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#015 – Redefining HR, Wellbeing and Business (with Special Guest Rod Miller)


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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 make life more awesome at work and home.

Join us to learn workplace wellness, best practices, personal performance tips, and access resources to jumpstart your personal and corporate programs.


Rod Miller is the president and CEO for CPHR Alberta, a not-for-profit organization representing over 6,000 members within the human resources community in Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. In his role, Rod is responsible for the strategic direction of the organization, advocacy for the profession and overseeing the standards for the CPHR designation in the region. Rod’s career began in the pharmaceutical biotech industry. He then led the Calgary operation for an international recruitment firm building an award winning organization while driving culture change.

Prior to his current role he led the corporate development organization at a large post-secondary institution where he and his team led the implementation of workforce development across the globe, including projects in Angola, Australia, equatorial, Guinea, Kazakhstan, and Mexico. Rod holds undergraduate degrees in zoology and economics, along with an MBA in leadership and stragety. In addition, Rod is a holder of the CPHR, designation and chartered member of CPHR, Alberta.


Rod, thank you so much for joining us on the Working Well Podcast, and it’s a great to see you again. I think the last time I saw you in person was disrupt HR just before the pandemic, that would have been December 2019. So tell me what the last year, year and a half look like for you.

Well, I was like, we were talking about before the show started it, it has been like a year and a half that we have been immersed in this this new unchartered environment. And you know, it’s both been, I think, affected all of us professionally and personally, as we’ve kind of begun to navigate this. And so from a perspective of CPHR Alberta, it really has been I would say and this sounds kind of funny when I say this, it has been an incredible experience of transformation for us as an organization. At the outset of it, as you know, we represent the HR community. We have about 6,000 members across across Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. So there was this real demand for us to step up and begin to help our HR professionals navigate the unnavigatable. Right. We haven’t in the beginning of the pandemic, we didn’t have answers to all the questions that were coming our way, but what really felt one of the outcomes that we wanted to achieve early was to just build a community that was connected to that was able to kind of begin to have conversations and insights.

So we have really focused on developing a lot of programming around supporting our HR professionals through the issues of the pandemic particularly in the very beginning, you know, whether those were health and safety issues or legal issues or regulatory issues, whatever they might be. And so that’s really evolved us into doing a lot of our work online now. And a lot of the work that we’ve done, actually, most of the work that we’ve done has been delivered virtually over the last you know, 18 months or so.

And that’s been a real benefit for us as an association. As I mentioned, we represent the profession across the province and into the territories. And one of the challenges that we had had in the past with been able to really connect well with our membership in the, in the corners of where we are right in the province.

And so what we’ve found, one of the great outcomes of this experience has been not only to provide high quality professional development connect with people like you along the way, but also to be able to connect the membership together in a sense of community. And to do so in an online fashion. And that really has been a highlight for us that that has been really a takeaway to say, how can we do that more? And how can we do that better as we begin to emerge from this experience of being remote for so long and what, how, what, what have we learnt off of that, that we can build into what we do as, as an association. And so that’s been a really interesting journey for us personally. I took it as an opportunity to really focus in on what was important for me as a person and as a leader, I remember seeing it at our conference last last fall, online that in order to lead while we must be well.

And so at the heart of my personal pandemic experience has been really focusing on my wellness. So whether that’s my spiritual wellness, emotional wellness, physical wellness, whatever, it might be holistically taking a look and making sure that I’m setting myself up for success and able, and able, and being able to not only my team, but also to lead well in my life and with my family. So it’s been really an incredible journey over the last eight months to go through.

That’s a, that’s great to hear and yeah, on a couple of different points there, as far as just the personal wellness, we, we tend to see people going down sort of two paths. There’s the people that have really used this opportunity to say, wow, yeah, this is an opportunity, this is a chance for me to jump in and take a bit more care of myself. And really look inwardly. There are a lot of other people that we’ve seen. The fitness division of our businesses has seen that dramatically where people are gone off the rails and they’re at home, they’re struggling with it. They’re not as active as they were. I know I’ve said it before. My, my personal step count went from about 8,500 a day on average, down to about 1500 a day. Right. And, and so that in itself, and I’m an active person, the days that I go and mountain bike, then it’s, you know, 12 or 15,000 in that day.

But I’ve had days under a thousand and. To bed at the end of the night. I’m like, what, what, what did I do? Like, not much, obviously. And, and so that’s something that is really important for people to, to realize and for organizations to know that. Yeah. Yeah. There are people that are thriving, but there are also people that aren’t and how do we manage it?

On the, on the organizational side, especially HR, you, and you said 6,000 professionals in HR across the province. HR has typically been a face-to-face hands-on type industry, I guess you would say everyone thinks I got to go see HR and it’s like the…

No one wants that visit by the way.

Exactly the walk of shame down the hallway.

Right, right. Totally. We were going to HR. Why we going to HR.

Yeah. I dunno. I don’t want to go to HR, but talk a bit about how the face of HR has changed over the last year and a half.

Yeah. You know, that’s such a, that’s such a great question too. You know, I remember in the very beginning and I’ll share with you a conversation that I had with with the CEO and, and and he said to me, you know, Rod I rely upon my HR department to help me navigate the stuff, but I don’t know if they know what to do. And so that’s really been the opportunity that’s been put in front of HR over the last eight months, 18 months has been to help organizations navigate what it is. You know, new and trailblaze as they’ve gone through this. And so that’s really what’s happened is that in some organizations, HR has really stepped in and stepped up and really supported strategically the organization as it’s navigated, what has been this experience and there’s others who have not.

And I think the, the opportunity that’s kind of arisen here is that there, there is a chance and has been a chance for HR to really step in and own that people function to say, here’s what we can do to get the best out of our people and to create an environment where our people, even in the pandemic can thrive. And so I’m a bit of a human center, design guide, I think about iteration and trying things and failing and moving forward. I think that’s really been the opportunity for HR is to try things. Around people, wellness and around people engagement that could or could not work. And I think the tri-part is important because you, you really want to do that and give it a shot, but that gives you an opportunity to learn what might work forward for your, your organization.

Let’s take for instance. Flexible work. Right? So we were immersed in, in the environment where we were going to work. We, there was no choice. We had to be virtual. We had to be in our homes wherever we might be, but we could not be in the office where we would gather together where work was a place. We now had to virtually and remotely through technology. And so that in and of itself was one of the biggest challenges for HR to begin to navigate. How do we move our people into that environment where they’re now working remotely on technology that the not really may be used to. Learning development things. There are there’s training things there there’s IT things there there’s onboarding things there that really we had to as a profession really kind of dig into and move it to and learn about and take it on, you know, because we needed to for organizations.

So to me, that’s kind of been some of the, the, the realization in this is that HR plays a very important role strategically to align and leverage the human capital that exists within those organizations. We, we really emerged from a profession of, I would say transaction, where we dealt with things like pay or benefits or learning programs where it might be to now we’re in a, in a state of where we’re a strategic advisor that’s organization. So that’s really important for us because when you take a look at the shift of where we’ve come from, from an economic perspective, from, you know, manufacturing into now, what is really a knowledge-based economy at the heart of that, and really any organization is people, but the big difference today versus then is that your asset is now in people.

It’s actually up here. It’s, it’s the knowledge and abilities and skills that those individuals bring to your organization. So now it’s time to ensure that we’re investing in that as an asset and engaging that asset into the organization. And there’s some fabulous things that are coming out around that in the literature, on what that means around purpose and values and things like that. So it really has been an opportunity for HR to really step in and play a critical role strategically to help organizations and guide organizations through this pandemic, into whatever’s going to be the new normal that we’re going to reside in.

Yeah, I love that. And there’s several parts I want to dive into unpack what you had just said there. One of the key things is we see, we see this happening more we’ll call it progressive organizations, but in, in the past you said HR was very transactional and not really seen as a strategic player, I guess you would say. And that shows in the fact that a lot of companies don’t have a Chief Human Resources Officer, a Chief People Officer, they have they’ll have the CFO, the CTO, the COO, the CEO, and VP of VP of HR. And, and I always liken that to it’s like at Christmas dinner, there’s the adult table and then the little kids’ table. And. We’re the team table where the Tiki, the team, we’re not quite adults but were teens. Right? Exactly. But, but now in the last 18 months, particularly HR has been brought in and, and into the, into the fold, I guess you would say the strategic meetings, and this is a chance to shine.

And this is a chance for HR to say, yeah, you know what? We were worthy to be here. And, you know, I’ve, I’ve talked to a lot of them. HR professionals over the years and there’s a different mindset about that. Sometimes it’s almost this self fulfilling prophecy is like, oh, well, I don’t know if I want to speak up and talk to the executive suite because it’s, it’s the executive suite and being like, Hey, you know what? People are the foundation of any business. and we help people. That’s what HR does. And so I, I love to see that I’ve, I’ve heard executives say, Hey, I talked to my HR department more in the last 18 months than I have in the last 18 years combined. And, and that’s, that’s awesome to see. How do you think?

I was just going to say, I think what’s what’s in that is is we’ve had this, this experience where we’ve needed to transition and transform virtually overnight, and it kind of landed in HR’s lap. Right? When some of the pandemic started, it was, well, we need to go to HR. What does HR have to say? Or what does the people group have to say? And so it was then that HR was given the opportunity. To be really at the table and take ownership of helping organizations navigate this. And fundamentally to that is, do you, as an HR professional, do you understand the business that you’re in. Do you know what it is that the organization is trying to achieve? So you can align what you do through the people function to make sure that those outcomes remain, because the goal here, the goal of, of remote working or virtual work was we needed to keep the business going, right? So if you, as HR know that, you know, you’re, you’re much more capable of being able to achieve that outcome.

So I think that was the opportunity that gave HR the chance to kind of step up to the table. Now, now the opportunity is to get the seat at the table and remain there. So that’s where I think we’ve come to is that point now where, okay. You’ve really proven to us that you are strategic as a profession and everybody’s different, there’s different professionals that are at different levels of all this. I’m just saying this as a blanket kind of thing is that you are strategic in your insight. You can’t add value and thats the key. To get to the table you need to be able to show that you can add value to the organization. If you’re the chief technical officer, you can, you know how to do that through systems. If you’re the chief accounting or finance officer, you know how to do that through the numbers, you can leverage the numbers.

If you’re the chief operating officer, you know how to do that through the operations. So if you’re going to be the chief HR officer, you need to be able to do that through the people which sit in the organization, the biggest asset ever. So now’s the time for, I think that the people function to say, yeah, we can create value. We’re part of this. We want to be at the table and we deserve to be there. We’ve shown our ability to do that through what has been the last 18 months.

Absolutely. What’s the old saying is success is when opportunity and preparation come together. And the opportunities here, those that are prepared are being able to step up and deliver. So that’s that’s great. And the other part of that is you had mentioned about how people are the lifeblood of any business, especially in the knowledge industry. Right? And, and in my, sphere of influence the wellness and performance and wellbeing of people is a huge part. And we’ve been working with clients for the last 18 months and even before to help people realize, but that’s come into place so much more. How do you see that helping HR and I guess, how do you see it progressing in the future?

Yeah, that’s I think that’s probably been the biggest highlight is is the need for us to be thinking about and ensuring that our people are, are well in their, in their lives. Right. And that’s not just, you know, a great benefit of programs. It’s ensuring that people are given an opportunity to be successful, that they feel like they belong psychological safety, all of these other elements that we can get into and talk about today. But I think what the highlight is, And is that when people aren’t well, and when people are challenged by, let’s say, you know, the stresses of the pandemic, and let’s say, let’s give an example.

So, you know, you take your, your employees who are working at a place and they’re coming together every day from eight to four, nine to five or whatever it is. And they have this boundary that they have between what their work life was and what their home life is. And so that they’ve kept that. And all of a sudden, within 24 hours of the start of the pandemic, you say, no, you’re all going to work from home or work remote, whatever that was for the person. Well, that person has kids, potentially that person has a partner. People going to school. Like it just like there was this immersion into this work life balance. For lack of a better term, what that caused was an enormous amount of stress and strife for people.

And we’ve seen it bear out in some of the health challenges that have certainly began to emerge from this. What that’s done though, is it’s highlighted the importance of an organization to play a role in that you can no longer separate work and life you can’t. In any organization that decides that they want to do that I’m not sure they’re going to be the winners of it. Right. I think when, you know, when, you know, when you, what do you put at the core of your organization, the wellness and the wellbeing of your employees. You put out there that I care about you you’re important to me. I want you to be successful here. Here’s how we can do it. And I think those are really important actions that an organization can take that really focus on retention and engagement. And so we do know from the literature that higher engagement leads to higher retention, which leads to higher productivity because for many reasons, costs of turnover, all these things that happened.

So what my message to people today is. You need to invest in your people, not just from a training and development perspective, that’s not it. You need to invest in them as people what’s important to them. What’s important in their lives. How can I help you be your best self here at work that also brings to light the importance of how we lead in the organizations and the traditional models of leadership we’re going to evolve. You know, those skills that we used to call soft skills, which was actually a derogatory term at the end of the day, because they’re not soft. Those essential skills now are becoming even more important than the hard skills of data analysis or accounting or finance or numbers that be what’s essential skills are actually becoming more and more important for leaders to have so that they can ensure that they are engaging their people, they genuinely care about their people through authentic and how they approach the people. And they’re really giving people an opportunity to be their best selves at work. And I think that’s the beauty of what has been an outcome of this pandemic is just seeing that blossom and seeing the opportunity that sits there for organizations to capitalize on them.

Absolutely. And there there’s a good a correlation between the leadership and trust in the organization. Trust is huge right now because we’re seeing this play out when organizations are mandating people back into the office without necessarily, I guess, understanding all the different situations that everyone’s in right now. And this there’s still this prevailing mindset that if people are at home, they’re slacking off. If I can’t see your bum in your seat you, you must be slacking off. And I think the opposite is true. Every study shows that people are working more and they’re working harder and it’s beating people into the ground in a lot of cases. What are some of the policies you’re seeing around that?

Yeah. If you, if you look at that, that that’s such an interesting perspective because for first and foremost, what was in the way. Plus working in my home, previous to the pandemic was two concepts here. One, I don’t trust my people and I fear that they’re not working. So that’s a leader mindset that, that fundamentally needs to change. If organizations are thinking I’m now going back to what was before, which is work as a place, and you’re going to come to that workplace, your biggest issue. It’s going to be retaining people because what people have experienced now is the opportunity to be successful in a virtual remote world.

And yes, I can work in my own way, whatever that looks like. So flexibility around that is going to be very important. So we’ve all been reading the literature on it. The turnover is tsunami. That’s projected to happen as we emerged from the pandemic in an area of the world. Maybe not necessarily here in Alberta, but certainly in other parts of the world where individuals are going to begin to look at at roles that that, that fit that lifestyle that they’re looking for, or the organizations that live into that value of flexibility that the employer is looking for, that’s going to happen. And that’s upwards of, you know, predicted to be anywhere from 40 to 50% of people are currently going to be leaving their roles for, for something else that’s directly related to that, that value set that you’ve identified as, as an employee that’s important to you.

You know, I say to people all the time, What what’s happened here is an awakening really? It’s like, and I think this is why I think this is the Renaissance of HR. It’s, it’s an awakening of what my life can be like as an employee, outside of the constructs of what is defined as work. So when you take the constructs of work, which is nine to five, it’s a place. Those are the two biggest ones. When I blow those out the window and I recreate something or re-imagine what work can be like. Maybe I can work from home. Maybe I start early and maybe we got a time for lunch with my kids. And at the end of the day, I’m not in a commute. I can order my Instacart online to get my groceries delivered that night, which means I can go for a walk with my wife or spouse or partner. That’s what’s happening. That’s where we’re beginning to see emerging is that people are going that’s my life. That’s what I want my life to be. I want to have my life and my work integrated in a way that works for me as an individual.

Now, the other side of the coin of what we just talked about. Is organizations that, that are keeping people at home and saying, yeah, we’re going to do that. We’re going to work flexible. We’re going to have virtual work. And that’s how it’s going to be. That in and of itself places a huge burden on people because they don’t know when to stop. It’s easy. If you have an office at home that you can close the door and you can say, Hey, look, I’m not, I’m not in today. In fact, what I did in my home office, which you’re seeing here, it’s in its full glory is I have my CPHR logo on my door that tells me in my mind that this room is my office. So when I close this door. I closed myself away from my office. So that whole concept of right to disconnect is going to be really important because what’s happening is that people are allowing the boundaries of their work to flow into their lives and not kind of knowing when to stop. So that in and of itself is a huge stressor.

And it’s an anxiety ridden life for people. When they think about all the work they got to get done, and they’re going to stay in the office for an extra 20 minutes, which turns it to an hour and. You know, you’re kind of in a state of panic because you got to get things out the door. So as employers, we need to think about that too. We need to think about what is it that we’re doing in organizations. Hey, it’s great to work at home. It’s great to be flexible, but are we allowing ourselves and our employees to be themselves? Or are we pushing things on them because their workload is going to increase. That’s an important conversation that, that employers and organizations must have when, when we think about going flexible and doing virtual remote work.

For sure. And that’s leadership is a huge part of that, the mindset around that, but also the, you talk about blowing up the constructs of what work is and when we are at home, Those boundaries go both ways too, because from an organizational standpoint, I know a lot of people out of that are like, it’s just back to back to back to back meetings all day, sitting in front of a computer and people dont even have time to go to the bathroom and, and they have to like, get like beg off a meeting early to just literally go use the bathroom.

Yeah. One of the things that we’re working with clients on the personal health and wellness side, but also corporate clients is to look at what the stats and the research is saying about personal productivity throughout the day that getting up and walking outside around the block for five minutes has such a positive effect on mindset, creativity energy levels, happiness as well as the productivity at work. So as an employer, why would you not want that to happen? And how being able to set up your meeting structure throughout the day, setting up your, your expectations from a leadership standpoint of how people. Take care of their personal health and wellness, because when they do that, it takes care of organizational health and wellness.

And some companies we’re seeing start to integrate that and you’d have a lot more insight into what’s going on in those areas. But that’s, that’s something I’d say that the, for us, the biggest change that we’ve seen for, from our private coaching clients, as well as from our corporate organizational wellness clients, is that, that whole structure is changing rapidly.

Yeah. So those are a really interesting points. So let’s, let’s dig into this a little bit. So what I, what I see let’s say to you, it comes down from the top that, you know, we’re going to go, we are going to go flexible. You know, we’re going to create this virtual environment, blended, whatever it might be. But if you have a leader who is a on their employees in the morning who’s on their employees at night time. Who’s on their employees in the weekend because that’s their mindset. That’s how they lead. That’s really, I’m going to use the word destructive because that can be very destructive to the goal of the organization.

They actually go to go flexible. So there’s these leadership constructs that we need to, we need to tear apart and maybe even actually re-skill. So what I’ve done personally is I have, I have a, I have a day, I have a set day and what I’ll do in the morning is I will go for a coffee on my deck. I can do it now. It’s the summer time. It’s great. Go for coffee my deck and sit there and check a couple of emails or whatever. But I do it because it gives me some outside air. I go for a walk if I need to over the lunch hour blend that into my day. And I let my team know that that’s what I’m doing. And if my team knows that that’s what I’m doing. And if I set a boundary that I’m unavailable, set up a team’s message, I’m unavailable for the next hour or whatever, what I’m saying is to my team is it’s okay for you to do the same thing without explicitly saying it’s okay to do the same thing.

Yeah, but if I say to you, Hey look, no, it’s okay that you, you know, that you’ve got to take your kid to school at eight 30 or whatever and I’m bombarded with messages at eight. I’m telling you, no, it’s not really okay guys. I kind of need you and to be there. And so I think that’s where the leadership piece really comes into play. Do we model the behavior that aligns with that? Our values as an organization that helps us build a stronger, deeper culture that helps us navigate what is going to be. This transformative change as we continue to go through it, cause we’re going to continue to go through it. It’s not going to be, it’s not like it’s done. It’s not like, you know, tomorrow everyone’s going to be virtual or blended or whatever it is. Every company is going to go through this and your own pathway.

But I think it’s really important for leaders to model. And this is where I think there’s an opportunity for us to rethink our leadership design and our, our leadership models and our leadership training is we need to get to leaders to say, Hey, look, here’s the impact of you doing that. You know, how do we build vulnerability in leaders, how do we build curiosity in leaders? You know, we need it when someone says to me, well, I really, I need to take, you know, I need to do this this afternoon because of this, whatever I said, well, you know, how important is that for you? Super important. Got it. Okay. I know from three to four o’clock, you’re not around, I’m not going to bother you. So just let’s just do that. So that curiosity and understanding is also really important along with the vulnerability. And I think at the end of the day, success or failure of this transition is going to rest upon how we lead within organizations at all levels.

Absolutely. And the, that shifting mindset of leadership at all levels of the organization around understanding the different situations people are in some people need that extra touch point to stay focused because they’re at home and they get distracted by a bunch of different things. And maybe they need that touch point. Whereas other people there, they might be the ones working till 10, 11 at night and not turning off. So to be able to know your team and know I mean, that’s part of the coaching leadership processes to be able to adapt your leadership style to different people in your team and in your organization. And you know, for executive leaders to be able to see their leadership team below them and say, okay, yes, this is something that this person here, maybe they have, this person has an old school mindset you know, nine to five bums in seats, you gotta, you know, I need to see you be present the whole time and someone else has maybe a bit more advocating responsibility. So how do we, how do we help leaders grow and understand those, those nuances of the situations that all the employees, different employees are in.

Yeah. So I wanted a couple of points on that. I just want to share with you are coming to mind. So I think there’s some, I, again, going back to some of these essential skills we talked about, I think that there is there’s two really important essential skills for leaders, regardless of what level you are in, whether your frontline leader or your previous CEO, the first one is vulnerability. I’m going through this too. I’m not sure what this is going to be like for me or for us or whatever. I’m just, I’m with you on this. Let’s figure out this journey together as that vulnerability pieces is really important, but then it’s also, I’m curious, I’m really, I’m really curious about this situation for you, or I’m curious about how I can help you be successful in this environment.

What can we do together? So it’s kind of like standing with the person is, and so this whole concept of hierarchy. Let’s throw it out the window. So I think that those are two really important skills. I think the other thing that is emerging is a more individualized contract. So as we immerse ourselves in our lives, whether those lines are blended right between work and life, as we, as we know it, That, that individualized contract between yourself as a leader and in your team mate your team member is going to be really important because your, your needs, you know, team member a, maybe different from the needs of team member B.

And so I want to know you team member A what support for you, how do I help you be your best self at work? How do I help support you in your work? That kind of stuff. That’s going to be different than what team member B may need. So I think there’s this individualization. Of of the relationship that is going to be really important for leaders to kind of step into and really begin to develop versus kind of taking a broader leadership. You know, you have to do this today. Here’s your group work, whatever. I just think that an individualized approach built on curiosity built on vulnerability. I think that’s probably going to be the biggest engagement and retention factor going into the future. There are those two things, vulnerability and curiosity.

I agree. I think that’s something that more leaders need to, to embrace. And, and those, you, you see, you see when leaders do embrace that, how much of a positive impact it makes on their team and the performance of that team. Yeah, totally. Yeah. And I guess related to that, in that sense, you know, you’ve mentioned before.

HR in the past has been a bit more of a transactional department. A lot of the, and going back to the wellness side, a lot of the programs in place are more dealing with symptoms, there’s the benefits plans and the medical and dental and things like that. And then I guess some of that’s preventative, but it’s typically, we’ve seen, it’s responding to challenges, disability, and ability management. And those are things that tend to be a bit more on the call it treatment of illness rather than prevention. Right?

So it’s reactive versus proactive and preventative.

Right. And even with the mental health side that I, I guess those in the mental health industry saw coming, but I think a lot of companies were really taken aback at how much of an impact the mental health side had. And there’ve been a lot of programs implemented since then. How do you see, or what have you I’ve seen in, I guess, across your leaders in CPHR of how things are shifting to prevention?

Yeah, that’s a great, so I’m going to reflect on this one because I came from I came from the health industry years ago. I worked in the pharmaceutical biotech industry. So we were really into symptom management and all those things around that. And so having conversations about preventativeness was was really not on the table then. And that was a long time ago. So I, I think that there is a. There, there’s now an emergence of a conversation of how important this is for us. Not only from it’s it’s the right thing to do for our employees to make sure that they’re well, there’s actually an economic argument to this, right? So employees who are well, who are engaged, who don’t get sick often or dont take sick days, those types of things, they’re actually more productive. We know that.

So, and we’ve known that for a long time. So now we we’ve see this opportunity where we can actually begin to really, I’m going to say the word, leverage that so that we can really get the best of our employees, but not, not in a way that takes advantage of the employees by any means, but really engaged as employees in the work that we’re doing as an organization.

And some of the things that we’re seeing that are beginning to emerge around this is is purpose work and is, is the values of the employee employer aligned to my, to my personal values because that’s a wellness thing for me, if I feel good about my work. And if I feel that my values are being honored in the work that I do, or the team that I’m on, or the organization that I’m in, then that there’s a natural reaction to be, to be holistic and to be well within those situations.

Where there’s, where there’s a conflict is when you don’t feel like this is your best place to do your work, where you feel this conflict between you and your manager, for whatever reason or you and your organization and the values don’t align or whatever it might be that causes stress that causes a strike. But we all know that stress and strike for not healthy for you. And we know that that’s clear in the literature. So what do we do as organizations to really create wellness? And I think that’s the conversation now. It’s not just about giving people access to a benefit plan. Right. It’s, that’s part of it.

That’s like that’s a tool to get you there, but can we go deep? As an organization, can we actually, within laws and regulations, can we go deeper to provide more to our employees that give them the opportunity to do well at work? Can I ride my bike to work and throw it by my office? Can I bring my dog dog to work?

These kinds of things that we’ve seen in culture? Yeah, they’re, they’re important, but I think it’s a little bit deeper then just that. I think at the heart of it is his purpose and does my purpose as an employee, align with your purpose as an employer. And do we share the same values? And if that’s the case, I think it’s going to be a good relationship.

I agree. Yeah.

I don’t know if that answers your question, but that’s where I wanted to go.

Yeah, no, I think that’s exactly right. And the prevention of illness is not the same as the improvement of wellness. And I think in a lot of organizations, if it’s like, if people are here at this baseline, it’s like, well, they’re not sick so they must be well. And it’s like, well, we’ve got this term languishing now. It’s like, people are they’re so, so, and they’re, they’re, they’re showing up for work and they’re getting stuff done, but they’re not thriving. And and I think the it’s the iceberg, the of wellness has really not been wellness it’s been getting people to baseline. And if someone, if someone is ill and having major symptoms yeah. Those programs get them to here, but they don’t get them to here and, and that’s the, that’s the thing that we’ve been really working with clients on. And I think learning and development is a huge part of employee skill upgrading is common.

Every organization of any size has employee training programs, but they tend to be on the technical aspects. They don’t have, there are a lot fewer employee training programs on the personal performance and the how to scheduling time management, energy management, personal wellness.

Yeah. You know, Tim, let’s go back to your comment about zoom meetings, right? So, so here we are. So in the, in the, in the place of work model, I could go from office to office. I walk or whatever. I take a half hour break, whatever I’d, I’d go to the bathroom, go get a coffee, whatever. To your point. Now we’re going from meeting to meeting, to meeting on zoom like this, which isn’t super healthy and sitting in a chair being sedentary.

So that’s, I should, I know I should use my shoes, my stand desk today. I didn’t think about, but so that’s, I think part of the challenge right. Is, is what is, what does it work design look like now that we’re moving into this, into this new state of being as organizations. And I think to your point, I mean, not that iceberg model is huge because there are a lot of people that are, that are just languishing the term or surviving in whatever it is but not thriving in organizations they’re hidden under the water and it could be as simple as you don’t really feel safe here. This isn’t a psychologically safe organization for me, because I remember talking to my boss about an issue and he slammed me for it. You know, it might’ve been a small thing, but now I’m not thriving because I don’t feel safe.

So those are, those are the kinds of issues that HR gets to begin to look at strategically to say, how do we, how do we move people in that iceberg from, you know, from languishing or surviving in an organization to actually thriving in organization. And that’s where things like data analytics come into play, all the work that we’re doing around kind of reading into organizations. That’s that’s I think really important work to form us as HR leaders of what we can then take to the CEOs and the C-suite and ultimately the board that of organizations that this is what’s important. But then tie it back to the creation of value.

So, like I said earlier, that concept of it being a social good. Yeah. It’s important to do that. It’s critically important socially, but it’s also economically good to make those kinds of investments. And if you can show that as an HR professional, back to, you know, your organization, your boss, your CHR, your VP of HR, whatever it might be, that is powerful. And if that’s up to the, to the board level and the C-suite level, and even if you . Just take an iteration and try something and see what you learn off, but that’s not a bad thing either. So that’s that really sits, I think, with, with HR to kind of come to the table with those types of things.

Well, that goes back exactly to what we were talking about earlier is having HR sitting at the, the boardroom table at the, at the C-suite as a strategic partner, when that happens more consistent these conversations are able to come up and, and I’m happy to see more and more companies doing that. And I hope to see in the future, even companies that don’t have a C-suite HR position, because HR has been so much more involved that someone gets elevated to that position in the company. And one of the strategic things that we talk to our clients about is. Whether you who cares what the title is, who at the C-suite has accountability for people performance and call it whatever you want. Chief bottle washer, if you want. I don’t know, but it’s like someone at the executive level needs to be accountable for wellbeing and people performance, and whoever takes it into their portfolio, that’s fine, but that’s not something that’s there.

Yeah, I think actually Tim, that this is as we grow into this, this is a board conversation. This is a board of directors saying, what are you doing to get the best out of your people and how you, how you’re taking care of them. And so, you know, when, when, when the, when the board starts. And, and you’re able to measure that as an organization to say, here’s how we’re doing here’s the impact that we’re having on our, on our programs, whether they be, you know, broad based wellness programs, whatever they may be. That’s when that conversation becomes absolutely real and tangible. So I think it does. The, the accountability sits with, and I’m going to say this and I, I might get challenged on it and that’d be great.

I think the accountability sits with the C-suite particular to the CEO, but I think the responsibility sits with the board for the board to say this is important. So I think board boards need to be educated on how important this is as a topic coming out of what has been an 18 month experience that is going to continue.

Yeah. That that’s actually a really great point and I hadn’t thought of it from that perspective. So awesome. I love learning new stuff every day. That’s that’s good. Fantastic. All right. Now we’ve been diving into a lot of different stuff. What do you see? You know, is this the billion dollar multi-billion dollar trillion dollar question? What do you see as the future of work?

Oh, man, that is. Gosh, that’s a, that’s a good one. So, so it’s interesting. Cause you look back, if you think about, you know, the future of work, you know, five years ago was digital, right? This is, this is it’s going to be a digital environment. And you know what we’ve really begun to see is so much more than that. It’s so much more than just having teams or zoom or whatever it is. There’s so much into what the future of work is. I think the way that I would describe is that a work is no longer going to be a place it’s going to be outcomes and how we get to those outcomes, we’re still on that path and on that journey to figure that out.

But I’d love I’ll give you an example of staff who who loved their vacation and they loved their holidays. They love their summers. So we have an experiment this year. We said, look, you want to go spend some time in the mountains and do work from there as long as you got internet access, I don’t care. I just want to be able to get ahold of you get work done because to me work is an outcome. It’s an outcome that me and my leadership team and our organization defined together as what we see as important for us. And we’re going to go chase it. So how we chase it is going to be kind of up to you, but we’re going to chase it together. And so we’ll see, we’ll see where that goes. We have set times that we meet and all that stuff, but it’s going to be a bit of a cool experiment.

I like that. And to also realize that every business, every organization is at a different phase of transition use digitals was five years ago. Yeah. And I saw a stat the other day that I just about fell over when I saw it. It was, I can’t remember the exact number, but, but it was something like how many tens of millions of computers in the world are still running windows 95. Like it hasn’t been supported. It hasn’t been supported for 10 years, but there are still, and they said like the security implications are that were just like astronomical, but I’m like, yeah.

I was like, wow, like, but that’s, there are still so many computers out there running that and, and businesses like some old warehouse computer still running this it’s like, you know, held together by Dr. Doss, evergreen screen dos. I do. Yeah. C colon backslash and totally. Yeah. I’m that old.

Wow. That goes back. That that goes, that goes far back.


So I think back to my comment, I think what when we think about innovation, so innovation comes out of situations like we’ve gone through right. The pandemic. So what will come out of this is innovative technologies that it’s going to allow us to do the things that we’ve learned now to do, but do them better and so that’s what excites me. What is the next innovative technology or innovative process that’s gonna, that’s going to come to, it’s going to continue to help us grow as a society, as people, as organizations. And I’m curious, so I’m, I’m super curious, but it’s going to come for sure.

Yeah. Yeah. The changes always happening and it’s happening faster and faster and companies and people that can adapt are going to be the ones that thrive and see new opportunities.

I got to tell you, I think that’s an absolutely key point because it is about nimbleness. It is about okay. can you adapt can you be agile. If you continue to turn like the Titanic as an organization, chances are you’re going to go the way of the, the sharp typewriter or whatever it might be. We need the pandemic has taught us that we need to be nimble. But we need to move forward. And so what are we going to do as organizations to, you know, ensure that we are nimble, that we’re all still being rooted in stuff, because we can’t be nimble all the time, but when something happens, how can we be nimble and innovative to to move into that versus back in a way?

Yeah. And I used to, I used to think it was larger organizations were at a disadvantage because of all the bureaucracy. And, but I, I dunno, I still see a lot of smaller organizations. I just trying to plow forward and think that things are going back to normal. And a lot of large organizations are, I guess they have the resources to be able to pursue new opportunities and pursue different things.

Particularly if things aren’t as busy, they have people that they maybe decide to keep and get them focused on a new opportunity. So I, yeah, I, my thoughts have changed around that significantly over the last year or so. Yeah. And so, and any other things that you’d like to share with listeners that you think if there is someone in HR or there maybe a leader in their organization, what’s, what’s the one takeaway you want them to leave with and say, yeah. Okay. This is something I can do to improve my personal or professional performance.

I really think that as, as individuals, our, our wellness is, is important for us to be the best we can be for us in society and our families, and then correspondingly organizations have an obligation to ensure that they create environments, where our employees can thrive and can do their best work. Whether that means you’re a psychologically safe organization, you’re an organization that focuses on belonging and diversity and inclusion. What are all of the things together if you’re doing that there is a real drive towards attracting some of the best talent and that best talent is going to be ready to play because they’re going to be focused on themselves as well, too.

So I think my message to everybody as well, don’t lose, don’t lose what we have gained off of this experience of the pandemic. There’s so much learning in here. So dig into it as an organization and ask yourself what you’ve learned off of it and what you can take into the future of your company. That’s just going make you better.

Fantastic. Great advice. And thank you again for being on the show. Where can people find you? CPHR Alberta.

Yeah. CPHR Alberta website. Then I’m there. LinkedIn I’m on LinkedIn a lot, so they can find me there. Reach out. I encourage, I love connecting with people, so I encourage people to connect on LinkedIn with me as much as they want. And I do read my messages. I don’t have anybody read my messages for me. So I take care of that too. So my email is on our website. So jump there as well, too.

Awesome. Thank you very much, Rod. And we will catch up with you hopefully in person soon. Yeah. Yeah. I I look forward to meeting again.

You bet, Tim, thanks so much for the opportunity. I had a lot of fun today.


Thank you for listening to the Working Well Podcast. If you enjoyed the show, don’t forget to rate and review us wherever you get your podcasts. We’d love to hear your experiences and how you’ve applied tips from the show to your daily life.

So please keep us posted on your progress. To stay up to date with new episode releases, make sure to subscribe to a mailing list by emailing and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, 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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