Podcast: Wellness, Job Insecurity, Unemployment, and Authenticity

in industrial organizational psychology, job strain, Uncategorized

This episode of the Redesigning Wellness podcast (below) is brilliant. Kudos to Chrissy Ball, Michelle Bartelt, and Scott Dinwiddie for having the courage to share their experiences and feelings around job loss. Thank you Jen Arnold for organizing and facilitating a bold conversation.

My take: As much as we wellness pros talk about “authenticity,” we rarely display it. Perhaps we feel obligated to project a veneer of exuberance. Indeed, this often seems to be expected. (I had a boss lament that she’d always imagined her wellness director would be “peppy” — which I proudly am not.) These panelists model real wellbeing as they describe hard times — anger, sadness, fear, and separation (as well as resilience, connection, and growth).

This conversation reminds us of the psychosocial influences on wellbeing that too often are obscured by our preoccupation with behavior change. Key amongst these is *job security*, as well as employment itself and role identity.

As we listen, we’ll do well to think of workers who are struggling — single parents, folks living on the poverty line, et al — and how their wellbeing is threatened by job insecurity and unemployment. How can we, as wellbeing leaders, help?

225: Job Loss During a Pandemic with Chrissy Ball, Michelle Bartelt, and Scott Dinwiddie

Work-from-Home Is Usually Out of Reach

in Featured, Uncategorized

hand reaching out to village of homes

The National Wellness Institute asked, in a LinkedIn poll, “What work week environment do you envision as being the most optimal for high-level wellness and high productivity?”

Confirming similar survey data from other sources,

  • 3% favored being in the office 5 days a week
  • 20% preferred 4 10-hour days a week
  • 53% said a hybrid of 3 days in the office, 2 days remote
  • 24% wanted to be remote the whole work week.

I wonder, when I see data like this, how one would have responded if they worked in a store, in a hospital, on a tarmac, at a restaurant, at construction sites, on a farm, picking up trash, or driving a bus.

Only about 45% of US employees work in occupations for which working from home (aka telework or remote work) is feasible, according to an analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This may be an overestimate, as BLS had determined just a year prior that 29% of employees “could” work from home.

Employers should grant workers as much flexibility as possible (for achieving the goals of both the organization and the employee) regarding when and where they work. But we should consider whether increased work-from-home opportunities for office workers will amplify disparities already prominent in the US.

To assume office work is the norm is a shaky way to start the conversation.

Mental Health First Aid — Q & A with Bob Merberg, MHFA Instructor

in Mental Health First Aid, Uncategorized
Photo by Bruno Scramgnon from Pexels

Near the end of our 2020 Wrap-Up on the Redesigning Wellness podcast, host Jen Arnold asks me about Jozito LLC’s plans for 2021, which gave me a chance to explain how employers can offer Mental Health First Aid training to support their leaders, managers, and workforce at large. The section starts around minute 52:00 (the YouTube version below should go right there). And, below, I’ve provided a summary (adapted from the podcast), in question and answer format. Continue reading »

Bob Merberg and Jen Arnold Strikethrough the Year 2020 in Employee Wellbeing

in Commentary, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

Scene from Fury Road

At the end of each year, a hush falls over the world, as it awaits the arrival of…

…the annual end-of-year wellness wrap-up that Jen Arnold and I record for her Redesigning Wellness podcast! It’s here!

This year was no different.  Of course, this year was completely different, but Jen and I still managed to offer some reflections on 2020 in employee wellness. Unlike previous years, this time we forgot to prepare for took a pass on the nerding out on analysis of peer-reviewed studies that have tested the patience of delighted audiences in years past.

Predictions? Oh, we have predictions. We’ve got nothing. Our best shot at predictions were: Continue reading »

Why Does My Organization Need Mental Health First Aid Training?

in Mental Health First Aid, Uncategorized

Mental Health First Aid logoSince I first discovered Mental Health First Aid a few years ago, I’ve recognized it as an ideal cornerstone of any organization’s employee mental health strategy. As an interactive face-to-face program, it’s a much needed foundation for digital mental health solutions and other remote services. It’s a surefire way, in fact, to increase awareness and use of mental health benefits, like the often under-utilized employee assistance programs. Help employees get the support they need…when they need it.

I’ve advised most of my employer clients to offer Mental Health First Aid training — to their managers or their entire workforce — and now I’m thrilled to announce that, as a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor, I’ll deliver this training myself. Use this website’s Contact form for more info about how Mental Health First Aid will boost your employees’ wellbeing and, consequently, your organization’s performance. Continue reading »

2020’s Trends and Transactions Foretell the Wellness Industry’s Future

in business, Employee Wellness Programs, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

Work-from-home, social connection, telehealth, social justice, mental health… and, of course, the COVID-19 disease itself have been the hot topics of 2020 in the employee wellbeing world.

Meanwhile, the US wellness industry — the business of employee wellbeing — grinds on, with a slew of trends and transactions that foretell its future. Here, I’ve summarized the commercial patterns and milestones that signal which doors are closing and which may open. Continue reading »

A Successful Work and Family Stress Program — Looking Back

in EAPs, Stress, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

health care worker with stress

I’ve fessed up about two of my employee mental health flops. But I’ve had successes, too, including providing health care workers with one of the best-proven opportunities to get stress under control.

The scene was a large population of employees at a major medical center, where I served as employee wellness program manager, and partnered with our internal Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to offer the Yale Work and Family Stress Program. EAP counselors went to Yale to get trained on the program, and made a few adaptions suitable for our health care worker population. Continue reading »

Here’s How Employee Mental Health Strategies Can Perpetuate Stigma

in Featured, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

Mental HealthWell-meaning employee mental health advocates, including wellness leaders, may — in our zeal to address mental health — inadvertently reinforce or perpetuate mental health stigma. Here’s how:

1) Viewing stigma too narrowly, especially seeing it only as failure to seek treatment. Mental health stigma includes public stigma, characterized by lack of information (and stereotyping), prejudice, and discrimination, and self stigma, which includes internalization of social stigma stereotypes, reduced self-esteem, and reduced self-efficacy. Reluctance to seek treatment (or not being aware of treatment opportunities) is a critical consequence of stigma. But people who receive treatment, and people who don’t need treatment, experience stigma, too.

2) Not understanding how to address stigma. Anti-stigma campaigns are based on protest (e.g. speaking up against stereotyping); education (like the communication tactics employers commonly implement); and contact (interacting with people who have “lived experience” with mental health problems). Continue reading »

Meaning and Purpose at Work — Recommended Reading

in industrial organizational psychology, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

Nietzche quote: He who has a Why to live can bare almost any How.Meaning and purpose at work go far beyond the simplistic “Find your why” self-help trend that’s made millions for certain marketing gurus (though it would be more properly attributed to Nietzsche) or the appropriation of ikigai that’s the latest buzz.

There are no simple answers to meaning, only explorations. I suggest seekers take a look at Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” and, for contrast, Maslow’s “A Theory of Human Motivation.” Then bring it into the modern work context with Job Crafting and Cultivating Positive Meaning and Identity in Work, by Amy Wrzesniewski et al.