Leapgen’s Jess Von Bank welcomed Lorna Borenstein, Grokker’s founder and CEO, to her company’s Now of Work Podcast for a lively discussion about the “business of caring” for employees. Here are highlights of their conversation and key takeaways for employers, plus a link to the podcast so you can enjoy it in its entirety.
What Does the Now of Work Look Like?
In short, a lot of stressed out employees! “Everyone is stressed,” said Lorna. “Everyone is completely overwhelmed by the job of being a human these days.” Even with 2020 behind us, she imparted, people are still living and working during a pandemic and economic crises, with younger employees and women taking on the brunt of the struggle.
Lorna cited Grokker Innovation Labs’ recent State of Stress research, which reveals the sad-but-true fact that 76% of working Americans are stressed — and nearly half describe their stress level as moderate or higher. Who’s the most stressed? Data show that the younger the worker, the higher their stress. Younger workers, Lorna posited, don’t necessarily have the support networks in place yet and they lack the benefit of life experience to help them through tough times. “Many younger employees haven’t flexed certain muscles yet,” she remarked. “They have to build resilience, agility, and coping skills now.”
And she added that all of the jobs lost in December were women’s jobs, a phenomenon that’s directly tied to the fact that even before the pandemic hit, working women were taking on a disproportionate amount of daily household tasks, from housekeeping to child-rearing. “With remote working and kids at home now,” explained Lorna, “the extra work has fallen on the shoulders of women — and they’re drowning! You can’t have economic recovery without women."
This leaves us with the reality, Jess and Lorna agreed, that this is the next pandemic: the mental wellbeing of the workforce needs to be prioritized to make sure people are ok and have the support they need to do their jobs and live their whole lives well.
How Can Employers Face the Future?
“What we’re seeing is that employee needs have changed, and, in practical ways, we need to change how we’re managing workforce culture, work relationships, and the benefits we offer,” Lorna said. “It’s about empathy. Employees desperately need to feel that their employers care about them.”
Explaining that this is a change from the past, she continues, “In the 2020s, less than half of employees will reach the financial success of their parents, so paying a decent wage is not enough. You need to do more and help them manage other struggles in their life. If not, they’ll vote with their feet and find another employer who cares.”
Lorna goes on to say that employees want to experience three things from work: a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging, and a sense of balance: “They want to feel that the work they do is meaningful, their ‘tribe’ is here and they feel like they can show up authentically, and they need a sense of balance to manage their life.”
Jess added, “it’s not an entitlement thing — it’s a human thing. It’s dignified to say, ‘I see you, I fully recognize you, and I will meet you where you are as a human being and professional in the workplace.’ It’s not touchy-feely — it’s business!” To drive home the point, Jess and Lorna ask, “If employers are not there for employees, how will they be able to deliver results to the bottom line?”
They recommend that employers “be there” for employees by:
- Stating a commitment to helping employees through trying times
- Empowering managers to make coping accommodations for employees who need them
- Providing tools to make employees' lives easier — something digital that they can access on their time when they can find a moment to use it
A large part of the conversation centered around the power of leadership — and leading by example. “You have to have leadership that shows up authentically, which gives everyone else permission to show up authentically,” Lorna said. “When leaders demonstrate that they’re balancing their lives, others think it’s ok to balance their own lives. It begins with what leadership is doing. It’s not bottoms-up! Culture starts from the top.”
Want to hear all the insights? The 32-minute podcast offers facts and figures, personal stories, and advice for employers who want to bring the concept of caring into their business. You'll learn:
- How to meet the needs and expectations of the workforce's youngest employees
- Strategies to combat the "Pink-Collar Recession"
- What inspired Lorna to start her business — and go on to write It’s Personal: The Business Case for Caring
- What critical life event led Lorna to display her ‘humanness” in plain view of her employees?
- Why it’s important to have a system and structure in place to make wellbeing “stick” so it becomes habitual, easy to maintain, and measurable
- And more!