0:00:00.0 ANNOUNCER: So you wanna know the ins and outs of managing your money. Well, lucky for you. You are just in time for another episode of Master Your Finances with Certified Financial Planner professional Kurt Baker. Kurt and his panel of experts are here for you and we’ll cover topics from a legal and personal standpoint. They’ll discuss tax efficiency, liability, owning, managing, and saving your money and more. Master your finances is underwritten in part by Certified Wealth Management and Investment and Rider University. Rider offers continuing studies programs for adults who need flexibility. Want to add new skills to your resume? Take a continuing studies course at Rider University. Now let’s learn how we can better change our habits with Kurt Baker.
0:00:47.3 Kurt Baker: Do you wanna learn how to raise awareness and improve your mental health and wellbeing at work and home? Are you interested in strategies for increasing resilience and adaptability? Do you wanna know the best practices for encouraging open dialogue about mental wellness and among the workplace employees? Doreen Miri, a psychotherapist and a national board certified and licensed professional counselor in New Jersey is here to help you understand the importance of your mental health and wellbeing, both personally and professionally, as well as ideas for creating a culture that supports mental health in the workplace.
0:01:23.1 Kurt Baker: She will also provide you with tools to help you shift your focus to living by choice rather than circumstance. She’ll help you feel accomplished and confident in your ability to adapt to the changing world. Thank you so much for coming on Doreen. Changing World is kind of the, the thing that I heard in there the most at the very end. We’ve definitely had a changing world lately.
0:01:42.6 Doreen Miri: Yes.
0:01:44.7 Kurt Baker: So so how did you… Like, how did you get involved? This is a very interesting area ’cause you’re a psychotherapist, which is beautiful and you’re dealing with the workplace, which is awesome. So, which is much, much needed. I think people underestimate the amount that’s needed. So why don’t you just give us a little bit of background about, what got you to this point in life, so to speak, to become kind of this blended expert here, which is really important to both areas.
0:02:06.3 Doreen Miri: Actually, when I began my career years ago, I was actually, started out in the pharmaceutical sales, marketing and training arena and really enjoyed it. And midway through my career I said, you know, what do I really wanna do? What do I really wanna be? And I had an opportunity when I was working in pharma to also do training and work with individuals who are put on what we call Performance Improvement Plans or PIPs. And it was a great opportunity for me to really discern what I really loved doing best and that was helping people develop both personally and professionally. So I had a couple great experiences when I was working with people on the Performance Improvement Plans and really help them turn things around and actually stay with the company. And as you know, that’s challenging. Most of the time when you’re put on those plans, you’re concerned that you’re not gonna keep your job.
0:02:52.2 Doreen Miri: But I work with them both personally and professionally and help them remove some barriers that they had to succeeding and creating new habits and new behaviors that serve them. And it was a great opportunity. So I decided at that time to go back to school for my masters in community counseling and human services, and then on for my certification, to be a licensed psychotherapist and licensed in practical professional council here in New Jersey. And it was a great opportunity. It was a long haul doing it part-time as I was working. But midway through what I also decided to do was to shift away from the pharmaceutical industry and take a job that was more aligned with what I was doing.
0:03:34.5 Doreen Miri: I did some consulting and worked for organizations that did personality assessments, conflict assessments, et cetera, and did leadership training and development and work for organizations that really helped the employee through the entire journey, whether it’s assessing, developing, training, career transition and mobility as well as transitioning outside of an organization. So it was a great opportunity for me to be able to work and use my craft of clinical skills and also my experience in the workplace dynamics. It was a great way to marry what I love doing best, which is helping people personally and professionally.
0:04:13.4 Doreen Miri: And typically in my private practice I’ll see individuals, couples or families who have challenges usually in change, in transition and talking about change, things are always changing. Nothing stays the same, but as humans, the first step in looking at change is to resist it for the most part. And unless there’s a crisis, a lot of people don’t invite change, right? They feel like they’re forced to change. So either somebody’s lost their job, they’ve had a relationship challenge or a financial challenge and what they typically do and how they deal with it no longer serves them.
0:04:50.8 Doreen Miri: They have an opportunity to keep trying the same thing over and over again or say, how can I use this as an invitation to grow? What I’ll do is when they come in, we’ll look at what’s the immediate challenge and where does it tie back? If we look at where that behavior or habit, where they develop that we all have a default behavior and we use it until it doesn’t work anymore. And those opportunities present as challenges or changes in our lives. And that’s when we can look and reevaluate and look at where our best default behavior serve us but also learn where they don’t and replace those habits and behaviors with habits and behaviors that help us become more resilient and adapt to the changing environment.
0:05:31.4 Kurt Baker: Yeah, just, yeah, that’s a lot of great information. I wanna make sure we touch on some of this. So after you explained like where you came from, it sounds like you had a lot of experiences dealing with employees who were essentially struggling, right?
0:05:42.8 Doreen Miri: Yes.
0:05:43.6 Kurt Baker: A little bit. And so they’ve essentially been put on notice, look, we’ve gotta like figure this out, otherwise, you’re just not gonna be a fit for our company. And hopefully they can figure it out. So when you were dealing with these different employees, can you give some examples of things that would come up? Like why do you think an employee was maybe underperforming as far as the corporation was concerned? What types of things did you see that maybe they could work on? Were there some things that, “Hey look, I’m having a rough time.” Were there external forces affecting them? Were internal forces? So I’m just curious like, ’cause these things happen to everybody, employee or…
0:06:14.5 Doreen Miri: Yeah.
0:06:15.7 Kurt Baker: Employer-employee relationships. What were some of those things that you kinda noticed and then what did you kind of help them through? I’m just curious like the kinds of things that you saw originally, actually got you into the profession you’re in now.
0:06:24.4 Doreen Miri: Yeah.
0:06:25.7 Kurt Baker: What stories can you tell us about that?
0:06:26.0 Doreen Miri: Great question. Thanks so much. Because it’s actually both the internal issues and also external issues that are in the workplace or we are who we are in relation to the people in relationships with. Whether it’s personally or professionally. Typically, we look at what are some of those pieces that you can be in control of, right?
0:06:45.3 Kurt Baker: Okay.
0:06:46.7 Doreen Miri: One of the things that we’re finding now, especially in this post-COVID world that we live in, is really looking at culture. And when a lot of organizations say they support, they have a collaborative, supportive culture and really focuses on the mental fitness and cares about the balance, oftentimes what is said is not really what is in actuality or realistic, right? So what happens is it challenges that employee and it quiets them down to the point where if they are having stress or anxiety, they might not say it because they’re afraid that their employers will think that they won’t be able to handle the work.
0:07:26.2 Doreen Miri: So pieces of it are taking a look at the culture in the organization, and are the leaders inspiring change and also focus on mental fitness and mind health. And not just talking about it because a lot of people talk about it, but it’s about elevating the conversation with action. When we talk about culture, I think the question really is, it’s not a one-time choice or a declaration. It’s made up of daily choices that model and show that we care about our employees. Many organizations have unlimited pay time off. But are they… But are the employees encouraged to use it? A lot of research shows no. And then are the leaders in the C-level encouraging the frontline managers to actually stay close to and monitor. Are the roles and responsibilities realistic, right?
0:08:26.0 Doreen Miri: Are we meeting our goals? Are things realistic? Because leaders need to inspire and lead the conversation and the managers really need to model the behavior. Top-down leadership is critical, but in regards to determinants of employee satisfaction and wellness, the frontline manager really have the clearest and most direct line. For instance, if it’s pay time off unlimited. When the managers take off, do they put… Do they have a best practice in place, which means they’re totally off and all their urgent emails get sent or requests get sent to another colleague? Or are they still working when they’re off? Because that particular behavior models…
0:09:07.6 Kurt Baker: That’s not… That’s not time off.
0:09:09.9 Doreen Miri: Right. It’s not time off. But more importantly, it’s letting your employees know that when they’re taking time off, they really can’t take time off. So I think it goes back to not only what’s said, but also what’s modeled for people within the workplace because that adds a particular pressure and stress.
0:09:24.2 Kurt Baker: Okay. So you’re essentially, what I heard of that is like, so it’s important for the leadership to really follow the direction and if they’re really like taking time off… ‘Cause at least the employers I know, they’re really after productivity and a lot of productivity comes from a proper balance. I oftentimes equate this to the gym, right? If you went to the gym and worked out 12 hours a day, that’s probably not gonna yield to the best results. In fact, they showed with Olympic athletes that they were actually overworking because they were stressing out and having more injuries and they were actually having more downtime.
0:09:57.5 Kurt Baker: So you have to balance, and that’s the same thing with your mental health or your mental wellness as far as productivity goes. You can be productive and actually potentially do that in less time if you’re balancing out your mental health with your actual work life. And so how do we measure… Do we have ways of measuring like making sure that they are taking time off? ‘Cause you always have these… I think employers have this… That they’ll have employees that just will work every day of the week. And it’s like, well, that’s not good because that might work for a while, but at some point they’re gonna hit a wall and they’re just gonna crash. You don’t know. It could be six months, a year or two years at some point that is not sustainable. And then you’re gonna have probably, you have more errors, you’re gonna have more… Of course, they’re gonna get sick more because they’re not resting like they should, things like this.
0:10:38.8 Kurt Baker: How do we actually encourage this kind of philosophy, the leadership’s, they can lead by example, which sounds like it’s a great one. Is there anything else within the organization say, “Hey, here’s how we like set this up so that we encourage you to take that time off and everybody else is gonna support you when you need it, right?
0:10:58.0 Doreen Miri: Yeah. And the thing is, it’s an opportunity for the organization to actually come together and look at what they’re doing best. And then identifying what are areas that we can do a little bit better.
0:11:11.6 Kurt Baker: Okay.
0:11:12.7 Doreen Miri: And employee surveys are important.
0:11:15.4 Kurt Baker: Okay.
0:11:16.1 Doreen Miri: The thing is, when a survey is given, they need to listen to what the responses are. And I often tell employers, even if you can’t make all the changes that are requested, keep that line of communication open. People wanna be heard and acknowledged and recognized, right? So town halls are very important, right? So you can be open with what’s going on. And so leaders can also be transparent. Surveys, right? Pulse surveys are important as well.
0:11:44.2 Doreen Miri: Some other things that can be done too is letting the organization know throughout all levels that what the cost is if we don’t mind mental fitness in the workplace. Because like you mentioned earlier, a lot of times it’ll show up in people are not as productive. There’s absenteeism, there’s presenteeism when people show up, but they really don’t do the work. There’s something that was just coined bare minimal Mondays to help people ease into the workplace. The thing is to encourage employees what is a smart way to work and what works for you. And when leaders are sending out messages, one of the things I was just helping a CEO with is make an emotional proofread a habit.
0:12:30.6 Doreen Miri: What do I mean by that? When you send out a communication to an employee feel and look at and have self as well as social awareness, how is that gonna impact them? Is it gonna motivate them or is it gonna challenge them? ‘Cause I think that’s what companies need to look at, is the culture regarding mental health one that is supporting the mental health of your employees or challenging it. And if it’s challenging it, then you need to look at some of those key areas as to what can we do better? Are we training and upskilling when we do promotions? Are we setting that person up for success? Do they have the skill sets, the habits to be able to support that role? Are we arming them with what they need? Also, do we praise our people and our teams enough? That’s important. And again, it’s really about having the conversation, modeling it, and actually taking action.
0:13:30.1 Kurt Baker: That’s fantastic. I mean, there’s a lot of great information. We’re gonna take a quick break. You’re listening to Master Your Finances and we’ll be right back.
0:13:37.7 ANNOUNCER: This is Master Your Finances with Kurt Baker, Certified Financial Planner professional. Learn about tax efficiency, liability, owning, managing, and saving your money and more from Kurt and his experienced panel of guests. Master Your Finances is underwritten in part by, certified Wealth Management and Investment and Rider University. Rider University offers flexible education for adult learners. For more information, it’s rider.edu/nextstep.
0:14:10.8 Kurt Baker: Welcome back. You’re listening to Master Your Finances. I’m here with Doreen Miri, and we’re talking about how important mental health is in the workplace and how it actually adds to productivity, which is sometimes employers don’t intuitively think. They think, if I work on more hours, they’re gonna get more productivity and I’m gonna make more money. Well, that may sound right in a spreadsheet, but that doesn’t work with real people because real people get tired. Real people do make mistakes. And real people need to be happy and content in their job, otherwise they’re just not gonna be productive. Right? You talked about the Mondays, what’d you call that? I’m gonna call it Slack off Monday, but ease in Monday. What you call ease in Monday or something?
0:14:45.6 Doreen Miri: Bare minimal Monday.
0:14:46.7 Kurt Baker: Bare Minimal Monday.
0:14:48.6 Doreen Miri: Yeah.
0:14:48.9 Kurt Baker: Yeah. But that’s not necessarily what you wanna have as a written policy. But recognize that people do go through cycles where sometimes they’re really highly productive, other times they’re not quite as productive. But as long as they’re doing well over time, then that’s… Yeah, I think that’s okay as an employer, right? ‘Cause we all like have bio rhythms and all this other stuff going on. So we have to kind of recognize that our own, we all work a little bit differently and as long as we understand that and we somehow try to incorporate that into the culture, which is part of what you’re talking about, the culture’s really important to be including all different ways that people like to work and helping them to find the mean between how you work and what needs to get done at the company. And if you can kind of blend that, I think they’re both gonna be pretty happy, right?
0:15:27.9 Doreen Miri: Yeah. And that’s really… And that’s where the magic happens because the workplace wins and the employee wins. Because two outta three Americans actually say that their place of work causes them the most anxiety or stress. We mentioned that depression is the number one disability in the workplace. Eclipsing heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases combined. We see more and more people leaving the workplace because of mental health challenges. As a matter of fact, 50% of millennials and 75% of Gen Zers are leaving the workplace because of mental health issues.
0:16:06.6 Doreen Miri: So ways that we can look at attracting and retaining top talent is to really focus on how do we support mind health and have mentally fit employees. And in addition to just paying for some gym memberships and apps, how can we create that culture and what we’re seeing with the absenteeism, the presenteeism, and even the bare minimal Mondays, people are fascinated in response to the overwhelm. And the unrealistic expectations that they’re sometime faced with. So the organizations that are really winning out are the ones that are looking at and listening to what their employees actually need.
0:16:42.8 Doreen Miri: And it’s different for everybody, right? We all have innate drivers. It’s really paramount that the C-level leaders allow their managers, and frontline managers and supervisors as well to report in on what are some of the trends that they’re seeing within their teams, in their workplaces. What are some of the needs? And the biggest thing is really just listening to what employees are asking, right? And looking for some freedom so they can work to be most productive. And that is different for everybody. And it’s creating that balance. And now with the hybrid workforce, there are so many opportunities and options to do that.
0:17:25.8 Doreen Miri: And the other thing too is for employers to really be a touchstone to their employees to have those open conversations. I just met with a small retail organization and they have one-on-ones VPs, have one-on-ones with their direct reports and also some of the entry level employees as well. And they tell them in those sessions, listen, this could be about work, it could be about you, it could be personal, it could be talking about the weather. They want access to their employees to see how they’re doing and what they can do better as an employer to support them and to make them feel more mentally fit because the more engaged they are as a result of having great mind health, the more productive. And the better return on investment for the organization.
0:18:11.4 Kurt Baker: And I like the one-on-one ’cause one of the things that I’ve kind of learned is on the one-on-ones, it’s good to get… Sometimes people think it’s like a top down like conversation. But if it’s a two-way conversation where the employer is asking the employee what they think they can do better, then you’re kind of… It’s a little bit more disarming, then they’re gonna say like, well, here’s what I can do better. If you almost start the conversation backwards like I wanna sit down with you and see what you think about going on. How am I doing at my job? What do you think about what I’m doing?
0:18:41.4 Kurt Baker: And how I’m implementing as a leader. I wanna be the best possible leader I can be for you and your team or whatever the case may be. So if you kinda start off like… It’s kind of like, you take that first step and then maybe they’ll… Then it’ll be a lot less intimidating if you come back and say, well, here’s some things that I’ve noticed and maybe what do you think about this situation? And how can we kind of improve on that, whatever the circumstance might be, whatever their concerns are, things they’re seeing good and bad. So usually start off with the good.
0:19:07.8 Doreen Miri: Yeah.
0:19:09.0 Kurt Baker: These are things I like about what you’re doing. And here’s all the good stuff, but here’s a couple of things I think we can work on, so if you both kinda start off with the positive, and I think the leader needs to… Personally, I think the leader needs to start that conversation. And be willing to take the criticism. That’s the other part I think that’s critical. That it is really, really tough ’cause people take criticism personally when it should be, you have to put that in a box by itself and say, this is a professional critique, this is trying to help you to become better. Please don’t take this personally because we’re all… None of us is perfect, and that’ll never happen, and so we just need to try to each incrementally, just improve a little bit.
0:19:46.5 Kurt Baker: And I think that’s the other thing is pacing this like, I don’t want you to do 20 things at once. Let’s work on one thing. Maybe two, and just work on a little bit at a time. And that way, they’re not gonna feel overwhelmed and you’re not gonna feel overwhelmed ’cause they may tell you things you don’t wanna hear either as an employer. Right?
0:20:00.2 Doreen Miri: Yeah, all good points. It must be great to work for you, so I’m gonna say a lot of people…
0:20:03.2 Kurt Baker: Oh, okay, alright, okay.
0:20:06.5 Doreen Miri: Don’t like criticism, no, but all aside, I appreciate that because it again, it’s the leader is modeling and also being vulnerable. So they’re asking, “Hey, listen. What are some things I’m doing well, but what are some things I need to work on?” I know I’m not perfect. So again, the leader showing vulnerability, vulnerability really, research shows is one of the strongest skills in leadership because it helps connect and it helps that other person know, yeah, we’re not perfect, and thankfully we’re not, because as long as we’re here, we have a choice to grow. Right. And the longer we are here, the more we grow and so much better than the alternative.
0:20:42.6 Doreen Miri: So it’s about creating that vulnerability and creating that conversation and the other thing too is, it’s not just about saying, great project and waiting till it’s completed, but celebrate those milestones along the way, because to your point earlier, it’s too overwhelming sometimes when people go into these conversations, ’cause they just look at, here’s my successes, here’s why I haven’t made my number and let me go on the defense, and it doesn’t create a two-way opportunity.
0:21:11.6 Doreen Miri: I just had a situation working with a leader because they’re delivering performance evaluations, a lot of talk about, are they positive are they negative, should we continue to do this, but they think that… The organization that I was working with thought, it’s positive that we do these. And in a way it is, however, the way it was presented was challenging because they go to a one through five Likert scale. And unfortunately, what was happening is they were getting messaging from HR and top leadership, they needed 80% to be within that three or four range. Right? So the challenge with that is it actually, for some leaders, that was part of the challenge, the leaders felt that they had to… They were in a corner to make sure if they had 10 people, eight out of those 10 people had to be a three, they didn’t have that flexibility to give that a four.
0:22:04.8 Kurt Baker: So can you explain, yeah, explain how that scale works and what that actually like… For those who are unfamiliar with.
0:22:10.0 Doreen Miri: Number one would be needs improvement. Number one would be you’re just approaching a Performance Improvement Plan and then two, needs improvement, three you’re meeting, and then five, you’re a little bit better, and then four and five no change is necessary. You’re hitting the mark on all your numbers. Then the challenge has been that a lot of people have just experienced in this organization change in leadership, so what was happening is somebody was coming in looking at the prior year and that person just completed that and they checked all the boxes, but the new leader said, “Well, I want you to have something to strive for, so I am gonna give you a four instead of a five,” so that wasn’t very motivating. So what happened…
0:22:53.7 Kurt Baker: Oh, okay, understood.
0:22:54.6 Doreen Miri: Is those individuals walk around and what they’ll say is, “Okay, I’ll give you a four,” so it’s not always motivating, it’s how it’s presented. So a suggestion would be to say, “Here’s how I see you met all those parameters and you did a stellar job, here’s one area where there’s some room for improvement, and when we see that, that’s gonna be a five next time around.” So in other words, it’s also how it’s presented and what the messaging is, ’cause the messaging could be either I’m gonna give you a four and then that individual show up as a four versus, “Hey, you’re just about there, let me help and support you to get to that five.”
0:23:33.9 Kurt Baker: Yeah, I think what you’re pointing out to me is, at least what I’m hearing is it’s important for the leaders to set clear goals and objectives and benchmarks on what we’re trying to accomplish, in that way you can better decide how they’re gonna rate within that because if you’re not clear on what you want somebody to do, whether it’s a person answering the phone or that somebody in charge of your financial information or whatever the case may be, or your sales, it’s gonna be hard for them to… Everybody to be on the same page. Another thing I just read recently, Ray Dalio, who wrote Principles.
0:24:09.0 Doreen Miri: Yes.
0:24:10.6 Kurt Baker: And he wrote in there how he keeps an error log and this was after one of his traders made a huge error and forgot to make a trade and it cost the company quite a bit of money, but instead of firing the person, what he did is, he took it as a learning experience, and now he actually documents the errors and you actually get in more trouble at his company for not reporting the error than you do for the error itself, which I think was a key component to his successes.
0:24:33.7 Kurt Baker: Because if you start criticizing the errors and firing people for errors, you’re not gonna have any employees left by the end of the year because we’re all gonna make mistakes by the end of the year, but I think it was very important to make it an open dialogue about, “Okay, well, now let’s talk about the process. What led to this error, and now how can we mitigate that?” In his case, he said, “Well, just start documenting and let’s decide, well, how did this one happen?” And then the next time when it happens, okay, how did this one happen, in the long-term errors have gone way, way, way, way down to the most minuscule letters because he was way open about it, probably more so than any other company had been at the time.
0:25:05.3 Kurt Baker: And that’s counter-intuitive. Oh no, you don’t wanna talk about errors that it just cost us a whole bunch of money, but in his case, he said, well, let’s talk about it. ‘Cause somebody’s gonna find out soon or later ’cause we’re gonna go bankrupt or we’re gonna solve it one way or the other. I thought that that was very insightful that he did that, so.
0:25:19.8 Doreen Miri: Yeah, very insightful, and thanks for sharing that because he had the right motivation, right? So he was learning and winning wanting to hear, so he’s looking at what could we learn, so looking at the learning not the losses, and that’s really a big thing for people too.
0:25:33.6 Kurt Baker: Absolutely. Well, we’re gonna take another quick break. You’re listening to Master Your Finances.
0:25:38.4 ANNOUNCER: This is Master Finances with Kurt Baker, certified financial planner professional. Learn about tax efficiency, liability, owning, managing and saving your money, and more from Kurt and his experienced panel of guests. Master Your Finances is underwritten in part by Certified Wealth Management and Investment, and Rider University. Rider University offers flexible education for adult learners. For more formation, it’s rider.edu/nextstep.
0:26:12.1 Kurt Baker: Welcome back, you are listening to Master Your Finances. I’m here with Doreen Miri, and we’re talking about the importance of good mental health in the workplace.
0:26:19.0 Kurt Baker: And you’ve given a lot of great examples of ways that we can improve it, surveying employees, giving feedback, talking to leadership, having leadership talk to employees, kind of figure out really how everybody’s feeling, and sometimes they’re a little bit uncomfortable ’cause you get things come up that maybe you don’t wanna hear, so you have to kinda go in with the right attitude, and as I said before, I think it’s better that the leaders start that conversation off positive first and, then you can move into the, “Here’s the things we maybe we need to work on.”
0:26:42.3 Kurt Baker: And I think setting clear goals and objectives, it kinda lowers the stress level a little bit, it might raise it in one way, but it lowers in another. At least you kinda know what is expected which I think people appreciate, define what you want me to do as clearly as you can that way I know exactly what I’m trying to do. So anyway, so what else should we be doing out there in the workplace? I know there’s a lot going on since the whole COVID thing and people working from home and all these other fun stuff.
0:27:04.9 Doreen Miri: There’s a lot of different trends. Right? We have organizations that are demanding people come back into the office full weeks, partial weeks, we are having hybrid. And some of the challenges that are occurring is it’s two-fold, so one, the organizations, rightfully so, wanna create more of that social support and environment for their employees. And a leader recently said, “I wanna go back to the way it was,” and one of the things that I said to him was, “You don’t wanna go back to the way it was, you want it to be better than the way it was.” And I think that’s a lot of what people are struggling with is, well, let’s go back to the way it was. It’s about How can we create something better, right?
0:27:46.6 Doreen Miri: So the things that we’re working in our work environment prior to the pandemic, let’s continue those, but there was a lot that wasn’t working, and I think what the pandemic did, it just shone a brighter light on that and also gave some autonomy to people that were asking for more of a hybrid work opportunity as well, so again, going back and asking the employees, “What is it you need, what is it you want?” ‘Cause it’s different for everyone.
0:28:12.6 Doreen Miri: Now, for some people, and again, it depends on the generation, it depends on the person’s responsibilities, where they are and who they are just in general, ’cause people are different on how they process things and make decisions, so you can’t satisfy everybody, but what you wanna do is see what you can create so there’s a balance of that. So the organizations that have been doing very well are the ones that say, “Listen, our doors are open five days a week, come in when you wanna come in. Work from home, when you wanna work from home.” And once a month, some of them are doing it once a quarter, and they’re having people come into the office not to really concentrate on work, but to concentrate on each other and to grow the relationships, and for people to get to know each other a bit too ’cause there’s change in leadership, they’re changing teams, but also to find out what it is they want, what it is they need.
0:29:05.0 Doreen Miri: And as they look at the next six months or 12 months, what do we wanna create together, it’s really asking the employees to also be part of developing what their workplace and workforce will look like, and those organizations are having the most success because they’re partnering with their employees. And then what we’re starting to see is those employees are coming in a little bit more.
0:29:25.4 Doreen Miri: And then one of the things we want to be mindful of is, if some people can’t come in, why is that? Some people have been struggling and they’ve had to change their family system, whether it be they have their parents living with them, their adult children or just having a child, so they like that flexibility of being able to be home and be present to some of those other responsibilities as well as their job responsibilities. And one of the things COVID did bring us, it did show us that we were able to do business even on a global scale without some of the travel to those far off places and even without the travel to the office. So we can’t erase the fact that we were quite productive and effective and successful outside of the office. So it’s really about looking at how do we create a balance and depending on the workforce and the industry, it’s a little bit different, so it’s about being mindful and open, is that helpful?
0:30:20.5 Kurt Baker: It’s very helpful because these are the conversation I hear ’cause I hear about like… I’ll put myself in this category. The old-timers been around… Used to go in to work every day, right? And then your younger employees that are used to being on electronic devices, they can do everything remotely on their phone, essentially, and they don’t necessary wanna do that, but we found out there’s benefits to both, and one of the things I remember employers saying to me is like, I have employees that wanna be hired and wanna work completely virtual, and they’re like, “Well, how are you ever gonna get promoted if you don’t ever know any of the management?” You have to have the interpersonal skills.
0:30:50.3 Kurt Baker: And so I think balance is key, and I agree that there’s a lot and what I found is I have more contact with people now, because now it’s like, Hey, I don’t have time to come visit in the office, we don’t have time to get together in the office, but we can do a quick meeting on Zoom or whatever. To me, if you use that communication component as a way to just add additional ways in case you can’t get together, but I still say, and I think you’re saying this is that, you do need to have time where we get together and we talk as people, even if it’s mainly social because you have to know, on a personal level, who you’re working with, not just on a skill… Because skills and personal… Your personality and your skills meet, they’re all the same thing.
0:31:36.9 Kurt Baker: So if you don’t understand the personal side of somebody’s skill set, it’s hard to understand the skill set itself and exactly what they can and can’t do and how you can press… So I think that sometimes employers miss that ’cause they’re looking at ’em like numbers and here’s the actual side of it, which is fine, but you also have to look at the left and the right side of the brain, so to speak. You gotta look at the creative side and how they need this time, maybe some people work… I know I work better, really intensive things, I have to have a quiet and I have to be… I can’t have a lot of distractions.
0:32:07.6 Kurt Baker: Other people could do that. Just fine with distractions I can’t I just know me. And so we have to understand that everybody works… ‘Cause they did the open office thing for awhile, and it was some employers found out that wasn’t a good idea for everybody, some it worked for, but some it was like, it was a nightmare. I need my office closed, quiet, if you want to make phone calls and call people, I need it to be quiet. So I guess we’re learning about it, and I think the key back is one thing you said with surveying them and you’re having them involved in the solution, I heard you say that too.
0:32:32.3 Doreen Miri: Yes, yes.
0:32:33.2 Kurt Baker: So it has to be kind of a collaborative process, is what it sounds like to me.
0:32:37.4 Doreen Miri: Yeah, and it goes back to the culture when they say collaborative, supportive, and what are you modeling. And if the employees are giving feedback and leadership and management are listening, that’s great, that’s creating more engagement, more connectivity with each other, and when people feel connected, they wanna show up more, and they’re motivated to do their best work. And that’s really what the work that I do is all about, is helping people be their better selves and be optimal at what they do, because work is a great audience for that, ’cause we spend over a third of our life at work, right?
0:33:14.0 Doreen Miri: So employers have a great opportunity to really support the mind health of an individual, that they’re going to get a return on investment for. I think the newest statistic is for every $1 that an organization spends on the support of mental health for their employees, they receive $4 back in return. So you know some of the things we’re talking about go under what’s really, I’m passionate about, which is preventative versus last response, right? So first response versus last response, and creating these cultures that are collaborative and that include the employees, which they should. They are the largest investment, human capital.
0:33:56.3 Kurt Baker: Absolutely. And two things I heard in there, which were awesome, one is, and this just reminded me of like the kids were there in kindergarten, even the kids were in the pandemic, they’re like, I wanna go to school ’cause I wanna see my friends. They were “working” but there’s a social aspect to go in and work, and if you create an environment where people actually wanna go to work and be with the people they work with, that should be a goal of every employer. You wanna make it so they wanna come into work, ’cause if they wanna come to work, they get obviously be more productive, they might even stay longer because they just like it. They’re having fun, they’re getting stuff done, but they’re having fun. And the other thing I heard was the return on investment, which of course in my world, that’s a great thing $4, 4 to 1 a great return on investment, probably considered a high risk speculative stock, so to speak, but now we’re talking people and we’re talking real returns that you can actually document.
0:34:39.1 Kurt Baker: So one of the things that I always see as a struggle with anybody that’s trying to work in this area, ’cause I remember when mental health exceeded physical health as far as the expense on the medical side several years ago, how do you get the employer to understand that if I spend a couple of dollars now, I’m gonna get this huge return ’cause I don’t see it, it’s not like somebody breaks their leg, you let them go out for a couple of weeks to come back, they’re back on the job.
0:35:02.5 Kurt Baker: If somebody is having issues with the mental health thing, how do I make sure their mental health is balanced? So they’re being more productive. It’s harder to see that. So what are some suggestions you have so that to get employers understand just how this works and how it is a real number, and it is documented, but not every player really kinda can see this.
0:35:18.4 Doreen Miri: Yeah, and great question. And, again, when it comes to business, if it can’t be measured then it’s not happening, but anecdotally, we’ve known for years that joyful, happy people that are well, that are engaged are more motivated and they show up better to themselves to work to their families to their communities. So it’s interesting, we had to wait for statistics to actually support what we do, but in the world we’re in, that’s important, and that’s where the $1 investment, which equals $4 in regards to your human capital is really important.
0:35:53.2 Doreen Miri: So one of the things that’s important to do when working with organizations is making sure you have buy-in from leadership, CFO, HR, training development benefits, it’s a way to be able to bring every piece and every layer of the organization together so they can understand and also share their budgets as well, how it’s impacting their role and their people because mind health shows up in different ways. Right? If people have a chronic illness, depression will probably follow. If people aren’t doing well at work or feel overwhelmed, depression and anxiety or stress will follow. And then presenteeism they show up, but they’re really not there or absenteeism.
0:36:41.2 Doreen Miri: We see an increase now to a lot of people taking short-term disability for anxiety and stress-related challenges. So it’s letting them know this is what it’s costing them, so if you wait until everybody gets to the point where they do need your employee assistance program or they do need to go to a rehabilitation center. Then as they were struggling on their way to those destinations, if you would have helped them with preventative measures such as the open door policy, such as therapy on-site, coaching on-site, I’ve done that work as well, where people might be struggling in the moment. Right?
0:37:23.4 Doreen Miri: We could also do it virtually, having conflict with their leaders, team challenges, there could be safety issues, substance abuse issues, all those pieces, you can begin to alleviate or certainly lessen, if you look at a way to support people’s mind health and also building resilience in the workplace. People fall down, they have to continue to get back up. Are you giving them the tools and the time to be able to do that? Can they adapt? So it’s about the employers adapting and also the employees by having a voice and setting boundaries.
0:38:00.0 Kurt Baker: That is key. Giving the employees a voice. We’re gonna take another quick break. You’re listening to Master Your Finances.
0:38:04.6 ANNOUNCER: This is Master Your Finances with Kurt Baker, certified financial planner professional. Learn about tax efficiency, liability, owning, managing and saving your money and more from Kurt and his experienced panel guests. Master Your Finances is underwritten in part by Certified Wealth Management and Investment, and Rider University. Rider University offers flexible education for adult learners. For more information, it’s rider.edu/nextstep.
0:38:39.5 Kurt Baker: Welcome back. You’re listening to Master Your Finance. I’m here with Dorian Miri, and we’re talking about the importance of mental health in the work space, and so I think you get a lot of the good basic information of policies, but one of the things we’ve seen in the last couple of years, of course, is this kind of this transition back from being secluded and being isolated and things like that, and I know or not probably does a lot in the school base, and we saw a lot of school refusal, kids just didn’t wanna come back, they were terrified going back to a group environment with other children. And I know this has been happening to some extent in the employment space as well. When you isolate people for a long period of time, your social skills diminish, because these are the things that you have to exercise just like everything else, you have the exercise social skills. And so what are you seeing in the workplace and how do you see the best practices, how we get people back on track, and I’m sure everybody is in a different place. I’m back, no problem. And I need a lot of support and then the person’s back, no problem, is like, why does this person needs so much support? Let’s just get back to work. Now, I’ve gotta do their work too. I can just see the dynamics of people in an actual work space, like having a little bit of animosity towards where everybody else might be, depending on where you are on that scale. Right?
0:39:48.6 Doreen Miri: No, absolutely, it’s been interesting transition for many people and different, because we’ve had people at home for quite some time, working hybrid some as little as six months, some up to two years, right before they can figure out what they were doing. So different and new habits develop, not all of them were positive. So being sequestered and being alone in your cubicle, in your space at home, some people didn’t have home offices and how to create makeshift offices within their closets in different places.
0:40:20.7 Kurt Baker: Right. Kids running around, dogs barking.
0:40:24.0 Doreen Miri: Yeah. Exactly. I was just on a Zoom the other day and there were two other people and their dogs got to know each other through the pandemic, just barking at each other, so now they bring them on every…
0:40:33.6 Kurt Baker: Oh that’s really interesting. So they’re socializing I guess.
0:40:36.5 Doreen Miri: Exactly. They’re socializing. So it’s challenging ’cause what we really do need is connection and social interaction, that’s really the key to… You know how… Longevity, that’s one of the key pieces now that they’re looking at, but what’s happened is those habits and behaviors have developed really close people off from who they were and work with professionally, and even personally, some people don’t go out as much anymore. So one of the things we’re finding too, even with adults going back is an increase in social anxiety. Some, it shows up as fear that they don’t wanna travel into city, some people are still afraid of not getting sick, they’re afraid of catching other viral infections, not just COVID and bringing it home.
0:41:21.6 Doreen Miri: So we see a heightened sensitivity of that, which is understandable. And then we have people that just have the social anxiety of afraid to re-enter, they feel they’ve lost some of their skills, some insecurity and self-esteem issues because they’ve been able to have a barrier with Zoom for so long, so the full person figuratively and literally, doesn’t show up when you’re in a Zoom meeting.
0:41:48.3 Doreen Miri: So the re-entry has a lot of different pieces to it and that’s something that I encourage leaders and managers to pay attention too, is just to ask hey listen, what are your thoughts on coming back into the office? What’s your situation? What would be helpful for you? How can we support you to get you to come in. If you can’t, let’s understand why, and what are some services that are out there to help you maybe build some of that resilience and adaptability because at the end of the day, like I said, we need more connection and people are becoming divided. And then we’re seeing that a little bit with employers and employees talk about division, if they feel the employees are not jumping on to, you need to come back to the office mandate, that creates a disparity and there’s no understanding that goes on unless there’s a conversation.
0:42:40.3 Doreen Miri: I always say absent of a conversation, nothing happens. So what we really wanna do is have the conversations we’re having in our minds out loud with ourselves and with others, and I encourage that, whether it’s in a personal relationship or professional relationship within reason, because employers don’t know what they don’t know. Some of the motivated and progressive employers ask those questions, some don’t, because they don’t wanna hear it, so there’s nothing wrong with telling your managers or your leaders or sending in through a survey that you wanna be… You want your words and your needs to be incorporated in, and you wanna be recognized not just for your projects, but for who you are as a person.
0:43:24.1 Doreen Miri: And the more that the company invests in that person, the more they’re gonna get out of them in regards to the work and productivity and more important loyalty, and we don’t have a lot of workplace loyalty, and that’s one of the changes we see with some of the generations in the workplace because things are changing.
0:43:41.3 Kurt Baker: Well, I think loyalty, yeah, loyalty is huge, we kinda… Those of us who are a little older take it almost for granted, even though we’ve lived through the cyclical thing ourselves a little bit, but years ago, our parents they worked for the same company for 30, 40 years. That was the end of it, right? They didn’t really think you went to work for ABC…
0:43:56.0 Doreen Miri: The gold watch and that was it.
0:43:56.8 Kurt Baker: And that was the end of it, right? But now there’s much of a mobile workforce because you can move around, your retirement is mobile, everything’s pretty mobile. And so it just makes it a lot easier, but I think adding all these components adds to the employee satisfaction and then you reduce the employee turnover rate.
0:44:13.8 Doreen Miri: Correct.
0:44:14.6 Kurt Baker: Which sometimes employers really underestimate that cost, they think, oh well, we just put them in another training thing for six weeks, whatever, but it’s not just the six weeks, it’s the integration. It’s the institutional knowledge. It’s the relationships they develop. And if you start adding all of those up, you’re talking, it takes two, three, four years to really get a new employee in, and so you’ve lost two to three years’ worth of salary on that employee, and you’ll realize it. You’re not realizing it, it’s coming from somewhere else, you don’t actually notice that it’s coming directly from that one employee that you had to replace.
0:44:47.1 Doreen Miri: Exactly. Turnover cost could be anywhere from 2.5% to 5% depending on the position of that person’s salary, each time there’s a turnover. So again, you want people that are engaged, you want to attract and retain the top talent, which you wanna reduce turnover because it costs money, so people have to… Employers have to really look at, are we attracting employees and are we developing them? What is our culture or is it more of a churn and burn environment.
0:45:20.2 Doreen Miri: So some organizations are set that way, and again, it’s about really how many people understand what culture they’re walking into, and more and more people are looking at what culture am I joining versus what person or what company, and the highest piece of that culture is, is there mind health in that culture and do they actually practice it, because more and more we’re looking at that’s a determining factor of somebody saying, yes, I wanna work for company A or company B, it’s how do they treat their people. Right?
0:45:54.3 Kurt Baker: Yeah, no, I agree, 100%. And so as an employer, you’re like, okay, I’m putting everything in place, I’m doing all these great things, so what are some of the ways that I can let everybody else know that, hey, this is our culture here, and we’d like for you to join us. I know one is you ask employees to refer other employees and those kinds of things, so you give them some kind of reward for bringing them in, you don’t have to pay anybody else, so you can give them some minimal help.
0:46:16.9 Kurt Baker: So we wanna make sure that the world at large knows that hey, this is kind of our culture, and it gets out a good and bad, right? ‘Cause you hear about that, sometimes employers say, well, it’s just one off, but people talk a lot, especially when you’re in an industry, they don’t realize that your employee came from an industry and that industry communicates with itself, regardless if it’s government industry or a small business with one or two people, it doesn’t matter, people talk. And I think sometimes we need to recognize that how you set the tone really does have a long-term impact, even if you’re not seeing it, people just wanna apply.
0:46:50.8 Doreen Miri: Yeah.
0:46:51.0 Kurt Baker: You’re just not gonna get the opportunity to talk to that person because they want nothing to do with your company.
0:46:54.3 Doreen Miri: Right, it’s company branding.
0:46:55.8 Kurt Baker: Right.
0:46:56.3 Doreen Miri: And I’ve worked with people who have said no to a lot of top name employers because of having that intel. Inside intelligence on what’s going on behind the scene. So that’s another thing we really try to hone in on with organizations is there’s a glass door and there’s a wealth of other ways to learn about what’s going on inside, and then when people leave organizations, there’s a lot of startups that people have been living in particular industries and people are sharing what their experience has been about, so perspective, top talent, employee not going to be interested. So you really have to look at how you take care of your people and keep them mentally fit and actually practice that in your culture as a branding tactic, and when you do those right things, the word will get out, and also you actually hold town halls and you talk about it.
0:47:50.5 Kurt Baker: Right, I think that’s the key. Talk about it.
0:47:52.0 Doreen Miri: Yeah, you’re not afraid to answer questions. And a lot of organizations can put that also too on their social media or website or press, and it’s not just how are they treating the employees, but how do they treat their clients and their customers. Those are all pieces of an employer’s branding. And a lot can be told about that in regards to how they support their people.
0:48:16.0 Kurt Baker: You reminded me of an old saying, that says the customer is always right, but they say once you… ‘Cause if the employee is not doing well, then they’re not gonna make a customer happy. I’m kind of twisting it a little bit, but it’s like the customer is not gonna be happy unless the employees are happy because they’re gonna reflect the nature of the company. So if they’re miserable at work, your customer service representative is not necessarily gonna treat your customer that well if they don’t feel like they’re being treated well, right? So it kinda like flows. So don’t expect them to be happy if you’re not being to them, basically.
0:48:46.9 Doreen Miri: Yeah. Because it delves into their passion. I often tell people that I coach, it’s your integrity when you go out.
0:48:52.4 Kurt Baker: Right, correct.
0:48:53.7 Doreen Miri: So that’s really what you’re fronting with. However, over a period of time, people’s resilience wears down, so their passion is diminished if they’re not working for an organization you don’t think is supporting them. So you’re right in one way or another, that’s gonna show up.
0:49:07.7 Kurt Baker: Correct.
0:49:08.1 Doreen Miri: And it also doesn’t make the person feel good, and that’s why we see more people leaving jobs because they don’t wanna be there.
0:49:12.7 Kurt Baker: They’re not gonna stay there, so as far as… We’re gonna wrap up right now. So any last words before we wrap up?
0:49:18.3 Doreen Miri: I just wanna say thanks so much for having me on today. It was a great conversation, and any time I have the opportunity to increase the awareness and elevate the conversation of mental health in the workplace, I welcome that. And I just wanna wish everyone stay well, stay productive, and stay engaged.
0:49:36.0 Kurt Baker: Well, thank you Doreen. We appreciate you coming on. You’re listening to Master Your Finance. Have a wonderful day.
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