In the latest HCI Webinar, Dr. Jonathan H. Westover talks with Candice Elliott about the intersection of health and work. Below is a summary of the main points from their conversation! Check out the full episode and let us know what you think!
Watch the episode here:
Candice and Jonathan discussed the health and work landscape in the US, emphasizing the need for compassion and dignity in the workplace. They highlighted the prevalence of chronic health issues and mental health crisis, the impact of the pandemic on wellness, and the importance of creating a supportive work environment. They also acknowledged the societal issues present in the workplace, including healthcare disadvantages and the impact of motherhood on compensation.
Health and Work: A Landscape Overview
Candice and Jonathan discussed the intersection of health and work, highlighting the prevalence of chronic health issues among the US population and the mental health crisis in the workforce. Candice, a fractional HR mentor, shared her personal experience with burnout which led her to assist organizations in creating a healthier work environment. They also emphasized the importance of compassion and dignity in the workplace for fostering a culture of wellness. The discussion served as a broad overview of the current landscape of health and work, identifying the areas of concern and potential for improvement.
Workplace Societal Issues: Healthcare & Mental Health
Candice and Jonathan discussed the societal issues prevalent in the workplace, including the healthcare disadvantage in the US and the impact of the pandemic on mental health, stress, and loneliness. Jonathan emphasized that while the workplace contributes to these issues, there are broader societal factors at play. Candice mentioned the Stable Scheduling study by Joan Williams, which demonstrated positive health and economic outcomes when employers provided stable schedules for their employees. They also discussed the importance of creating a workplace where employees can form true and meaningful connections. Finally, Jonathan shared his experience as a university professor and department chair, highlighting the purpose-driven nature of higher education despite societal challenges.
Connecting Remote Workers
Jonathan expressed his concern about the diminished sense of connection among younger professionals due to remote work. He emphasized the importance of building relationships and mentoring for career development and retention. Candice acknowledged the challenge of maintaining a cohesive cultural ecosystem with a remote workforce and highlighted the need for intentionality in creating meaningful engagement opportunities. Jonathan concluded by emphasizing the importance of fostering a healthy and connected workforce to enhance productivity and collaboration.
Mental Health in Intense Workplaces
Jonathan expressed concerns about the persisting stigma around mental illness, particularly in intense work environments. He emphasized the importance of creating a safe and supportive space for employees to share their challenges without fear of judgment or reprisal. Candice added to this by highlighting the importance of scheduling space for employees, allowing them to rest and recharge for increased productivity. Both leaders acknowledged the need to break the cycle of constant work and overwork, which can lead to mental health issues. They also stressed the importance of creating an environment where employees feel comfortable approaching their leaders with personal issues.
Creating Safe Space for Employee Well-Being
Jonathan and Candice discussed the importance of creating a safe space for employees to share their struggles without fear of negative consequences like losing their job or missing out on promotions. Jonathan emphasized the need for a collaborative approach to finding solutions that work for everyone, allowing people to take leaves of absence, shift responsibilities, or even take on more work. They also acknowledged the stigma that surrounds mental health issues and the importance of leaders being proactive in looking out for warning signs of burnout and offering support.
Compensation Discrimination: A Systemic Issue
Candice and Jonathan discussed the issue of compensation and how it can potentially disadvantage certain populations, particularly mothers and mothers of color in the US. Candice highlighted the prevalence of unintentional discriminatory pay systems that she has observed in her analysis of various systems. Jonathan emphasized that the issue is often systemic rather than intentional and encouraged leaders to accept accountability for the impact of these systems. The conversation concluded with Candice offering her help to those struggling with burnout and encouraging the audience to connect with her for more information.
Listen to the webinar here: