Workplace Wellness – Challenges and Opportunities
This week we explored positivity in the workplace. In particular, we explored the themes of burnout and what we could do about it. What are some of their symptoms of them, and what we can do about them? We did that with the wonderful Dr Suzy Green from The Positivity Institute.
Now, Suzy has been a guest on our podcast before, and I love getting some of my guests back to keep in touch with them, keep up to date with them and get them to share what is their latest, their latest work and what they are working on.
This week, we are focussing on burnout and engagement. Suzy references the work of Professor Martin Seligman, which I also reference in my book, A Life Less Stressed: The Five Pillars of Health and Wellness.
In the chapter on Think or Thought, I talked about the PERMA Model, and the PERMA Model discusses… stands for P-E-R-M-A. P stands for Positivity, E for Engagement, R for Relationships, M for Meaning, and A for Accomplishment. Actually, we discuss how Marty Seligman, as Suzy calls him, or Professor Seligman as I probably would, has added another letter to that PERMA Model, and it is the letter H, or she told me it was also V. H standing for Health and V for Vitality, because he recognised that unless the person was healthy that it was very difficult to be positive, engaged, form relationships, find meaning and accomplishment. It’s much easier if you are healthy.
In fact, that’s the purpose of our Unstress Podcast and our Unstress Health Community and programmes. It’s to provide you with information to help you take control of your health, fulfil your potential and be the best you can be.
But back to the PERMA Model, and what we’re really exploring is also burnout in the corporate space and the fact that so many… The current period of time is referred to as the great resignation. One of the reasons for that, of course, is the last two years have been a period of global reflection and a dramatic change to our work environment.
Literally overnight1 from lockdown. We were told to stay home. For many people, that meant long commutes of up to an hour or more each way in a day, which over a five-day working week adds up to a whole day of travelling to and from work is a huge price that people pay. This was an opportunity to not only free up time but free up space for thinking about what was important and what was meaningful in life, how engaged you were with your job, what the meaning of your job was, and how important relationships are.
It’s interesting to focus on the relationship side of things because we definitely do know that relationships are important. I think that’s one of the lessons that we’ve learnt from this period, and that is the importance of real relationships, face-to-face relationships.
It’s great that we can communicate with people all around the world, but nothing quite beats being in the same room, being able to interact, being able to see facial expressions and body language to reach out and shake someone’s hand. I know that’s a terribly dangerous activity, but there’s something quite nice about it. Give them a hug or give them a kiss.
There’s something about the connection with other human beings. Well, arguably, it’s what’s made our species, Homo sapiens, the successful species that we are. Our ability to interact, co-regulate and cooperate and do that in person has been a measure of our success as a species.
Relationships have been something that perhaps we’ve recognised well we definitely have recognised how important that is. Our new work environment involves a balance between the time we save in commuting and the convenience and legitimacy of working from home. That raises all sorts of challenges because it assumes that you have a comfortable work environment at home and that you have adequate…
A desk and chairs to sit on, ergonomically comfortable. That you have good computer screens and a good internet connection makes all sorts of assumptions, but assuming you do, the importance of returning to the office and connecting with the team or your co-workers is also really important.
Finding that balance in this new work-life experience that we’re being offered. There are many challenges, but there are many opportunities. The excitement, or the novelty or the importance of spending time in the same room with your team, with your co-workers, is potentially a really positive thing as well.
The Great Resignation
The interesting thing, though, is that this is being described as The Great Resignation. And it’s interesting to go to the work from the Gallup Organisation, which I know many years ago there was a survey that they did on employee engagement, which I think from memory was something like 13% of the workforce was disengaged, I think it was something like 13% of the workforce was engaged in their work.
They were really engaged in their work. 65% of the workforce were a little indifferent. They did the job they didn’t see there was great meaning in the job that they did, but they did it because it was their income.
That 65% plus 13%, I think we’re up to about 65, and 13 is about 78%. The rest were actively disengaged or actively disengaged from their work, which is which kind of suggests that about 87% of the workforce are either indifferent or disengaged from their work, which is sobering.
It has now led to what is referred to as the period we’re now currently in called The Great Resignation, which is actually the great disconnect because people are realising and reflecting on their work experience. Now there are some interesting statistics, and I’m referencing here the Gallup Organisation and the cover story here the highlights of which are a job change is on the mind of nearly half of all US employees.
I don’t think that would be very different in Australia as well. Employee engagement correlates strongly to employee retention. Now is the time – this is Gallup offering this advice to corporations. “Now is the time to rethink your employee retention strategy.
It’s interesting because our Unstress Health Platform is actually in the new year, going to be targeting the corporate world in Australia, the UK and in America because we believe our more holistic approach to stress and building resilience is a great way of providing an ongoing corporate wellness programme.
Corporate wellness programmes are really window dressings. You get a health check-up once a year, you might get free flu vaccines, it might be a massage, you might have a bowl of fruit, and there might be the occasional health talk. What Unstress Health is going to be looking at is actually providing an ongoing community engagement. But it’s interesting to reflect on this disengagement that’s going on.
The Gallup Organisation
A new Gallup analysis finds that 48% of America’s working population is actively job searching or watching for opportunities. Present businesses are facing a staggeringly high quit rate. In fact, in America, 3.6 million Americans resigned in May 2022 alone.
A record high number of unfilled positions because, and this is certainly true in Australia, because of our lockdown and the fact that we don’t have overseas workers on short-term working holiday visas or tourists or students or backpackers, as we call them, the unemployed. The unemployment rate in Australia and in America is very low, and almost everywhere is advertising for workers.
There are some real issues here about engagement and the impact that has on a company. It’s not just absenteeism, which was always been a problem and an easy thing to measure, but it’s presenteeism as well, which is you showing up to work but not really being present.
A study in Australia about two or three years ago estimated that the cost of presenteeism to Australian industry conservatively is around $44 Billion a year, and that doesn’t even take into account then staff turnover because the cost of staff turnover is huge in lost human capital and the cost of retraining. So something really needs to change. Gallup’s advice is now is the time to rethink your employee retention strategy and to do that in a very proactive way.
People are calling it The Great Resignation, as the Gallup data show it is less an industry role or pay issue than it is a workplace issue. It’s not so much the industry or how much pay an individual is getting, but it’s the workplace environment that the employer is creating.
Low engagement teams typically have turnover rates that are between 18 and 43% higher than a highly engaged team. That’s a really important thing. Gallup finds that it takes more than a 20% pay rise to lure most employees away from a manager who engages them and next to nothing to poach most disengaged workers.
If you’re working in an engaging environment where the employee is focussed on the health of their team, and as I’ve often said, a company that focuses on the health of their team is a company that people will want to work for and also a company that people will want to work with.
It’s a whole issue that cuts right across. Interestingly, we talk about so much of that in this episode with Suzy Green this week, exploring what burnout actually means. Disengagement from your work is a major part of it finding that balance by incorporating the PERMA model into an assessment of people’s mental and physical health within the work environment.
That’s why a focus, a more holistic focus on health is so important because it’s one thing to say you need to have a more positive attitude to health. You need to be more to work. You need to be more engaged, etc.
If you’re not sleeping well, you’re not breathing, consider ng well, then that puts you behind the eight ball right from the word go. When you also that mood and food are intimately connected, then you start to build a picture of how the stresses that we’re exposed to and the pillars of health that we’re not exposed to combine to create a very disengaged workforce that has other priorities.
It’s a company that is actually focussed on this in a proactive way that is really companies that people want to seek out and work with and form long and ongoing and meaningful relationships with.
It’s always a wonderful opportunity, a wonderful experience to talk to Suzy Green and like like our discussions about sleep and breathing. When we revisit with our cardiologist, Dr Ross Walker, over our meditation and yoga and psychotherapist, Dr Shankardev Saraswati, it’s great to reconnect with the Positivity Institute and tap that hoop along and remind us that this is something we should all be striving for.
It was a great episode. It’s great. It’s well worth having a listen to. I hope this finds you well. Until next time. This is Dr Ron Ehrlich. Be well.
This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.