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The HR Scoop

2022 Benefit Trends, Predictions and Insights

Season 3
January 12, 2022

Andrea Herron 00:01
Have you ever wondered how a company is able to offer unlimited time off or be a pet friendly office? Curious how HR leaders manage the well being of remote or essential workforces? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Hi, I’m Andrea Herron, head of people for WebMD health services. And I’d like to welcome you to the HR Scoop. On this podcast, I talk with other HR leaders to explore the world of unique employee benefits, and about the challenges of managing unique workforces. Because well being isn’t a one size fits all approach.

In the season three finale of the HR scoop, I’m so thrilled to welcome back a panel of past guests to wrap up this season with the 2022 predictions podcast. Join us as we go around the virtual roundtable. Gaze into our HR crystal balls and give the audience our predictions for HR in 2022. Welcome, everyone, to a very special edition of the HR scoop.

We have a panel here of some of our favorite former guests, and I am really looking forward to hearing from everyone and what we think will happen in the future. So we’re gonna live a little bit outside of our current realities and talk about what we all see from our unique perspectives and hopefully that will be fun.

So with us today we have Gina Romano, the VP of HR at centerfield media. Welcome Gina. We have Susie Dunn, the chief people officer as approved. Nice to hear from you again, Susie. We have Mitch Martins, our Senior wellness manager at Northern Arizona Health Care with us. Welcome, Mitch. And then last but not least, we have Doug Shapiro, VP of research and insight that Oh, FS lovely to have you all back again. So to kick it off, I’m we’re just gonna jump right in. Because there’s so much in the future that we just can’t wait to share it with you not like we actually know what’s going to happen. But here’s our best guess. So Mitch, what do you see for future trends in 2022? And beyond?

Mitch Martens 02:17
Beyond very mysterious, yeah, I will tell you, if it’s not a prediction, it’s already happening. And, and so it’s social wellbeing, you think of companies and maybe you know, some of the people listening and or some of you know, the panelists here, already have worksite wellness programs. And I would bet if you’re invited to think about your worksite wellness program, we probably all do a decent job when it comes to physical well being and offering programs around that, and offering maybe even programs because mental health was a big topic, you know, especially in the last year. So we’ve put a lot of passion into that. But I would challenge all of us. And by the way, I am no special I fall into the same category. How well are we doing with our social wellbeing programs? What do we cognitively, you know, and consciously doing to work on building social relationships? It is so often one of our, you know, there’s basically like three psychological needs. I don’t I don’t need to put on my therapist hat. Because I purposely took that off many years ago. But autonomy, competence, and relatedness are the three basic components of psychological needs that relatedness piece is the one that tends to get overlooked. And the reason why I think this is going to become a future issue, if it’s not already an issue is because of how as worksites, we’ve started moving to hybrid, how we’ve started moving to people working from home. And now what’s going to happen is people who were already feeling lonely, and I would argue that a lot of people already are feeling lonely.

Now, we’ve just increased that, because we’ve just looked at the business needs of, hey, they can work from home, hey, we can save some money, we now don’t have to lease this building or whatever that the appropriate right reasons were for allowing this. We’ve overlooked the social component that I think we all took for granted when working alongside our colleagues, even, even if our colleagues sometimes drove us crazy, guess what, at least my friends and you who did work from home work from home during the family, I said, I never thought he would say this, but I missed some of them, even though they took me nuts, you know, and you know, and just to kind of summarize it, if I no longer have social connections, because guess what, we tend to join a company either because of the reputation, or there’s a sexy salary or there’s a sexy title, but we usually stay because of the people. And if the people if I’m not connected to the people anymore, well, then why doesn’t Company X down the road? Say, Mitch, I’ll pay you $1 more.

And it’s like, well, I’m working from home anyway. And I have no loyalties. Why don’t I come work at that company? So it’s, I think a concern and a trend that holds We’ll probably change in the future and I say trend meaning this hybrid working from home thing may need to come back, we may see down the road, you know, and I know Doug, all you just because I heard you know, your with research, you may start to see some of that in the future of like, whoops, this actually our profitability and some other things are actually backfiring because of this. So that was my long kind of soapbox, and I’ll get off now.

Andrea Herron 05:26
That’s awesome. And I think it is so interesting, because coworkers are this special breed of humans that we spend so much time with, and may never see outside of those walls, whether they be you know, literal walls or internet walls, but, you know, it’s like we could we know so much about each other, but I would never hang out with you. But yet I miss you.

Mitch Martens 05:47
Right, right. Right. So so let me just throw in one more thing. And then I really do hope Doug, maybe will jump in here, which is, you know, gallop, you know, I’m a big fan of Gallup, and you just have lots of people who do research and and they have something called the q 12. And these are basically 12 questions that talk about employee engagement. And and and they’re kind of like, influences if you were, and the most common of the 12 that gets ignored or even questioned. How important is that? And that question is, do you have a best friend at work? So it’s an interesting component. And again, there’s other there’s other questions like, do you have the resources you need? Have you been recognized within the last seven days?

And companies can say, oh, yeah, we do. Bah, bah, blah, blah. But what do we do as a company? To build friendships to encourage finding a best friend at work? Yes, they don’t have to be to your point under they don’t have to be someone that I want to hang out with and mislead invite to my wedding. But it is nice to have someone to commiserate with is someone nice to kind of close the doors and say, Oh, my God, this patient’s driving me great. I work in healthcare, oh, my God, this patient’s driving me crazy, or I can’t believe my boss is making us do blah, blah. We’d like having that I like having someone to go to lunch with if that gets taken away? Well, I don’t know. But But Doug, I keep I keep calling you out? What are your thoughts about what I’m saying?

Doug Shapiro 07:05
Well, I mean, I think what you’re capturing here really illustrates sort of a realignment we’re seeing for the office and the purpose of the office, because I think we all have kind of started to question, well, do we need an office? Why do we have an office? What do we use it for? And certainly, as we began to see social connections, kind of erode. The office really is a special place for that to happen. And, you know, Andrew, and I talked about this, it is this weird place where all these people of all these different backgrounds come together. And this might be the only place you see them. And that’s what makes it so quirky and special. And an office that’s designed for social connection looks completely different than most of the offices that are designed today. So when I think about your prediction, Mitch, which I think is spot on, I think it influences the way we think about our offices in the way the space is designed.

Mitch Martens 08:03
Hmm, well, yeah, guy, we are having a thought about that. Like, it’s it’s so funny that the prior organization I worked for, they, they they had these cubicles that were kind of USC, it was six feet high. And they lowered them to three feet. So we could all see each other a little bit more. And and, and their rationale was, there’s more collaboration, there’s more, whatever you want to call it, maybe they’re I mean, I’m not an architect. So I just kind of, I didn’t get involved in all of that. But maybe that’s a little bit what you’re talking about, like creating a an environment that produces or encourages brain think or socialization or whatever I don’t know

Doug Shapiro 08:45
yet spot on. I think you’re you’re really you’re after the right idea, the right spirit there, which is just the old way we imagined the office, maybe isn’t supporting the real reasons to have one. And social well being and social connection is right at the core of it. Mm hmm.

Gena Romano 09:04
It’s, it’s interesting. There are two definitive camps with this work from home, right? There are some CFOs, maybe some other individuals who really want to be back in the office 100% of the time. And then there are all of these successful teams who have found working remotely has worked so well for them for so many reasons. And I think when I think about my organization, and similar tech companies in Los Angeles, how competitive it is, the key is flexibility and giving those the opportunity who wants to have an office, have an office have space to come collaborate to and those who don’t have the ability to work from home and I think flexibility is King next year. And moving forward. The companies that aren’t flexible are not going to make it they’re going to leave that employees are going to leave and they’re going to go somewhere where they have the ability to work how they want and the environment that they want. work in. And so I agree that this is it’s changing and it’s fluid. And, you know, COVID has so many impacts on on what it’s going to look like in the next couple of years. But if companies aren’t flexible, they’re going to lose their talent if they haven’t already.

Mitch Martens 10:16
It’s such an interesting concept GNA, that you just made me think of it as like we as human beings, or as people, with a pandemic, we were asked to be flexible. And now what you’re suggesting is, hey, the individual was asked to be flexible. Now, can companies match that same flexibility? That’s really powerful

Gena Romano 10:35
spot on? Yeah, yeah.

Susy Dunn 10:37
And this is Susie, I completely agree in terms of the flexibility being such an important factor. We are hybrid as well. But we have a space available for people as they need it. And this has been really important to our strategy, especially for the parents who have been at home, there are children now being able to get back to daycare, and now being able to get back to school. Some of these parents just wanting a place to go work. So we found it really interesting. The folks coming in the office have been more the parents are like, I just want to get out of the house right now. My kids are in daycare, my kids are at school. But flexibility is really the key.

And and, Mitch, you mentioned earlier, we could go work $1 For dollar somewhere else? Well, as we all know, the War on Cash comp right now, is incredibly competitive. And if we don’t differentiate on benefits, we’re not going to be able to retain talent. And we have to think about those flexible ways. And so much of the thinking is about being more personalized in our approaches, which I know is hard, it’s hard to think about how to personalize. But if we don’t really focus on making sure the benefits work for our team in this hybrid flexible environment, I think we’re just going to be seeing more attrition.

Mitch Martens 11:48
You’re spot on Susie it’s at and how do we define benefits? You know, I’m, I’m probably the oldest one on this call. And you know, and I’m like this old fashioned like benefits means insurance, and life covered, you know, and maybe I’ll get a gold watch. If I’ve been there 50 years. And the way we defined benefits, your right has to be so much more personalized, or individualized, I think was the word you used? And that’s and that’s scary for a company who’s like, can’t I just do the cookie cutter? Everyone else seems to be doing but to your point, Suzy, how are we going to differentiate ourselves from the other companies? So they say, Oh, these, I’m going to call them soft benefits, you know, that may be a little harder to measure. That’s why I stay with that company. Because he’s a little, I don’t know that. It’s interesting.

Andrea Herron 12:37
Yeah. And to be fair, nobody has to do any of these things. Right? You can absolutely keep your status quo. But let’s see what that looks like in six months or a year. So Oh, excellent, excellent points. And so Susie’s, and she were just mentioning your thoughts on some of that? Do you have any other trends that you see kind of coming quickly.

Susy Dunn 12:59
So something that when I was on earlier podcast, it was really around parental leave, and the various kinds of leaves and Sherm, again has said that the second most important benefit beyond healthcare is really leave right time off, and the time off programs. And one of the trends we’ve seen, and I know, as I’ve been talking to peers, it’s that flexibility, especially defining caregivers, even more broadly, especially as we’ve had members of our families impacted with COVID, you know, may not be our child, it may be other situations, we have to be caring, I think, the flexibility, you know, that’s that’s the key in it, but being able to, to know that I’m not my job’s not going to be at risk, if I have to take care of somebody, if I, whether that’s the child, whether again, that’s a spouse, but I think one of the things we just have to be prepared for we’ve had cases where folks have needed flexibility just to be able to help get people to doctor’s appointments and various things and, and if the company is not able to be flexible, the employees are going to go find somewhere else to work or potentially take time off.

There’s a number of people that are leaving without having another job, but leaving to take a break. And that’s one of the trends I worry about is this, this desire to leave to take a break thinking you have to leave in order to do that, versus being able to find ways with leave programs to work with people to retain them.

Gena Romano 14:22
It’s an interesting segue into something I was thinking about in terms of parental leave and fertility benefits. Our population when I started three and a half years ago was the average age was 2627. Our average age is now around 34. And so we have a lot of people who are having kids getting married, and they want flexibility in what we offer in terms of our our benefits for time off. So we’ve gotten a little creative and we started providing all new parents with something called the Snoo. I don’t know if you’ve heard of this new, but it’s essentially like a smart crib. and it rocks your baby to sleep.

So all of our new parents get that for the first six months of their kid’s life. We also implemented some infertility benefits, very LGBTQ friendly. It doesn’t have to be a man and a woman who are trying to conceive these progressive types of benefits, in addition to a robust time off policy for maternity and paternity leave, I think, though really a long way with the employees these days. And it’s about kind of getting ahead of the curve and thinking of these things before they’re really hot. And then that way, it’s gonna attract talent early on.

Mitch Martens 15:33
That’s so smart gene, do they make these new things? For adults? I want one for me.

Gena Romano 15:39
I think they do. I’ll connect you to the wrap.

Mitch Martens 15:42
Love it. Oh, my God. Thank you, you said somebody that they really spot on. And I don’t know all the science around it. But once you’ve hooked someone, they’re less likely to leave. But if they’ve already hooked somewhere else, so to your point, Gina, we’ve got to be the innovators, we’ve got to be doing whatever that’s going to get you to come to me first. Because we’re creatures of habit. And once we get into a habit, once we go somewhere, we’re less likely to disrupt that. And so we made it we made it will not wait for everyone else to have this new benefit. Because then we’re going to be too late. And all the good ones will have already gone somewhere else.

Gena Romano 16:21
Yeah. And I think we’re we’re really big on trying things, giving it a go. And if people aren’t into it, then fine. We took it, we took it, we took a risk. However, I think we find when we do these really unique benefits. People are really responsive. They’re interested in it, they want to try it. And it’s been been very advantageous for us.

Mitch Martens 16:41
And then hopefully they brag about it on social media. I mean, yeah, it isn’t social media power. Now, I mean, so totally, you can be talked about, hopefully in a positive versus negative. I mean, come on. So I love yet, let’s take some risks, let’s be a trend.

Andrea Herron 16:56
And all of those things really come back to allowing people to human, you know, I mean, we’re talking about flexibility. We’re talking about starting a family and whatever family means to you, and whatever that journey looks like. And whatever time you need to take care of sick family members. And maybe it’s not your direct child, but it could be your aunt that lives with you and who is sick. I mean, we’re just we’re realizing because we can no longer ignore it that humans have to human. And the workplace has to accommodate that if you want to keep your talent and attract new talent. And if you don’t, the business down the street is learning that they can,

Doug Shapiro 17:32
we’re seeing the same. We’re seeing everything that we’re discussing, and how we take care of people take care of that human, we’re seeing that show up in the office as well with how we can give them little benefits in the office, you know how we can create spaces for people to get away to have a private moment. So it’s showing up in place as well.

Andrea Herron 17:56
I remember when the Nap Room was the biggest scandal of all time.

Gena Romano 18:03
Well, first of all, there’s a time and a place to take a nap. We’ve had some issues that has people sleeping on the job, which is another story. But along those same lines, one thing that we’ve implemented is meditation breaks, where we provide employees when we were in office full time, it was a meditation boss, and they could leave and go on the bus and meditate in the middle of the day. And now we have meditation breaks the same idea. But you’re at home and we walk you through a guided meditation, that mental health component is infinitely more important than it ever has been. And I think, again, from a creativity standpoint, how can you think of ways to add in these mental health breaks for your employees, whether it’s, you know, a nap room, or a meditation break, but I think that mental health has to stay at the forefront this next year.

Doug Shapiro 18:49
Yeah, I even see a little bit of a work from home hangover. As we kind of reemerged back as social creatures back in the office, there’s going to be these habits and these comforts that we’ve developed, that we are getting disrupted now, and we’re going to need these kinds of social, I don’t know we’re going to need these these spaces. To find peace and quiet, it’s just going to be critical.

Susy Dunn 19:17
anything we’ve done in our space is we’ve designed zones for that exact reason. And so there’s the quiet zone, there’s the more creative zone that typically more like sales and marketing will want to hang out and be chatty. The quiet zone is more where engineers are people that just want a place quiet to think. So we’ve just designed these different zones and we label it as such. And that has been a really big hit for people and all of ours is now Hotelling space so you can select where you want to work and you know what zone it’s in and you know what’s provided at that desk. And that’s been quite a perk. And then we also have just as we’re trying to we’re actually trying to draw people to want to come in and use the space. You know, we’re just coming up with some creative ways just to bring people together and, and create a sense of community. And that’s been a big hit as well.

Gena Romano 20:06
I’m going, I’m gonna steal that idea. I love that and our teams will totally respond to it. I think it’s kind of happened organically, but to definitively say, like, you can get a little bit louder in this corner. And, and this is, you know, for the quiet workers. I love that.

Mitch Martens 20:21
Well, and let me jump on what you just said, Gina. It’s you, you you officiate making it official, formally, like as a company acknowledging because you’re right, there’s, you know, what do we say about like, practice eats policy for breakfast or something like that. It’s this idea that we have all these policies. But you since you’re new, let me tell you how it really works. You know, and so for you to say, Listen, we formally recognize that we’ve got these different zones, and we what we actually encourage giggling, telling jokes, playing games, whatever it is, I love that concept. I mean, I work in healthcare. And so I think we can be more uptight than maybe the average company simply because it’s like, we’re dealing with death and dying. There’s nothing funny about that, you know, and you should never laugh at patients or crazy family members, or whatever it is. So how can we find a safe space? You know, and I think it was Andre who’s saying it to be human to acknowledge our humaneness?

Andrea Herron 21:19
Yeah. And to give people permission to do it, because some people feel comfortable just doing it. But a lot of people, their role followers, you know, they don’t want to make a mistake. And so they need that permission. So, okay, Susie, that was a hit, at least here in this circle. So thanks for sharing. Gina, what else do you have on your list of predictions?

Gena Romano 21:40
You know, one interesting thing that I think some companies are starting to look at and do is the idea of ala carte benefits. And so instead of having this one size fits all benefits package, that you apply to your entire population, you instead have a choose your own adventure benefits package, and you let them decide what they want to get out of their benefits package. So for those who have kids, or starting a family, they may lean towards and value more of those family planning benefits for somebody who’s in their 20s. And they have dogs, maybe we could provide them with, you know, a dog watching stipend or something like that, I believe, again, along the lines of flexibility, that if you can create this unique and very progressive idea that gives employees exactly what they want for benefits, that’s going to plant the seed of loyalty with them, and they’re going to want to stay for your company, they’re going to be happier, they’re getting exactly what they want out of it.

You know, some individuals may need help with financial financial planning or paying off student loans. And I just think you’ve got to be creative and creating that. And then the last piece that I think is really important along the lines of what Mitch was saying earlier, and we’ve kind of talked about throughout is just this idea of inclusivity, mental health, keeping people mentally sharp. And I think allowing for teams to have trainings on inclusivity, we’ve been away for a long time, how do we get back into the office? And how do we have that connection? How do we have psychological safety, so people feel good coming back? And then the last point is, how do we have inclusivity and equality for those that may stay remote 100% of the time, versus those that are coming into a hybrid office? And I think this is something that companies are going to struggle with, because those who are remote are going to miss out on the happy hours, they’re going to miss out on the parties and the team bonding events? And how do you make their career experience just as engaging as somebody who is able to come into an office? So I think that’s a lot that I just threw out you but

Andrea Herron 23:52
choose your own adventure? Yeah, everybody. I

Susy Dunn 23:55
just, I completely agree with you. And one of the things that we instituted last year, as we started thinking we were going to be coming out of COVID. And we were starting to open up capacity again. And but one of the things we’ve just created as our mantra is zoom is the meeting room, not the conference room. Zoom is. So just because as we start getting back into the office, the people that you see in the room may not be the only people that need to be in the room.

And so really trying to make it so zoom is the meeting room. And then the other thing that we’ve been doing is, as we have had people hybrid, we’ve had some folks inside the you know the office for meetings, others at home, if we’re having lunch served in the meeting, we always have lunch delivered to the folks that are at home. So everybody feels like they’re part of that collective experience. And it’s you know, it’s affordable. You said GrubHub or DoorDash or whatever it is, but we’ve made those intentional changes to be inclusive. And that’s been important for us.

Gena Romano 24:54
Yeah, and I think along those same lines, the recognition piece of it so it had created inclusive environment is important. But also, how do you keep recognizing the people that are working from home versus those there, it’s easier to recognize somebody when you see him in the office and give them a high five and say, great job. Being recognized, I think for the younger generations right now is really important. And finding ways that you as a company can make big shows of affection to the employees, regardless of where they are. It goes a really long way.

Mitch Martens 25:28
I’m gonna, I’ll jump in. And especially for the listeners, here’s my invitation to be able to harness this, you know, your genius talking about inclusivity, for example, or and whatever it might be, to build strong relationships to build that. These are my four recommendations, proximity, key proximity, and my and how do you do that familiarity? similarity, and self disclosure? And I think self disclosure is the one that sometimes gets left out of this equation of how can it be safe enough for me to bring my whole self to work? Is it safe enough to let people know I’m gay? That I’m Muslim, that I’m in a rock band, that I collect snakes, whatever it is, you mean that I’m into? harp music? I don’t know. I mean, it can it be safe enough? At the where I can self disclose, because that’s where inclusivity really blossoms is, like, I felt good enough to be myself at work. And not that I just felt good enough. But to Jim’s point, I got recognized for it.

Andrea Herron 26:34
Yeah. Bring your heart to workday.

Mitch Martens 26:36
Very, very, very. Okay. Right, exactly. I love it. When people bring their dogs to work. I mean, so it’s like, why not get to see a little bring your kid to Work Day? Does that even exist anymore? Like Career Day? I don’t even know if that exists anymore. But I love that idea.

Doug Shapiro 26:52
Mitch, I am just so building on what you’re saying there. You know, I really do connect with it. And I, I mean, obviously, the the the the social health and well being of the people involved are at stake. But there’s even so much, you know, there’s so much at stake just in that statement. Because, I mean, let’s face it, we only the only way good ideas are even shared or if you’re feel safe enough to share them. And I do worry about camaraderie. And I think, to the point where we kind of started this conversation about being more intentional with our social connections, like developing camaraderie in the sense of feeling safe doing that in a hybrid environment. I think we have to be super strategic about how we go about that.

Andrea Herron 27:40
Great. All right. Well, Doug, since you’ve got the floor, what predictions do you have for us for the upcoming future? Which is unlimited and undefined?

Doug Shapiro 27:50
Yes, sure. Sure. Well, I’m going to focus my my predictions on the office as a space and, and a place, I would like to just start by comparing it to the cinema, okay, the movie theater, which has a bit of an identity crisis going on right now, if you think about the movie theater, it’s like, well, I’ve got all this entertainment at home, I can watch a movie at home, I can pop popcorn, why do I need to go to movie theater. And some of the same things apply? Right? The experience the technology, the camaraderie in the social aspect, the comfort, there’s a lot of reasons why you might decide then that, okay, I want to have this experience in movie theater. And in a way, I think the author, this is a kind of a bit of a consumer product.

Now, it’s not a thing that you have to have. It’s a thing that it’s a tool in your toolkit as an employee. And so really identifying why we need to have that office. And I think the themes that you brought up, and that that showed up even in other aspects, whether whether it was benefits or otherwise, personalization, and flexibility, I think are two huge themes that will penetrate the office, the idea that personalization in the fact that as Suzy was alluding to, you have choice, now, you have choice of the kind of space that works for you, I think those choices are going to be key.

And having a hybrid environment will allow you to take the same real estate footprint you have and, and have an array of choice inside of it. And so I see that as a big movement. And that has to do with that personalization, realizing that everybody’s different. And then flexibility, I think is is important in flexibility at the personal level. But even at the spatial level, I think a theme I’m seeing or prediction is that we are going to get much more comfortable with the idea of being disrupted. And we need to have spaces that will allow us to reinvent themselves. So I actually think that the last two years of disruption is really just a good preview of perhaps the rest of our careers. You know, technology won’t slow down, competition won’t slow down, we will always be disrupted. And I think now, we’re at a point where we understand, to thrive in this environment, we have to be flexible. And so do our spaces are people or spaces, we need the ability to respond. And then another topic.

Lastly, that I’d love to explore with this group is culture. Because I do think that, you know, my prediction is that culture, it’s already been disrupted. But I feel like culture was part of the problem of how we got here. We didn’t, it didn’t need to be so disruptive and so revolutionary. The only reason we weren’t already working hybrid was because our culture’s stood in the way. And so I think as long as we’re all very aware that we should that there was opportunity, lifestyle, there’s all the stuff we’ve left on the table over the past five years to a decade where the technology allowed us to do it. How do we not make that same mistake again? So whatever culture we’re creating right now, are we going to be updating it? Are we going to are you going to let it go stale, kind of like we did here in the past decade,

Gena Romano 31:12
we’re gonna take another pandemic, in 10 years for us to realize that we need to keep evolving, constantly thinking about is what we’re doing working right now. I think that one of the silver linings of COVID. And the pandemic was that we found so many companies can be successful with hybrid, and it gives employees that work life balance that maybe they didn’t have before. So I really, I really like that. And I think for companies to be successful, they’ve got to keep thinking about how to evolve and don’t rely on a pandemic to make a big change.

Mitch Martens 31:46
I love what’s being said, Gina, let me let me push back a little bit on something that I heard you say, All right, come on, baby. Here we go. So I you know, I heard you know, people are loving this work life balance, I would suggest actually work life balance, maybe has gotten worse, because of the hybrid, because now I’m at home, now I can be disrupted at home, now I’m checking my emails, and don’t get me wrong, I love the idea that in the middle of the day, I now can go to a doctor’s appointment. And I’ll just work later, you know, work an hour later, or whatever it might be.

But I’m personally concerned being the wellness guy, you know, in my company, I’m concerned about, there has been too much of an overlap too much of an integration, that actually our employees are having a hard time separating. And so if it’s at midnight, and a text message or an email, or whatever, you know, and I know that’s not what you were intending by saying, hey, everyone’s good with a work life balance. I know where you’re going. But I’m hoping the listeners would start to challenge again about what everyone was saying Doug was saying, hey, let’s challenge our culture. Let’s, let’s be aware of have we really achieve work life balance? Or actually has it maybe gotten a little worse? And do we as companies need to intentionally create spaces to decompress part of resilience is being able to find time to decompress.

And I’ll give you just a simple kind of analogy. It’s probably a poor analogy, but I still love it because I’m a visual person. You know, the old analogy of Boiling Boiling a frog. If you want to successfully boil a frog, you do it slowly. If you want to not boil, if you just want to take about a pot of boiling water and you put a frog in it, he’s gonna jump right out. But over time, if you just put them in lukewarm water and just slowly bring up the temperature, you’ll eventually boil it because they’ll keep putting up with it. So the analogy or the reason why I share that story not because I like boiling frogs. But this idea that are we just slowly ticking away at what’s another five minutes. And now I’m doing this Oh, I used to have a comfortable chair in my office. But now I’m just using my the chair at my dining room table. And these little things without us realizing it are starting to add up back to Gina your promotion about mental health and we cannot overlook mental health.

I’m wondering if we need to intentionally build in some decompression build in some better listen, we have a policy which is you don’t email when you’re on vacation. Don’t be one of these. Oh, I’m on vacation but I’m checking my emails or whatever it is. I don’t know I don’t have all the have all the ideas yet. But it’s something that I’m trying to be aware of as we’re moving forward again to you guys this point about AI let’s let’s not find ourselves in this situation again, when we could have been learning with what’s right in front of us.

Andrea Herron 34:42
Yeah, you know, something. Another example of that that I’ve started to see pop up is everyone who was working remote for so long was getting up and starting work at the regular time that they would have been commuting and then they work until they would have been home. And now that some people are coming in more. They’re basically losing up to an hour and a half or two hours, however long your back and forth commute is of work time, which then they didn’t get as much done. So they feel like they didn’t get accomplished. So then they work late or they get up earlier. And so it’s even as much as the buffer.

As much as I don’t enjoy sitting in traffic, I do enjoy singing at the top of my lungs, as I sound like where I carry in my car. And I’m not answering email, you know, but then it but then you do feel behind because I get home, I open the emails. And now in the time I drove home, I have 12 More that well, can I just get through those because tomorrow, I’m going to get at five more. And you know, it is kind of that same with the hybrid or the commute, you have to factor in like, I’m actually not available for an extra hour and a half or hour, two hours to be have a horrible commute, which is something that I never thought about until I started experiencing and hearing other people say the same thing.

Susy Dunn 35:57
Well, I think this, you know, Doug, your whole concept about culture are tied to this. I mean, that completely resonates. And Gina as well as I mean, it forced us to evolve. And we have to keep evolving. I think it’s our responsibility as employers to be doing a bit of monitoring the the wellness and the mental wellness, especially of our teams. And it’s something that specifically we’ve paid attention to since having to go home in March of 2020. And no matter how much you try to give permission to say, please, you know, don’t now that you’re at home, please learn how to shut down, please don’t be responding after hours, we can say all those things.

But it’s really interesting just watching the patterns of behavior, because even though you say it, you may still see it. And so what we’ve intentionally done is looked for times to give breaks, like what’s a long weekend like both this year and last year, extending around the Fourth of July, take time off, everybody’s going to be taking time off. You know, not every employer can do that. But looking for ways that you can create those moments for people to get the space. I think that’s part of what we need to do this year. And last year, we both have done no meeting weeks, the last weeks of the year. And those are things I know other employers are doing too, but just at least a no meeting week. So you’re not feeling the pressure. But I feel like it’s part of what we have to do is pay attention to the culture. And make sure that that we’re honoring employees too, and finding those ways to give those really films that meet when we need them. And yeah,

Gena Romano 37:31
Mitch, I was definitely speaking from my experience with our employees. And it is really personal, every company is going to be different. Not to toot my own horn, but we do a lot to make sure our employees have a great work life balance, we have like flex Fridays, you have unlimited PTO, we have the meditation breaks. And I also think it starts at the top our leadership team is really strong at we take the time that we need so that when we’re at work, we’re energized and we feel good. And I think that sets the tone for the rest of the organization.

I agree with you, I have tons of colleagues who are in toxic environments where they don’t have a strong work life balance. But I think our company had more of a grind pre COVID. And in the office long hours. And now, we may still work long hours at times. But we’ve implemented these other policies and programs that have just given back to the employees and setting the tone with the leadership and having them exude the behaviors that you want as an organization is really important to make sure that the rest follows.

Mitch Martens 38:26
I mean, that’s just so exciting. wouldn’t wouldn’t it be great if we could all go to work like all come work for your company and actually feel energized? Versus depleted? You mean and and I think we all unfortunately, whether it’s we know people have friends or whatever, who were going to the jobs and they’re getting more and more depleted.

Guys, come on, I should go to be able to come to a company where I’m actually energized. It doesn’t mean I’m not working hard, and busting my butt. But we all know I mean, well, I shouldn’t say we all know, but I’ll use the analogy. Those people who work out. Have you ever noticed sometimes after you work out you actually feel like you have more energy? Why can’t we be giving that kind of experience to our employees, even though there’s going to be yucky days and in my case, difficult patients sad days where people are dying and to not enough beds for COVID Whatever it might be. But how can we start to create a using drugs for culture, an environment that supports and encourages energy versus like you’ve been sucked drive everything else? And then you have to go home or then you have to turn off and be available to everyone else in your life.

Doug Shapiro 39:33
That is what I think we would all aspire for in our workplaces. Right I mean, that’s exactly it. Can you live a longer and healthier and happier life because you worked here? I mean, that would be phenomenal. And Gina like your point around leadership I think is spot on. I actually I think that is so we don’t we don’t think we talk about it enough. I had a conversation with the head of change management at Scotiabank, and She said that number one reason change management works, she’s like has nothing to do with me or my role, but their leaders role model, the change they want to see in the company. And that’s become a huge philosophy there. And, and I think this idea of role modeling the new culture, doing it really openly is super important.

Andrea Herron 40:20
I agree. And I think these are all such amazing predictions, I hope they all come true and that everyone makes great changes, and strides to human the workforce. But before we go, I have a few predictions as well. So as Brene, Brown says, The Great awkward, it’s coming. And I think the best thing we can do is prepare for the great awkward because we’ve all gotten comfortable. We’ve all shrunk our social circles to what feels fitting comfortable, we’ve worn really cozy pants, we’ve seen the people we wanted to see, and it’s going to be uncomfortable.

And so having a fresh start mentality, if you can create a communication plan, a project plan, like however you want to go about it with your leadership, but to stair step and incrementally, you know, ask people to come back or to step outside their comfort zone, that is going to be so key in that psychological safety and in kind of restarting those relationships, because we’ve all just gotten our little cozy corners here. And humans don’t like to be uncomfortable, and we’re gonna be uncomfortable. It’s happening if we like it or not. So I’m

Mitch Martens 41:39
completely on board with that. It’s, it’s my favorite saying, stand outside to become outstanding. So it’s, it’s that idea. We’ve got to be willing to stand outside, we’ve got to be willing to jump into the unknown in order for us to be outstanding. Otherwise, we’re just going to be following the trail of everyone else and being being so I love that.

Andrea Herron 42:03
Yeah, I mean, all the things that we’ve discussed here, really are about flipping everything on its head, examining the way we do things, and trying something different to meet people where they are, because where they are now and where they’re going to be in 2022 is absolutely different than where they were in 2019 and 2020. Yeah. All right. Well, does anyone else have last comments or thoughts before we go and let everyone go implement these wonderful ideas that we just

Doug Shapiro 42:34
I had a lot of fun. That’s my comment.

Susy Dunn 42:37
Thank you, Andrea. This has been great. It’s been great getting to meet everybody.

Mitch Martens 42:41
Yeah, panels fun. I mean, again, not not Not to belabor the social thing, but powerful things happen when we when we’re willing to get together and share and talk and, and and just ideate you know, and so, I hope everyone continues to not only listen to, to this kind of podcast, but keep listening to each other and talking and realizing your voice is important.

Andrea Herron 43:05
Embrace the awkward. Just embrace it. Go with it.

Gena Romano 43:09
Yeah, I’m going to research the frog in a pot of boiling water because I didn’t know that analogy. And I’m curious where it came from. But Andrea, you know, I when we finished our podcast last time, I shared with you something that you may not know about me, which was tough to see datings I would love to know, what is something that we may not know about you? Oh, great wine. I love that question.

Andrea Herron 43:33
What a good question that I like to ask other people. Um, let’s see, I think something most people may not know about me is that I was a ballerina and a company for about 16 years or so and danced through college. So, you know, this time of year especially is nostalgic when I see all the Nutcracker performances and all the you know, the children going to see the live show that really warms my heart. So I can’t do that anymore, nor would I try. But I really appreciate the athleticism and dedication of those dancers. Wow, that’s

Gena Romano 44:12
amazing. Wow.

Mitch Martens 44:15
I just I just wish this would have been a visual podcast that we could have seen you do a little performance for us.

Andrea Herron 44:21
I don’t think you do.

Mitch Martens 44:23
The weight of it. Wasn’t someone just saying you know, get comfortable with the awkward or get hurt.

Andrea Herron 44:28
That’s true. Unfortunately, this isn’t a visual platform where I definitely would

Mitch Martens 44:37
save Good save.

Andrea Herron 44:40
Well, thank you again. It was such a pleasure having you all back and thanks to all of our listeners. We will catch you on the next episode of the HR scoop.

Mitch Martens 44:49
Thank you as well.

Andrea Herron 44:52
Thank you for listening to the HR scoop podcast. Please take a moment to rate and subscribe on Spotify Apple Google or directly at WebMD health services.com/podcasts

The HR Scoop

Humanizing Well-Being, Part #2

Season 2
July 22, 2021
The HR Scoop

Humanizing Well-Being, Part 1

Season 2
July 14, 2021

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