Are you an employer looking to foster the health and wellbeing of your employees? Since 2020, funding and effectiveness of wellness programs are on the rise. In this episode, we dive into the five stages of burnout that can be affecting employees and how companies can support employee wellbeing through company benefits, employee experience and integrated and trauma-informed strategies. Hear first-hand from Wolf Castillo, Jen Liss and Heidi Hope — three wellness coaches who talk about everything from the flow cycle to employee experience and self-reflection of personal burnout.
CORRECTION: The referenced statistic about the study that indicated that 21% wanted money in their pockets for their efforts should have been 28% instead. The video accurately portrays the 28% statistic but the audio states 21%.
Research referenced in this episode include the following:
Learn more about the trends from three coaches featured in this episode.
Wolf Castillo on Flow Cycle
Wolf Castillo believes that when we live in alignment with our Sacred TRUTH, we will Remember our Divine Nature and Create a Life that we LOVE.
This why he is on a Mission to create Sacred Spaces for people to Unleash their Deepest Self-Expression & Elevate the Consciousness of the Planet.
He seeks to achieve this through his work as Trauma-Informed Coach, Real & Raw conversations on the Follow The Wolf Podcast, and being a Mental Health
Vitality Exchange Boosts & Conversations Clip
Jen Liss on Employee Experience
WellStylist Lab Member Spotlight
Jen Liss is a self-proclaimed expert goofball and joy enthusiast. She is on a mission to educate and inspire people to untether from the societal, familial, and cultural expectations that keep them stuck — so they can live a more joyful, authentic, and abundant life.
Jen is a coach, breath worker and international speaker based in Portland, Oregon. Her goal is to show more and more people how to step into your highest potential in a way that is uniquely you – by harnessing the power of your own mind-body connection.
Heidi Hope on Burnout
Heidi Hope (Guerard) is a multi-passionate entrepreneur, educator and inspirer who coaches high achieving women as they uncover their unique genius and ignite their passion for life. A former high school art and photography teacher, Heidi achieved international recognition with her hand painted backdrops created out of her world renown portrait studio in Rhode Island.
As an educator in the professional photography industry since 2010, Heidi has mentored thousands of women around the world as they uncovered their greater purpose and infuse it into every area of their life and work.
Frequently featured in local media and television, Heidi currently creates out of St. Augustine, Florida while hosting international workshops and public speaking to inspire and uplift creatives.
Vitality Exchange Boosts & Conversations Clip
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Read the Full Transcripts
There’s just so much artificial pressure that we put on ourselves to achieve certain things and then when we achieve them and we start to say why am I not satisfied with who I am or what I’m becoming or what I have.
Like where does that satisfaction begin?
I punish myself, you know, for not achieving what I want or how quickly I want it or whatever. I think that actually is a product of just being in chronic stress for years and years and years.
In 2019, the World Health Organization classified burnout as a syndrome from chronic workplace stress and its symptoms, such as exhaustion, mental distancing, and reduced proficiency, well those are the things that haven’t been successfully managed. Around that time, Gallup came out with a study. That study indicated at least 76 percent of employees felt burnt out , at least some of the time.
That was before the pandemic. Since then, we’ve seen more focus by employers and employees alike on mental health and wellness in the workplace. My experience with burnout started more than a decade before this official declaration by the WHO I have a deep seated internal drive that has pushed me to expand and grow over the years.
I’m one of those types of people that if you tell me I can’t, I’ll respond with watch me. Even if I have to climb hills, knock down walls, swim upstream to do it. Looking back at the journey now, you know, with the proverbial 2020 hindsight, I gambled with my vitality at the Corporate High Roller Card Table.
Stage 1, the buy in. It was all about the grind culture. It was celebrated, acknowledged. High engagement, high productivity, and a whole bunch of excess responsibility was seen as a valid get ahead strategy. Who doesn’t want to do a good job and excel at what they do?
Gallup’s State of Global Workplace 2023 report seems to indicate the contrary. According to their polls, the majority of the global population is quietly quitting. And this lack of engagement costs companies 8. 8 trillion, or about 9 percent of global GDP. Engagement is a good thing, especially if you’re a company looking to maximize employee output through performance and productivity.
So figuring out your corporate employee benefits seems like a good place to start. This study indicated that 41 percent of employees wanted to be seen, heard, and respected more. 28 percent wanted money in their pockets for their efforts. And 16 percent wanted to be valued as a human being. Seems reasonable, right?
I mean, I can surely relate. The cost of my buy in was 16 hour days, working sometimes till 4 a. m. in the morning. My commute was 70 miles each way. Sleeping was underrated. Not to mention carving out time for healthy activities like exercise was near impossible. Not if I planned to get to the office on time with traffic.
I clearly didn’t understand the concept of personal boundaries. And wellness? Well… I quit smoking. Stage 2, the small blind. The initial forced bet on your way to burnout comes by way of dissatisfaction.
Stress rears its ugly head in multiple forms, such as lack of sleep, weight gain, brain fog, and of course, stress at work tends to lead to stress at home. Snowball effect without proper attention. Thank you for watching. My stakes in the game rose right around the time I had my son and was promoted upon return from maternity leave.
The short time I was on maternity leave didn’t quite seem sufficient enough to get back to pre baby form. Now I added pumping in my car and the guilt of a chronically absent mother to my plate. Since that time, I’ve participated in multiple employee benefit redesigns that involved everything from retirement plans to wellness programs.
Simple things like time off policies were bypassed for more profitable initiatives to reduce overall healthcare costs. Makeshift areas in conference rooms and training centers turned into little blood pressure and weigh stations. Premium deductions incentivizes employees to become more physically healthy and the cost burdens of unhealthy lifestyles shifted back to the employees.
At implementation, sentiments for these types of benefit changes were mixed. I remember being relieved when I dipped just under the threshold. Wouldn’t it be ironic to pay for the stakes twice? Of course, that was pre pandemic. According to AON’s 2022 2023 Global Well Being Survey Report, 63 percent of companies consider employee well being more important since 2020, and 87 percent have at least one well being initiative with the top five on the radar, mental health, burnout, work culture, virtual and hybrid work support, and financial stress.
So that’s good news. While this report indicated that investment in well being and program effectiveness are on the rise, only 50 percent of companies allocate just 2 5 percent of benefits to employee well being, even though it’s estimated to improve company performance by at least 11 percent and reduce employee turnover.
Now come on all you high performers, let’s double down.
Steven Koler outta the, , flow Research Collective, they do a lot of quantified research on flow state and coolest, craziest little thing that they’ve impressed upon me is that flow, an altered state of consciousness where we feel and perform our best, where time gets weird and our experience of reality shifts in a very profound and impactful way.
Occurs in four stages. The first stage of flow is struggle. Now we take a brief point of respite.
So we might take, you know, five to 10 minutes to, to step away from that thing we’ve done for this period of time and just like pause. Could be just like staring at a wall. Could be just going for a walk, After that, the third stage in the flow cycle process is flow. That’s when we enter that alter state of consciousness. And then the fourth phase is recovery. So you’re like,
I’m exhausted. It’s like, yeah, because flow is expensive because it, it costs norepinephrine and dopamine and endorphins, andandamide.
It’s this incredibly, positively taxing experience in our bike’s why it feels so good. But just like after you’ve done an extensive run afterwards, it’s like, Ugh, wow. I’m tired. It felt like you just ran a marathon. It’s like, makes sense. Mm-hmm.
That was Wolf Castillo, a performance and accountability coach, talking about flow cycle, which is sometimes referenced as a solution to burnout. But in my experience, the last stage, rest and recovery, doesn’t come. And bypassing this critical part of the cycle turns chronic stress into deeper bouts of anger, frustration, depression, anxiety, disease.
In North America, employees responded that a whopping 52 percent experienced daily stress, and a lot of it the day prior to the survey. So here’s a few trillion dollar question. What benefits sweeten the pot? There are quite a few interesting options that companies have started to offer. How about flexible work schedule?
Unlimited personal time off, or a set dollar limit to select your own preferences from a smorgasbord benefit menu. Doggy daycare, anyone? Yet, interestingly, a Gallup global survey showed that engagement affected stress 3. 8 times more positively than work arrangements. So maybe there is something to that flow cycle.
This leads us to initiatives around employee experience. . Now that is a big bucket that can include everything from diversity, equity, inclusion initiatives, wellness programs, and workspace design.
Research indicates that Good Employee Experience translates directly to Good customer experience. Again, a win for companies. Now, not all companies have employee experience as a strategic initiative. Listen to a clip from my interview with Jen Liss as she described her experience leaving one company for another with a formal employee experience department.
Stage 4. I was like this company has had employee experience for a decade.
For a decade. I was like, oh my gosh. The holy Grail, like nobody has employee experience. This is like a thing everybody feels like they have to have now. I found a company who’s had it for a decade, and then I get there and my balloon was just popped to be fully honest with you. My balloon was popped and maybe I was a bit of a PollyAnna about things, but I was like, wow, if a company could have employee experience for this long.
And there’s still so much misunderstanding of and inability to help people, to help people grow within a company, to help them see their gifts, to help them use their gifts, to help people be creative and solve the problems that we have here in the world. Like, I mean, that’s a, a decade and just like hundreds of people working on this.
It just really burst my personal bubble. So, so why do you think it was so difficult? was it a, you know, a false expectation? Was it something that was unattainable?
Yeah. To be honest, I don’t know. I think that there’s a lot of research that could be done and probably is being done in that department. Like why with the money and the time and the energy that we are pouring into Human Resources and into Experience, why is this still such a struggle, especially in a big corporation and from my perspective, corporations simply aren’t built to help people, to enable them to be their best.
That’s not the structure of the corporate environment. It’s generally built for people to be cogs and to perform a role that performs a service for the business. And so we are starting from the wrong place in many situations. We’re not starting with the people and thinking about how amazing those people can be and what they can do.
We’re thinking about here’s the business and here’s what I need people to do. So that from the get go, we’re starting from the wrong place with the way that we look at people and the way that we look at talent.
Stage four, the call. You know what they say, you gotta know when to hold them and know when to fold them. This is where escapism and bad coping mechanisms take worse to worst. So at this point you may be asking yourself, how can companies become more effective in employee experience and help prevent people getting to this stage?
Best practices indicate that leader involvement is critical in the effectiveness of both wellness programs and employee experience. Leaders influence the culture. Leaders have the ability to make the necessary changes to further improve employee well being. And according to Aon’s report, there is an opportunity to improve here, not to mention a good business case for it.
I’d like to mention that progressive companies are not only involving leadership, but are developing integrated strategies for employee well being. Companies like Pandora and Lululemon have leveraged health and wellness coaching for all levels of employees, but starting with leaders, and strategy design that takes a trauma informed approach to incorporate multiple dimensions of wellness into the workspace.
As of 2020, workplace wellness was only 49 billion of the 4. 4 wellness industry I imagine this subsection will continue to grow exponentially as more companies realize that technology is not the only area worth investing in Stage 5, Dead Man’s Hand. Welp, the hands are called.
I think my conversation with Heidi Hope, a coach that not only experienced burnout herself working as an entrepreneur, but who now currently works with other high performing women in the midst of pivoting, sums it up best.
I was, ready to pivot, but not sure how, or kind of, feeling the burnout, feeling like I just don’t wanna do it anymore.
and thinking the problem is the job, and then all of a sudden I’m, I have all this time and I realized the problem wasn’t the job. , I could have fixed the problem within the job. I could have. ultimately I’m glad I went on the path that I did. But you, you can have the same problem in any job if the problem’s within, right?
Mm-hmm. And so, so many times we, we blame external circumstances for the way that we’re feeling inside. And I had to go through that journey of being like, oh, the way I feel inside is the starting point. That is creating my external circumstances, so I can keep changing the picture out here, but if I don’t change the picture in here, I’m still gonna feel the same way.
Check out next week to listen to a bonus episode of My Vitality Exchange Conversation with Heidi Hope. This also leads us into our next trend topic, Our Natural Ability to Heal. Thank you for joining.