Jennifer Moss is a burnout expert. She is also an international speaker, award-winning journalist and author, and a frequent writer for Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fortune, The Huffington Post and SHRM. As a nationally syndicated radio columnist, she reports on topics related to happiness and workplace well-being. Under the Obama administration, Jennifer received the Public Service Award; additionally, she was named a Canadian Innovator of the Year and is a recipient of the International Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She is also co-founder and member of the board at Plasticity Labs, a workplace insights and consultancy firm. Her most recent book, The Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It, emphasizes the impact of corporate burnout and shares steps organizations can take to mitigate this crisis. She is Marcel Schwantes’ guest this week on Love In Action.
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- Marcel asks Jennifer to share her story. “Happiness is in love and action; it’s about resetting priorities and understanding what makes us happy,” she claims. “We spend about 50% of our waking hours at work, and it’s really depleting us. How do we make sure that the place where we spend so much of our time is happy and healthy?” [3:48]
- Jennifer had the privilege of working with the world’s leading experts in her research on burnout, collecting thousands of qualitative responses through WHO from 46 different countries. She was able to hear, in their own words, how people were feeling, and the results were devastating: 89% said their well being had declined; 85% said their job demands had increased and were getting worse; 67% were unable to talk about their mental health at work. “Only 2% of people in our data across 46 different countries said that their well-being was excellent,” she remarks, “so you imagine most people are really unwell.” [8:37]
- Burnout has been especially hard on women during the pandemic, Jennifer’s research shows. One respondent resumed working but had no assistance in caring for her eight-month-old baby while attending to her duties. Her husband couldn’t even help her, as he was backed up with work as well. “We did see a lot of women describe the same issue; it’s why we’re seeing this exit of women across the workplace,” Jennifer shares. “A lot of women [are] describing this feeling of juggling [the] demands of having to deal with their babies next to them with no care, and they’re trying to do both things and not feeling successful.” [11:04]
- Marcel asks Jennifer to share the six root causes of burnout. “Workload is the leading cause of burnout,” she cites. “Overwork is responsible for the deaths of over 2.8 million workers per year.” Industries like tech, finance, education, and healthcare are where people are extremely burnt out, to the point where there are trickle-down effects. For example, hospitals are shutting down due to a lack of available nurses who can support people in their communities. People are burning out this year from too many unsustainable workloads, Jennifer adds. [16:31]
- The transition from the face-to-face, physical workplace to the virtual one has forced leaders to assume their responsibilities from afar, but this has led to people feeling micromanaged. This is especially the case for the employees who remained working from home when restrictions were relaxed and the workplace became a hybrid of onsite and remote. There is a bias toward onsite workers, as they are seen as more productive and promotable, so the remote workers were either micromanaged or ignored outright, Jennifer says. [20:30]
- “We constantly recognize people for growth or revenue, and we don’t recognize them for going above and beyond for a fellow coworker in a time of need,” Jennifer comments. “We need to think about changing the reward metrics… sometimes those metrics have biases that we don’t realize. We need to change the bias in our metrics so that we are creating a more diverse group of people that we are recognizing in our organizations.” [26:48]
- When making policies, we should consider equitable paternity and maternity leave; that way, we make family planning a socially accepted part of the way we work. Additionally, we should advocate for extra leave days for emergencies, in the event that time needs to be taken off for domestic duties. If these changes aren’t adapted, we will lose so many women in the workforce, Jennifer says. [34:41]
- “Organizations that embrace vulnerability in leadership are faring way better than those organizations that aren’t,” Jennifer affirms. “They’re saying… ‘I’m also feeling stressed out, so please give me grace,’ [and] that’s all people want.” [40:00]
- Jennifer Moss on LinkedIn | Twitter
- The Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It
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