive, because that’s the expectations placed upon. That there is an actual cost associated with ignoring burnout and ignoring the different aspects of wellness. That burnout related absences and loss of productivity can be close to 25 percent of an employee’s annual salary, that is the money we are already spending, and losing, and wasting. That if we started to direct some solutions, we could we could slow that bleed of this of these absences and loss of productivity because of burnout ,if you really started to provide some preventative medicine. But there are some opportunities that allow us to kind of get ahead of our competitors, allow us to start to make some small changes that will support the physical, mental, and emotional health. Things like we should be looking at our health benefits, reviewing them making sure that they’re actually doing the job that they’re supposed to. We see normalizing breaks, admitting, you know, you’re struggling, allowing for accommodations to become a normal part of our workplace. We should let people unplug, we should you know spend more time trying to encourage more autonomy in the work, and we need to really stop with performative expectations. But probably the biggest piece is we don’t want to do a big sweeping solution where we try and look at all these things in silos. Because burnout and wellness are really more about the little everyday actions. Wellness is often chipped away a little bit every day, so a big sweeping, once a year, solutions not going to solve those problems. But solutions that build and strengthen wellness a little bit every day, that’s going to be how you sustain that type of improvement, and how you counteract the burnout that is kind of going to be abundant in workplaces if you don’t start taking this stuff seriously. All right, so that about does it for us. For a full archive of our podcasts and access to the video version hosted on our YouTube channel visit our website at roman3.ca/podcast. Thanks for joining us.


[ANNOUNCER]: For more information on topics like these don’t forget to visit us at roman3.ca. Side effects of this podcast may include improved retention, high productivity, increased market share, employees breaking out in spontaneous dance, dry mouth, aversion to the sound of James’s voice, desire to find a better podcast…

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