Be a human. Don’t burn the panini.
It’s been weeks since I attended the Virgin Pulse Thrive Summit 2023, but those two phrases, delivered during one of the keynote sessions, are still ringing in my head because of their impact. As humans, we’re wired with the negativity bias—the more stressed we are, the more terrible things start to look. The good news? There are things leaders can do to bring more resilience, connection, and care to the workplace to help their people thrive.
In her session, Drivers of Health: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, MA, MHSA, talked about how employers are the No. 1 trusted source for employees, according to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer. Disruptions due to COVID-19, inflation, and concerns about a recession continue to be very real issues for employees. During a recent Segal webinar, I talked about the importance of communication during times of change. As a trusted source of information, employers play a critical role in making sure employees and their family members receive accurate, timely, and consistent messaging.
You’ve heard of the sandwich generation—those who are taking care of their children and aging parents? Some people are now calling the sandwich generation the panini generation, because we’re burning from both sides. The panini generation is under a lot of stress—now more than ever—balancing caregiving responsibilities through a time of uncertainty and other increasing pressures. And the same holds true for your employees. As you’re considering adding new programs or how to communicate with employees in the panini generation, keep in mind the unique needs of this population and the benefits and resources that can ease their stress, such as time off, backup care, mental health resources, and well-being services.
Caregiving is a big source of stress. People generally don’t talk about caregiving and may not want to tell their boss about their child who is struggling in school or their parent who is losing their memory. According to a survey from Home Instead, Inc., roughly 48% of surveyed workers said their employer has warned them that their caregiving responsibilities are jeopardizing their employment, and many have left the workforce because of this added responsibility. It’s more important than ever to listen to these folks, advocate for them, and address family needs. In other words, don’t burn the panini.
Findings from the 2023 MetLife Employee Benefits Trend Study suggest that organizations that genuinely demonstrate employee care will be best positioned to attract and retain the best talent, even during difficult economic times.
Here’s what you can do:
I’ve always been someone who likes to keep my personal life private and out of the workplace. And I thought that meant I couldn’t be vulnerable at work or show people the real me. I was wrong. Being vulnerable makes you human and relatable. As leaders, we need to lead with empathy and gratitude. People are feeling disconnected in their personal lives, so if we can create that connection in the workplace, that can be really powerful.
In conclusion, be a human.
We’re proud to work with organizations that value their people. If you want to learn more, we’d love to talk.
Angela Purdum, VP Communications, draws on her extensive benefits and communications experience to create winning benefits communications strategies for her clients.