Creating Sustainable Practices for Employee Wellness with Jennifer Moss

Creating Sustainable Practices for Employee Wellness with Jennifer Moss

Do you understand what burnout really is?

Burnout is a symptom of chronic stress, and it’s a growing problem globally. As organizations, employers, and leaders, we have a responsibility and an obligation to our employees to prioritize their wellbeing. And not only is it a responsibility to our employees and ourselves, but to the overall success and wellbeing of our organizations.

As employees globally continue to increase their expectations surrounding mental health in the workplace, it’s important for organizations and people leaders to work together to create sustainable practices that can support that. Jennifer Moss joins the podcast today to talk about how we can make this happen in really actionable ways, and sheds some light on why burnout is so prevalent in the world right now.

Listen in and help stop the slide into burnout.

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About Jennifer Moss:

Jennifer Moss is an award-winning journalist, author and international public speaker. She is a nationally syndicated radio columnist and writes for Harvard Business Review.

Her first book, Unlocking Happiness at Work, received the distinguished UK Business Book of the Year Award. Jennifer was named a Canadian Innovator of the Year, an International Female Entrepreneur of the Year, and recipient of the Public Service Award from the Office of President Obama.

Her new book, The Burnout Epidemic, published by Harvard Business Press, is now available.

To learn more, visit Jennifer’s website, or connect with her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

Mentioned In This Episode:


Lindsay Recknell 0:07
Welcome to Mental Health in Minutes where we open the door to conversations about workplace mental health, and help leaders and HR professionals create safe and innovative organizations for our employees and our companies thrive. I am your host Lindsay Recknell, a psychological health and safety advisor, a workplace mental health consultant, speaker, facilitator and an expert in hope.

Lindsay Recknell 0:27
Each episode of this show has three objectives, to discuss the future of mental health in the workplace. To identify the best, most successful strategies for opening the door to mental health conversations at work, and to share the top ways we can engage our leadership in the workplace mental health conversation, and have them endorse and pay for a positive culture shift within our organization.

Lindsay Recknell 0:48
If you’re listening to this podcast, you know that our people need us more than ever, but most of our organizations have a long way to go until supporting employee wellness is embedded in the culture of our workplaces. This episode is a resource you can use to start and continue workplace mental health conversations, and my guests will share their experiences and what’s worked for them.

Lindsay Recknell 1:07
Today’s guest is Jennifer Moss, an award winning journalist, author and international public speaker. She is a nationally syndicated radio calmness and writes for the Harvard Business Review. Jennifer is a dream guest as I’ve been listening to her on CBC radio here in Canada for a long time. Her first book, unlocking happiness at work received the distinguished UK Business Book of the Year award. Jennifer was named a Canadian Innovator of the Year, an international female entrepreneur of the year, and recipient of the Public Service Award from the Office of President Obama. Her new book, the burnout epidemic, published by Harvard Business Press is now available everywhere you buy your books, I cannot wait for you to meet her. So let’s dig in.

Lindsay Recknell 1:50
Hello, Jennifer, it is so wonderful to have you on the show. Thank you so much for being here.

Jennifer Moss 1:55
I’m so glad it’s gonna be a great conversation. I’m looking forward to it.

Lindsay Recknell 1:59
Me too. I can’t tell you how. I mean, I’ve heard you on the radio my entire life. I’ve been listening to CBC Radio in Calgary, and hearing you and your work with the UN and your wellness work across the country it is you have an aspirational job for me. And I’m very excited to share that with the world. And I did talk about your professional bio in the introduction.

Lindsay Recknell 2:22
But I’d love for you to share in your words, who you are, what you do and who you do it for.

Jennifer Moss 2:26
You know, so it’s great that you are a CBC fan, that’s one of the things I do is I do a weekly column around well being, and which I love because I joke that I’ve gone from being an happiness expert to an unhappiness expert. But, you know, my job now is really to advocate for more real understanding of what burnout is, and how to prevent it in a real way, which I think is quite different than how we’ve been attacking it for a while.

Jennifer Moss 2:53
And so that’s what I focus on is, you know, helping organizations understand what burnout is, and dismissing it and, and then writing about it as an author and speak about it as a public speaker as well.

Lindsay Recknell 3:07
Amazing. And that is how we met is I have the opportunity to hear you do the deliver the closing keynote at the HRPA Summer Conference. And you were very articulate and also scientifically, based in a lot of the work that you’re doing around burnout. Can you share a little bit about the latest research on burnout and how it is different from just stress in our lives?

Jennifer Moss 3:32
Absolutely. And I like that you delineated the fact that it is a burnout is a symptom of chronic stress. And we need stress that’s healthy for us in some ways, you know, it sometimes gives us fuel when we need it. But that’s an acute moment. But what we’ve been dealing with for the last you know, 20 months and even before the pandemic hit a high levels of chronic stress, just repeated stress micro stressors over time. And then you add the pandemic and as a macro stress. And what that does is it just turns those tiny pebbles into giant boulders.

Jennifer Moss 4:07
And that’s when we get to the point of burnout. And what I’ve found in the research lately, it has been really interesting because I’ve been saying that for the first time ever well being his number one priority when it comes to full compensation packages overpay. And that has never in the history of the workforce ever happened and people are just expecting more because it’s unsustainable. And I’ve also come to understand that it’s a universal thing.

Jennifer Moss 4:37
It’s why the burnout epidemic became you know, titled that book became titled that way because when we did our novel research inside of the pandemic, we found across 46 Different countries 89% of people saying that their well being had declined 85% of job demands were impacting their mental health and then 67% If people said they couldn’t even talk about mental health at work, and of that group, all of them described feeling often or extremely burned out every single day because of that.

Jennifer Moss 5:12
So a lot of data is just pointing to a growing problem. The pandemic, basically exacerbated an existing problem. And here we are today with the great resignation and people saying, I’m done.

Lindsay Recknell 5:25
Those are incredible statistics unbelievably high. And I think anecdotally, if people are hearing you speak, I imagine that they’re thinking, yeah, that’s totally me. I am, I am one of those statistics. But to hear the numbers out loud, is kind of mind blowing.

Lindsay Recknell 5:41
And I’m hoping that it’s a wake up call for our organizations and our leaders. I really liked what you said about employees demanding wellness as part of their benefits package as something that they are looking for more often in their compensation than they ever have before. And that shows a lot of I don’t know, is that self respect, or, you know, taking care of ourselves, which has been a stigmatized concept as well.

Jennifer Moss 6:09
I think it’s just making it a bottom line issue now for employers, so they have to respond, I think it gives more control to the individual employee to have those expectations, they can ask for that. And I think, too, we’re in a paradigm shifting moment, we’ve had 20 months of facing our own mortality, we have, you know, different expectations of what we want in life, and work. And we’re not going to just give that up anymore. You know, and I think that’s what’s so critical, and employers really do need to understand is that if they don’t respond to this paradigm shifting moment, they’re going to have a huge attrition problem.

Jennifer Moss 6:48
That Microsoft survey looked at 30,000 employees globally, and 41% said that they were planning to leave their job in the next three months. Only 4% said it was because of pay. And everyone else had said that it was either, you know, bad treatment during the pandemic, overwork, unsustainable workloads, and they had been wondering if they were going to leave before they were on the fence.

Jennifer Moss 7:14
And now, what happened through the pandemic and the way their employer treated them, made them just decide I’m going to leave and maybe permanently perm not just this job, but maybe their entire career, or maybe taking time off, and changing how they think about work entirely. So this is a really big moment right now.

Lindsay Recknell 7:34
You’re not kidding. I use the language of the great resignation. And we keep hearing that I know that that it’s, it’s out there in the world, can you talk a little more about the potential impact to employers for these 41% of people leaving their jobs? And in the really short term, like three months is not that long from now? No,

Jennifer Moss 7:55
There’s a real issue. And as I’m working with leaders and organizations, that’s the first thing that they say is, we are realizing that we’re losing people and we’re losing high performing people who, you know, felt highly solutions based, they’re driven, they’re type A, and for them, they didn’t really give themselves any, you know, self compassion and ability to, you know, maybe not me goals inside of these, this massive stressor, that was the pandemic, I mean, high performing people are tend to not let themselves on the off the hook.

Jennifer Moss 8:31
And so they were so driven, and the employers didn’t, you know, hold, pull them back, employers didn’t sort of put any boundaries around that or ask them to slow down or they just kept pushing, and it was still growth at all costs. And it was business as usual. And so what’s happened is now employers and leaders are realizing, wow, you know, this, this became so unsustainable or high performers are literally calling in, on the day of, you know, saying they’re not going to come into work, and then they never come back. Like that’s, it’s a dramatic loss. And so what that means is, then there’s people still left behind the under resourced working extra hard.

Jennifer Moss 9:13
So now we’re putting the burden on an under resourced group inside the organization who are then you know, going to speed up their burnout, where they’re going to leave. So it’s this trickle down impact of really just not creating the sustainable way of working inside the pandemic and not saying okay, maybe it’s not business as usual. Maybe I do need to have some boundaries for those people that, you know, that won’t stop themselves. And so it isn’t just an you know, employers that are pushing, there’s also a drive that’s deep inside of us to work hard.

Jennifer Moss 9:47
And so it’s a two way street and that there needs to be really good policy, really good infrastructure managers doing a good job of leading, and employees being able to step back and say, Okay, I am also going Gonna take the help, I’m also going to model the behavior of self care. And then those two things can come together. And then that’s how we prevent burnout.

Lindsay Recknell 10:09
I am so well aligned to the kind of joint responsibility between organizations and us as the humans that work at the organizations, often we only look at it, look at it from one perspective, we say to our employees, guys, you got to take care of yourself, you have to do XY and Z to make sure you don’t burn out. But if we are in organizations that are putting policies and procedures and expectations and workloads and performance targets on top of us that literally prevent us from taking care of ourselves, there’s an accountability for the organization there as well.

Lindsay Recknell 10:44
Can you talk about some of the real tactics that employers like the organizations themselves, can do to support employees, and then we’ll talk about what employees can do to show up differently in their workplace.

Jennifer Moss 11:01
So I love that you’re a very, you know, tactical, practical based, you know, you’re a real advocate for that kind of communication to managers. Because, you know, what I wanted to do with the book very specifically, is be extremely prescriptive. You know, we talk about burnout in this nebulous way. And we all get that it’s really important, but we need tactics, we need application, it’s so important. And what I’ve come to understand, and I have one chapter in the book, that’s all about empathetic leadership. And I actually feel like that is the most critical super skill that the future of work is going to require.

Jennifer Moss 11:37
Because it’s all about active listening. It’s about a nuanced, personalized approach to motivation. And in managing hygiene, understand that one person can feel chronically stressed for a longer time than another person. And that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be, you know, pushing someone harder, because that they have more stamina, when it comes to stress is really about trying to be very preventative. And that means having what I call, you know, well, first, this is first, it’s really important to say this, we need to be reducing the amount of collaboration that we’re doing, we’re in a over collaborative environment.

Jennifer Moss 12:15
Right now we’re seeing the amount of people gathering around zoom meetings and video conferencing meetings. We are afraid that if we don’t lose people, we overlooked or afraid if we don’t lose people that they won’t feel, you know, part of the project. And meanwhile, all it’s doing is just sucking up so much of people’s time, it’s time that where they can be getting time to digitally detox or be, you know, be able to be mindful of their own, their own burnout.

Jennifer Moss 12:44
So these are all things that are just happened because we got into an emergency state in March 2020. And all of these behaviors are just remaining. And by definition, emergencies are unexpected. And right now, we are not in an unexpected state, we have to look at what is real right now. So first, we need to pause, we need to reduce the amount of meetings and collaborative, you know, non essential, collaborative collaborative moments.

Jennifer Moss 13:13
And then we also need to be looking at adding this one meeting in and I get a groan when I you know, say take all these meetings away, you know, make sure you reduce the time in those meetings, and you do walk in talks instead of zoom. But you have to add this one meeting in which is consequential to building trust and then preventing burnout, you have to ask three questions. One should be How are you? People are going to lie and say they’re fine. So you have to say, you know, are you really fine. And you dig deeper by saying name a high name a low for this week, everyone goes around the horn.

Jennifer Moss 13:46
It’s I also really advocate for smaller team sizes. So if you’re doing a reorg, try to make your team sizes smaller. And then the third question should be what can we do for each other in this team based way to make next week easier. And so it becomes micro targeted changes, quick wins, we feel it over time, it has to be consistent and frequent. So we never get rid of this meeting, it really should be only like a half an hour to 45 minutes. And it should be very much about being professional East droppers as direct managers.

Jennifer Moss 14:21
Your role there, then is to listen to what are the things that are always the high for someone. Do they, you know, talk about how much they love their cottage? Do they talk about their walks with their dog? Do they talk about their kids? You know, what is it that they talk about in those moments of non work related topics. And that’s how you learn to motivate that person through those things that they express or the things they love.

Jennifer Moss 14:44
And then when you look at the things that they continue to say like, I’ve been really stressed because I’m in this situation where I have to put my kids to university but my mom is going into assisted living and I feel guilt about these things.

Jennifer Moss 14:57
You know, those are the kind of things that we think Okay, well, if you’re saying you’re tired over time, this is a stressor for you over time, that allows me to have more compassion for maybe making mistakes, or, you know, maybe you come in late because you’re dealing with these things, maybe there’s a different way to reward you and recognize you and compensate you can I subsidize care? Can I help with, you know, you planning for your children’s University, like, those are the kind of things that we can start to think about as prevention tools.

Jennifer Moss 15:28
So this very prescriptive tactical plan allows you to both motivate, manage actively listen, so you can prevent burnout, and bond with your team develop trust. And it really is a 40 minute meeting once a week that you can then really, you know, implement as part of the system of preventing burnout.

Lindsay Recknell 15:50
So much good stuff right there. Jennifer, this is like, amazing, because it’s so I mean, first of all, one of the things I want to touch on there that you said, was this over this over collaboration, because you’re absolutely right. We are no longer in an unknown scenario. I had a conversation with an HR leader yesterday, and we were talking about how we deal with when it goes back to normal.

Lindsay Recknell 16:16
Newsflash, this is normal. This is, you know, change is part of our way of working. And if we can put scenarios like this extra meeting that you’re talking about which net net would be a whole lot less than we are doing right now. And those things become sustainable, because in those moments, that’s how we can continue to adapt to the change that so we can continue to notice the trends, what’s bothering our people, what’s exciting our people, and I love how you connected that to performance.

Lindsay Recknell 16:49
Because so often when we talk about mental health at work, organizations or senior leadership go, how does this contribute to my bottom line? If I’m nicer to my people? How is that going to get me more revenue? Well, here is a real tactical example of that. Because if you take care of your people, you tie into their performance, they are going to take care of your organization.

Jennifer Moss 17:10
Well, I love your I love that what you’re saying because, you know, in a lot of what we try to do is attach it to KPIs and say, you know, let’s change our KPIs that it’s not just sales and revenue targets, but it’s, you know, how about employee experience? What about employee trust? And look at that as part of your goals? You know, why do we only look at meeting sales targets as the definition of success, instead, we should be looking at making sure that we’re tied to our employees feeling like they trust us.

Jennifer Moss 17:41
And then we can measure to, you know, against MPs, like net promoter scores, and, and we can be tying to their own, you know, levels of productivity based on increasing trust. And, and it’s about looking more upstream at the root causes and the root, you know, motivations for people when it comes to both, you know, reaching goals and also burning out. And if you can kind of look at that as the goal and measure it, then you start to see why it’s a bottom line issue, if you’re increasing these types of benefits, and having these types of meetings, so you don’t feel like they’re a waste of time.

Jennifer Moss 18:20
And I think that’s the thing that people don’t do enough. It’s just, you know, add a few measures into this and, and change the what we look as key performance indicators and pull those together. And we have a very robust, you know, validation of the things that then we are engaging in and investing our time in.

Lindsay Recknell 18:39
Yes. 1,000% agree, you know, when we can also measure benefit utilization rates, right, if we can be proactive about some of these things, and help our people feel supported, have communication with them, they won’t get into these extreme emergency scenarios where they are urgently leaning on our employee family assistance plans, you know, we want them to continue to be proactive. And that also helps to improve the bottom line from a pure black and white perspective as well.

Jennifer Moss 19:08
Yeah, and I love what you just said there, because one of the things that we tried as an intervention to see around using our EAP s are places and programs more is, well first learning that a lot of people just don’t know what’s there. And managers are really also nervous about having these types of mental health conversations because they don’t feel equipped, and they’re worried that someone’s going to come to them in crisis, and then they’re not going to be able to, you know, help them or they’re going to make it worse. That’s a deep fear for managers.

Jennifer Moss 19:40
So what we’ve started to say is, how about you communicate to your team? I’m not a mental health professional, but I’ve done my you know, it research and investigation. And here I just want to let all of you know exactly where things are inside of inside of our organization. I’m going to be Mental Health conduit for you. So please come to me so I can move you in the right place. And a manager then has to be really up to date on what is in the EAP. have a relationship with HR so that HR can be providing them, whatever well being programs they’ve initiated if they’ve added telehealth and teletherapy, which is something that a lot of organizations have added this year, and most people don’t, aren’t even aware of.

Jennifer Moss 20:23
And then also look at go further and find out what your local resources are, if someone is dealing with an LGBTQ issue, or someone is dealing with feeling, you know, discriminated against making sure that you have local resources that you can also point them to that’s external to the organization. I mean, that’s what a really good manager does is make sure that all of those, you know, opportunities to give help to their employees without feeling like they have to be the professional is the best case scenario. We just saw usage of VIPs, you know, skyrocket with these conversations. So it’s a lot about education and direct managers have a really big role to play in that.

Lindsay Recknell 21:03
Well, and an opportunity, I think, to you know, a lot of the work that we do at mental health in minutes is to facilitate conversations between leaders and their people to help to reduce the anxiety and stress that the managers feel. Because what if somebody does open up and have these conversations? How do they respond and so, you know, program like the EAP books like yours, the programs we offer through mental health and minutes are those resources to continue the learning.

Lindsay Recknell 21:31
So often, we think there’s no resources out there, but they absolutely are, and they’re continuing to increase every day.

Jennifer Moss 21:39
I love this one example of an interview that I did with permanent take group, Dr. Edward Allison, he was a big promoter of burnout. And he trained his physicians into all of his positions inside of all of his hospitals, through the permanente group and, and train them in mental health 101, but also went a little bit further made sure that they did have a little bit extra support, because COVID was so tough on so many people inside the organization.

Jennifer Moss 22:06
But every shift, they have one physician who has been trained to Dona purple scrub, and that purple scrub represents a prime to anyone within the hospital that is in need, or you know, through a really hard shift or they’re in crisis. And they just need to be able to go to a place that’s safe, they see the purple scrub, and they know that they can go to that person and that physician is there just to be played that role that day.

Jennifer Moss 22:32
They can go it’s a peer that’s been trained, they feel safe, they can have those conversations, and have it in a private space, which was created around the hospital as well. And I think that’s we can definitely do more of that where there’s more priming of this person was trained, I can talk to that person, it’s peer support or mentorship support, someone that’s trusted.

Jennifer Moss 22:53
And we don’t I don’t think we do enough of that instead of organizations where there is that person that says we are here for you and the organization then Prime’s everyone to say, hey, mental health is really important. You know, if you need someone, we’ve created this space for you, that’s safe.

Lindsay Recknell 23:10
I love that I was at a talk a few a couple of years ago before the pandemic was even a thing. And she said that one of the trends five years into the future was that organizations were going to have organizational psychologist on staff. And that is honest to god, what inspires me everyday in doing this work, because I would love I would love to be that person, I would love to be the the purple scrub person in an organization where, where the organization recognizes the importance enough that they actually pay someone to be there in a confidential way, like that’s going to be key as well as a confidential way for people to feel safe.

Lindsay Recknell 23:52
And that somebody is not just doing it off the side of their desk. I think that falls on HR leaders on functional leaders on, you know, executive leaders who say, we know this is important, we’re not paying for it. So I’m just gonna do it here in my spare time. Well, that’s not sustainable either.

Jennifer Moss 24:10
I agree. And I think the whole idea to have the fact that we, especially when we’re preventing burnout, we found that peer support is really critical. But you know, just having an environment of commiseration versus collaboration isn’t healthy either. So you can’t just, you know, find a person that you feel comfortable with and rely on that person to always be able to manage how you’re feeling or deal with how you’re feeling because they could be in a place where it’s potentially triggering for them too.

Jennifer Moss 24:38
So someone that is a professional, their job is to be an ear, you know, they are there at your, you know, at your need when you need it. That is so critical. And the fact that they are then trained up that is what we need to be doing and that should be in every organization and I even saying, you know people ask well, how do I do that in a remote world?

Jennifer Moss 24:59
You have, you know someone, we all have these, like little emojis that we have when we’re doing our, you know, Zoom meetings, what if there is a special, you know, sign or signal and I was saying use a signal for that person that’s trained up in your virtual meetings to they’re the ones that have been introduced that you can say, Okay, I’m going to have a conversation with that person after that meeting, where you identify people with whatever prime you’re going to use. And then they can get on a zoom call with that person afterwards.

Jennifer Moss 25:28
I mean, there’s lots of ways that we can be creative about doing this and this new future of work, but it’s going to be such a significant benefit that employers are going to demand is their ability to talk openly about mental health at work.

Lindsay Recknell 25:42
Yeah, it is going to be an employee, and employer a different differentiator and recruiting tool and Onboarding Tool retention tool. 100%. Agree, we’ve talked, so we’ve talked a lot about what organizations can do and what their obligations are to their people. Let’s talk about what our obligations are, to ourselves, but also to the organization.

Jennifer Moss 26:03
Well, the only way that anything is going to change is if we model the behavior we want to see, and leaders play a huge role in this, but we as you know, individuals and peers, we need to do that same for each other, we need to kind of all look at ourselves as a as a leader or an influencer. And you know, if we’re someone that is continuing to, you know, send emails out after hours, if we’re working on weekends, if we’re, you know, if we’re answering calls and emails, while we’re supposed to be away, you know, there’s a reason why I’m Ontario, and hopefully Canada is getting this rage, disconnect policy embedded. That’s, that’s important.

Jennifer Moss 26:46
But I always tell employers and people within organizations do you need a law to do what is right. And I think we need to just do what is right and understand that I might be working late, but me sending an email out to a co worker, just creates invisible pressure on people to be, you know, working. So we all need to create this environment where we’re allowed to have space where we’re allowed to detox, you know, we need to also be better about creating space for ourselves. And that means, you know, blocking time off in our calendar, that’s, you know, that is for us to be able to get space.

Jennifer Moss 27:22
And, you know, if you actually blocked off in your calendar and put in meeting, you know, no one’s gonna overload you, you know, you can say I have a meeting, and that meeting is with yourself, fine. But you need that space, because we can actually use, you know, our executive functioning part of our brain. If our limbic system or fight or flight is in constant surge capacity, we’re just always going to be frazzled, then we need, you know, chaos with chaos, instead of meeting it with calm, we can’t moderate conversations with each other, it increases volatility amongst peers, all of those reasons, we need space, we also need to be much better at, you know, using our out of office, like our technology for good.

Jennifer Moss 28:04
If you are in a time where you are heads down, our bodies now are responding immediately to signals and times, then, you know, beeps and rings, we need to use our out of office on our email to say, I’m working on a project that requires my full attention for the next two hours, I will get back to you it you know, after for when I checked back in, I mean, it’s just flip that thing on, right, a very personalized out of office, it manages people’s expectations.

Jennifer Moss 28:31
So you know, you can actually get flow, and really get time away to focus and concentrate, we also have to understand that we often take over our main priorities and our job with urgent needs, we need to get better at managing expectations with our stakeholders or our clients. You know, when someone says I need that right now, you know, what is right now to them? That’s, you know, time is such a, you know, it’s such a nebulous term, like, what is right now? Like, is it? Are you going to present this and in a week, you know, is it something that you need on deadline for for Okay, so really try to ask, instead of just jump, we often jump for those stakeholders, get a clearer picture of what urgent is, and then be able to plan your day according to that.

Jennifer Moss 29:16
Those are all these things that we need to be doing. And then most of all, self compassion, we are in still this endemic, and we are still stressed. And it’s hard. And we still have all of these other sort of, now, this hangover from the last 20 months as well. So we need to give ourselves grace and be able to let go when we don’t always, you know, do things as quickly or as efficiently as we used to, and letting some of those other little small tasks go.

Jennifer Moss 29:48
I mean, maybe you know, especially for women at home, working at home, there’s a lot of distractions, and we need to let ourselves off the hook for those things that we can’t get done in the day because of our current situation.

Lindsay Recknell 30:02
Amazing. Amazing. Can I also add that we have a responsibility to speak up? You talked about demonstrating those behaviors out loud. But can we also speak up? You know, it’s sometimes hard when your boss in those meetings you talked about when your boss says, How are you to say I’m fine? Or how about you actually say what’s going on so that you can get to the root of it so that we can actually support you in the way that you need to be supported, there is a responsibility for us to share not you know, that our deepest, darkest secrets and all the skeletons in our closet, but give people an opportunity to help you, they are genuinely asking to make things better for you give them that opportunity, as well and talk out loud.

Jennifer Moss 30:45
I love that you said that, really, because you’re right. That’s one thing that I’ve been trying to advocate, I mean, it’s difficult in some situations for a lot of people to feel like they can and they’ve been marginalized. But we can have fact based conversations about our workload with our employers, you know, spend the next two weeks documenting what you’re working on how often you get pulled into urgent needs by folks that you know, just put stuff on your plate.

Jennifer Moss 31:09
And it’s unexpected, which is a huge predictor of burnout, you know, that lack of agency peace, but having a real analysis, you know, fact base analysis for two weeks document all the times that you have been pulled into something and then write down what you consider as your number one priority and your number one urgent need, and put those down a list of one to 10. And then come back to your boss and say, I want to make sure I’m aligned, you know, our priorities align, we might not have had this conversation for a quarter or six months or since the pandemic started, you know, I’ve been working on this, and I consider this my number one priority.

Jennifer Moss 31:47
And if you know, this stakeholder calls, I always put them number one in my, you know, in my response, sort of schematic, would you agree? You know, ask your boss, do you think this is right? And if your boss is like I, you know, I would say nine times out of 10, your bosses like actually, I would probably like downgrade that, or I didn’t know you were working on that, or, you know, let’s make sure we get more resources over there. Because that’s not really what your area is, but you’ve taken it on. It’s about communication, if we can have five base communication that gives us a voice because it isn’t arguable.

Jennifer Moss 32:21
You know, you can’t argue that you can’t argue the documentation and you’ve done the work done the due diligence to show, okay, I just want to make sure that you and I are aligned, because, you know, inevitably you are the boss, you tell me what is my priority. So let’s get on the same page. And we found that’s really worked well. And I’ve encouraged leaders to just set that structure up and have that, you know, have every employee do that, so that they can get more transparency, you know, and then come back to it once a quarter, you know, whatever, and just revisit alignment. And we’re finding that it reduces a lot of inefficiencies and and then subsequently workload and then subsequently burnout.

Lindsay Recknell 33:02
Yeah, setting those boundaries, communicating those boundaries, and then having conversations about where those boundaries are, aren’t working, as well, for yourself, for your leader and also within the context of your greater team and their boundaries. I totally agree that has been a huge, huge success to stop the slide into burnout.

Lindsay Recknell 33:24
Jennifer, this has been absolutely amazing. Your brilliance is outstanding every single time I hear you speak. Thank you so so much for the practicality of what you talk about, you know, so often it’s hard for people to share these kinds of things. But you’ve given us the real tools, the language, literally the language we can use to open the door to these kinds of conversations at work and engage our senior leaders, and some proactive ways to look down the path of what the future work could look like for us. It has been just awesome. Thank you so so much for being here.

Jennifer Moss 33:57
Oh, it was a delight. I had such a great conversation and your energy’s amazing. So thanks so much for hosting.

Lindsay Recknell 34:03
I look forward to continuing our conversation again real soon.

Lindsay Recknell 34:07
Thank you for listening to another episode of mental health in minutes. Such an amazing discussion, I seriously learned so much. The lessons that resonated with me the most was when she talked about the team meeting with three questions and actually listening to the answers your team provides. Their answers will give you a ton of insight into how they’re currently feeling, give you a sense of what is important to them, and really help leaders and teams to connect in an authentic way.

Lindsay Recknell 34:30
I really love how Jennifer took that one step further too and suggested incorporating what’s important to people into their performance objectives and rewards. Talk about actually changing the mechanisms within an organization to support increased employee wellness. So good.

Lindsay Recknell 34:45
Jennifer and I both believe in the power of our leaders to create psychologically safe workplaces and we know you do too, or you wouldn’t be listening to this. If you loved this episode, please consider subscribing and leaving a review on your favorite podcast player. You can find this everywhere at mental health in minutes. as well as on the web at The thing we do best at mental health in minutes is open the door to conversations about mental health at work. And episodes like this give us real things we can try to truly make a difference. I know you’re making a difference at your workplace, or you’d really like to be, or you wouldn’t be listening to podcast episodes like these ones.

Lindsay Recknell 35:19
I’d love to help accelerate your impact at work, help you really move the needle on mental health maturity in your workplace, and get people to a place where they’re feeling less stressed, more fulfilled and able to integrate work in life in a way that works for them and your organization. Being a people leader is especially hard right now, you might feel like you’re managing both up and down the corporate ladder. And if the thought of figuring out how to best support your people and yourself feels overwhelming and impossibly hard, let’s talk.

Lindsay Recknell 35:47
Let me help you by doing the heavy lifting with resources and materials, along with training and facilitation. And you can get back to doing what you do best, engaging with and supporting your people. I have many ways to support you from full service hands on to guidance and support from afar. So let’s chat about what works best for you and your people.

Lindsay Recknell 36:06
As always, I’m here if you need me

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