At TSP Family Office, our mission is to help you save, grow, and protect your money. But if you do not save, grow, and protect yourself, what is the true value of your money?
The last two years have been fraught with upheaval and new stressors to our everyday lives affecting not just us, but our children, our employees, and our businesses. Everyone has been impacted in some way. Our social lives, our children’s schools, our economy, our workplaces – everything has been affected in some way.
With everything we are facing, self-care – for you, for your children, and for your employees – is more important than ever. Yet it seems to be one of the last things we make a priority. But there are resources and strategies available to us all to help us through these times
During this discussion between Kami Elhert, Patricia Miles, MHRM, PHR, SHRM-CP, and Cindy Krosky, CSP, LCSW, President of Achieving Corporate Excellence, Inc., they discuss the importance of cultivating self-care and Cindy will provide tips and resources for:
Transcript (edited for clarity)
Jen Amos: Hello and good morning. I’m Jen Amos with TSP Family Office. Thank you all for joining the webinar, “The Importance of Cultivating Self-Care.”
At TSP Family Office, our mission is to help you save, grow, and protect your money. But if you do not save, grow, and protect yourself, what is the true value of your money?
The last two years have been fraught with upheaval and new stressors to our lives, affecting not just us, but our children, our employees, and our businesses. We have all been impacted in some way. Our social lives, our children’s schools, our economy, our workplaces, everything has been affected. With all that we are facing, self-care for you, for your spouse, for your children, and for your employees is more important than ever. Yet it seems to be one of the last things we make a priority. But there are resources and strategies available to all of us to help us through these times.
During today’s webinar, we will discuss the various stressors we have identified that are affecting ourselves, our children, our employees, and our businesses. And we’ll offer some tips and resources available that can be used to help reduce these stressors in our lives.
The first person joining us today is Kami Elhert, Senior Client Relationship Manager. Kami will be presenting the stressors being experienced by the everyday person as well as the challenges our children are facing today. Thank you for being here, Kami.
Kami Elhert: Thank you for having me. Good morning, Jen.
Amos: Next, we have Patricia Miles, TSP Family Offices Director of HR and Client Experience. Patricia will be presenting the stressors employees are facing and the challenges faced by business owners. Welcome, Patricia.
Patricia Miles: Thank you, Jen. Hello, everyone.
Amos: And last, but certainly not least, Cindy Krosky, Certified Speaking Professional and Licensed Clinical Social Worker with Achieving Corporate Excellence, Inc. Cindy is an approved and certified instructor of critical stress management through the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. Thank you so much for joining us this morning, Cindy.
Cindy Krosky: Thank you for inviting me to be here today.
Amos: Let’s get started.
We all have full lives. We not only have our regular jobs, but many of us also act as CEO of our household. And of course, there are the stressors we have all experienced because of changes in our social lives as COVID redefined our social norms over the past two years. Kami, you’re a prime example with a full-time job with TSP Family Office as well as a full-time job as a mom with a son just out of middle school and another son finishing his senior year. Kami, can you share some of the struggles that you have been and are experiencing?
Elhert: For me personally, Jen, the social aspect, I think, has been extremely difficult to navigate through. There’s the lack of social gatherings, the lack of travel.
I have family all across the country. Nobody in my immediate family lives in the state. So seeing them and trying to plan visits, holidays, family events, not being able to attend those, has created a lot of stressors that I really didn’t foresee when the pandemic hit.
One that I found really interesting is the comfortability factor resulting from the aftermath of COVID. Suddenly we’re having to discuss everybody’s comfortability level. Before, if you were visiting a family friend or a family member, maybe we would go there, travel, stay at their house, be able to visit for days, the whole weekend. Now, it seems as though we have to be very cognizant of symptoms. I have a friend with a young child who’s not able to be vaccinated, and they are taking COVID very seriously. It is very important to them that they don’t come in contact with it. Since he’s under five and cannot be vaccinated at this point, they’re not allowing anybody to stay in their home.
Broaching these topics with a friend can be different, maybe a little awkward at times, because we’ve never had to have these conversations before or really think about how it will affect or impact not just their household, but anybody else that they may come into contact with.
Krosky: Florida sometimes was a hot spot. I have grandchildren who live in upstate New York and their parents work in the hospitals. Family vacations got canceled coming to Florida because it meant that they would have to go into isolation when they got back. A one-week vacation would have been three weeks out of work.
Then there is the question, “Do we come and are we okay in a hotel? Do you have a comfort level if we stay with you? And do I even want to fly up and visit you versus three people on a plane coming to visit me?” Just like you said, conversations that we’d never had to navigate before. This was just very life-altering and tested a lot of friendships as well, but certainly distanced us from family.
Elhert: Even when we see somebody that maybe we haven’t seen in two, two and a half years, are we giving hugs now? Because I’ve missed you for so long and you’ve only been a screen or a picture or a voice at this point– I’m a hugger. I really miss hugging and having that interaction. Even being indoors has created a different level of stress that I never anticipated.
Krosky: I have a lot of allergies. I appreciate that people want to gather outdoors and I’m an outdoor person, but I’ve had more sinus infections thanks to trying to be with family and friends when we’re outside.
And you mentioned the holidays and the family things. I didn’t get to go see my grandsons graduate from high school. It was during the pandemic, in the height of it, right after things had started shutting down. And they said it’s going to be a get in your car and drive and only the students are going to walk through a little tent area with their masks, pick up their diploma, and the parents can sit in the car and watch them walk down a sidewalk ceremony. It was hard. I got to see it on video, but I waited so long to see these two young men get to graduate and I didn’t get to do that. These are things we won’t get back.
Elhert: And, Cindy, you and I were talking about the time we’re not getting back. That time has been an underlying stressor as well. People have passed, weddings, births of children, all of those things that we’re so used to having be part of our everyday lives suddenly kind of got taken away. And like you said, that moment’s never going to come back. That time is lost. And how do we navigate? Because we know we can’t recreate time. How do we make it okay with ourselves to accept that loss? Those losses can linger as a result of just missing out on them. And I imagine for your grandsons that that was their big moment, too.
Krosky: I’m the only grandparent. So the grandparent doesn’t get to show up at all. It’s something that’s two years post and I’m still very saddened by it. And fortunately, it was just a graduation. But they won’t get another high school graduation. That one’s done. It’s like the first birthdays or the weddings. There’s not going to be a rebirth of that baby that was born.
Elhert: Now that some restrictions are being lifted and more places opening up, the cost of travel now has skyrocketed. We’re seeing an increase in gas prices. That affects the airline industry. And hotels and the cost of living has increased. So travel, although it’s now more accepted and we’re able to do it with less restrictions, at what cost? That creates another one of those unforeseen stressors. What was maybe a smaller vacation because you could take a three-hour road trip to has now doubled in price. In addition to that, we’re having to reevaluate where we’ll be staying, so that increases the cost.
I am a renter here in Vero Beach. If you are a renter or even looking for a home to buy, there are no houses available. Even if we did want to move, we would probably have to look outside of this area. And the farther that we’re away, with the increased gas prices, is causing us to readjust budgets and think long-term or plan for the unexpected. I’m not sure that even four months ago I would have anticipated gas prices being nearly $5 a gallon.
Krosky: I went the other day to fill my car with gas and only needed half a tank. I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, I used to get more than a full tank a year and a half ago.” And now I was so glad I only needed half a tank so I didn’t have sticker shock.
Now that, like you said, we’re trying to open up and think, ” I’ll take a vacation. Will I fly? Oh, those prices are going up. Will I drive? Oh my gosh, it might be cheaper to fly. Where do I stay? Don’t know. Well, then maybe I’ll stay home.”
During COVID, I decided I needed to move to be near family because I didn’t have anyone nearby and my family had been asking me for a few years, “Why don’t you get closer?” I told my neighbor I was going to sell my house and they said, “We’re going to buy it.” And they did. Now I’m renting like you are and looking. But finding a place to buy right now. My realtor called one day and said, “There’s one that went on the market at midnight.” I saw it at 2:00 p.m. She said, “It will close at 5:00 and it will be gone.” I said, “But I have a couple of calls.” And she says, “It will be gone.” And at 5:00, she called and said, “It is gone.”
Now my rent has increased. And I went, “But where do I go? I don’t have anywhere to go.” But there’s going to be a point in time, because I like to save money, when this will not make the best sense for me. And like you said, if I move somewhere else, how much further distance does that add? And am I saving money if I have to drive that much further to be with my family? All of that is stressful.
Elhert: Yes. And it has caused me to have to prepare for the unknowns.
I did go through the 2008 recession a little bit and the housing boom, but I’m still younger. I was renting an apartment, and I was working. But as far as those effects, I didn’t really truly understand it and I wasn’t really be affected by it. I was lucky in that respect, but totally ill-prepared for what the pandemic and what COVID during the last two years brought. What is that going to look like in the future? And how do we navigate as a family of four through that?
Krosky: And two boys, too.
Elhert: Yes, two boys. Exactly.
We’re also experiencing stress managing household time with all of these other things going on in the world. For instance, lack of employees at even fast-food restaurants. Restaurants, tee times, every business seems to have a sign that says, “Please be patient. We don’t have enough staff,” or they’re closing on certain days because they just don’t have the staff to support being open every day. What usually was maybe an hour dinner has now turned into a two-hour dinner. And now you’re pushing other things back. But we just have to be understanding that everything is taking a little longer at this point.
Amos: Or what you’re doing is you’re opting to not do something because it’s going to take longer, or you can’t get the tee time that you want on the day that you want. We’re opting to not take part in activities, which is, again, reducing our stress relief. Those are our forms of stress relief and we’re foregoing them.
Krosky: And it’s adding to our own fatigue, our own cumulative stress.
One of the things that we are constantly looking at from our organization’s perspective is not only what was the impact of pandemic fatigue, but what is the impact of just compassion fatigue, because we work with people that often have experienced secondary responses to stress. We’re always asking is, “What are you doing to take care of yourself?” “Well, I don’t have time to go to the gym.” And the gym may be reopened, but they didn’t make the time because the gym wasn’t open when they wanted to go. So they filled up that time waiting to maybe get a takeout meal, which was sort of an emotional stress relief for them. I’m not going to cook. Somebody else is going to fix it. But now it takes two hours to go get that meal. It’s just really been the whole time factor. And anyone here can probably answer this: What has that done for where you have put some of your own personal priorities on time?
Elhert: I think they’ve gone to the back burner.
Miles: Time seems to evaporate.
Krosky: I didn’t want to hear that, but I didn’t want to put words in your mouth either. What were some of the things you used to do and that you hopefully are going to try to put back on your to-do list?
Miles: The exercise program. I would go to the gym three or four times a week. And then I was uncomfortable doing that so I looked at online options, and that took a week or two. “Do I want to do this one?” You get out of the routine, and then it becomes reforming that habit.
Krosky: It does. One of the things that we learned with the pandemic, and the reason we call it pandemic fatigue, is it drains us of our energy and our motivation.
Many of us have heard the saying that it takes 21 days to make a habit. And it doesn’t. It takes longer. Depending on what the habit is, it can be formed in 18 to 254 days. And that’s quite a bit of time. Well, we have exceeded 254 days with pandemic issues, which means that some people who – Patricia, you might be one – had a really good self-care plan, go to the gym three days a week, do those things. Kami, you may have had some things that you like to do for yourself, and you got out of the habit of doing them. And now there’s almost a mental exhaustion of, “I need to think about doing that. I need to pack the bag and throw the extra clothes in the car or get the tennis shoes and put them in the car.” Even though it’s just an action, we’re so tired. We’re not doing some of those things that we should have been doing for our self-care or even staying up on our doctor’s visits. Some of those things have fallen off for people, which are just still so important for us to maintain.
Miles: Cindy, you were talking about the fatigue, and then you let yourself down, because you are tired, and you haven’t made that appointment or done that exercise. You were talking about the length of time it takes to really build a habit. I think it’s shorter to break a habit, to let a positive habit go.
Krosky: If they have not taken a really solid root. I’ve talked to people about experiences and emotions sometimes being like Velcro, and that they can get hooked in our brain. If you have a person who’s been a runner for years, that’s hooked in. Their body really argues with them about, “What do you mean we’re not going running?” It’s like this whole conversation in their head. “What do you mean? We always do that.” And now they’ve gotten where, especially if it was an activity where they would have been indoors, “What do you mean we’re going indoors?” Your brain almost has an inside conversation about, “You told me we shouldn’t go indoors. We should wear a mask indoors. Why do you want to go indoors and breathe heavy because you’re going to work out?” It starts releasing itself from that habit, and now you’re asking it to go back and make that a habit, and your brain starts to work against you, releasing different chemicals and questioning.
This creates what we call a downward spiral versus an upward spiral. We have the capacity to reverse that. Please know it. We have the capacity to create the upward spiral, but it takes energy. And if that energy is being drained because you’re trying to figure out – for instance for Kami, if she’s trying to figure out how to get her children into the next level of education, or if she’s having to help monitor just on a regular basis, much less during the pandemic, monitor the education of, did the homework assignments get done? Or, is somebody going for a job interview? Or, I’m going to hope that the yard looks good so I get to stay in the same house that I’ve rented for the last two years because I don’t have the energy to figure out how to move somewhere else.
Elhert: All of that is like our brain asking, “Where do you want me to spend the time? Do you want me to spend the time getting ready to go work out? Or do you want me to spend the time making sure that tomorrow we still have a place to live?” We get into survival mode, forgetting that the way we survive best is by making sure that we take care of ourselves. That’s why that self-care, unfortunately, goes out the window so quickly, because we have a little real estate issue in our brain that we have to work through.
I think at there were so many stressors in my life that it almost felt like my immune system was completely shut down. So what started out as a stuffy nose then turned into a sinus infection, which put me on antibiotics. And then within a week, I got COVID. At that point, for almost the entire month of January, it was like I could not get better. I could not get myself up and at ’em. There were no walks being taken. There was no anything. Add to that Christmas having just passed and not being able to visit with the family during that time and not having those memories or things to look forward to, either. At that point, you just kind of shut down. And being sick in a household with others who are not sick can really make for a fun household.
Krosky: Fun being a little bit of a pun, needless to say. But again, I just want you to know that so many people across the world – you’re not alone in that experience. What happens when we don’t take care of ourselves when we’re under stress, is it starts to erode our immune system. Now the common cold can really knock a person off their feet. It’s that perfect storm and that downward spiral where we’re not doing the things to take care of ourselves and we’re not doing daily self check-ins.
I know that a lot of people have gone to using their phones. And we have all these apps. In July after COVID came out, I was working with a group of people. We were doing surveys with over 2,000 different people to find out how they were responding to COVID and what they were doing for themselves. One of the apps that we discovered is called the COVID Coach. COVID Coach app is free, and it’s put out by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It has some really rich tools. What we found is a lot of people were using their apps to do meditation or relaxation. This app has those tools along with how to manage stress as an item. It has mood check available, so you can see where you are. It even has a post-traumatic stress disorder mood check. It has a wide variety. It also has ways to learn how to stay balanced, how to stay healthy. The part that I absolutely love is that it also has resources where people could find help, not only for mental health challenges, but for substance use, for food, for online support. Again, a wide, wide arena of things that are be in one place.
I teach a wide variety of programs regarding mental health and so on. And I always encourage the people to make sure they have that app, because we don’t know when either we need a resource or somebody we know will need one. And that app may have those tools. I’ve had at least on a weekly basis someone that emails me or texts me and says, “Thank you for introducing me to the app because it had exactly what I needed. And I didn’t have to go digging through my phone or try to figure out where that resource was. It was sort of that one-stop shop.” If you haven’t looked at it, I encourage you to take a look. It’s called The COVID Coach, and again, it was put out by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. And it’s free and it isn’t one of those apps that takes up a lot of space on my phone. But it can help us track where we are with our own moods and then warn us when we’re perhaps getting off track and not taking care of ourselves, because it talks about staying healthy and balanced.
Elhert: I’ll have to check that out. Thank you.
Elhert: Then we have our children who are going through and have lived through COVID, which has been interesting to say the least as a parent. I can’t imagine what they’re going through as students. My youngest son is a freshman. The last two years of middle school were spent remote, which I think for any teacher that is a middle school teacher was probably better than ever. But for the kids, not being able to socialize during that age – my son already isn’t much of an outdoorsy kid. He is really into his video games, like a lot of kids his age. And that’s where his friends are, too. So school is the outlet where I would feel like, “Oh, great, he’s running outside. He’s having a disagreement. He’s doing all types of other things with those kids.” Now, suddenly, he’s in this room on a screen trying to pay attention to a teacher, but his cell phone’s there so he could be texting. He’s doing other things. I’m really worried about the education he received during those prime years. Twelve to 14 is a really difficult age in itself. And some of those skills that we need to learn to be a successful student either come from learning those then or by making mistakes and having to navigate through them. For him to be a successful student from middle school to high school is a completely different shift for him.
Jen and I were just talking about it. Currently, our high schoolers are on a block schedule, which again, for my son, the attention span needed to sit there for two and a half hours in a classroom doesn’t seem to be as effective. However, next year we’re going back to regular scheduling. So now he has to shift in a manner that he’s never dealt with previously. When he was in elementary school – maybe in 6th grade –he went to gym class, but otherwise primarily stayed right in his classroom. Now he has to readjust first to a new campus and now to smaller class periods and readjust his habits. As you said, for the last three years, he’s been in the habit of block schedule attention. And now he really has to pick up the pace. I can’t imagine what type of year sophomore year will bring for us.
Krosky: There was a report they said that students are probably five months behind in math and four months behind in reading. I think that was a very generous report. I haven’t read all of the research on it, but I used to be a teacher. I taught high school. I find that to be what I think’s going to be kind. But I certainly hear you. I think my teacher brain hears you as well as my mama brain and my grandma brain. All of those things are listening in on this conversation. And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, these kids, what they’re going through socially…” and I appreciate it.
I hope everybody that hears this heard what you said. The arguments. They’re not getting to have arguments. These are the years where they learn how to navigate how to have a disagreement with someone and how to work through that. This is what they do during these teenage years. These are so formative. Whether it’s a disagreement with the teacher about an assignment, whether it’s a disagreement with another peer, just like a child learns to crawl and walk, this is when they learn how to navigate those social concepts. And doing it on a flat screen or via a text communication is going to very much limit how prepared they could be for when there is a face-to-face person that they need to be able to have that conversation with, or an employer that they need to be able to say, “But I was here. I did clock-in. I did this. And now the machine says I didn’t.” Not that that’s to be an argument, but to just know how to get their voice heard. Literally their voice heard.
Elhert: My youngest just went for his first job interview. I’m trying to prep him. “You have to walk in, shake his hand. Oh wait, okay. Maybe check-in first, but be willing to shake his hand and say, ‘Are we okay? Do you want to shake my hand? Fist bump. Elbow bump.’” These are things. “Yes, sir. No, ma’am. Whoever you’re speaking to, make sure you’re making eye contact. Turn off that phone. That phone is left in the car.”
These are things that I’m having him prep for, and he’s ill-equipped at this point, and not to his fault, and not to mine. But I could see as he was going in, the anxiety of that one-on-one interaction. Anxeity comes with any first job interview. I had nerves. We all had nerves. But we didn’t have the additional stressors or underlying effects of a pandemic that stood out in part of our everyday lives now. My stressors were making sure I was presentable. Now he has to worry about additional, “Should I shake this person’s hand? Am I wearing the appropriate clothes?”
Amos: And then in addition to that, because there’s been so much time that’s been spent on screen or through text, the unfamiliarity with actually meeting with somebody one-on-one.
Elhert: And like you said, having his own voice. He was filling out his job application and came running out to the car asking, “What’s my SSN code?” And thought, “We didn’t even go over this.” There are all these other things that I didn’t realize we really had to talk to them about. I told him, “I don’t think you should have left the job interview,” but these are all learning experiences.
And I’m nervous as my oldest son is entering into adulthood. What does that look like for employers hiring an 18-year-old that’s gone through the lack of socialization and is now trying to shift into adulthood? And is he equipped to shift into adulthood at this point and leave the nest?
Housing is very limited. The cost of college has become exorbitant and being accepted into colleges at this point has been very hard, for even the best of students. I know UC Berkeley at this point is no longer accepting on-campus students because they just do not have the housing. Unfortunately, all of these things are affecting where our young adults are going and what they are doing. That’s scary for them, and for us, because they are our future generation, and we really want our generations to continue to be better than us. But it almost feels like we’ve digressed a lot in a lot of different aspects.
Miles: You mentioned the social skills for the interviewing process. We’re finding from the HR perspective just fitting into a work environment that they haven’t been prepared for, never mind social graces or a thank you note or understanding a protocol in an office, but just overall, it’s challenging for everyone these days.
Krosky: Work ethic and work etiquette had been a challenge for many for the last 10 years, and they’re about to be challenged even more in the workplace, that’s for sure.
Elhert: And the workplace is changing so much. It’s interesting to see how that generation is evolving into this workplace as well. There was a time when we would all sit in a big conference room, and we would set up the webcam, and that’s where we would have our webinars or our client meetings. And now I fear a little bit that Zoom and hybrid environments may affect him as well, as he’s transitioning into his early 20s as to what he will expect from an employer. This generation’s expectations seem to be a little far-reached.
Miles: The expectations have changed. The demands have changed for the candidates. It’s interesting because there have been benefits that have come out of all this. And I think that the reprioritization, if you will, of values is a good thing. At the same time, the demands on an employer meeting the requirements have been part of what we’ve had to deal with organizationally, as well. Everyone has probably experienced this. But in terms of compensation, time at home, flexibility, remote work arrangements, meeting, retention, puts stress on you, Kami, if we talk from the employee side.
The time that you need with your family, we want to accommodate and give you. And yet when two or three or four people call out, it puts an additional stress on your fellow teammates. We are happy and teammates are happy to accommodate, but at what cost? And yet it’s just something else that goes into the mix that we found.
Cindy, you were talking about the COVID Coach. And one of the tremendous benefits that we have for employees is the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). It’s free to the employees and to anyone who lives under the employee’s roof. It’s fantastic. Available day one. And I would say most every benefit provider has a version of it. It can help with basic day-to-day stressors, worries, teenagers that are going through changes. How can I help my parents who are living with me and need special attention, or my special needs child? Or Kami, you were talking about the financial changes and stressors and demands that have come about. You can call them with complete confidence and confidentiality.
Miles: We consider it an investment in our employees. All of this care that we provide and are continually looking for we consider to be an investment. It’s interesting in terms of dollars and cents. A recent report from the World Health Organization showed that every dollar spent on employee wellness produces a $4 return.
Elhert: Imagine what self-care would do then. If we’re putting that on dollars and cents, if you’re investing in our well-being and we invest in our well-being, imagine what that rate would actually be, not to mention that upward cycle we want to begin anyways.
Krosky: It is a partnership. I’m thrilled that you mentioned the EAP, the Employee Assistance Program. And I love that your company understands that it is an investment in the employees. I certainly hope that the employees are going to – I don’t want to say taking advantage – but utilizing those resources, because that is so important. And then when an employee does just a simple act of self-care, taking a break from their desk – that can sound so simple, but I know there’s people that are here that can say, “I can remember that I sat down, and then the end of the day came and I got up.” That means that there was no break for a glass of tea, probably didn’t even bother to get lunch, may have skipped some meals. What we actually know is that you are 30% more productive if you just take a break.
Between your $4 return and the 30%, we can really increase productivity if we’re just paying attention to some simple things. If the employee takes responsibility for making sure that they do get up, they give their brain a moment to reset, and when they get back, they’ll actually be more productive. If they realize that their employer has resources, that instead of letting something bubble around in their brain, they can pick up the phone, which they utilize all the time.
I tell people that hopefully you can get used to using the to call your EAP or look at those resources when you’re not in desperate need, because these phones weigh so little until you have a crisis or a challenge. And then picking it up or even touching it seems to take more energy than what we can even fathom. So making sure that they know those resources are available to them is just huge and beneficial for not only the employee, but the employer so that they can use that EAP. And then for themselves, being encouraged to just take their own personal break during the day is really important.
Miles: It’s really a partnership between the employee and the employer, because if an employee is feeling challenged at home, they can’t possibly bring their best selves to work. So how can we as employers take better care of or help support our staff? And we found that, interestingly enough, oftentimes the heaviest stressors are from outside the workplace.
Krosky: We did a confidential survey with the employees for TSP, and we talked beforehand about what we thought we might find and what we expected to find. What we found was exactly what we had hoped. The hope was that the stress wasn’t being identified as a work-related stress. And that’s when we know we’ve got some good things going on, at least in that area. But what we found were that people were identifying the stressors that they had more in the home arena. While we may try to separate those two, our mind, again, still gets carried from one building to the next. And as an employer, it’s important that we’re doing some things – even though we can’t dive into their personal lives – but that we’re doing some things to try to be there and to support that employee who may be having more cumulative stress. Because when we have cumulative stress, a little bit from here at work and a little bit over here at home, that builds up and that can prevent us from showing up with the best headspace. It breaks down that immune system again. It has a lot of things that can affect or impact the work that an employee is able to do when they do arrive at work. What are some things that you’ve already done?
Miles: One of the things we’ve looked at is more flexible schedules and a hybrid work arrangement. And that can differ depending on various needs of the employees.
Also, just to unplug and take a break, our CEO. Drew, gave the employees a surprise day off, a personal day.
Elhert: It was a demand. It was very nice, very unexpected. President’s Day. The Thursday afternoon right before President’s Day we received an email that said, “We’re clearing your calendars Monday. We’ve already handled notifying all the clients, and you are required to log off. Do not come in. We don’t want to see you’re in here.” And we were told, “Don’t make me go New York on you.” I’ve never seen New York Drew Miles, but it sounded very stern. 😊
At first, as an employee, I will say there was a feeling of, “That just jammed up my calendar.” There was a feeling of, “How nice was that?” but also the anxiety of being an employee with X, X, X to do. But you know what? I was much more productive than I had been previously. Other three-day weekends – Memorial Day, Labor Day – always seem to be jampacked. Shorter weeks are nice on a Friday when you’ve gotten to that shorter week and realize you’ve gotten there. But the whole week leading up to Friday, you’re running full speed ahead with your track shoes on.
There had never been a requirement from Drew Miles specifically saying, “No, I’ve contacted and reached out. And your calendar is clear. This is necessary for all of the employees.” Now, mind you, we’re in tax time. I understood and appreciated that he realized that we’re still in a very busy season, but “maybe busy season’s never going to end. It just may be this way. And you’re valued. You’re important. Take the time off, go sit at the beach.”
And I did. I sat at the beach. I made sure that I sat there for an hour and a half by myself and just listened to the waves and enjoyed what I like doing. I love being outside on the water, near the water, walking on the beach. It’s just one of those things that I really enjoy. It’s one of my favorite things about living in Florida.
And that week following President’s Day didn’t feel as anxious. I didn’t feel behind like sometimes when I think, “Oh, I have to catch up. I have to catch up. I have to work later.” That just wasn’t the case. So not only was it appreciated and totally unsuspected from the whole organization, but it was something that had never really been done before.
Krosky: I want to jump in. I am so excited and so thrilled to hear that you had that placed on you, encouraged, however you want to refer to that, because just a moment ago, we were talking about that cumulative stress. And this is what we’re hoping to find more employers considering – that they’ve identified that cumulative stress exists. When people ask, “What can we do?” Well, one of the things that you can do is recognize the tools within your bandwidth to help your employees. And one of those is to help provide opportunities for what we call post-traumatic growth. The pandemic was a traumatic event. And we have the opportunity coming out of it to say, “What can we do to grow as an organization and how can we help our employees grow?” And saying, “We’re going to make sure that we honor you.” And I hope that that’s how you all felt; that you were being honored. “We honor you and all that you’ve done and given. Here’s a day for yourself.” That’s an example of what we call post-traumatic growth, PTG. And that helps us to invest again in our employees so that if there is a snafu that happens again somewhere in our future, which there very likely will be – it’s called life – that you’re a bit more resilient and able to bounce back, because we’ve all had the wind knocked out of us. It doesn’t feel good.
As an employer, it’s sometimes challenging to figure out, “How do I restore my employees?” We do things like that. We offer that hybrid scheduling. We do what TSP Family Office did earlier. We do a survey to find out where they are with the various things that are creating stress for them. And then, and I can speak to this because Drew and Patricia and I just recently had a conversation, “Now that we have information, let’s go to the next level and start creating a plan to further assess what we can offer to those employees to help them to go forward.” So the fact that all of that has been provided by TSP Family Office is wonderful. Hopefully more people are looking at what those opportunities are. That’s a huge investment in the employees, which pays back wonderfully, but shows that we care, and we want to validate the people that are spending part of their life with us.
Amos: Cindy, there’s an old adage that when you go to work, you leave your personal life behind. And when you go home, you leave the office behind. But that is much easier said than done. Do you have any tips on how to separate the two?
Krosky: I have a couple of tips I’d like to share. One of them I call the ABCs. A is for awareness, awareness of where you are and what you’re seeking to do. When I go to work, I want to be the best me I can be, which means I need to be aware that I’m about to go into work mode. Next is B, balance. How am I going to balance my time when I am in work mode so that I can be productive? And then C, when I am in work mode, what am I going to do for connection? What can I do to offer a positive connection to those people that I’m either providing a service to or that I work along with? That’s one that I encourage. And then the same thing when I get ready to go back into my personal life. It’s time for me to do an awareness check of, now I want to be the best parent, grandparent, whatever that role is that I’m going to do and step back into. How can I balance to make sure that my time and attention goes to those individuals I’m going to be with? And what can I do to really connect with them?
Another one that I want to encourage people to think about is when we get in a car, we have a steering wheel. So the acronym that I use is STEER, because that’s what it’s really about. When you get ready to go to work or home, Stop. That’s your S. T. Think. Think about where you need your mind to get cleared to go. Exhale. Let all of that worry about whatever else is going on just flow away. And then E again. Establish some parameters about how you will check the phone, how many times you’re going to send that text message. And finally the R. Reset yourself to be mentally present for where you’re going to be. And when we do that, we allow ourselves to show up as our best self. It’s really important for us to to steer our thoughts and then to practice the ABCs. Those are two quick, easy ways that people can practice creating that separation.
Amos: 00:56:03.851 And Cindy, for those who are interested in having you come in, do an evaluation of their company, evaluate the amount of stress that their employees are experiencing, where it’s hitting, and for you to offer some possible workshops on reducing some of those stressors and/or other topics, how can they get in touch with you?
Krosky: I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or they can call me at (772) 461-8313. And if there’s anything that I can do or any questions that I can answer, please feel free to let me know. I would be honored to see what we can do to work together.
Amos: That is all the time that we have for today. Kami and Patricia, thank you for being so transparent and lending your own challenges and experiences to today’s webinar. And Cindy, thank you so much for your insights. I’ve learned two very important things today. First, no matter who we are, we’re all facing more stressors and challenges than we were even just a year ago. And second, no matter where we are in our lives and our careers, we must all remember to take the time to evaluate our own self-care to be the best person we can be for ourselves, for our families, and for our coworkers.
To learn more about some of the programs TSP Family Office has put in place to help employees with stress, call us at (772) 257-7888 or email us at email@example.com.
Have a wonderful rest of your day and a fabulous weekend.