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#005 – Workplace Wellness Tips from Canada’s Best Place to Work (with Special Guest Kerilee Snatenchuk)


Kerilees’s Bonus Resources

Connect with Kerilee –

3. Inkblot ATB’s EFAP provider
4. headversity ATB’s resilience coaching provider


Podcast Transcript

Welcome to the Working Well podcast. I’m Tim Borys CEO of FRESH! Wellness Group. This show explores the diverse aspects of workplace health and personal performance on the Working Well podcast. We dive into the foundations of what makes wellness work in workplaces around the world. We connect with corporate leaders, executives, and industry experts who are helping to make life more awesome at work and join us to learn workplace wellness best practices, personal performance tips and access resources to jumpstart your personal and corporate programs.


 Welcome to the Working Well Podcast. It’s such an honor to have you on tell me a little bit what’s well, we’ve met a long time ago. We probably what? 10, 12 years ago, something like that. Maybe, maybe around that time. Time flies. But in that time, lots of things have changed. Obviously this past year has been very tumultuous to say the least.

So how have things been for you? What’s your year been like? 


Yeah. You know, thanks for asking and thanks for having me too. It’s just so great to have a conversation about these things that are, they’re very near and dear to my heart, but the last year has been, you know, very much a roller coaster both personally and professionally.

So, you know personal stuff. Like all my adult children arrived home and you know, they max out at age 21, but you know, still a lot of big people around. And at the same time, they came back from the university and hockey and a bunch of things. And, and so at first it was it was like party time in the house and then it just became a little bit challenging.


And then, you know, we just all came to really feel great that we could be together. And I guess, you know, as a mom, I was like, this is so awesome. I would never get to spend this time with my adult children who are often, you know, they’ve never come home, but they were kind of forced to, so, so a little bit of positivity there, but definitely just that heaviness of you know, being kind of in a, in a enclosed environment like limited somehow they’re outside, they’re inside and you can work out a lot of that same thing. We have a very strong work from home environment at ATB. And so definitely people were somewhat comfortable working from home, but to be full on working from home all the time definitely was challenging for folks.


 And me too. And especially, you know, just getting used to finding that space in your home that’s quiet and, and realizing that that digital interface is going to be how you’re going to be with people for a long time. And we just kept hoping it would be over soon, over soon, and that never happened.

And so we’re still in it as you know, and, and so it’s been up and down, I would say the last year.

 Yeah. It’s funny that you say that the over, over soon, I remember reading a newsletter. I wrote in, I think it was April or May and last year and saying, well, the experts are saying another six weeks or eight weeks probably. It seems so naive now to think about that. But, but that’s what people were saying is like, Oh yeah, by summer it’ll be, you know, things will be calmed down and, it’s the, and you’re on the mental health side, near your director at the mental health research Canada. And a lot of what you do at ATB is based around the mental health that we, I don’t think we can overestimate the impact that mental health is having on people across every industry. I think the stat that I read was pre COVID. One in five people needed mental or had mental health challenges each year. And now it’s four and five. That’s massive. Tell me about that.

Yeah, well, you know, it’s interesting because there’s a stat that I read. I think it came from ginger, which is like a kind of a, they track stuff. And it’s, it’s not that old. So in 2020, what they found is that 70% of employees in the organizations have stated that COVID-19 is the most stressful time of their entire career.

And I’ve shared this from time to time in the organization and people go, well, this is not the most stressful time in my career, like getting fired once is stressful or you know, changing jobs is very stressful, like within an organization and, and, or getting a team or losing a team or whatever. So, but if you think about the chronic nature of this stress, so episodic stress like.

Boom. Something happened, you experienced the stress and you kind of have a peak and then it, you know, you sort of come out of that stress, but this stress has been consistent and people have felt the chronic nature of it. So I think, I think what that stat really dug into was like 70% of people working organizations just have that very stressful feeling all the time. And, and to your point about mental health and the role it’s playing, I mean, think back to when we first met, did you ever have a mental health conversation at that time? Like in a work environment, like maybe personally, but did you ever talk about mental health in your workplace?

Generally not, no. We, as, you know, health and performance coaches, we definitely had mental health conversations with clients, but. Not with coworkers. It wasn’t, you know, I think, and probably being in the health and wellness industry, we’re much more attuned to it and it wasn’t happening for us at that time, nevermind, general offices. 

Yeah. And I, and I think, you know, in that athletic realm, it’s that mental toughness like visualization, which is certainly. You know, part of the picture, but it, you know, if you ask that question now, I think a lot of people, you know, five years ago, not really, but maybe a few folks would have had if they’re in HR or something like that, it had mental health conversations, maybe very evolved leaders.

But now, you know, in the last year I think it’s quite a few people who would say, yeah, I’ve had mental health discussion in my workplace with either a peer or a leader as a team. So that’s a big change. That’s a big change that happened during COVID. 

Absolutely. And it, things were trending that direction there had been lots of effort to try and have the conversation, but COVID was like opened the flood gates. And one of the benefits I think of, of COVID is the fact that it’s shifted the conversation a lot faster to more of the mental wellness versus talking about mental illness. And, and that I find in the past, most of it was around more depression, clinical depression, things, and now it’s, what are we doing to just feel good and be happy. And, and how does our health connect with the physical and mental, how are they connected?

 Yeah. Yeah. To your point, I mean the simplest way to address like kind of resiliency or I think, I think what you’re getting at there is, you know, we’re talking more about resiliency rather than some crisis episode. So I think I’ve heard you speak previously about  employing family and systems programs and how they’ve, you know, they are there for crisis. So something is very wrong and you own that. And people, there’s a lot of stigma and there’s barriers, but you know, we’ve worked to kind of chip away at that and and build on the resiliency side.

So I think when you can really talk about resiliency and understanding the components of that, but really from my perspective. And, you know, I think some, some other folks would agree that eating, sleeping and moving are the key ingredients to having good mental health. So to your point, it’s a, it’s a wellness piece.

And you know, I think getting people and workplaces more open, like breaking down those barriers and more open to using sort of preventative measures in their mental health is, is another opportunity. And yeah, if you want to hear about that, we have something really cool that we’re using right now.

Cause it’s kind of different EFAP. So can I show it to you? Can I share that with you? 

I would love to hear that. Yeah. As you’ve mentioned on the, the EFAP plans, is they, a lot of them do have those proactive resources. The challenge I find in talking with lots of clients is that they’re not used, they’re not, people aren’t utilizing them. So I’d love to hear what what you’re doing. That’s unique on that.

 Yeah. So traditionally, if EFAP have exactly what you say, there’s a broad selection of, of resources and usually the website and people can phone and then they get kind of triaged and sent to a counselor.

This used to be physical, like in person. Right. And so over the course of the last two years, we’ve been doing an RFP for a new EFAP and one that showed up was like a therapy based EFAP. So the focus for the FAP was on mental health and they have the other things too, like coaching for parenting and career and financial which we found utilization to be not so great in those areas. And even on the therapy side, we were hitting something like 27% utilization. 

 I would say actually that’s probably pretty high compared to most organizations. 

Actually very high for, for our industry. It’s usually between 11 and 17 is more common.

And so we were doing well because we were pushing it all the time. Like, please use it breaking down barriers, you know, encouraging less stigma around it. Definitely our leaders talked about it, but this this organization called inkblot, it’s a virtual therapy platform. Eventually they will, when we go back to in-person, they also have that capacity, but we’ve never needed to use that.

67% of our population signed up. For ink and filled in their profile. You know, we’re, we’re sitting at higher utilization than we were previously, but to even have that many people in the organization, just open it and build their profile was amazing because 27% for the previous EFAP, wasn’t the maximum we ever achieved in, in people building their profiles.

So you know, this is you just. It’s like a, it’s kind of like a dating app. And I don’t know that they would want me to say that about it, but you go in and you pick a number of parameters. Like I want a woman to be my counselor. I like this particular construct. I, I speak this language. Like there’s a bunch of things.

And then it sends you immediately a list of potential therapists, and then you pick the one you want and you schedule it immediately. So it’s completely customizable. And so I think that’s one of the trends in, in health and wellness in general is that we can customize more effectively. So instead of one size fits all, it’s really about the power of one.

And then you own the power too. So that’s very positive for a whole bunch of our mental health and physical health and total health metrics. So.

 And that that’s very important. People have unique needs. And while there are categories of that, people will fit into, for sure. Everyone wants to feel that it’s customized to their needs because everyone’s challenges seem unique to them. And they’re you speak with a lot of people and they’re like, oh, it must be. And from a business owner’s standpoint, almost every business owner I talked to, it’s like, oh, these, I must be the only person on the planet having these issues and challenges. And then when you go ahead and meet with a business group, you’re like, oh yeah, everyone else is having these things as well. So it’s nice to know that someone is speaking your language understanding what your unique challenges and needs are. So that’s a fantastic result from that. That platform too.

 Yeah. We’ve only had it in place since October of 2020. And It’s just really getting great reviews. So people were not that happy before.

I have had very few complaints now. I mean, it’s just, yeah, so it’s interesting. And the resiliency piece too, we work on. So I would say resiliency building is a kind of pre EFAP process. So having foundational resiliency. And so we we’ve actually partnered with  an Alberta based organization called headversity, and and it’s basically a resilience trainer in your pocket.

And so that also is self-directed you know, the uptake on that is, is a little slower, but it’s still pretty high. It’s 22% right now. So we started that in November and I think those things work together. And I think that’s also a trend in wellness. Is that the pieces you have, and I heard you speak about this before that, like there’s a program here and there and you know, some activation over here and a campaign, but if it doesn’t kind of come together in a strategic way, it’s not gonna, it’s not gonna fly.

So, so I liked that the pieces, you know, we’re working to get those pieces together and that they help each other. So. Yeah. 

And that that strategy that says, what pieces are we putting in place? That’s a bit unique for each company because every organization is going to be a little bit different.

That’s right. Yeah. I, you know, I was looking back on what, what’s the strategy looked like when I started this job and I started this role in 2012 and I just took a look at the two pager and it was kind of focused on definitely mental health was in the list, but it was like women’s health, physical health and mental health and, and reading it now I’m amazed that I was able to keep the job because it was so simplistic. I knew so little at that time, because I had come from a marketing background and I’d been working at ATB. And someone asked me, you know, you often know people who are kind of sporty or, you know, maybe, you know, a few people who would be interested in, in taking on this wellness role. And I said, yeah, I probably know a few people. And I took the evening and I’m like, you know what, that’s me, I could do that job. And so that’s how I ended up leading the wellness strategy at ATB. And it’s become a more sort of more embedded in our overall strategy or enterprise strategy. And you know, people are really adopting some of the, some of the actions that we we’ve been looking for people to take. I think it started with awareness. You know, we started just know that there is something called mental health. There’s something, you know, in workplace involved in your physical health, social health, those things. But now we’ve moved to action. And I would say that’s, that’s a big change.

I don’t know if that’s something you’ve seen too, that people kind of knew about stuff, but now they’re actually doing stuff .

 In pockets. Yes. In different areas for sure. I find it what you said. Interesting. Yeah. You came from a marketing background and you’re like, you, you are active yourself. And so you took on this wellness role within ATB. And I see that happen a lot. Usually someone in HR, it’s their passion project and they take on this wellness portfolio, we’ll call it. And I’m curious to know how you’ve seen that, not just the role, but the, the positioning of the role in the organization changed since 2012. How is there more conversation from senior leadership about the importance and the value? 

Yeah, that’s, that’s a really good observation just that, you know, that that has changed. And definitely communication and marketing play a big role, I would say, in any HR program. And it just was kind of lucky for me, I guess, that I had that background because it’s key to getting the story up and down. So engaging senior leaders so that they have buy-in on what. You know, what is going on in the organization. So sharing data with them, shaping that story, helping senior leadership, understand what role they play. So I like to talk a lot about whole modeling and especially with that leadership piece. The best programs won’t take root if leaders aren’t, at least some leaders aren’t doing the stuff like doing the things that you’re talking about or sharing the ways that you can address issues. So we talk about having mental health conversations. We talk about whole modeling, right? You know, good breaks from work effective breaks and, you know, talking about things in a vulnerable way.


And so over time, since 2012, especially our most senior leader have been big supporters of, of health and wellness in general, they have very unique ways of sharing that. Being more proactive in addressing issues and, and I think that makes a big difference. And so mark-comm marketing and communications. You know, if, if you didn’t have that background, you might not have the same level of integration into like, storytelling and strategy and tone from the top and shaping those messages and a big part of it is that, and I won’t say that it’s not possible to be done in a different way.


It just happened to work out well in our organization. And you’re right about that program, you know, sat at the side of someone’s desk and it certainly did at ATB as well. And then. You know, if you just pick it up and like shine it a bit and present in a new light and show how it’s going to deliver value to the bottom line, then I think you can really, you know, make a go of having a successful health and wellness strategy.


Absolutely. Yeah. And you make a great point. It has to come from the top down as well. You have to have that buy-in otherwise it I’ve seen so many well-meaning and great structure and programs just fall flat because certain people in the organization want it. But senior leadership doesn’t see the importance of it so it never gets the traction. 


Yeah, or it’s just like a nice to have, you know, I think, I think that can be a challenge too. It’s wellness isn’t optional anymore than this year has really shown us.


 Oh, for sure. Well, and a lot of that came from the oil and gas industry too, is that when oil was a hundred $10 a barrel, then, Hey, let’s just throw money at the problem and it’s a perk. You know, we’ll have a massage therapist come in and we’ll have, you know, we’ll have a chef come in and prepare breakfast because we just want people to work longer and it’s okay to pay that bit more. And the, I feel well, particularly COVID has created that conversation change. As you said, wellness is not optional. It’s mandatory. 


Yeah, absolutely. And it, and we know that when people are, are well there, they perform better. And so, you know, I think putting people at the front end of that and recognizing that the way you’re going to give the most client focused behavior is by giving people, the supports and resources, they need to be their best self. Right. And we talk a lot about true self and wholesale at ATB. And I think that probably resonates in a lot of organizations, but you know, that, that feeling supported and feeling psychologically safe and healthy, and also feeling that you belong in a place too, I think is really important. And so ATB has kind of a mix of those things that really deliver on that. I think for the individual. 


Yeah. And even the messaging, you know, it’s people in culture instead of human resources and there’s, it’s just a different messaging. It, well, the role could be almost the same is a different message. It sends is marketing communications. Right now you brought up a great point is one of the things that you were talking about being able to market to leadership was sharing numbers. What, what types of numbers do you see at ATB? They’re important that you’re tracking? 


Yeah. Well, you know, I’m going to start with the initial numbers that we kind of shared with the executive and those I’ll call them the standard issue, numbers, absenteeism long-term disability and short-term disability. And we were seeing, especially in the longterm disability and short-term disability, that mental health. But if it wasn’t the top reason for long-term and short-term disability, it was in the top three. And so just. Digging away to find that data was kind of new and different in 2012 absenteeism, you know, for single day absences I don’t think any organization is able to track specifically why a person is away for one day or even three days. But after that, then it starts to be more trackable. But definitely we saw that mental health and the drugs that support people who are, working in a mental illness paradigm that those were costing us a lot.


And so how could we start to address that? And, and so the programs were supported and put in place because of those numbers initially. And, you know, the, I would call that ROI sort of metrics and we’re moving a bit towards a value on investment now. Like what are the sentiments of the people who are experiencing, this period, like during COVID and , and where are we seeing that we can do something about it or support them better, but for sure we started with those initial numbers, which are very standard. And then we start to talk about presenteeism, which was so new and different at that time.


And I don’t think we can really capture that, easily, but it now is part of the conversation, like people at their desks and now at home, they’re, they’re at their desks as well, but in particular, in workspaces at their desk but not really there and why aren’t they there? And so instead of just performance managing at that moment, we were digging a little deeper into what was going on. 


Is there a, kind of a team issue. Is there something we can do? Can we deliver some training? We use the working mind at ATB, which is a mental health commission program of Canada program. And with that mental health, the working mind program, there’s something called the mental health continuum. And people started to be able to speak more openly even with themselves around where they were on that continuum and the continuum is for color.


So it will feel kind of intuitive when I tell you that it’s like green, yellow, orange, and red. And so red is like, you are, you need to seek help immediately. And oranges like probably need some intervention. Yellow is you can probably figure out some ways to manage yourself back into the green. And green is your good, the interesting thing about that continuum is that.


My green is gonna be different from your green Tim. So your green might be go out for a run and like have dinner, and I don’t know, go dancing. I have no idea, but my green might be quietly read a book in the corner. And so one of the maybe the redirects that we had to do was remember that your green is not everybody’s green because leaders started to ask, are you green?


And and that’s fine. But if someone said I’m green, I was like reading in a corner. The leader’s like, that’s not green. You should get out for a run. So I’m not saying that happened all the time, but there was a danger there that people would put their own green on, on other folks. And then. That’s that was going to lead to.


So we quickly address that reminding folks that whatever your green is, remember that it’s very unique to you. 


Absolutely. That’s a great point. And I know I’m actually as part of the ATB X cohort we use  the colors spectrum at  each meeting we’d sit down and everyone would be like, hey let’s take a moment to reflect on where you’re feeling right now. It’s been a stressful week or a day check in with yourself. And we’d have colleague partners within the group that we just check in on and make sure everyone’s doing all right. And that, that conversation is something that needs to happen more often. And I don’t. Think outside of a few select progressive companies that are doing this, that that’s not happening as often as it should.


Yeah, I agree. I think, I think people are still afraid. I mean, leaders and team members definitely have challenges with that. And there’s lots of good reasons for that. You know, people, if there’s an absence of trust in those conversations can happen and that’s why we encourage folks to just know where they are personally, and to help themselves on that continuum versus using it as a tool to understand, you know, where everyone is in, a team, for example, because it can be a little difficult for folks to share that if they don’t feel safe.


So, so there’s many, there’s many nuances, but we’ve put, we put over 500 leaders through that program. And so I think there’s a lot of success with that working mind program, but the key is that people use it. So one of the things that’s happened in the pandemic is that leaders in particular, like, I need more, I need more training.


I need more resources. I need something more. And we have so much really, we have so much at ATB in terms of resources and training and, and tools. And so the, the kind of double-down has been. Here’s the things I’m just reminding you of all the things you have used, these things, and that will help rather than layering on more because during this period of pandemic in the bank is busy, you know, we’re, it’s, it’s a busy time for the bank, for sure.


Adding more stuff for people to learn or do. It isn’t really going to result in a better outcome. I think in my humble opinion. And I think we really need to use the resources and tools that we have. And so I think a lot of organizations have great tools and resources. They just don’t amplify them. They don’t market them that well. So it’s a bit of a, it’s a bit of an effort now for sure. 


And that is not just not just with leaders in an organization it’s across the globe is there’s an information overload right now. And information is not the bottleneck. It’s the ability to implement that information and actually shut off some of the, the other noise that’s out there and focus on what really is going to make the biggest difference.


Totally. Totally. And you don’t know that unless you track it, but you have to give it time to actually see some results. So that’s the other thing. I mean, we’ve saw some really fast results with our EFAP, but, you know, I think there’s a lot of time yet for this resiliency piece to really build in and grow and, and then the leadership training and, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of other concerns that organizations have that they might want to address in different ways.


And You know, it could be physical wellness like that. There are people are struggling with carpal tunnel and diabetes and you know, all kinds of things. And so every organization needs to get us, I think, a snapshot of itself, like where is it that they’re spending the most resources in supporting team members without any kind of strategy or program around it. And definitely, you know, there’s a lot of other things going on beyond just the mental health piece. So yeah. 


When you had talked a bit about it at the beginning is ATB was pretty used to working from home, but now everyone’s doing it full-time what do you see as the future? You know, vaccines are starting to roll out. Some companies are talking about coming back and some people are wanting to come back or the ones that are not, where do you see ATB sitting on that spectrum? And how do you see it impacting call it? The people in culture. 


Yeah, it’s a really good question. I, I do think, I do think there’s going to be more of a focus on digital wellness. So I don’t think that’s a new new term, but let’s say it’s somewhat new. If you think about pillars of health and wellness, you know, the standard, physical, mental, social financial, I think that digital wellness might be the fifth pillar and you know, we haven’t, it hasn’t been part of our conversation because it hasn’t played such a significant role in the health of, of our people in organizations, but even in our society.


Right. So, you know, just things like the belief that we can multitask, you know, today I’ve had a particularly scrambled day where I’ve been, you know, sending an email here or receiving a ping there, like I responded to you on LinkedIn. And so. That isn’t really great in terms of focus. And I probably made some errors.


Maybe you got a spelling error. I don’t know, but. You know, that multitasking myth continues to be fairly pervasive. And I don’t, I don’t think that we can sustain that. So what I understand is that from multitasking, even if you are just distracted for a minute with a text, so I’m typing or not typing, I’m inputting a great story for some share I need to do later in the organization. And, and I get distracted by a text. I read the text. There’s some studies that show it can take between seven and 20 minutes to get back on task, even from looking at just one text. And then you know, things like the, like what our attention is, is valued at. So, so many things are pulling our, on our attention and we have really no way to value it. Like we could be scrolling on Facebook. We could be sharing photos on Instagram, we’re reading something on Twitter and all those bits of our attention we get, no, we get nothing for that. And, and it’s kind of dangerous too, because it thins us out in terms of where our focus is.


And so I think finding that focus productivity, like good management. I think that’s going to be part of the future of health and wellness is this digital wellness piece. I did learn a new term. Can I share it with you? 


 Of course. 


So it’s it’s the word is phubbing and it’s, it’s what you’re doing when you have your phone on a table or with you when you’re talking to someone else and you’re more you’re more interested in what’s going on, on your phone than you are in the person. So that’s called phubbing and I I’ve been I’ve been floating it recently just to see the reaction, but what do you like, does that resonate with you? That sort of, you know, when you are with someone and they’re looking at their phone and you’re like, that’s, that’s pretty bad that’s pretty bad behavior, but it’s super common now. 


It’s really common and yeah, it’s, it’s something that between, when you look at the algorithms that are designed to engage your attention, it’s it’s neurally and behaviorally set up to try and draw your attention to whatever device or app you’re using.


And one of the, when you mentioned multitasking, one of the best books I read probably at least a decade ago now was the myth of multitasking. Cant remember who the author was, but short little read. Transformed my life in terms of how I looked at it. Cause I was always one that was like, I’m a great multi-tasker.


And when I started looking at the studies and trying, and actually testing out different scenarios, I was blown away at how horrible I was at multitasking. And I thought I was doing such a great job. 


I know there’s lots of little tests for that too. I’ve I’ve, you know where you have to look at a bunch of numbers and then re I don’t know, you have to read them backwards and so there’s people who know these things have a way to kind of get everyone on the same page about multitasking, but we continue to think that that’s possible. And you know, the other thing, and in this environment where we’re working from home so much is that meetings are back to back to back. And so there are ways to kind of manage that in your calendar like, booking meetings for 25 minutes and leaving a five minute slot if they’re usually 30 minutes. And if it’s an hour go to 45 minutes, but you need tone from the top to make that change. Because if only a few people are doing that, or yeah. If only a few people are doing that, it’s not going to take root.


So it needs to be. More of a policy piece, I think, or at least a statement. And and then, you know, so, so trying to, to just get a hold of your calendar and then building in focus time, like creating some space and calendars to actually explore or be curious about something and learn more things because it’s just task to task the task right now. And  I think people are feeling like their computer is an appendage that I actually read this in one of our focus group outputs, appendage. They didn’t know they had. And so now they have this appendage, but there’s lots of ways that people can probably help themselves digitally, like build a better divide between their workday and their personal day.


And, and, you know, there’s just a ton of stuff like that. But I think, I do think the future is digital, like a bigger focus on digital wellness and to your point around the attention economy, like we own our attention, so we should decide, but we accept default settings on our phones. We accepted on our interfaces with our computers.


You know, one great example is Netflix always goes to the next show, like right away. You’re just automatically, like, you’re just eating up shows and that’s why people end up in a binge environment and you don’t want to binge food. So you probably, you know, probably bingeing in general is not right. So whether it’s digital bingeing, alcohol, bingeing, or food bingeing.


Right. And so you can reset that so that it doesn’t just automatically go to the next show. And I know a bunch of folks are probably rolling their eyes right now. I mean, but I’m like really do it, you know, take 10 control over those default settings. I think it’s a, it’s an opportunity for us to really manage ourselves during this period.


And hopefully it’ll stay with us as we move into the post pandemic environment. Yeah. And that’s something we work closely with our clients on, on the personal performance side is. Being able to, as you said, you use the word name or the word default setting your, what are you, what are you establishing as your defaults?


What are the values that you hold as a person? And how are you structuring your work, your life, your sleep patterns, your movement patterns. How are you setting up your day to be successful? That’s right. And the people that I know that are most successful are the ones that are most rigid and and not, maybe not rigid, but fixed and focused on that structure that they’ve created and they might change it, but it’s a conscious change.


They’re not reacting to the environment to change them. Yeah, I totally agree. Like I, as of January, I started to keep a notebook. And so I write the data at the top. Like I just felt a bit out of control. So wrote the data at the top and then like the top four or five things that I’m going to do that day.


And some of it carries over from the day before, but that’s really an input. Also, the things I’m going to do physically, like I like to, I call it my sacred time. So my team knows. Okay. You know, I usually book 12 to one is like sacred time. And so I do yoga and I eat some lunch at that time. And I’m reluctant to give that time up.


Obviously we have to be flexible in the work environment and sometimes I certainly do. And, but you better have a good reason to dig into that time because there’s so much time in the day for us to have a meeting and. Yeah, that’s so I, to your point, not rigid, but committed and I’ll need a good reason if you’re going to dig into that time that I’ve so diligently blocked in my calendar now at, and ATB is known for being a progressive and a great progressive company and a great place to work.


What conversations are leaders having around that particular topic of setting the expectations and for their team? Because I know a lot of people that you said are back to back to back to back meetings, and there’s no time to do anything else because they’re getting pulled in all these different directions.


Is that a conversation that’s happening? Yeah. W you know, it’s happening at the very top. So every Friday, our CEO. Curtis stains has something called Fridays and 30 and a couple of Fridays ago. He started talk about this. What I floated with you about the meetings about, you know, trying to build 25 minute meetings and then 45 minute meetings.


And he said he was going to also try, and then someone followed up with him the next week. How’s that going? And he said, you know, I’m, I’m getting there some of the time, not all the time. And I think, you know, that kind of statement from the CEO. Gives people some confidence in doing that themselves. So, so you know, that aside we’ve been in the wellness team we’ve been floating slowly or, or I’ll call it socializing, something called a digital wellness charter.


And so it’s more of a team charter and it’s kind of a process. So we’re encouraging leaders to have this conversation with their teams about, you know, what are the core values? Like, what do you value? What do we value as a team? And then what are the boundaries? Digital boundaries. So. For example, I might say, you know, I, I, you can get me from eight to five, but from 12 to one, no.


And so, so every team member and a team will we’ll share those boundaries and it’ll be in a document and then the preferred method of communication. So do you like a text? Do you want a phone call? Do you want an email? Do you want to ping? Do you want a video chat? Like there’s so many ways, right. And so having those discussions.


What is that person’s preferred method as a team. Do we agree to, to do that? And then the accountability, like how do we keep each other accountable to that? So for example, if I get a email from my team at six or someone on my team at six, or even someone outside of my team at six, because we’ve spent the time as a team to work through this.


Then I feel confident in either ignoring it and not answering it, or they may feel competent saying, do not read until Monday and the subject line. Like there’s a lot of ways that teams can agree that they’ll address some of the behaviors that might step over boundaries that they’ve already agreed to.


And I think, I think that conversation is happening for sure. And you know, we’re hoping that it’ll happen more, but I do think you have to have a conversation before things go sideways. So if everything’s out of control, that’s not the moment to be like, Hey, how would you like me to communicate with you?


When things are a bit calmer, you need to build the muscle memory into how you’re going to respond to things when they are a bit out of, out of sync or, you know, There’s a pandemic or Godzilla comes or whatever, just these things that might happen, anything could happen. Well, on that note, I think it was France if I recall it has a, a law it’s actually illegal for a company to send emails to employees after 6:00 PM. I think it is. Yeah, I think you’re right. I think yeah, I read that. I read the two it’s. It is friends and so you know, Oh, France, but I don’t know that that’s going to happen here, but I don’t know that that’s the right way.


We, you know, you know, we value personal freedom. Of course. But I do think folks need to be more clear on what their boundaries are and that we need to, especially, you know, if we can lay the foundation now we’ve had a year of this pandemic to really be clear on what those boundaries are. We might be able to take those into that post pandemic environment because folks are going to be struggling for a while.


I think no matter what happens there’s going to be fear about returning. There’s going to be residual grief over whatever happened. If you, even if nothing like really. Significant happened to you, there’s grief over what your life was before or anything like that. And so we’re going to need to understand that and give people space and time to really cope and, and practice some self-care.


I mean, self care, isn’t going to cure a bunch of things, but it is going to help you be more aware of what’s going on and maybe then get the help you need. You know, we’ve had a big focus on self-care for some time in that wellness space and yeah. You know, at ATB, I, I moved, I think we’ve moved a little bit away from, you know, just practice self care.


You’ll be fine. You can’t, you can’t yoga yourself out of depression. So it’s just, this is the way it is, but you can at least become more aware and again, use the tools. And that doesn’t mean it’s going to fix everything, but if all those things happen, then we have other things that are available and you can get more support.


So I think that’s important too. Yeah. Well, and you, you make a great point. You can’t yoga yourself out of depression. And a lot of people view self-care as a band-aid. They put on something it’s like, Oh, I’m stressed out. I’m feeling like garbage, I’m fatigued. I better take care of myself. It’s like, well, it’s not a band-aid it’s a foundation.


Like self care is yeah. When, when self-care is something you do as, as part of who you are as a foundation, then. That builds your resilience. It builds your ability to handle more and bounce back stronger. It builds your ability to manage the lows that we have, whether we call them depression or not. And that’s something that I think a lot of people forget is they are so focused on.


Whether it’s work, work, work, or fixed fixating on other things going on in their life that they can’t control like the pandemic. And yeah, there’s, there’s all this stuff coming in and they forget about the foundation of self care. That’s right. And we see that in companies all the time. And so I think companies that are addressing that and sounds like ATB is doing a great job at it are able to.


It helped their employees move through the challenges more effectively. Yeah, 100%. And, you know, imagine those images are commercials for retirement where, you know, people are bouncing their grandchildren up and down and they’re running in the field and they’re like traveling all over the place, you know, for a lot of folks that will never be the reality because they’re waiting until retirement so they can start to, I’m going to start running and eating better.


When I retire, I’m going to start spending more time with my family when I retire, I’m going to start this and that. And the other thing when I retire, but if you don’t start it. Like well before retirement, basically when you start working, start taking care of your financial wellness, your mental wellness, your physical wellness, your social wellness, and I guess now your digital wellness, then that retirement is going to look a lot different than the commercials, for sure.


Yes. And bouncing. So on that note of the, looking at the future, what do you see the next. Call it one to five years looking like in terms of organizational wellness and people in culture, not just at ATB, but you know. Yeah. Yeah. Thanks. I mean, that’s a great question. I, I really think a big part of the future will be the implementation of tele-health into organizations.


You know, I know that kind of is a departure from what you and I are talking about right now, but. You know, looking into the future, how can the most people get help they need when they need it for a variety of things. Like, so we’ve got a bit of a mental health virtual therapy piece at ATB. And I know a lot of organizations have, you know, are starting in that direction for sure.


But tele-health that full bodied support where you don’t have to go in because there’s going to be a lot of barriers to going in and. You know, going into an office, getting like people are not going to want to do that as much as they used to, but, but there’s a lot of pent up demand for all kinds of health issues, right.


That people have left on the back burner because of the pandemic. And so I think telehealth is a really great way to deliver that kind of support. And then if you need, apparently 80% of physician visits involve zero touching. Like they never had to. Do any like, so that means only about 20% are the ones you need to go in for it yet.


You know, if I call and say, my daughter has a stomach ache, we’re headed into the office. Like there’s no, you know, and probably there were some questions, maybe a video we could have resolved it. Right. So I don’t know for sure. Someone’s going to call me on that one, but like, I don’t know for sure that that tummy ache would have been resolved, but let’s say some big cut or something.


So then we use something more likely to be resolved over a video and. Yeah, I do. I do think that that’s going to give workplaces and the people in those workplaces better control over their schedule. Folks, you know, in call centers and other, you know, jobs. Like they don’t have a lot of time to take and they might have to take time off to go get the kind of help they need, but this would just be, go to.


Go to a space, like a room in your office and have your conversation with your doctor. Right. And so there’s probably a lot of privacy issues to get over and whatnot, but I think that might be a big part of the future. Great. Great. And yeah, it’s I have no doubt that telehealth is, is going to continue growing the digital.


Part of our life is not going away anytime soon. So being able to use it to our advantage rather than our detriment is something that we, as a society need to figure out more effectively. Yeah. And so I, I know, I know we could continue going down on all these topics for ages and it’s, it’s been awesome, but I want to a couple of minute wrap up with a couple more questions first.


I’ve been asking you a lot of questions and I’m obviously I know I have my own blind spots. What’s something, what’s the question I’m not asking or something I’m missing that you’re like, this is, this is something that organizations need to know from a health and personal wellbeing standpoint. Wow.


That’s a, that’s a, that’s a big one. You know, I think, I think that wellness is not a side dish in an organizational strategy. That, that wellness and health, you know, I think if, you know, we did talk about that, but I, I do think it’s very important for organizations to integrate that in, right into the fabric of their strategy.


So you know, whether it’s it’s, you know, maybe there’s some things to ask leaders about in, in their reviews on did they support their team members and mental health? Like, we don’t do a lot of that. As a society and, and workplaces, you know, checking in on how well a leader. Is doing in terms of metrics of health and wellness for their team members and asking those questions and having those conversations.


And, yeah. And you know, I think earlier, before we started, we talked a little bit about the nature of psychological safety and inclusion and that, you know, these pieces are not separate when, when you have good psychological safety and people feel like they belong, then they have good health. And so I think just recognizing that it be okay, You know, it would be an important thing for organizations to keep in mind.


Excellent. Amazing.


 Future is Tim what’s the future, like what’s on your horizon. I said telehealth, but what’s your big thing.


 I think it’s the, an understanding of the scope of wellness and what it means to both the people in the organization and the organization itself. I think there’s going to be much more of a, and COVID again has dramatically catapulted that forward, like a decade into the future and just in this last year, but executives, my, my hope is that in the next few years, executives really start to connect.


Wow. This isn’t again, just a fluff thing to have. It is a strategic advantage. From from a business standpoint and it’s just the right thing to do as well. So people will be able to see the personal benefit and the organization sees the benefit and companies that are able to mesh that together really well are going to see outsized returns compared to those that don’t.


Yeah, I agree. A hundred percent and we’re already, I mean, we’re seeing it at ATV for sure. Like people want to work at ATB. They know the culture is really cool and that it’s supportive and, you know, we, we see enormous uptake on any job postings we have. And actually we just, I just heard before this call that we won we’re number we’re in the top three for great place to work in Canada.


So we were taught, I think we were first, last year. But we remained in the top three and have been for a number of years now. So feeling pretty good about that. That’s fantastic. Yeah. Every everyone I’ve talked to that’s worked at ATB said it’s amazing place. Yeah, I agree. So that’s, that’s awesome. Well, you’ve been there a while, so it must be pretty good.


They don’t have, we can’t see, we can’t see the chain attached to your your desk there underneath, but go practice digital wellness. Exactly. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for, for being on the show. It’s been amazing to have you, and I love the conversation and I’m, I know our listeners are going to get huge value from it.


If if anyone wanted to reach out and they had questions about ATB, or are you some of the things you’ve talked about, particularly on the mental health side where could they reach you?

 They definitely my email’s a great spot it’s , So I don’t know if we can add that to the tag or something, but definitely that’s fine.

Okay, perfect. I will I, I can add that into the, in the post. So thank you so much. And it’s been an honor having you on the show and we’ll chat again very soon.

 Thanks Tim. It was great to have this chat. I really love sharing and hearing your opinions too. Thank you so much.


Thank you for listening to the Working Well podcast.

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Thank you everyone for tuning in. And once again, I’m Tim Borys with FRESH! Wellness Group. We’ll see you on the next episode.


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