HR Happy Hour 494 – Employee Wellbeing and the Return to Workplaces

Hosted by

Steve Boese

Co-Founder of H3 HR Advisors and Program Chair, HR Technology Conference

Trish Steed

CEO and Principal Analyst, H3 HR Advisors

About this episode

This week we talked with Rebecca Ray Ph.D. from The Conference Board about a study they released on employee wellbeing, return to work, and feelings around the pandemic.

– Generational differences in the return to work conversation

– How is employee productivity affected by outside stressors

– The importance of havin honest, mental health conversations at work

View the wellbeing study here.


This was a great show.  Thank you Rebecca, for joining us!  Remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour wherever you get your podcasts.

Transcript follows:

Steve 0:24
Welcome to the HR Happy Hour Show with Steve and Trish sponsored by our friends at Paychex. We’ve got a great show today, we’ll be talking about well being. And the results from a fairly recent study done by our friends at the Conference Board on well being. We’ll also talk a little bit about what’s going on in the world right now to how things are changing so dynamically and how that might impact some return to work plans as well. But before we get into the show, Trish, I have a question for you. Simple one. What is the last photo that you took?

Trish 0:53
Oh, my goodness. Okay. You did tell me you never tell me the questions, but you did tell me to have my phone ready. Okay, so let me…this is an audio show, but I will share it because you can see it at the moment. So I took a picture of my son’s new football receiver gloves.

Steve 1:13
Football gloves, okay.

Trish 1:14
It’s about football gloves. So I don’t know if you can see them. So yeah, it’s almost football season. Obviously, we’re hoping that still gets to occur as things are changing pretty rapidly, day to day now with the Delta variant. But yes, so football receiver gloves are really cool. He’s a senior this year, and we’ve always been pretty conservative the last few years and so this year, he’s like, we’re going all out. His cleats, his gloves everything. It’s like hot pink, fluorescent yellow. Like Under Armour. They’re called Drip.

Steve 1:46
Nice. Very traditional football colors.

Trish 1:48
Okay, no, it’s we’re going out with a bang. Like this is gonna be a big year for these kids. So I hope it happens. Okay, what’s the last photo you have?

Steve 1:58
I asked the question for reason. So I was traveling for business recently, my first business trip in since prior to the pandemic and I was staying at a couple of different hotels during the trip. I took a photo, I’ll hold it up too. The photo is from the window of one of the hotels I stayed in, which is what we see everywhere these days. It’s a help wanted sign in the in the window of this hotel there, look $300 sign on bonuses as well on offer housekeepers, public area attendants, cooks, hostess dishwashers, on and on and on basically every job in the hotel practically, they are looking for help. And I’ll bet that’s pretty common in all kinds of establishments all over the country right now. So we’ve been talking about that a little bit as well on the show. So yeah, cool stuff.

Trish 2:42
It is. Yeah, on the WORK BREAK, we’ve talked about that quite a bit with just the the jobs reports that are coming out and unemployment rates and so forth. And since our last actually, since our last WORK BREAK, I was looking as I drove through town, I I really wanted to pay attention. I counted seven different businesses just in a quick little like one mile drive pointed of various positions. So yeah, the work is out there. I think, again, it goes back to a lot of people are saying that their unemployment benefits are still exceeding what they can make working. So that’ll be interesting to see. I know a lot of the Federal unemployment benefits start running out in September. I’ve heard people say who were on it and also now some of the extensions go to early October. But beyond that, we’ll see if these roles start getting filled or if there are more provisions to help them.

Steve 3:34
Yeah, we’ll be following them out. One for sure. So all right, let’s get on to the show, Trish. Our guest is waiting very patiently, a returning guest I think it’s a three time guest by my recollection, maybe four I don’t know. But our guest today is Rebecca Ray, PhD. She is the Executive Vice President Human Capital at the Conference Board. She’s responsible for member engagement, and the quality of all human capital offerings, including research, peer learning networks, digital media, conferences and events. Formerly an award winning practitioner for several fortune 50 companies, Rebecca contributes to Forbes and is often featured in business trade media. She loves to travel and hopes to return to that soon. And is a student of American history as am I love history. She also writes for the theater. That’s really cool, too. Rebecca, welcome back to the show. How are you today?

Rebecca Ray 4:18
I’m terrific. And Steve, thank you. That’s very gracious of you to actually read that, most of that’s true. And just thank you for letting me back.

Steve 4:25
I love it.

Rebecca Ray 4:26
I’m excited to be back with you and Trish.

Steve 4:29
Yeah, it’s great to have you. I love that we love work, the workplace, all things work related. And so there’s no one really better that’s in our sort of regular rotation of guests to talk about some of these issues then you Rebecca from the Conference Board and all the great work you do and all the research you guys do as well, right? It’s not just here’s what we thank you got you out there you survey your members, you really do a ton of great research about what’s going on in the world of work.

Rebecca Ray 4:52
Well, you’re very kind, you know, we do want to try to provide insights gleaned from the members we speak with, the employees that we survey, the responses that we have, and all the interactions that we have. But at the end of the day, you know, we are making our best judgment as to what we think all the data means. And so I’m happy to share a little bit of that with you. We’ve been surveying people around the return to work slash feelings about pandemic and a variety of things since September of last year. And so it’s it’s been interesting to see every couple of months, the changes, and we all see the headlines changing and shifting, you know, every day, there’s new headlines and new CDC guidance or new organizational positions on returning to the workplace and under what conditions and who needs to be vaccinated tested? So it’s, a very rapidly shifting landscape, as we all know, and so how do we thoughtfully as a profession, think about keeping workers safe? Thinking about how work gets done by whom? And where? And then how do we make sure that all of that combined, actually helps us deliver on the business? imperative?

Steve 6:02
Yeah, Rebecca, that’s great. I think you guys, like I said, do a wonderful job. Staying on top of this and sharing your research, far and wide. We wanted to talk a little bit about well-being that’s been a subject we’ve covered on the show a few times. And I, I think we, it was kind of easy to say, you know, pretty soon this will all be over. And maybe we can stop worrying about well-being so much. But I don’t think that’s the case at all right? In fact, as we record this in late July, things in many parts of the country, certainly in other parts of the world who are not really getting better, they might be actually shifting to the worst. Maybe we’ll start there. Rebecca, maybe talk a little bit about some of the things the Conference Board found when when researching what has happened throughout this working remote through the pandemic and its impact on employee well being.

Rebecca Ray 6:49
Sure I’d have to agree with you. The headlines and recent developments as we sit here in late July don’t portend an end to this anytime soon, or at least that look when all this began to unfold. Everyone was impacted differently to greater or lesser degrees, depending on your social situation, that your work, place your industry, whether or not your family was impacted by COVID, or by social unrest or a variety of things. And so I think it’s fair to say that employees have had a roller coaster ride on so many levels for a long time. But I think we went into it thinking it was going to be a shorter duration. And as this dragged on and on, I think several things happened. Certainly there was enough to show that even before the pandemic hit, the productivity among remote workers was as high if not higher than those who are in a more traditional office based setting. And I want to preface this by saying, you know, many people didn’t have the option to work remotely right there, their job just didn’t work that way. Or, you know, they adapted the manufacturing plant floor, and they kept right on going because it was essential work or whatever. But for those who have had the opportunity to work remotely, at least in some form, as this thing dragged on, I think a lot of people really shifted their mindsets.

Rebecca Ray 8:09
I think, first of all, most employees I think are half decent workers. And they care. And if there’s an emergency, we’re all going to step up and make sure that the good ship keeps floating, right. And we all swing for the fence. And I think most employees really did step up and could be counted on to do that. But the longer it lasts, the more of an emotional toll it takes against a backdrop of what’s going on in their personal lives. Right. And at the end of what we thought was the first phase, I don’t think it’s the end. But a lot of people as the reality of returning to a physical workplace started to be real. And many employers have, you know, have the magic day after Labor Day is sort of the return to normalcy. And I’m being very facetious here. Sure, you know, a lot of people started to think I’m not sure I want to sign up for that pleasure cruise. You’ve got people and in fact, the last one we did, we looked at generational responses to this. And I thought surely that millennials would be, you know, just hankering to get back. You know, they’re earlier in career, their life, you know, the arc of their life. You know, it’s more social.

Rebecca Ray 9:16
We all know that, for this generation, in particular, the one that’s coming after them, the interweaving of social and professional lives is tighter than perhaps it might have been for some other generations. So without surely they’ll be the ones saying, Stand back. Let me in. And that’s not at all what we found. We found that boomers were more comfortable going back into the office than were millennials. I think a couple things, the boomers sort of have that longer tenure of work in a physical location as to maybe a little bit more human nature. Also, I think it’s a figure but boomers are thinking, well, I’ll do some kind of a hybrid thing. They’re usually at a higher salary level in their careers and they think I can do this for a little longer. Why should we take a pay cut and step out , now let’s ride this out. I mean, some of them are buying RVs and living, you know, in Yellowstone and farming. But the millennials really didn’t want to go back, I think that they’re, you know, they’re less wild about going back. And I think it’s because they’re looking at the arc of their career, they’ve got maybe another 20-30 working years left ahead. And many of them are saying, I don’t want it to look like this. I like the flexibility that I have. I like that I can do things for my health, that I can do things for my family or with my family, or that I can do a variety of things and blend my life together in a different way. Because I save the time from commuting, I have the flexibility, I think they are really just examining what they want their lives to look like. And because it is, you know, a buyers market, these employees have options, and they’re exercising them.

Trish 10:50
Yeah, you know, I think those are all great points. And I’m glad that you mentioned that sort of the difference. That is surprising among generations. I wonder too, if you could talk a little bit about one of the things I think we’re seeing more and more of is, you know, when you think about the people were there on television, for example, they’re giving us a little more insight into what that stress and the impact is on, you know, being burned out, maybe in their job and on well being. You know, a recent example is, we have the Olympics going on and Simone Biles, I don’t know if either of you saw, just announced she’s actually going to stop competing, because, just this overall stress from this past year, and again, being remote in terms of training and things like that. We’ve seen other athletes have similar reactions. I know that one of the statistics I read from your study was that, you know, 60% of workers were reporting concerns about stress and burnout. Can you maybe delve into that a little more specifically to with? What are you seeing what are you hearing from other kinds of workers, other than just kind of what we see on TV, because for a lot of us, that’s our only insight right now into what stress might actually be doing to us as the, you know, as a people as a higher population? What kind of results are you seeing there?

Rebecca Ray 12:12
Sure. And you’re absolutely right, you know, productivity is one thing. But the question is, how sustainable is it against the backdrop of higher levels of stress? And you’re exactly right, we found 60% of US workers are really concerned about their mental health. Now, we asked them what their top concerns are, we gave them options like mental health, physical health, social wellness, professional well being financial, well being and spiritual well being. And by far, it was the mental and psychological well being, you know, stress and burnout. How sustainable is this? And the short answer is, I’m not sure it is. There are many of us who believe there’s a coming tsunami of mental health issues. And so that’s, I think, very sobering, because I’m not sure that a lot of companies have thought about how to address that. I think they have been, or have tried to be very careful about physical well being. So with safety and social distancing, and cleanliness and vaccines, and that seems to be sort of where the conversation has been. But it has not necessarily been about social stigma about mental health, well being. And even when you looked at usage of, let’s say, online support programs, it was used more often by millennials and other generations, which isn’t terribly surprising. But overall usage was down. And so at the same time that people are saying, I’m concerned about this, they are not using some of the tools. So organizations I think need to be in need to be more diligent in their outreach as to what employees would find helpful. You know, social wellbeing is a big piece of this as well. And I think companies are trying, you know, we all had the virtual happy hours, you know, that we put in and we were a lot of people try to do those kinds of things to kind of keep people somewhat less focused on, you know, the rising COVID rates at the time. But I’m not sure that companies have really thought about how you support employees through this. I think some of the things that cause the stress and anxiety are things that are within a company’s control. So directly trying to work out on anxiety is not the way to go. But I have seen some very innovative things where companies are looking at therapeutics, they’re looking at virtual wellness programs or virtual meditation program trying to help employees sort of deal with their stress and anxiety. But I think also there’s some things that a company can specifically do like being very, very flexible, and flexible in terms of how work gets done and where it gets done. And also the timing. I don’t think there’s anything magical about the day after Labor Day. And I think as we see unfold this rise in the Delta variant or other factors here, you know, many companies are going to start to revisit that particular timeframe, I think. But even when they do come back, whatever that date is to allow people to have time to sort of re Enter. And to make it okay to do that, you know, people have spent, let’s say, the last year and a half, figuring out how to put together their personal and professional lives. And so they’re going to need some time to kind of sort this out, I think most employers are trying to figure out how that’s going to go. But companies should be flexible, they should be thinking about ways that they can build an inclusive or continue to build on an inclusive culture, and not have a two class employee system, right? Where those who are, you know, in the office and visible, you’re, they’re going to get the training programs, or they’re going to be seen and maybe given more developmental opportunities, companies are going to have to figure out how do you do this for all remote workers? It should always have been that way.

Rebecca Ray 15:59
But I think you have many, many more remote workers now, or in some hybrid combination somewhere, going to have to figure out how do you how do you bring them all together? And in my opinion, reengage them in the mission, reengage them and re recruit them, if you will? It’s almost like you were starting again, in many ways. And company in we could say, well, it’s not really the company’s responsibility to to fix the the shortcomings of society. And you know, we really shouldn’t be worried about, you know, trying to fix childcare. Okay, I can understand that argument. But right, wrong or indifferent. Those are the people and that’s the top talent you’re trying to attract. So whether or not you think it’s your purview as a company or your responsibility, you have a better chance at attracting and retaining top talent, if you can figure this out, how do you help women in particular balances, we can say all we want, it shouldn’t happen. But we know that disproportionately child care and elder care falls to women. And so you don’t want to lose a generations advancement of women in the leadership pipeline, and not, you know, think about ways to address that that’s that would be a sin is if you lost any other, you know, food group that’s underrepresented. So you’ve got to think about this in ways that say, look, it’s gonna look different. It’s so easy in HR to say well, this is the policy we all follow and march along. That’s not where we are. I think we have to have standards, and we have to have parameters. But we have to have flexible options. And that’s tough to figure out. And let’s be candid, we’re off when nobody stopped working. You know, I mean, we’re all flying this plane while we’re trying to redesign it. And that’s tough.

Trish 17:41
Yeah, that’s a great analogy. And thank you for those tips. I know Steve’s probably got a ton of things he’s gonna chime in here on because I know when you were talking about like a different class of almost employees being created, we’re already starting to see that I can can attest in the school system, you know, between those who are remote, not remote, masked, or not masked, right?

Steve 18:02
Vaccinated, not vaccinated, not sure if we’re gonna dive into that. But that’s a real issue that’s coming up in certain cases I’ve seen as well.

Trish 18:09
No, you’re right. I think it’s interesting, too. It’s not that senior leadership, or the HR teams have the answers either. We don’t have the answers either. So we’re all trying to figure out not just for organizations, but for ourselves. Steve, I know one thing, you and I have done really well, thank goodness, I work with Steve actually, you know, if I think about being in corporate, you know, maybe 1015 years ago, I don’t know that I would have felt comfortable telling someone, you know, I’m feeling like, mentally I’m not in a good place today. Right? I just can’t be as productive today as I typically am or something. And I feel like when you’re talking about the therapeutics, and the meditation and some of the other things that you know, offices and workplaces can provide, I’m wondering too, do they do they need to almost encourage people that it’s okay to say I need a mental health day today, right? And build that in as another option too. Because, you know, now I feel like I’m fully capable of doing that. Right in my work situation. I could tell Steve, you know, today, I just can’t do a full day or I just cannot focus like I normally do, and can you help me shoulder that load? And he would? Well, I guess my question for Steve for you is, you know, what commentary do you have kind of around that and are you seeing that with other organizations? And then also for you Rebecca same kind of the same question I’m going to pose to both of you is what what do you think about that kind of aspect of it? Do people feel comfortable?

Steve 19:44
I think traditionally right people have not been we know this right for many of the things we’ve done over the last year and a half digging into mental health and worker well being that is the stigma not just in workplaces, but in generalized society, right. It’s kind of real right to talk openly about stress and burnout and mental health challenges. And I think it’s changing, but it’s only slowly changing. If it is moving, I think it is getting better. In a smaller organization, maybe it’s easier to kind of have those conversations you kind of maybe know each other a little bit better. I find it interesting. And I’d love to hear Rebecca’s comments as well, that, you know, part of the Conference Board data that we looked at prior to today’s show talked about how people despite all the the additional stress, anxiety, burnout, all the difficulty inside and outside work, people took less time off, and their and their work life balance actually got worse right in, most people reported that and definitely, Look, I know that a lot of places were shut down for a very long time, it was hard to go on vacation, when you really were there was nowhere to go. But I get that. But it’s quite remarkable how these things kind of piled on each other in our kind of coming to light and the fact that we’ve got a lot of folks who are struggling, and organizations trying to figure out how to navigate that. And as Rebecca talked about, trying to coax people in some, in some instances, coax them back into office environments, and commuting, etc, when they’re not really so sure that they want to do that. So yeah, I mean, I guess I’ll start to Rebecca, maybe her observations, either for the companies that she works with, or just her the research that you’ve done, are folks more willing to share and talk about these problems and organizations more willing to have all of those conversations to happen?

Rebecca Ray 21:26
You know, I do think there’s been a lot of progress. But there’s no question that, you know, in this issue, as well as everything else, it’s always tone at the top, right. So when you have leaders who are vulnerable and authentic, and they can talk about their own challenges, I recognize that that is a that is not an easy place to get to, but many leaders who feel that they can help others by sharing or doing so. And I think that’s very healthy. What we did find is that about 62% of people feel comfortable now, speaking about their mental health concerns, or their well being challenges, let’s use a broader, a broader brush. And I think that’s because 78% of them really believe that their supervisor cared about their well being. So if you know, and not everyone who believes that their manager or the supervisor cares about them is then going to speak about it. But I’m sure that opens the way for them. And, you know, if you have people who can speak about these things, openly and feel that that it’s a trusting place, that’s terrific. But that doesn’t happen when a crisis hits, right, if you’re a decent leader, and you’ve built rapport, and you have built a team, where you think people actually believe that they can trust you as a leader, and that you have their back and you care about them. That’s the environment that you build over time. And then when something happens, whether it’s this collective, you know, process that we’ve all been through, or it’s someone’s own personal challenges, that’s in place, and you that’s a great foundation to build on.

Rebecca Ray 23:05
So I took great comfort actually in knowing that the more than three quarters thought that their supervisor cared about them. And you know, let’s be candid, we’ve all been working on manager, training and development for years and years and years, and trying to explain to them that, you know, coaching is part of your job, not an add on, you know, and trying to help managers be empathetic and trying to help managers understand that this softer stuff, makes everything else work. And so I think there’s been some some movement here. You know, you talked a little bit about some of the challenges with this, I think the media attention and Trish mentioned, Simone Biles and others, and you know, even from Prince Harry and some of the work that he’s doing now is opening up present challenges. I mean, you see this coming from a variety of angles. And I’m hopeful that it does open up some space for people to speak about their challenges. I don’t think that that’s a bad thing. I think it’s it’s a positive.

Steve 24:08
I’m going to take a break here. We’re talking with Rebecca Ray from the Conference Board about well being and mental health sort of the challenges with returning folks back to workplaces in a dynamic, fast changing environment. But we do need to thank our friends at Paychex, Trish, one of the leading providers of HR, payroll, retirement and Insurance Solutions for businesses of all sizes. If you’re looking for ways to help your business thrive in 2021 and beyond, be sure to view the great sessions from the first ever Paychex business conference designed to give business leaders insights, resources, solutions and actionable takeaways to help them build a better workplace a better team and a better business. The two day virtual event was full of great speakers like New York Times bestseller Cy Wakeman, the star of ABC Shark Tank Daymond John and plenty more so you can visit to see them all on replay so I highly recommend checking them out. And thanks to our friends at Paychex.

Trish 25:02
Yeah, that was a great event. So definitely worth the replay. And I might even watch some of them again, that I’ve already watched. So good information there. So, you know, we we’re here with Rebecca Ray, and we’re talking about wellness well being, stress, burnout. You know, kind of the results are showing? I’d like to shift gears. Rebecca, before we end this show and talk a little bit about, you know, you’ve given a few tips on what businesses can start thinking about in terms of supporting worker wellbeing, can you maybe just kind of give us a summary? So if I’m an HR professional, if I’m a CEO, you know, CFO, whatever, what can I be doing to take back to my organization in a very practical way, especially in light of kind of all of these recent changes that we’re now seeing state to state? What are your top recommendations for them?

Rebecca Ray 25:58
So let me let me kind of unpack them a little bit, one by one. So, you know, one of the things we found in the well being work that we did, is we asked heads of HR around their priorities around wellbeing, what kinds of things did they think they were going to offer their employees that were most important. And then we also asked another blebbing 100 or so workers. And for the most part, there was coalescence around emotional and psychological well being. And it’s brought a sense as number one, that was great. And physical wellbeing came in second, with both groups. HR practitioners said financial well being was their third. And workers said, social well being and belonging was their third. So there’s a there’s a disconnect there. So employees are saying that what they value are celebrations, retreats, virtual coffee hours, ways to get together and share more about culture. And those I think need to be baked into what’s being offered to support the more holistic approach to wellbeing. For for employees, and I would, I would encourage folks to think about making a better case for why employees need to return to a physical workplace. And again, set aside, some have never left, you know, but but for those who were, you know, they had been working remotely for some time, and this, you know, this urge to come back now to a physical workplace, make the case, talk about the fact that these are the kinds of strategy sessions we’re going to have, or developmental opportunities, or alignment and mission or customer appreciation things or product demo days, or, you know, what’s the rationale for schlepping mom back into whatever the physical workplaces? And I think there’s a variety of reasons that that workers could could listen to. And then they could say, Okay, if there’s this kind of flexibility, I can understand why this, you know, all in town hall meeting with the new fill in the blank, that’s been, you know, delivered, I can understand why that’s important.

Rebecca Ray 28:05
I can understand why it’s important to have all the customer facing people in on one day, because they’re going to talk about a brand new fill in the blank. But make a case. And I think what we consistently saw in all these surveys since last September, as we’ve done them, but every every two months, is a I think there’s still a lot of concern. One of the early findings, we found actually several times, is that people believe that they will follow the protocols, they’re not so sure their co workers will. And I don’t think it’s meant in an evil way. But it’s just sort of I know, I watch 67 times a day. I know, I maintain social distance. I know I’m wearing a you know, mask all the time, I’m careful, you know, so you can do that. But you can’t control the behaviors of others. And so companies could be more thoughtful about the safeguards in the workplace, the protocols that are there, and the steps they intend to take when those protocols are not followed. That might help a lot, especially for people who maybe are vaccine hesitant. They’re immunocompromised, they have their concern. Now, I mean, you saw the headlines about the Delta variant, even vaccine vaccinated people can carry the same viral load, according to the CDC as those who are unvaccinated, you know, these are, these are all the things all these employees are hearing these things. And so companies need to I think be very forward thinking about how they will negate that’s not right, how they will counter what is a barrage of media headlines, few of which are happy stories, and how are they going to help employees sort through all that and feel comfortable, and that’s where we are is is a comfort level? And especially, you know, I think companies did a lot of good work trying to get people thinking about coming back. Many were flexible, many offered all kinds of different options. And we’ve just now had, I think a reset with the Latest CDC guidance on you know what needs to happen because of the rise, the really the significant rise of the Delta variant.

Steve 30:08
Yeah, that’s really thrown a monkey wrench, if you will into a lot of plans that have been set out by organizations and HR leaders say in the first quarter of this year, as we get on to the second quarter, because it does feel like we’re recording this in late July, it does feel like a couple of months ago, right? Things were really on track for the great reopening and all of this right and country was going to open up and everyone was going to go on vacation. Many people are still going on vacation in the summertime. But yeah, and now, it’s tempting, I guess the last thing I’ll say, my last thought is, it’s tempting to just want to be we’re all exhausted, right? Personally, professionally, leaders, our HR leaders are they’ve been dealing everybody has been dealing with so much we’re all we just want it to be over. And we just can’t really sort of take that approach right now. We really have to be mindful, I’d say Rebecca, really mindful of what’s happening, really transparent, I think with organizations, and I think the last thing I’ll say is, you know, just trying to do like a one size fits all, you know, everybody comes back or everybody comes back on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. That’s that’s that’s the policy, if you will, that’s tempting to do because it’s quite frankly, it’s easy. It’s just easy to do that, it’s easy to say that it’s easy to enforce it quite honestly. But it’s probably for most organizations, not the best approach. And much like I talked at the beginning of the show that the hotel I went to, on my last trip, right was desperately trying to hire people at every position across the hotel and offering signing signing bonuses to try to do so I think that that difficult that that challenge of sort of finding, attracting and retaining talent is across the board. And if, as you said, Rebecca, some people are just not maybe ready right now or concerned are just they don’t see the value maybe and getting drawn back to an office setting, say on a certain schedule, they’ll they’ll perhaps look for other opportunities. And I think what we saw in the labor statistics data on April in May, I’m sure you saw this already huge quit numbers, record high quit numbers, the United States. And I think that’s going to continue in the next several months.

Rebecca Ray 32:08
Yeah, you know, I think we started talking about the impact of mental health. And I think a lot of us were very encouraged that there might be some return to some semblance of normalcy. And I think we’ve taken a step back now and I want to be, I want to just offer one last thought. And that is, you know, it’s not the company’s responsibility. But a company could go a long way to reestablish hope. Because you don’t want people to lose hope that this is the bleak future. We are now in and there is no escape hatch. Yeah. And and if leaders can articulate a, we’re in this together, and we’re going to turn a corner and the brighter days are ahead. You don’t want people to give up hope.

Trish 32:57
Yeah, good parting thoughts there. I think to Rebecca, it’s also about a lot of what we’ve seen over this last 18 months, people are thinking very linear, right? It’s, it’s a starting point, it’s an end point, people, like you’re referencing a lot of people using that after Labor Day, date, it’s not linear. And thank you for sharing the both the research to backup, why it’s not, it’s definitely going to be a very cyclical process. And you might, again, we might come out of it, go back into it go come out of it go back into it in various degrees. So I think that if anyone listening wants to look at your research, we will be posting that in the show notes as well. So they can go and check that out more in depth. But I think as you plan if you’re in charge of that in your organization, you definitely need to look at some of these facts and statistics to sort of help have that conversation and really think about your strategy for the next 12 to 18 months. And again, stop thinking of it in such a linear fashion. It’s not it’s like running a race. It’s not like we started a race and that’s over. It’s potentially going to keep on right.

Rebecca Ray 34:00
I think that’s exactly right. You know, I came up through Wall Street, and you know, the markets, it’s an emotional thing. So it’s the workplace to a certain extent. And I think companies would be well served to kind of think about what’s the emotional state of the employees? How do we prepare them for and through this phase, which could be repeated, a little bit like lather, rinse repeat with shampoo?

Steve 34:23
Yeah, I think that’s a great point, Rebecca, the best I think the best line of the day, I think you made Rebecca was there’s nothing magic about the day after Labor Day. And if there’s one thing I think folks should remember, take away from the show, at least, at least take away that right. But there’s nothing magical is going to happen just because it’s Tuesday, September, whatever, whatever day that is. So that’s a great point. Rebecca, it’s great to see you again.

Rebecca Ray 34:45
It was a pleasure.

Steve 34:46
We checked in kind of earlier in the pandemic. I know we’re maybe in the fall or maybe Q4 we should check in again and kind of get an update and see what’s happening and see where we’re at. We love talking human capital work and war. places with with you, Rebecca, thanks so much for joining us.

Rebecca Ray 35:03
Thank you very much. Thank you both.

Steve 35:05
Great, we’ll put some links in the show notes to some of the Conference Board research. You can find Rebecca on twitter at Rebecca Lea Ray, we’ll put that in there as well, as well as at Conference Board, right. Stay connected with them to just stay in the loop of all this stuff, all the news, research and other support services that they offer to their their members. So okay, good stuff Trish. We’re, grinding towards the end of the summer. Is it summer? Summer Friday still happening for us? I hope so because tomorrow’s Friday, but good to see you.

Trish 35:38
You need to report back at the end of summer. I’ll tell you what, this summer has been the busiest ever. And I’m I’m wondering if it’s because we didn’t travel for that last year. I don’t know. But it feels crazy busy. So yes, I don’t know. I keep intending to take a full Friday off. It has not happened yet. I don’t anticipate that’s happening this week but we’ll see.

Steve 36:04
All right. Well, thanks so much for listening the show. Thanks, Rebecca Ray from the Conference Board. Thanks to our friends at Paychex, of course remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour wherever you get podcasts and check out all the show archives at My name is Steve Boese, for Trish McFarlane, for Rebecca Ray. We’ll see you next time and bye for now.

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