What If The Great Resignation Isn’t?

in business, Data, Featured, Uncategorized

There’s endless talk in HR circles about the Great Resignation. A report by McKinsey & Company, for example, sounds the alarm because “more than 15 million US workers—and counting—have quit their jobs since April 2021, a record pace disrupting businesses everywhere.”

The McKinsey report is fascinating for its survey findings comparing why employees say they leave to why employers believe they leave, with some stark distinctions.

But the report, and just about all of the endless accounts about an employee exodus, falls short by failing to provide context for the so-called exodus. Specifically, they ignore the fact that quit rates plummeted in the Spring of 2020. McKinsey blares, “The Great Attrition is happening—and will probably continue.”

But is it? And will it?

Here’s a graph of quit rates — number of quits as a percent of total employment — from 2011 through July of 2021 (The blue line is turnover; the dotted line is a trend line for the entire period.):

Quit Rates 2011-2021

US Quit Rates (and trend) as % of total employment, 2011-through July 2021.

Pent-Up Attrition?

“Quits are voluntary separations initiated by the employee,” BLS explains. “Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs.”

It sure looks like the current rate of resignation is fairly close to trend. In fact, the quit rate for July 2021 was unchanged from the previous month, and the last three months were all lower than April 2021. The data suggests that some of what’s being called The Great Resignation is actually pent-up attrition. We may — may — just be on the tail end of a dip.

When we hear “15 million workers have quit their jobs since April 2021,” we should question whether April 2021 is the proper baseline. This shouldn’t diminish some of the dynamics currently taking place in the labor force, but at least suggests that it may be quite a while before we really know — based on data — what those dynamics are.

The Truth About Mental Health First Aid Training

in Featured, Mental Health First Aid, Uncategorized

As a certified Mental Health First Aid™️ instructor, I was delighted to see this critical analysis of MHFA posted by distinguished professor of Organizational Psychology, Rob Briner…

Should Mental Health First Aid Be Required?

One of my LinkedIn connections recently posted a poll asking whether employers should be required to have a certified MHFA person at the workplace. More than 1000 folks responded, and 70% said “Yes, it should be required.” Some commenters asserted that anyone answering “No” had never experienced mental health problems and/or didn’t care about them.

In addition to revealing naïveté about workplace regulation, the responses to this poll exemplified

  1. The limited understanding of MHFA possessed by people advocating it
  2. Employers’ and HR leaders’ eagerness to solve complex problems with simplistic, trendy solutions, while ignoring substantive evidence-based strategies.

MHFA Cons and Pros

In the US, employers would have good reason to proceed with caution when implementing MHFA in the workplace.

  • MHFA certification seems unnecessary — having more to do with protecting revenue and intellectual property rather than mental health
  • As for the virtual training, to quote the CEO of National Council of Mental Wellbeing (from his “Happy New Year” email to instructors): “To put it simply, the technology just didn’t work.” (I chose not to offer virtual training until the tech problems are addressed. But NCMW was undaunted, continuing to charge thousands of dollars for virtual training that the organization acknowledged “caused countless frustrations.”) 

MHFA’s greatest potential is to play a supporting role in a comprehensive solution — albeit, I’ll maintain, a role likely to prove valuable when implemented in the proper context and with realistic expectations.

Facty Wellness Study Facts Get Factier

in Employee Wellness Programs, Featured, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

Now that year-3 data is out, yielding findings just as blah as the year-1 findings (meaningful outcomes nowhere to be found), I’m re-sharing this 2019 post about the BJ’s Wholesale wellness study. Little has changed. Indeed, these facty facts have gotten no less facty. In fact, they may be factier.

Tip: If you —  like many critics of this research as well as media reporters confused by the study design  —  think the BJ’s research was primarily a study of intervention outcomes, or that it only looked at physical health and health care costs when wellness programs these days are all about happiness-ishness, or the program was sub-par because it consisted of “modules,” you’ll find this post enlightening.

The 4 Factiest Facts Overlooked in the Latest Wellness Study Kerfuffle

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.

Why Does My Organization Need Mental Health First Aid Training?

in Featured, 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 »

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 »