Transcript: Episode 166 – Blending Work and Life
April 10, 2023
Show Notes: Episode 167 – Supporting Mothers Returning to Work
April 24, 2023

Click here for this episode’s show notes.

This transcript was created using an automated transcription service and may contain errors.

Lori 00:02

We have a narrative in our head that, oh, we’re doing something wrong by, you know, going to work and we should, quote unquote, be the one staying home. It’s not true. Like, human history bears out the fact that women have worked since the dawn of time.

Susan 00:13

Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we help HR and business leaders embrace joy in the workplace. I’m Susan White, owner of Susan Tinder White Consulting, an HR consulting practice. Joining me is my co-host and dear friend JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink and Powered by Purple Ink, a professional network that I’m part of.

Susan 00:34

Today, we’re going to talk about how we, as business leaders and HR professionals, can help ensure mothers, first of all, decide to come back to work after babies come into their lives. And secondly, hopefully thrive as working parents. JoDee, you have three adult children. Tell us about when you had your babies. Were you working full time, part time? Did you want to stay home? Did you want to keep working? What was going on in your life?

JoDee 01:00

I was in the world of public accounting at the time I had all three of my kids, and public accounting is known very much as a place with flexible work hours, working seasonally, working part time or full time, so I always felt completely supported during those times and I knew that I also had many options. The little tricky part for me is when I had my first daughter, that’s when I moved into an internal role taking on more HR responsibilities, so that wasn’t quite as flexible as maybe on the accounting side which I had just left. But, you know, I always thought that I would work full time, and I think I was and have been a better mom for working and balancing. But I also, you know, I just can’t say enough how much flexibility I had during that time. It didn’t mean I didn’t work lots of hours, but I could do that in a very flexible way.

Susan 02:14

Wow, that is terrific. So I had my two babies in the mid to late 80s, and I was working in banking, which was not known for flexibility at all. And I had recently moved into HR from the branch administration world. And although they were very supportive, my employer was supportive in a verbal way, there really wasn’t anything material at the time they could have done for me. My husband was, when I had my first child, was still in school, he had gone back to school to become an architect, and so I was a single wage earner, so I did not feel I had any choice in the world about was I going to work or not work. I definitely was going to work. We had student loans building up, I had a baby on the way, and we wanted to live and have, you know, eat three times a day, so I found it not a choice thing, and I just always felt like I probably was going to be working full time the rest of my life. And as it turned out, I know you and I’ve talked in past episodes, when my oldest became five and my youngest was two, I was able to work four days a week for about 10 years, which was terrific. At that point my husband was working, we’d paid off student debt and moving on. But it was a balance for me. I had to figure out how was I going to be a person on a career path hopefully upward and be a good mother. So I think I had good moments and I had bad moments in all those years.

JoDee 03:39

You know, Susan, you talking about your husband being in school… you know, actually, I forgot that when I had my first that Matt was in school, also. He went back to school to be a physical therapist, so he had a lot of flexibility during the day and getting our kids to where they needed to be and all that as well.

Susan 04:05

Nice. The US Census Bureau did a study entitled “Opting Out: An Exploration of Labor Force Participation of New Mothers.” The study found 50% of women ages 16 to 50 who birthed a child within the last 12 months are employed. Of those, 63.2% are working less than 40 hours a week, so part time of some nature. There is a greater probability of returning to work in those first 12 months for women who are healthcare practitioners or in the technical field. The least probable are women in the construction, farming, fishing, or forestry lines of work. Factors that can influence the return to work include the higher the education, the more likely they are to return.

JoDee 04:52

The higher the financial resources, the more likely they are to return.

Susan 04:58

Women with more children are more likely to opt out.

JoDee 05:02

And married women are more likely to opt out as well.

Susan 05:06

In today’s world, organizations need as many qualified workers in play as they can get, full time, part time, or however we can get them back into the workforce. Our first guest today has insights that might help us as employers better support new parents so their staying in the workforce is more likely. So our guest is Lori Mihalich-Levin, JD, and she believes in empowering working parents. She is the Founder and CEO of Mindful Returns. Lori is the author of “Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave.” And Lori is the co-host of the Parents at Work podcast. Her thought leadership has been featured in publications including Forbes, The Washington Post, the New York Times Parenting, and Thrival Global.

JoDee 05:59

Lori, it’s so nice to have you join us today. Tell us a little bit about yourself, about being at lawyer, a mom, and how you started doing this kind of work.

Lori 06:10

Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me on JoDee and Susan. I like to say that I wear three main hats in life. And one is that I am mom to two wonderful redheaded boys who are now ages 10 and 12, fourth and sixth grade. Hat number two is that I run this program, Mindful Return, that helps new parents transition back to work after parental leave and helps employers to retain their working parent talent. And then hat number three is that I’m a lawyer. I’m a Medicare regulatory reimbursement lawyer, and I used to be a partner at a firm, but now I practice law as my side gig. So I sort of fit those three things together. I created the Mindful Return program out of sheer desperation when I returned to work myself full-time after having my two boys and I looked around for resources and courses I could take about navigating that transition, both professionally and personally, in my identity from working person to working parent and I came up very short. I found all sorts of wonderful resources around my baby. I could learn how to puree baby food or pump or, you know, give my baby a massage. I could take a class on that, but I couldn’t take a class or join a community specifically about becoming a working mom. And so basically, I set out to create what I wished had existed for myself.

Susan 07:34

What a great idea. Lori, what do you think some of the most common challenges that you see among new parents returning to work after parental leave?

Lori 07:42

Yeah, the list is very long. It’s a couple hundred miles long, perhaps, but I will identify a couple of… a few of the top ones that I see commonly. One is a definite effect of the lack of sleep, right? Because your sleep is often disrupted by the baby in the middle of the night. And just figuring out how to give yourself grace and cope with that and figuring out what is the priority in a day. I say “the G word,” guilt is a big one for the new parent, right? Especially for new moms and sort of the expectations that we put on them. And leaving a child with a caregiver for the first time who is not the parent is often very… an emotional situation. And you know, we’ve worked on strategies for coping with that. Even if you know that person is perfectly competent, trust builds over time, and so you’re not going to feel okay with it that very first day, very first week back. Shaken confidence by the fact that there are very real maternal biases and discrimination against even new dads in the workplace, and how will… you will be perceived. You know, there are a lot of fears about how I will be viewed? Will I be viewed as less competent? Will I be viewed as less committed to this role now that I have a child? There are concerns about breastfeeding and nursing and pumping during the day. As I said, the list is long, but those are a few of the highlights.

Susan 09:11

I think all of those are going to resonate with our listeners.

Lori 09:14

Mm hmm.

JoDee 09:15

I agree. How can employers support new parents through this major life transition with their employees? And by the way, I’m glad that you mentioned dads and fathers or parental leave, because that is way more common now than it was when I had my kids, for sure.

Lori 09:36

Yes, the list of ways employers can support their employees is equally as long as the number of challenges for the employees, so I will go over a couple, but just as employers, please don’t… if you’re listening to this, don’t feel helpless. There are a lot of things you can do. The first of which doesn’t cost any money, but it is simply to believe in your working parent colleague for the long haul and know that this period of shift and transition and change is a blip in the long career of this person’s life. Second, I would encourage you to reflect on and speak about all of the wonderful skills that parents gain through parenthood that are directly useful in their careers and view these people as amazing potential leaders, right? I’ve never seen so many people grow up so fast as having a child and, you know, coming back to work. So believe in them as leaders, provide them with supports including, yes, paid parental leave, gender-neutral parental leave that does not have a primary and secondary caregiver distinction in your policy, provide transition support, like the Mindful Return program, like coaching that you can provide, have something waiting for them on their desk on the first day back, you know, send them a little gift, often companies will send the company branded onesie, you know, baby onesie, I wrote a book called “Back to Work After Baby,” that some people put, like, in the package of… of gifts, that there’s any number of things you can do. You can set up a mentoring program, you can support your parent ERG if you have one or encourage one to get off the ground if you don’t. Employers can feel, I think, empowered to really change the narrative within their organizations.

Susan 11:19

I love all those ideas. Absolutely. I’d love a parent ERG. I haven’t worked with a company that had one, but what a great idea, a new parent ERG.

Lori 11:27

Yeah, I’m a serial founder of parent ERGs.

Lori 11:30

I started two – one at a prior company and one at the law firm where I worked. And then I started collecting people who were leaders of parent ERGs so that I wasn’t recreating the wheel every time I wanted to plan. And we’ve now grown a network, it’s called the Working Parent Group Network of 260-some leaders of working parent ERGs across the country. It has mushroomed over the past seven years. And we all get together once a month to just, like, talk about how we’re running our groups and things like that. So if any leaders of working parent groups or people who want to create one at your place of employment want to join us, just feel free to go to the Working Parent Group Network page on the Mindful Return site, and you can just join our community, we’re a great email list and free and just a way to support each other.

Susan 11:30

I love it.

Susan 12:16

I love that. And we’re gonna put that information in our show notes. So thank you, Laurie, for that. So let’s switch gears for a moment and think about the parents, the new mom, new dad. Why do you think it’s so important to encourage both moms and dads to take parental leave?

Lori 12:32

I am firmly convinced, based on the data that exists, that the more we encourage fathers to take their full parental leave, the more active a father is in the early days of a child’s life, the better off a woman’s career ends up doing – right? – the more success a woman tends to have in her career. And so if we are ever going to reach gender equality, if we’re ever going to reach pay equity in this country, I think we need to be just as encouraging of moms and dads to take the leave. Imagine a scenario where you’re interviewing two candidates for a role and someone has the thought, “oh, this woman, she seems to be in that age where she might have a kid, I don’t know if I want to hire her.” And imagine if a guy walks in next, and the same thought runs through the head, right? “Oh my gosh, he might be in the same age of having…” And if he’s just as likely to take a leave, that will no longer be a deciding factor in deciding whether or not to hire that candidate. So I’m all for degendering and destigmatizing the taking of parental leave. One last point is, it’s been found – and I’ve seen this in my own experience – that when one father on a team, especially someone who has some amount of leadership position, takes his full leave, the dads after him feel empowered to take theirs. So I think it’s so important that leaders speak about these issues, they normalize these issues, and then they actually do the thing. They take the time and they make it okay for everybody else to take it too.

JoDee 13:58

Yeah, I do think that is so important, as well. They have to not just say it, but do it.

Lori 14:05

Do it. Yeah.

JoDee 14:07

You’ve talked about loving your kids and your career. And what strategies do you have for dealing with that inner conflict that comes with it sometimes?

Lori 14:18

Yeah, this has been a lifelong journey for me, or perhaps at least an over decade journey since I’ve had my two children, and my thoughts on it have changed and evolved over the years as I’ve gotten sort of stronger in my own belief and voice that both are very important. One of the things that has influenced me a lot has been the work of Dr. Yael Schonbrun, who writes about work-life enrichment, as opposed to conflict. And I truly and utterly believe that I am better at my job because I pause every day to be with my children and gain the skills that I get from parenthood and disconnect from the work, and I know that I’m a better parent because I have my own passion and missions and ways that I grow and nurture myself. So I really view them as sort of one really supporting the other. I’ve also been influenced by the work of Dr. Ruth Feldman at Yale Medical School. She’s a neuroscientist who – or a neurologist who has learned that the… the period of time when the brain is the most neuroplastic in the entire adult human experience is that one year after having a child, and so, I mean, we talk about baby brain as like, oh, the fog of having a baby. But there’s also baby brain. It’s like our brains are actually… our neural network’s actually being rewired. The last thing I’ll say is that I love, love, loved and relied on a lot in early parenthood, the book “Overwhelmed,” by Brigid Schulte. In this book, she talks about an evolutionary anthropologist named Sarah Blaffer Hrdy who studied women thousands of years ago in the Kalahari Desert and discovered that women relied on what she calls alloparents to take care of the children. So not just like, oh, yes, there’s a village helping us, but the women went off to work, the women left the village to go gather and do whatever they needed, and they left their children with other people. And so to the extent we have a narrative in our head, that, oh, we’re doing something wrong by, you know, going to work, and we should, quote unquote, be the one staying home. It’s not true. Human history bears out the fact that women have worked since the dawn of time. And so normalizing that really helped me to get my head in a better place, to say, look, I’m not doing anything aberrant. I’m doing what humans have done since the dawn of time.

Susan 16:39

Terrific. So our JoyPowered® question for you. What’s one small step or change you made during your career that boosted your joy at work?

Lori 16:50

The biggest thing that boosted my joy was saying yes to starting my own passion project. I was a lawyer, and still am a lawyer, but I had this idea that, gosh, like, there are supports that need to be created and resources that need to be built. And I had an 11 month old and a two year old, and that’s not exactly the phase when one sets out to create one’s own business. I just – and I wasn’t even really thinking that I was going to create a business, I just wanted to start sharing resources and helping people go through what I had been through. And probably the most joy that it brought me was just 15 to 20 minutes a day where I would sit down and do something for Mindful Return. That was an outlet for me. I have read literature that says that people with portfolio careers where they have, you know, different aspects, people who have a, quote unquote, side gig are often happier in their day job, because they don’t rely on the day job for all of the fulfillment that they’re looking for in a professional outlet. So I use my analytical skills and my, like, legal reasoning and whatnot on my legal side, but then I get to use this creative side of myself and community building side of myself in Mindful Return land. So I think it was, like, saying yes to this thing that brought me joy in tiny, tiny pieces every day was the biggest… biggest thing that has helped me feel really happy in my career.

Susan 18:09

Wonderful. Love it.

JoDee 18:11

Yeah. How can our listeners reach out to you if they’re interested in learning more about you or Mindful Return?

Lori 18:21

Our website is www dot mindful return. You can also shoot me an email at Lori – L-O-R-I – at mindful return dot com. If you’re an employer who would like a demo of one of our programs so that you can better support your new parent employees, you can reach out on our employer page on the website. We’re on all the usual social media channels. I do a Tuesday Tip for working parents every week on Instagram @mindfulreturn. If you listen to the podcast and are on LinkedIn, feel free to link in with me. And I guess you can find my book, “Back to Work After Baby,” on Amazon and all the places that one finds books. And my husband and I co-host a podcast called Parents at Work that you can find on all the places one finds podcasts.

JoDee 19:07

I love it.

Susan 19:08

I am definitely going to take a listen. Alright, Well thank you so much for being here. We wish you the very best.

Lori 19:15

Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure.

JoDee 19:17

Thank you.

Susan 19:18

For our second guests, we thought it would be fun to invite a husband and wife who both work and are expecting their first child in June – Keeli and Magnus. They are JoyPowered® VIPs, as Keeli is JoDee’s daughter, and we are both so tickled that they’re making JoDee a grandma. Keeli and Magnus, we are so glad that you’re here and we’re so glad you’re making JoDee a grandma. Thank you.

JoDee 19:40

We’re very glad about that.

Susan 19:43

We’re very, very happy about it. Could you tell us our listeners about what each of you do for work now and where you do it?

Keeli 19:50

Yeah, so I’m Keeli and I am a PhD student at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, sort of like a Swedish Purdue, you could say. And that’s in southern Sweden, but we have several campuses.

Susan 20:06


Magnus 20:07

Yes. And my…my name is Magnus, as you know, and I’m a researcher at the Forest Research Institutes of Sweden. Yeah. And I’m hired as a… as a researcher in… in forestry.

Susan 20:21


JoDee 20:21

So I know you guys have told me several times about how amazing Sweden is in supporting new parents. Can you share some of those with us?

Keeli 20:33

Yeah, so we feel really lucky, because really, Sweden has the best in the world. We as a couple get 480 days to share. So not… we don’t get 480 days each. But then 90 of those… of those days are sort of use it or lose it for the dad. But otherwise, we can share them however we want to. And then for 390 of the days, we are paid at 80 percent-ish, or maximum 80% of the income that we that we earn. But that is not paid by our employer. It’s paid by, like, the National Insurance.

Susan 21:18


Keeli 21:18

Yeah. What did I miss?

Magnus 21:20

Well, the… the government is basically funding our parental leave, which Keeli just talked about. And I think you as a… as the mother are… you can use some of those days even before you’re due, because, you know, some don’t feel too good the month before and can use that to… to get leave. And directly after the birth, both of the parents get 10 days of leave from work – or, like, paid paid leave. Because those two weeks are important.

Susan 21:57

Oh, yes. And those don’t count as part of your 480 days?

Magnus 22:01

I don’t think so.

Keeli 22:03

For the father or other parent that is not giving birth, then those are like 10… 10 days in addition. But then we can also say that all of those 480 days, you can use up until the child is… I think 12 years old. So you don’t have to use it all at once. You can spread them out.

Susan 22:22

You could take 30 days every summer, if you want to be off for, you know, a month, every year?

Keeli 22:27


Susan 22:27


Keeli 22:28

A lot of people do that to, like, extend their… their summer vacations or things like that.

Susan 22:34

And your employer is not allowed to fire you? I mean, your job is secure? It’s secure, no matter how you take your 480 days? Wow.

Keeli 22:42


Magnus 22:43

It’s illegal, like, to be discriminated because of that… that you’re pregnant. So if you’re… if you’re at the… at an interview, and if you’re pregnant, then that shouldn’t, like, count as a reason for… for not hiring you. It should be on your… on your merits. And I think since this is so, like, normalized in Sweden and has been for… for so many years, it’s… it is something that you as an employer, you know it and you don’t account for in the same way as, like… it’s… it’s not a shock, really, for… for an employer to do.

JoDee 23:18

What’s also interesting compared to the US, is that that’s a government rule, right? So it doesn’t matter if, oh, I want to work for this company, because they have better maternity leave than someone else. It’s just all equal.

Keeli 23:35

Yeah, I can say there are… like, since I still work for the University, that’s technically the state, and then there are a few extra benefits that I can get and sort of that… like, it is my right to work at a reduced percentage, also until the child is eight or twelve, I think, and so that’s also… yeah, I could… I could say that I want to work just 80% for a while. But in the private sector, I think you could negotiate for that. But when you work for the state that is guaranteed.

Susan 24:13

Wow, amazing. So what’s on your worry list about being a new parent and working? It’s obviously not the time off, which is great, but what other categories might there be?

Magnus 24:23

I mean, because of the situation in Sweden and in the Scandinavian countries in general is…is so favorable, it’s… a lot of stresses that are reduced compared to if you would live in another country. But, like, for me personally, it would maybe be that I… that my workplace is an hour away. If Keeli would be home it would be some… some time away, but in the… on the other hand, I will probably work home around two or three days a week, so it’s… it’s nothing that is… I don’t have any, like, worries regarding, like, this in particular.

Keeli 25:02

One thing I’m worried about is, like, that this option to work from home is kind of a blessing and a curse. Because it’s nice that, you know, if the baby is up all night and I want to start work later, that I can do that, because I also have quite a long commute, like Magnus. But it’s also then when I go back to work, I want to focus on work, and I think it’s gonna be really hard to focus when I know that Magnus and the baby are in the other room. And I think it will be hard for the baby to… to know, especially as… when I first transition to going back to work, for the baby to also want me and cry for me, and I will just be, you know, behind a door. It will be really hard to listen to that, I think. Yeah, our house isn’t that big, so we don’t have too many places to hide. But I think in a way, that’s also kind of encouraging to really go back to the office. So yeah, for both of us that we really get that focused work time whenever when we go back.

Susan 26:09

Fair enough.

JoDee 26:10

Have you found that your vantage points differ career-wise between the two of you, like what you’re expecting, hoping for, concerned about as the soon to be mom versus the soon to be dad, or not really?

Magnus 26:26

I think that Keeli and I’s positions are very equal, since we’re both in academia, and have been… have been doing PhDs, both of us, and Keeli is currently in her…in hers. But I think the… like, the difference between us is maybe that I am three years older, and it has turned out that I’m also like sort of three years ahead in my career. Like, I now have, like, a full-time job, or, like… What’s it called?

Keeli 26:55

A permanent position. Yeah, like permanent, long-term.

Magnus 26:59

So as for now I have a permanent position at this Research Institute, which is very good. And I have a higher salary than a PhD student, and also compared to what Keeli has now. So this is sort of… it does affect many, many parents in their decision in… like, who should be on parental leave the longest, for example? And I think that is a discussion we will also have in between us, like, because your salary, quote unquote, from… from the government is determined by your salary before. So yeah, that’s one way that… that it will affect us, basically.

Keeli 27:00

Yeah. And I think this is sort of the main struggle that we are having, like, does it make… Does it make more sense for me to take a longer time because I make less money, or…? Yeah, that it’s this sort of classic issue, whether you have six weeks or six months, you know, it’s…

Susan 27:59

Doesn’t matter. It’s still a struggle. Right.

Keeli 28:00

Yeah. But I think that, like Magnus said, he’s kind of… we have, like, very similar career paths, but I have this sort of three years behind him. And a lot of people say that to have a baby during the PhD is amazing timing, because you… I mean, I still am, like, a… an employee, but I’m very independent, so it’s… my project basically just goes on pause on the months while I’m gone. So in that way, you know, it’s not a lot of other people that are depending on me, but it is still that I don’t want to be in this PhD at this level too much longer than I have to be.

Susan 28:42


Keeli 28:42

So I think in addition to the money, it’s kind of this status thing that in academia, you… you want to get past this PhD, the PhD level. So I feel also that I don’t want to take too, too long, so that I can, you know, get that doctor… doctor title and also, you know, get a higher income after I’m done.

Susan 29:06

That makes sense. That delay, that’s something to consider. I know, Keeli, you’ve worked in the United States, and now that you’ve worked in Sweden, are there some simple things that you think HR professionals and business leaders could do that could make a difference to their staff members who are facing this whole new world of working parents? Certainly more generous time off seems really important, but can you think of anything else that HR and business leaders should be thinking about to support people who are going to be returning to work after baby?

Keeli 29:35

Well, I think one big thing is that… the legal standard, but that is not something that an individual HR person or business leader can affect. But I do think that kind of having a good protocol for, like, when do I need to inform my employer? When I’m still pregnant, how far in advance do I need to tell my employer that I’m pregnant? And then when I… I’m deciding… you know, you don’t know what day the baby’s gonna come. So I think also having, like, a sort of open discussion about how many days before my due date, or will it be the due date that I stop working, and that, you know, you have this kind of ability to negotiate that openly. But I think the tricky thing is, you know, you don’t know, especially for your first baby, how long… how much time you’re going to need. So I think if you as an employer can be flexible with, you know, when… when you come back, or at least when you come back full-time, that can… I think that can make a really big difference, you know, knowing that you have… that your job is still there. And, you know, even if I’m not sure if I’ll come back on March 1 or March 30, or something like that, but I think it’s… it depends so much on what kind of job you have, of course, you know, and how dependent your team is on you and things like that.

Magnus 31:06

If there is no, like, policy in the in the company or, like, regarding how you deal with… with this, with the circumstance that you are… that people get pregnant, then there should probably… and you as a company should probably develop that in a way and that it is sort of, I think, like, regarding pregnancy, like, parental leave it is… it is… it sort of builds on… on a lot of empathy. I think that, like, what… what do you want.. or, like, how do you want your coworkers and employees to feel when they go to work? That is, like, if you… if you can give your employees that stability and comfort, like, those first months, then… then they will probably be more inclined to stay.

Susan 31:56

I think that’s true.

Magnus 31:57

Yeah. And I guess that’s something that bigger companies are more capable of doing, but I think, yeah, it’s just something to consider, because it is such a natural part of… of life as a young adult and becoming a parent.

Keeli 32:16

But another thing I just thought of, and I’m not really sure how realistic this is, probably also depends a lot on the size of the company. But it could also be, too, for the company to kind of make a deal with local daycare, you know, so you have sort of a… like, a reference when… so whenever you are going to go back to work that you know that your child can be somewhere close by and that, you know, maybe… yeah, there’s some agreement between your company and the… the daycare, but I have no idea if anyone does that. But…

Susan 32:50

Yeah, there are a number of companies who will do that, that they will either have on-site childcare or they’ll have agreements with different options, and sometimes some companies subsidize it. So I think those companies are really sincere about being empathetic and showing the support. And even small companies can figure out ways to at least, perhaps, have some, you know, vetted good nearby resources, even if they don’t supplement the cost. I think it is important. Thank you.

JoDee 33:18

Well, thank you both for joining us, especially because you’re coming from so far away. And of course, we wish you the very best for your family and your careers. And I can’t wait to meet my new grandchild.

Susan 33:36

And I can’t wait to see photos.

Keeli 33:39

But thanks so much. It’s fun to talk about it.

Magnus 33:42

Yeah, thank you for inviting us.

JoDee 33:45

Susan, for our listener question today, one of our listeners asked, “How do you approach a manager that is very resistant to virtual learning, even though there is a very large opportunity to participate in it at our company?”

Susan 34:03

I would say that in today’s world – we’re in 2023 when this is being recorded – I want to ask the guy, what have you been doing the last three years when the world had to figure out how to do everything virtually? But no, I probably… I’d say that to myself, I would not say that out loud to the leader. Instead, I think I’d try to come at this by building a business case, so I would gather facts. First of all, what’s the data out there? Like, where are our gaps today in our training? What are the needs we’re not currently able to meet with, you know, stand up, in-person, gather people together? What are the opportunity costs of us not doing virtual training? And then I would gather data on what type of virtual training is available or what could we create that might be very meaningful to fill in some of the gaps, those training need gaps that we have. So I would build a business case, first of all, with kind of the intel. What is the data out there? Because I want to come at this business leader with some facts, not with emotions, but with facts. And then when I think I have it, I can actually have some good examples of things that we could offer up, maybe some existing training that is in the universe that we could, you know, bring to bear, I would ask the leader to test it themselves. I’d want them to actually experience it and say, I would love for you and maybe a few other people who you really value their opinions, I’d like to put a cohort together that would actually experience some virtual training that I’d love your feedback on and do it kind of like a small pilot, get their feedback, get their a-has they’re learning. I am hopeful by, first of all, showing the compelling need for it and how it could, you know, meet our needs, and then having them experience it, that this leader would slowly but surely come around. JoDee, I don’t know if you have any other ideas maybe to help with this issue?

JoDee 35:54

No, I love all of those. I just… on a personal note, I’ll tell you as a trainer myself, but also as a participant in virtual learning, I much prefer live. However, I’ve been able to learn from people online and webinars and, you know, different resources, who I would never be able to be in a live class with, or the expense would be greater. So I… I just really feel strongly that we have to lean into that, at least some of the time, right? If we can pair it virtually and live, you know, that’s probably the best of both worlds.

Susan 36:40

Yeah, I totally agree with you. I had another thought. Maybe if you could get an advocate at the senior table to actually say, you know, Susan’s not crazy here, we really could get some just-in-time skills out to some of our employees that we’re never going to be able to pull them all in a room and do stand-up, live training for them. Let’s try this. Let’s pilot some things. Maybe that will help get it, you know, pushed forward. Listener, we’d love to hear from you about what works, what doesn’t work, and anything that we can do to help on this, because I’m sure it’s a challenge for you.

Susan 37:14

In the news today, I’d like to cite a SHRM-posted article on LinkedIn. It was posted back February 17th of 2023. They talked about a thousand-employee nationwide survey that found that 50% of workers experience the “Sunday Scaries” before returning to work after time off. JoDee, I cannot imagine that you ever have had Sunday night blues about going back to work, but have you ever in your career?

JoDee 37:43

They’ve been very infrequent, but I would tell you that a couple of times throughout my career, I did not look forward to going to work, and when I found myself in that position… I mean, it might have taken me some… some time to move forward, but I moved out of the role I was in.

Susan 38:06

Good for you. You took that as a sign, I don’t need to be doing this. I will tell you at the White house, as our kids were growing up, every Sunday night was Sunday night blues because you’re going back to school, and my husband usually has a little bit of Sunday night blues. He loves what he does, but he still gets it. You know, tomorrow’s Monday, I gotta… I gotta focus, ugh. You know, we just… we all… I kind of honor, all right, Sunday night scaries are here. SHRM Foundation sees the dread of work as just one mental health concern that HR professionals and business leaders should be aware of and really start thinking about ways to deal with them. SHRM Foundation issued a “Mental Health in America: A 2022 Workplace Report” with really good data that I think’s worth reading. We will put a link to it on our show notes. We recently launched an episode entitled “Employee Wellbeing through Mind-Body Medicine,” February 27, 2023, that I think also provides practical ideas to address supporting our team members. The takeaway for me is that employees’ mental health has a direct link to the organization’s productivity, profitability, and sustainability as the stewards of our organization’s people functions. We are continuing, I think, to understand the strong need to prioritize supporting mental health.

JoDee 39:26

Amen. It’s a shame we didn’t do more of that before. But yes, I’m glad that we’re starting down that path more.

Susan 39:34

When we know better, we do better, right?

JoDee 39:36

Right. So, thanks for listening today. Please tune in next time, and make it a JoyPowered® day.

Susan 39:44

Thank you.

Susan 39:46

If you would like SHRM recertification credit for listening to this podcast, please visit You’ll find an evaluation of the podcast and once you complete the evaluation, you will see the SHRM recertification credit code and a link to a proof of participation certificate. Again, that’s Thank you for listening and thanks for your dedication to the HR profession. If you liked the show, please tell your friends about it and let us know what you think by rating and reviewing us on Apple Podcasts.

JoDee 40:21

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Susan 40:49

We hope you tune in next time, make it a JoyPowered® day.

Emily Miller
Emily Miller
Emily works behind the scenes at JoyPowered, helping to edit and publish the books, producing the podcast, and running the website and social media.

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