Episode 171.5 – Green Apple Slice


Want to Fight Employee Burnout? Focus on Well-Being


The Green Apple Podcast does weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or an Android app.

This week, John and Rachel discuss an Employee Benefit Adviser article, “Want to Fight Employee Burnout? Focus on Well-Being” by Henry Albrecht.

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    It’s John Garrett, coming to you with another episode of Green Apple Slices. I have on the other line Accountants & Alliances for Sage Canada, Rachel Fisch!

    Rachel: Hello, John. How are you?

    John: I’m really good. Really good. So you’re all over Canada coming up.

    Rachel: I’m in Ottawa, Ottawa this week, Ottawa and back on to the Toronto area. Yeah, and then, oh, gosh! Where am I next week? Baltimore. There you go. I’m heading to Baltimore to hang out with Tom Hood at the MACPA and BLI.

    John: Nice. Very cool. Awesome. Well, every Monday we always get together and chat about an article that we find online. I found this one on Employee Benefit Adviser called “Want to fight employee burnout? Focus on well-being.” This might be a little bit of an intervention for you but…

    Rachel: I wasn’t even going to say anything. So thanks for that. I was just going to talk about this as if somebody who knows absolutely nothing about the subject. No, it was interesting because we do talk about corporate culture, obviously, right? In many cases, we talk about the people who are not engaged. So the question that this kind of asks is, is it possible for people to be overly engaged? Well, yes, that’s burnout is called. But usually when employees are burnt out, there are other factors involved there as well. So it just kind of digs into those, how to find those factors, and then how to fix it. In this case, it actually takes a bit of a bold view in that it’s the corporation that’s responsible for the level of burnout of the employees as well as they are also responsible to fix it.

    So I thought that was a little interesting. I certainly do think that there are some choices that the employees are making. But when you think about, okay, but this is where your paycheck is coming from me, are you really going to not do something if they ask you to do it and say, “I’m sorry, I’m too stressed”? Probably not. So I definitely see what they’re saying but I would — I don’t know. There is some level of responsibility on the employee as well.

    John: Yeah, for sure. There’s a couple of firms that I’ve been consulting with recently, and a couple of them have had the “survival of the fittest” mentality of, well, we just back the truck up and unload on the best, outstanding performers and just have them do all the good work. It’s like, well, yeah, but then you’re going to lose out on everything because they eventually burn out and quit and then you haven’t developed anyone else. So therefore, now you have no one to do the work. So that mentality doesn’t get you anywhere. That might get you through the next month or two, but it’s not something that’s fixable then because it gets to a point where it’s we’ve gone too far. I just need to leave the firm or the organization, which is because people should be able to speak up. But if that culture isn’t one where they can or feel that they can, it doesn’t end up pretty.

    Rachel: No, definitely not an effective long-term plan for sure.

    John: Right. If you go to the article at greenapplepodcast.com — I just have to say this because it just drives me crazy — there’s a graph there that kind of has nothing to do with the article, but the graph is hilarious to me. It’s so funny to me because there’s columns here for people that enjoy work, intend to stay, team loyalty, and recommend as a great place to work, whether you’re a highly or low engaged person. In both instances, whether you’re high or low engaged, people intend to stay more than they enjoy work. It’s just crazy to me that that’s the thing. Or maybe the graph is not real. I don’t know. Either way.

    Rachel: For me, the entertaining part was how long it took you, as you’re staring at this graph, to realize that it really isn’t very useful. A little bit of overthinking going on here. So why are people that intending to stay where they’re clearly not enjoying the work, even highly engaged employees?

    John: Right, because the low engaged people, they need to go because that’s really, really bad for your organization. But the highly engaged people that are still staying, those are the ones that are going to be burned out.

    Rachel: Well, then what’s interesting is that the ratio between the enjoy the work and intend to stay is greater, like the spread is greater on the low enjoyment. So that many more employees are going to stay anyway even if they have low engagement and don’t enjoy.

    John: Right. And less loyalty, it looks like. So that’s even better. Man, it’s crazy. So there’s four ways and they’re numbered, Rachel, right? Yeah, four ways employers could take action by focusing on well-being, because I look at it too when I speak. I always say, you hired the whole person, not just the technical part, not just the accountant or the lawyer part or the consultant part. You hired the whole person and so you need to take care of the whole person, not just that little part. The first one here talks about helping employees connect to their purpose, the whole Simon Cynic, start with why. A lot of people are talking about that as well, and that does help because it gives people a reason. There’s kind of a North Star of why we’re going through all of this.

    Rachel: In fact, there’s a link to a study by Deloitte that says that 73% of employees who say they work at a purpose-driven company are engaged compared to 23% who say that they don’t work at a purpose-driven company. That’s really what connects the corporate values to your own personal values is when you can find that combined purpose or joint purpose.

    John: Right. Absolutely. And then number two: foster a well-being mindset. That’s got to be tricky.

    Rachel: What is that?

    John: It says here, if your name is Rachel Fisch, you have no idea what we’re talking about.

    Rachel: No, what a well-being mindset, yeah.

    John: It’s just helping people, just that mindfulness. That’s the new buzzword of the past year or two for sure, and just how people think about stress and how they deal with stress. Helping people handle that in a better way, I guess, is where that would start. But, of course, you need to have people that know what they’re talking about in order to deal with that. Because if your manager or your direct report is a crazy stress ball who never gets any vacation, that’s a poor example. That’s not the way to do it, that’s for sure.

    Number three was promote social support and connectedness.

    Rachel: Which might have something to do with your Green Apple message.

    John: A little bit.

    Rachel: A little bit.

    John: And then invest in tools to combat burnout. That’s something that I remember talking with Liz Mason on the Green Apple Podcast in her firm, High Rock Accounting. When you go on vacation, if you don’t call in and don’t check your work email, then they will actually reimburse you a significant amount of money for completely checking out which I think is great.

    So that’s pretty much it. So if you’re feeling burned out and the Green Apple Podcast gives you a little bit of a bump, hit Subscribe so you can listen to every episode every week with Rachel and me. Don’t forget to check us out on Twitter @GreenApplePod or @FischBooks or @RecoveringCPA. If you’re listening, maybe go leave a quick review so people know what the show is all about and what they’re getting into.

    So that being said, before I burn Rachel out with this extra-long episode, have a good rest of your week. We’ll talk to you next week.

    Rachel: You too. Talk to you later, John.

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