Untamable, Messy, and Reckless
Another aspect of the rewilding of work.
Quote of the Moment
There are parts of me that will always remain untamable, messy, and reckless; but I refuse to apologise for it anymore.
| Kaitlin Foster
Readers may find The ecology of work: growing resilient, growing wilder of interest.
In Stop Telling Employees to Be Resilient, Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy are telling managers what to do instead of treating resilience-speak as a band-aid, meanwhile avoiding the issue of building resilience into the company DNA, a much harder task.
But they do make some good points, even while skewing everything into the highly political dialogue between managers and manages.
There’s a difference between demanding that everyone be mentally tough and actually helping them take care of their mental health. As the past few years have proved, uncertainty and challenging situations are often beyond our control. But how leaders respond — that is, whether they make work a place where employees feel supported, or push them until they burn out and give up — is not. Based on the research and interviews we conducted for our new book, Big Feelings: How to Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay, we’ve pulled together five actions leaders can take to create a workplace that supports resilience.
I will try to spring their five points into guidance for everyone, not just managers.
Make well-being a collective practice — The organization and everyone in it needs to put well-being ahead of other concerns, even productivity. Reduce the pressures of work, and let people take actions that they believe will increase well-being.
Look back at how far you’ve come as a team — Set aside time, individually, as a team, or for the organization as a whole, to look back on progress made on the most important initiatives, such as learning, well-being, and (as a distant third) progress on work outcomes.
Use one-on-one meetings wisely — Start with well-being (‘How does your workload feel at the moment?’ ‘What kind of flexibility do you need right now?’) and learning, and try to restructure status updates on work outcomes to asynchronous communication.
Understand and adjust for different emotional expression tendencies — People differ widely on the degree to which they express emotions naturally. As the authors say ‘While it’s important to create space for your employees to flag feelings or raise concerns, you shouldn’t push them to do so. If things get challenging or the future seems uncertain, let your reports know that you’re there to support them, but make it OK for them to not open up to you in great detail.’
Create shared language — The example from Giles Turnbull who ‘wanted new employees at the U.K.’s Government Digital Service to know that it was always OK to do things like make mistakes or ask a question. He drafted a list, crowdsourced more ideas from his colleagues, and then designed posters that he hung in the office. The final “It’s OK to …” list included things like “say you don’t understand,” “have quiet days,” and “ask why, and why not.”’
These are core elements of a compassionate shared culture and are not the sole responsibility of managers. Individuals can create shared language with teammates, teams can independently create rituals like looking back at progress, and everyone needs to elevate well-being as the central spinning center of work processes.
Just remember people are to be heeded, not herded.
In I Spoke to the Experts. Bitcoin Isn’t Going to Change., Peter Coy touches on something important, and totally unrelated to Bitcoin. [Emphasis mine.]
Why do so many people of prime working age — 25 to 54 — remain out of the labor force, even though the Covid pandemic has eased and employers are dangling big pay hikes? A working paper calculates that increased substance abuse accounted for 9 to 26 percent of the decline in labor force participation at prime ages between February 2020 and June 2021. A New York Times article in March 2020 described the pandemic recession as a “national relapse trigger.” People without college degrees are more likely to abuse opioids and methamphetamine and have dropped out of the labor force at a higher rate, says the study, which is by Jeremy Greenwood of the University of Pennsylvania, Nezih Guner of Autonomous University of Barcelona and Karen Kopecky of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
So instead of ‘The Great Resignation’, perhaps — in part — we’re experiencing ‘The Great Relapse’.
Peter Coy also led me to New Frontiers in Occupational Licensing Research by Peter Blair, a Harvard researcher involved in the economics of education. Blair points out that occupational licensing is pervasive:
In the United States and Europe, close to a quarter of the workforce is subject to occupational licensing requirements; by contrast only 11 percent of workers in the US are unionized.
The direct impact of licensing — which nominally is supposed to improve quality — is to decrease the pool of workers in the trade:
When a profession is licensed, the relative share of workers in the profession declines by 27 percent, which is a large impact.
And does this lead to higher quality?
Licensing does not appreciably change service quality, as measured by customer ratings, or the price paid for the work.
So, while licensing for pharmacists is good policy — it’s life or death after all — but licensing for hair braiding does nothing more than limit access to the industry, without leading to better outcomes for consumers.
Social Now is a conference with a very unique format that delivers actual learning, many actionable tips for organizations to implement, and long-lasting memories.
The topic for this edition is Enabling engaged, high-performing teams because organizations need to sustain engagement and create the right environment for teams to achieve their highest potential, no matter where they work.
View the agenda. This is not just another conference.
Apple is planning on workers back in the office three days a week starting in late May, which CEO Tim Cook calls a ‘pilot’. Chance Miller reports:
Amid pushback from employees, Apple has noted that it is flexible in its policies… to a certain degree. In his most recent memo announcing the April 11 date for return to in-person work, Tim Cook acknowledged that this could be an “unsettling change” for some employees. This is why the company is gradually implementing the “hybrid” approach, and it’s also why individual teams can adapt their policies as they see fit.
Not sure he is listening.
From Nina Hersher via email:
In case you haven't heard, next Friday May 6th is the 3rd inaugural Digital Wellness Day! Digital Wellness Day is an opportunity to optimize your relationship with technology and those around you. Last year Digital Wellness people reached over 7.6 million people in 26 countries. As we begin to emerge from the impacts of COVID-19, more people than ever before are looking to achieve wellness and optimize their productivity in an era of hybrid work and constant connection. In fact, the shift to remote & hybrid work has greatly accelerated interest in optimizing digital habits. 83% of employees are looking to employers to help them find better balance. This statistic is not that surprising given the 300% increase in people searching “how to get my brain to focus" over the last year.
This year, Digital Wellness Day (Friday May 6th), will feature 8 panels of world-renowned experts, a free digital wellness check-up (validated over the course of 3 years through our research team led by a PhD positive media psychologist), and an educational toolkit for diverse audiences to hold their own activations and learn about year-round digital wellness: https://www.digitalwellnessday.com/digitalwellnessdayevents Our unique approach of Digital Flourishing, refers to a mindful approach to digital technology usage that supports our thriving in different areas of life. This approach empowers us to take advantage of the benefits of technology while avoiding associated harms.
Levi Strauss has released a statement of their strong support for employees’ reproductive rights:
Given what is at stake, business leaders need to make their voices heard and act to protect the health and well-being of our employees. That means protecting reproductive rights.
They are listening.