Today we look at why workplace wellness fails and what to do about it. I’m joined by superstar psychologist and organizational mental health expert Candice Schaefer. Our conversation shines the spotlight on management, leadership, and the underestimated role of the C-suite in employee wellbeing…and how that well being ultimately impacts organizational performance.
Connect with Candice on:
Candice’s Website – https://drcandiceschaefer.com/
Burnout Is About Your Workplace, Not Your People – https://hbr.org/2019/12/burnout-is-about-your-workplace-not-your-people
The C-suite’s Role in Well-Being – https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/topics/leadership/employee-wellness-in-the-corporate-workplace.html
Managers Account for 70% of Variance in Employee Engagement – https://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/182792/managers-account-variance-employee-engagement.aspx
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. 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.
Today we look at why workplace wellness fails and what to do about it. I’m joined by superstar psychologist and organizational mental health expert Candice Schaefer. Our conversation shines the spotlight on management, leadership, and the underestimated role of the C-suite in employee wellbeing…and that well-being ultimately impacts organizational performance.
Dr. Candice Schaefer, Head of Employee Health & Performance at Spring Health
Tim: Candice, it’s great to have you on the show. I’ve been looking forward to this conversation since we had our chat last time, and I’m excited to see where we go today. Of course, it’s The Working Well Podcast. So we’re going to be talking about health, wellbeing, employee and company performance, but there’s so many aspects of that.
Your expertise is mental health resilience. You’re a registered psychologist university professor. You’ve got amazing experience and I’m hoping we can learn from you and from some of the insights you’ve taken away
Candice: Thank you so much, Tim. Thanks for having me.
Tim: So what’s the big news in your world right now? What’s the most pressing thing going on?
Well, this morning, news in the US broke that the Supreme court has officially overturned, Roe V Wade. And this is I think a very good prime example of what wellness and wellbeing professionals are working on is how do we support our workers? Even though it’s not something happening within our company, how do we support people from a general perspective, because now, I think a lot of people are looking to their employers to either supply benefits or to be that form of support when the world is going through tough times, which if you live in the United States or really even anywhere in the world it’s happening a lot more frequently.
Tim: Absolutely. Yes. And so what, types of messages are being sent out about that right now?
Candice: Yes. So we send out communications to all of our employees and the communication is first and foremost, acknowledging what’s happening, acknowledging that there may be some feelings of distress, and we’re also acknowledging that you know, there may be some people who are happy about this or are not distressed by it. So either way, just kind of being respectful of whatever your position may be since it’s a political one. But then also, what are the resources available to our employees at this time? Including if they want to do a donation where we will match that donation.
So basically kind of giving them an, giving them an outlet for ways that they can channel energy if they are feeling like they want to do something. So that’s one communication. And then another communication we send is to our managers.
The Role of Management in Employee Engagement
Candice: Managers play a very significant role in employee engagement. And we want to make sure that they feel supported and they know what they’re supposed to say. There really is no formal training on how to be a good manager. So we want to make sure that we’re supporting all the people who are leaders in our organization. And so sending out a coms to them, letting them know that, “Hey, Listening and validating your employees is one of the most powerful things you can do.” And I say that as a therapist I was always shocked in graduate school just how important those two things were. It’s not necessarily all about problem-solving, which is, I think what many of us want to go to in order to feel a sense of control or to be able to help somebody, but you can do so much by just offering that space to listen and validate someone’s concerns. And then also kind of remind them about the benefits that are available to employees and that ultimately myself and, and other people leaders are here to support them if they have any questions or concerns.
Tim: Absolutely. I love to hear you say that. As a coach myself, one of the things that still, it never ceases to amaze me is my default has always been to try and problem solve and putting the coaches head-on, I can sit back and not have to solve the problem. But I’ve found that it’s amazing how many people just, they don’t have the opportunity to be heard. They just want to be seen, heard, understood. They don’t want you to solve their problems. They just want you to listen.
Candice: Yes. It’s just that simple. And I remember even being in graduate school and one of my professors who would watch our sessions with clients or we would practice with clients and we would jump too fast into solution, problem-solving, whatever that might be, and she would tell us, “You haven’t spent enough time in validation land. You need to keep going on just letting them be heard because people are not going to move to the next stage of change, problem-solving, whatever that might be until they feel heard first and foremost, and kind of let that energy out.
Tim: Yes. Well, you made a great comment as well about there’s not really a lot of formal training for leaders, particularly on how to listen that way. So that’s a pretty nugget or a quickie nugget of takeaway that people can use.
How People Are Managing Mental Health Resilience
Tim: And so with all the stuff going on in the world right now, whether it’s Roe V Wade or just the whole transition from the pandemic and organizational upheaval, people working from wherever. What’s the research saying, what research is coming out over the past two, three years about how people are managing from a mental health resilient standpoint?
Candice: Well, I mean, we’re obviously seeing increased demand in mental health services and being a part of a company now that helps give those services to employers and their employees. You know, our hope is to actually match the utilization rates with the prevalence rates that exist. So an EAP service, Employee Assistance Program, traditionally sees around 1% to 3% utilization from their employees. And it’s very basic, very kind of limited on the services. A lot of companies have been doing and a lot of these companies started in 2016 around that time. So they had just enough time to prepare before the pandemic happened but helping with the prevalence rate, that’s more realistic, which is for most individuals that’s around one in five, one in four, who experience some kind of mental health concern.
So we’re now starting to see more people seek help by reaching out. The only issue that kind of comes up from that though is we don’t have enough mental health providers as is. We’re already in a shortage. So the demand continues to go up and the amount of providers coming up the pipeline especially providers with providers of color, providers with a diverse background, being able to meet their clients where they’re at continues to be a challenge. But we also see other research too that’s coming out.
The Gallup Institute does a lot of great research around leadership and organizational work. And they’ve shared a lot of good research that they’ve done around managers, and, you know, I mentioned that before. Managers have, a very important role to play in employee engagement especially when it comes to belonging and feeling psychologically safe. And they’ve determined that managers contribute to 70% of the variance in employee engagement. So we are taking a very well-aimed focus on training our managers as much as possible on the interpersonal skills, the leadership skills that need to happen because they already have the technical skills. That’s probably what got them there. But there’s a great saying, what got you here won’t get you there. So we need to keep focusing on development. So we’ve been kind of looking at those particular aspects when it comes to manager development.
Tim: Excellent. Yes. And one thing on the mental health side that you had said was, can you repeat this? It was one in five?
Candice: Yes. It’s one in four, one in five somewhere usually in between there, depending on the specific kind of mental health concern. But probably one in four is more likely the statistic.
Tim: And is that the number of people actually utilizing or seeking out the services?
Candice: That is the number of people who experience mental health issues. It’s not necessarily the amount who are able to access. Because the mental health system is a very complicated problem. Not only do we have a stigma around seeking help for mental health concerns, but then, like I said, we have an access problem. It’s not easy always to find a provider. We don’t have enough providers to see every person who may have an issue. And then, you’re also looking at, and forgive me I’m not too familiar with the Canadian mental health system but in the American mental health system is really difficult to find a therapist.
Most of our health insurance while they cover mental health concerns and issues, but the amount of providers since it’s so low in terms of how many we need, and the insurance companies don’t value these providers accordingly. They don’t pay very well. And since there’s a low supply and high demand, some providers are just saying, “You know what, I’m not going to be on an insurance panel and I’m just going to take private pay only.” which puts a lot of people who can’t afford mental health services outside of their insurance in a difficult circumstance. So there are several, several levels to this.
Tim: Yes. Well, and I’ve heard that one in five steps before, and it is interesting, I don’t think it’s that much different at Canada versus us. I heard, it was from the Canadian Mental Health Association, it was something like before the pandemic one in five people were having mental health challenges, but during the pandemic, it was four in five. And so that skyrocketed, but I know, and we know that the usage rates went up significantly from what the utilization was before the pandemic, but it’s still only a small fraction of people that are having mental health challenges actually utilizing the service.
Candice: Yes. And previously when I was with Twitter and Facebook you know, we saw utilization go up around 40%. I think most of the industry because the employers pay for health insurance here in the US, employers can pay a lot more attention and get more data on where certain claims are coming from. And so, I think when I went to a lot of conferences as well, I heard consistently from different employers that they saw mental health claims go up about 40% as well.
Tim: Yes. And that’s great that people are utilizing. I’d still say it’s pretty low in terms of the number of people that need it. Because going up from 2% utilization to 3% utilization is a 50% increase, but still only at 3%. And, it’s not that low, but it’s Yes, we’re finding that a lot of companies are promoting the fact that it’s increasing, but not necessarily seeing the gap that’s still not being addressed.
Candice: Yes, exactly. And some of these newer companies which I think they’ve kind of coined themselves as mental health tech incorporating mental health services as a provider, but using algorithms and AI to kind of improve access to services. And, obviously part of one of those companies now and even before, when I was with Twitter, we also hired one of these services to help increase access for our employees to make sure that access wasn’t a barrier, which typically is.
And so, if you look at the typical utilization rate for an EAP is around one to 3%, and in other companies, I’ve been at that have these services, we’re seeing 30%, which is a really great statistic. And similarly, too, Spring Health was working with General Mills, we’ve gotten a 30% utilization rate, which is just incredible to show how much access is a problem.
How Companies Can Better Address Mental Health and Employee Well-Being
Tim: Yes, for sure. And, there’s so many great mental health apps out there now, and I love the fact that it does provide, that huge access. What are you seeing in terms of the company mindset around offering anything else outside of that?
Candice: Yes. I mean, I think the best strategies, when I’ve spoken at conferences in the past, I’ve been multifaceted. You really can’t go at mental health with one particular silver bullet. It’s gotta be. multiple. And, what we’re seeing too is I think mental health services on a continuum. Because you may have 30% of the population that needs therapy, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready for therapy. And that’s a big, I think differentiator is not everyone is ready to change. And therapy is really hard.
So instead, we may have to meet them more where they’re at through something like self-education, which an app is a little bit more, less intrusive. Someone can do it at their own pace. They can learn about the basics of things like cognitive behavioral therapy, but they don’t have to feel completely vulnerable yet. They’re you know, thinking about the five stages of change, if they’re still more in that contemplation stage that they can explore a little bit, understand what therapy is, and then start to hopefully move towards that if they’re there.
But we’re also seeing like a higher push towards coaching and trying to catch people before they are in the clinical symptoms area or the need. Because really where mental health issues tend to erupt from is exposure to chronic stress. The mind can only withhold for so much time, and the pandemic is a great example of two years of constant stress, and then in addition to everything else that’s going on in the world. So you can see why the prevalence rates are going up in usage of mental health services are growing up. But how do we start to take more of a preventative lens as an employer and looking at what can we offer so that even as a US employer, our costs are less expensive when we’re able to use coaches versus using therapy providers, for example.
So how do we put mental health on a continuum rather than a reactive response and just waiting until people need to see a therapist, which we already have very few of?
Tim: Exactly. And there are so many facets of mental health that did impact how people are responding in the resilience aspects there. But what we see or what I’m seeing at least in Canada is the apps are great. The coaching is not being implemented as effectively as I think it could be within organizations as well as with leaders, like working with leadership teams to help improve their ability to work with their teams. And you mentioned it before, there’s no training for managers on how to be a good manager. They get stuff done and they’re effective in their role, in the technical role, so they get promoted, but they’re not used to leading a team. And so, a combination of those things can make a tremendous difference.
The other thing I notice is that with so much focus on the mental health, people are forgetting that the connection between the physical and the mental health. I know with the pandemic, people are not moving near as much as they were before and they’re sitting in front of a screen more than ever, and they’re not moving. Like, there are so many studies that show just movement can improve mental health outcomes as much as medication can. And so, what are you seeing happen in, in your world around movement and how that’s impacting mental health?
Candice: What I’m seeing is I think a lot of, I mean, it’s all suggestion, right? You can’t force someone to move. But in terms of the value of physical wellbeing, it’s like you said, definitely showing in the research that the mind and the body are connected. They are not separate things and we always can’t treat them necessarily like they’re separate. But when in the corporate space, what I’ve been seeing is a lot of breaks instituted and company-wide calendars. For example, so a reminder will pop up for you that says, “Hey, right now is our collective company. Go outside and walk or to just take a break, get up. And there’s a lot of, I think, movement around standing desks.
And so in the tech industry given the amount of money that goes around there, a lot of the times there are allowances for employees to buy at-home equipment, whatever that might be, including standing or sitting desks, adjustable desks, treadmills for underneath your desk. It’s just a matter of actually doing the research and seeing what would work for you as an individual to incorporate more movement within your day. And ultimately, the bottom line it’s about building a habit and habits are the hardest thing to institute. Particularly, I find for me when it comes to working out, You know, if I fall off one day, it’s like, whew, it’s going to, it’s a significant risk, probably 50% that I may not go to my next workout.
Same thing too, with just trying to get any habit. Usually takes 21 days to a habit consistently which is a long, and having reminders, having cues are really important parts of, of building those types of habits. If you’ve ever read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, I think that is an excellent book on the behavioral requirements for change. But this is also where coaching and therapists can come in we’re naturally kind of trained in how to find these habits and help you get them more permanent.
So being able to talk about what’s realistic for you is important. And that’s, you know, one thing I’ve I’ve noticed when I talk with doctors, I’m far more honest probably than most people are, because what’s the point in me lying? I’m not like me telling you, “Yes. I walk every day. When I don’t.” It’s not doing me any favors. The lone secret. I don’t, I don’t floss every day. But just being honest about where you’re at because right now there’s a space where I think everyone is feeling it and everyone is making mistakes to a certain degree. So being able to own it and, and acknowledge what’s realistic for you to institute into your life and not saying I’m going to go to the gym every day is another important thing to think about.
Tim: Totally. And, that’s a great point is when people say movement, they automatically think fitness or going to the gym. And, one thing we work with our clients on is it’s like, “Hey, it’s great if you have a corporate gym and it’s great if you have a gym membership. It’s a nice tool in the toolbox, but it’s optional.
Yes, it’s, it’s optional. And in fact, going to the gym, if you’re not moving in the rest of your life, if you’re not active, is a recipe for injury. And so, we help people just really incorporate these small little 10-second to 60-second habits throughout their day where they’re moving their body, getting some blood flow, moving the joints. That stuff makes a tremendous difference.
And when we talk about the organizational aspects, leaders can easily encourage their teams to stand up and do a stretch break at each meeting for a few seconds. You might not have a standing desk, just stand up in the meeting and talk that way. Go for a walking meeting. Because half the people don’t have their cameras on anyway. It’s like, well, just go for a walk and be on your headphones. There are so many ways that companies can incorporate that.
What Companies Can Learn from Big Tech Companies
Tim: And I think, you talked about the standing desks and we can dive into a little bit about your Facebook and Twitter time here is people think big tech, “Oh, here, like standing desks is all.” They have the money to do that. But what are some of the things that big tech has done and how can, the average company learn from that and maybe modify it to their needs?
Candice: Yes. I mean tech companies have the big resources, the big money. I mean, it’s going through a downturn right now so it’s been a little bit of an interesting thing to watch. But in terms of you know, what you can do, even if you’re a small company is, and I can’t say this enough, and you hit on this a little bit before is just role modeling at your leaders. It’s showing that those types of behaviors on how you can improve your health and wellbeing.
And Deloitte just released a really great article on the C suite’s involvement in wellbeing. And it’s super super important. And their research has shown incredibly strong results around just your C-Suite showing that commitment and dedication towards wellbeing and being an example, working to set policies within the workplace that encourage better work-life boundaries for example. Or dedicating time for group yoga or things like that. These are not expensive things to do. They just take effort.
And that’s probably been my biggest learning as a corporate wellbeing professional over the past five years is it’s actually very easy to front money for something and say that will take care of the problem, when really, in reality, it doesn’t, because what you’re trying to do is institute cultural change and cultural change takes effort. It’s very similar actually in the therapy world for a lot of people who want to take medication instead of go to therapy. Medication is very easy. You just pop a pill every day and you continue living your life.
Tim: That pretty much sums up the fitness and diet industry. Looking for that magic pill.
Candice: It’s hard work to make behavioral change. And bottom line is that it has to first come from the leaders themselves. Because your people are not stupid. They will look at how you’re behaving and say, okay they’re saying one thing, but they’re acting like this. Behavior always tops, whatever you’re saying. So just keeping that in mind that you can set those examples through your own leadership behaviors.
Behavioral Change and the Role of the C-Suite in Employee Well-Being
Tim: Yes. Well, and I like that you brought up Deloitte as well as they’re leading the way. They’re one of the few companies out there that has a Chief Wellbeing Officer, you know, actually elevated wellbeing to the C-suite, and I love to see that. I hope more companies follow suit because it is so needed. That’s been the biggest, in our consulting side of the business, the biggest challenge is trying to connect with C-Suite leaders and their VPs to have them understand that wellness isn’t this like frivolous thing. Like, Ugh, that’s for HR to deal with. That’s for this, you know? Yes. We already offer a yoga program. We have a mental health app. We have these things. Yes. But what’s the strategy? Who at the C-suite is accountable for the well-being of the people in the organization and tying that to the business bottom line? Almost like 0.01% of companies out there have a C-suite person that’s accountable to those types of metrics.
Candice: Yes. And, you know, to follow to that too. I think one of the biggest challenges we see in that space is actually determining what those metrics are. Because typically it is meeting metrics that are not accessible to either the C-suite or the HR team.
In the US, we’ve been able to look at like healthcare claims. Like I said before, we can look at kind of the overall health of our people, but if you’re trying to determine how do you get ROI out of a program for wellbeing, you’re basically trying to measure something that isn’t going to happen, right? Because the idea here is that we’re saving costs through caring for our people and promoting wellbeing.
So that’s what makes it challenging. And one of the reasons I joined Spring is because the CEO, April Koh has a very strong belief that performance and mental health are very strongly intertwined. And so, how I’ve been asked to measure my metrics is to look at the overall performance of the company. Looking at the achievement of KPIs and OKRs and all that other corporate jargon, but just to align that with the scores and programming that we’re putting in place to see if we’re seeing improvements across the board. But I don’t think every, I should say, don’t think most companies see that connection between health and performance as a value proposition.
Tim: Totally. And I think at the fundamental level, everyone gets it that healthy, active, engaged people just do better and they get more done. But from an organizational standpoint, the value proposition hasn’t been seen at the C-suite. Why should we invest in this? You know, I’d make the joke quite often with CFOs, it’s like, all the stats out there show anywhere from like a 3 to $8 return on investment for dedicated really well-run wellbeing programs. And I’m like, man, if you could invest a million dollars and return three to $8 million in a few years, it’s a pretty damn good investment.
And yet they’re not thinking about their company in that sense. And how by investing in our people in a maybe non-traditional learning and development role because people are like, ‘Oh, we already do learning and development. We send them to workshops and courses and things like that.” And that’s great. Don’t stop doing that. But how are we investing in the people to help them perform better in their day-to-day life from the mindset and the habits and movement. And all these things make such a difference but most companies look at it as, “Oh, that’s an individual thing to deal with.
Candice: Absolutely. And I think that’s the biggest issue that I’ve come up against in, in the corporate wellbeing space is again, organizations to make cultural change, that takes a lot of effort. And so, it’s much much easier to just say, you know what we’re going to offer these great benefit programs and if people choose to take advantage of those things, that’s their choice. And, if they want to be healthy and set work-life boundaries that is their choice. It is up to them. It’s not our responsibility as an employer. And people like myself are in the places we are to say, yes. it is your responsibility because you are creating the ecosystem that these employees live in.
You know, it’s like if you had a goldfish in an aquarium and you had dirty water in there and you put the goldfish in and the goldfish starts dying, would you take the goldfish out and start yelling at the goldfish and saying, why aren’t you just being resilient? I’m putting you in a place that’s challenging you. Not that it’s unhealthy. We treat our people like that a lot of times. So it’s important for us to always look in the mirror and say, what is the environment that we are creating? Because in the nature nurture debate, the environment is nurture.
Tim: For sure. I love that you use that example because it’s so true. People wonder why there’s this stress and burnout and, you know, poor health and medical costs are through the roof, and we’re putting people in a workplace culture that is not addressing their needs. It’s come to work, show up, shut up, put out and leave, and to put it bluntly. It still blows my mind how many organizations are like that? And it’s that dirty water in the aquarium. It’s a toxic environment. Maybe not fully toxic, but it’s not an environment that is conducive to wellbeing and performance. And yet, they’re wondering why other people are struggling.
It’s like you use it in the car example too. It’s like, if you fill up your race car with farm gas, it’s probably not going to run very well, and it’s going to be performing poorly. You can drive it for a while until it eventually breaks down or the people leave, which is what we’re seeing in a lot of places now.
Candice: Well yes, and I think, you know, when we look at Christina Maslach’s research, who’s like the person who invented the concept of burnout, coined that term in 1907, she’s done research on kind of what are the factors that contribute to it. And all six of them, they are organizational factors that contribute to burnout. And when I go through that with my employees, I say, okay, here are the six factors that contribute to burnout, but guess what? You don’t have control over any of them.
So this is where there’s, you know, education about you know, figuring out their choices and their, and how they choose to perceive certain situations. But that only goes so far. And so it’s really important for employers to kind of pay attention that they’re not just giving lip service to resiliency training or mental health webinars or whatever it is that you want to deliver to kind of help your employees. All I know the intent is good. What’s even better is if you look at the workload of your people and determine whether or not they have the resources to meet those workload expectations. And if not, then those need adjustments.
Keeping It Simple and Changing Mindsets
Tim: Yes. So what else can you, you had mentioned about the tech space is the keeping it simple and not necessarily having to spend a lot of money? What about the mindset in the tech space compared to the average company around wellbeing? How does that show up?
Candice: Well, the difficult thing with tech and, and I’m sure this is probably true with other industries, but tech is moving so fast that if you were, you know, three months ago, it could have been a completely different company. That is how fast technology can move. And to create a wellbeing strategy or really any product strategy out for like a year. I remember we would try to do three-year roadmaps and I’m like, okay, after year two, this is just like, I’m just making stuff up because I know it’s not going to happen and things will change, but we had to put something on the roadmap.
So with tech, I think it becomes really difficult to plan because you don’t know what product will be pushed out, what revenue streams will be happening, or how that product will be received. And so, being able to plan for your own team’s well-being and one thing I’ve been trying to kind of advocate for in these workplaces is to kind of observe what your schedule is throughout the year as a team. Noting when there’s going to be product pushes or we’re going to be heavy on sales during a certain time, that it’s okay to have those intense times, but then we need to buffer that with rest both before and after.
And, when the schedule is constantly changing, when things in the world happen that affects the product, it makes it very difficult to just come up for a breath of air. And so, the ambiguity and fast pace nature of tech, and I think anyone in tech can tell you this. Tech is not for everybody because you have to be really mentally flexible and adaptable and not get too connected to any project that you were working on, that you really liked because it may just be dissolved and just like that.
Tim: Yes. Well I think a lot of that is, yes, people think that just relates to tech, but if we expand the scope and the picture to what’s happened during the pandemic, that pace of change has been incessant for two years, and it’s just been constant high levels of stress and we haven’t had the breaks. But if we can take away the, call it the lean approach, the short sprints with a regathering period, and you produce a lot in a short time, it’s very project-focused. And, it’s more of a mindset around how you approach work. And for a lot of people out there, I don’t think they’ve approached work ever in that way in the average company. And, correct me if I’m wrong. Some of the challenges we’re seeing around resilience right now are people’s mindsets are still in 2018 and it’s 2022, and the last two and a bit years have been a gone show.
Candice: Yes. Yes. I remember saying to my Twitter employees maybe three months into the pandemic that this was going to be a marathon, not a sprint. And I think for certain people, they weren’t ready to hear that. That they were not at that place of kind of accepting what this is probably going to be a long-term circumstance. So it, again comes down to what are you willing to accept to be the truth? And what can you live with?
And so in, in therapy, we talk about this concept of radical acceptance, which is if it’s raining out, I’m not going to go outside and yell at the rain for ruining my plans. The rain is not going to have any feelings towards me. But what I can do and rather than get frustrated and ultimately suffer because of the circumstances I can just say, yep. It’s rain. We got to work around this now. It’s not fun. I don’t have to like it. I don’t have to approve of the rain, but it’s there, and acknowledging it relieves a certain amount of tension and suffering.
Tim: Yes. And well, with our coaching mindset becomes such a key aspect of the change process and how people reframe the world around them and look at it through a new lens. What are you seeing as we’re moving and view as seems to be further along moving out of the pandemic than Canada, but what are you seeing from a mindset shift in the corporate world, as well as from the individual employees.
Candice: I think the tough thing is we’re all so sick of it where it’s just like I’m done. I don’t even want to think about it anymore. And then, as a result, I think we kind of let our guards down and just basically pretend like the pandemic never happened and we don’t have to put any of those precautions in place. So just staying mindful of the fact that we do still, you know, potentially have to mask up. We still have to be careful in the environments that we’re choosing to go to if we’re going to the office. Yes. There still needs to be precautions in play.
So I think we’re just seeing kind of a lot of emotional exhaustion and burnout from the longevity of the pandemic and the fact that it’s not done. It’s not done here in the US either. There’s still plenty of risks here. But still having people adhere to certain measures like masking up or keeping their distance or things like that so that everyone is still safe.
Tim: Yes. And so, we could keep talking for a long time. In order to wrap up a bit, for the corporate leaders and executives that are listening, if you could sort of summarize like the top two or three takeaways that you’d say from an organization that really wants to improve the health and wellbeing of their employees, what are the top two or three things they could do starting today?
Candice: The first thing I would say is to be an example to your people. If you are taking time off and you would like your people to take time off and not work, then you should not be working too. Or you should be working in a way that is on schedule, send and it can all be delivered at a later time because your people will follow your example. And you can have a well-being professional like myself and your organization, but they don’t listen to me. They care about the people who are in charge of their raises their promotions, their moving up. And so being that example of walking the walk is the first and foremost best thing that you can do.
The second thing I would say is to think about the overall maybe more subtle messages that come out of the leadership team. So for example, policies that exist, and you know, your HR team is probably going to be a key player here and looking at what policies do we have in place that maybe are not as supportive of wellbeing or we need to change to kind of gain more support towards that. So like being flexible about work times, and taking breaks throughout the day. What about your time off policy? How do people ask for time off? Is it something that they feel they can easily do, for example?
And then, the last thing I would say is to listen to your people. A time that you could do some small focus groups or put out a survey or have a town hall meeting, something that gets you interfacing with people who are working on the ground level and can speak to those problems that you may not be seeing because you’re far up now. And I think that’s a hard thing for senior leaders to admit is you know, you, aren’t going to see as much of the experience of the employee who’s working at those lower levels and is the more general experience of the company.
So when I start with any new organization, I instantly do focus groups with as many people in the company as I can to try to get a sense of what their experience is so that I know what are the most pressing priorities that I need to change.
Tim: Excellent wise words. Those are some awesome takeaways for companies. As you said, it takes work to do that.
Candice: Yes. There’s no outside consultants that will come in and fix everything for you. Ultimately it’s gotta come from you.
Tim: Yes. And as outside consultants, we can help facilitate it, but we can’t make the change. We can accelerate the change and direct some of it. But yes, you’re so correct. Nothing you mentioned there costs money. It’s time, effort, focus, and having a vision for what wellbeing is in the organization, which I think I would say is missing for most organizations. .
Candice: Yes. And I think too, it involves a sense of openness and knowing that you’re probably not going to hear positive things. And as a leader, you have to be willing to sit with that discomfort and not necessarily act upon it immediately, but to come up with a strategy that helps address this and you may be sitting with that discomfort for a while. So just being open with that.
Tim: Fantastic. Well, Candice, I thank you so much for your insight and your expertise, and it’s been great to chat with you again. Before we wrap up, where can people find you?
Candice: Where can people find me? I have a Twitter account, so you can follow me at Dr. Shaefer. You can find me on LinkedIn as well. Just the end slash Candice Shaefer or you can find me on my website CandiceShaefer.com. I’m excited. I’m speaking at the National Wellness Institute’s conference in, Orlando, Florida next week. So I routinely do conference speaking to kind of talk about how do we get wellbeing in the workplace.
Tim: Awesome. I love it. And I will put those links up in the show notes so anyone can find them. And thank you again. I look forward to the next time we can chat and every time I chat with you, I learn something new.
Candice: Thanks, Tim.