Show Notes: Episode 185 – Coaching with Kindness: How Empathy and Respect Get Results (with Libby Wagner)
January 1, 2024
Transcript: Episode 186 – Making Remote Work Work: Productivity and Collaboration When You Work from Home
January 15, 2024

Click here for this episode’s show notes.

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

Libby 00:02
76% of the people who felt like their managers were empathetic were more engaged. 50% more of those people were unlikely to leave.

Susan 00:12
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, a large-scale HR firm that I am an executive collaborator with.

Susan 00:33
In today’s episode we want to talk about coaching with kindness. Although there are 71,000 certified coaches in the world, most coaching that happens in the business world occurs by managers and supervisors with their direct reports. Webster defines coaching as “giving advice and instruction to someone regarding the course or process to be followed.” Certainly, managers and supervisors are doing that every hour of every day. According to a LinkedIn article written by Dat Tran with AI dated July 24, 2023, 73% of people who are coached believe they have improved their relationships, communication skills, interpersonal skills, work performance, work-life balance and wellness thanks to coaching.

JoDee 01:22
Wow, nice.

Susan 01:23
Isn’t that amazing? And most impressively, 51% of companies with a strong coaching culture report higher revenues than other companies in their industry. Many people managers are thrust into leadership jobs without training on how to coach employees. They know that they need to get the work done, and when someone isn’t delivering on the manager’s expectations, they don’t always know the right approach to use to talk to that staff member to course correct. So we’ve invited a guest to help us navigate how to do it in a JoyPowered® way — coaching with kindness. I’d like to introduce Libby Wagner. As one of the only former poetry professors invited into the boardroom, Libby Wagner is a trusted adviser for presidents, CEOs, executive directors, and others. Her work has shaped the cultures of numerous Fortune 500 clients, including the Boeing Company, Nike, Phillips, Costco, and Keurig Dr. Pepper. Using her unique approach, programs, and seminars, she empowers those she works with to articulate what they want, why they want it, and how to ask for it, creating the poetic difference. Driven to help individuals and organizations move to their creative edge, she helps others find their voices and stand solidly and confidently in them to create work and lives they love. Libby, we are so glad that you’re here.

Libby 02:50
Thank you so much. It’s great to be here today with both of you.

Susan 02:54
Our first question is, Libby, why do you think coaching with kindness is a viable practice for managers and supervisors? Can they really get the results they need if they coach with kindness?

Libby 03:05
When I first started my work and started working with people, you know, they used to call what I did “soft skills,” and it used to kind of make the hair on the back of my neck, you know, stand up, because it felt like it was devaluing what I was doing. And now I don’t really care what they call it, to be honest. But the short answer is yes. Coaching with kindness does matter, and they can get results. Let me give you a few statistics, okay? So this is very specifically for – it was a study that was done asking people… they asked them two questions. First, like, does your manager – do you consider your manager to be – manager to be empathetic? Do you think your manager delivers and demonstrates empathy? And then following that yes or no question, then we found out these data points. 76% of the people who felt like their managers were empathetic were more engaged. So I know, like, a lot of your work, we’re looking at employee engagement because we know the relationships between engagement and performance, engagement and retention, which also, 50% more of those people were unlikely to leave, because they felt like they were working for a manager who was empathetic and demonstrated empathy. 50% felt like their workplace was more inclusive, and a lot of us are working with diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and you know, a lot of that is based on practice and systemic things, but a lot of it’s also based on perception, and so they were perceiving that their workplace was more inclusive. 86% of them felt like the fact that their manager delivered empathy to them allowed them to better navigate the demands of their job, so that’s pretty significant, too.

JoDee 04:54
Wow. Yes.

Libby 04:55
And yeah, and the last one is 61% felt like they could be more innovative because they had a manager who delivered empathy. So, you know, I don’t know about you, but I’m a poet and a former college professor and I work inside organizations. I had to learn how to talk to business people when I first started my business, and most of the time you say, “Hey, how’s your empathy? How’s your kindness?” you know, you might get a lot of eye rolls and… because that’s not about the hard facts of business, but it is.

Susan 05:27
Yeah. Wow.

JoDee 05:29
You know, too, I can’t help but think here in Indiana, we’ve had a recent big event in that IU’s beloved coach for many years, Bob Knight, recently passed away. I don’t know if you follow sports at all, but he was known – lot of strong opinions on him both ways, but he was not a man known for coaching with kindness – that had positive results in a different way. But I’m with you. I think we can coach people with kindness.

Libby 06:06
Yeah. You know what, though, JoDee, that’s really interesting you mention that. So I do know who Bobby Knight is, I didn’t know he passed away. That’s… I am… That’s so sad for Indiana. I actually went to high school and undergrad school in Kentucky, where you know, basketball is a religion. And… and in fact, to the horror of my high school boyfriend, because I my grew up in the military, so we moved around a lot, but to the horror of his family, you know, one night at dinner, I said, “Well, who’s Adolph Rupp,” because everyone was talking about him and talking about him and…

JoDee 06:41
Uh oh.

Libby 06:42
I know, I was in trouble after that. But you know, it’s interesting, though. I feel like I have read more things about him and I know he was known for his passion and volatile personality and things like that. And here’s what I would say about that. Sometimes coaching with kindness isn’t necessarily gentle. And I’m guessing that many people who… who – now, maybe he… maybe he was a jerk, I don’t… I don’t know. I don’t think so. But I think that the… the perception of… of kindness and coaching with kindness means, like, you’re sweet and soft spoken. And that’s not it at all, actually, it’s really about a balance of accountability and respect. And it’s really about… about how we are – what our intention is, you know, as we’re approaching, so I don’t know how far I can go into the sports metaphor with you today, but I gave it a try.

Susan 07:34
You’ve already exhausted my knowledge of basketball, so I’m good.

JoDee 07:38
It is a great point, though, as he was very well-known for caring about his players. So. But how… you know, in a post-COVID workplace, or often we call it a VUCA now, Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous, how is maybe this concept of coaching with kindness different in that kind of workspace?

Libby 08:06
Well, I think there’s a couple of things that organizations need to think about. And, you know, I know a lot of your audience might be HR professionals, people who are business partners and supporting what’s going on in organizations. So I don’t know about you, but a lot of my clients are still having a hard time staffing, they’re still having a hard time recruiting the right people, you know, making sure they don’t have – you know, they have vacant… hundreds of vacancies for months and months and months. And I do think that some of that is related to the following, which is, many companies succeeded in spite of themselves prior to the pandemic. I think also they said – they had sort of rules. Like, I had a rule, right? Like, a lot of what I do is about helping people get ready for and have really important conversations, whether that’s one-on-one or with their teams or… or things like that. And people would say to me, well, don’t you have a virtual program? And I’d say, no, no, no, no, this has to be done in person. This is, you know… all the things, right? Like, you had – we had all these rules about how work needed to be done and what could happen, what could not happen. And so I think… I think many, you know, companies that had maybe a lot of things going for them, but they didn’t pay attention to how their employees’ engagement and connectivity was… was impacting these people. You know, a lot of them just said, I don’t – I’m not going back to that. And so we’re looking at people who have been successful but who haven’t paid attention to… or they – let’s just say this. They focused their intention solely on things that are transactional, solely on the bottom line, things like – and it’s not that those things aren’t important. It’s just that the bottom line’s at the bottom. Like, it’s the last thing that happens once you do all the other things. So this workplace of volatility, uncertainty, etc., I think that the companies that I… I’m working with and I’m seeing are paying much more attention to, how do we help? How do we equip people to be able to deal with constant chronic uncertainty? And that’s really about them having the skills to practice, you know, self care, to create relationships, to manage their own workload, you know, all those kinds of things, and to be willing to be in the conversation even when it’s messy and we – and there’s lots of ambiguity.

Susan 10:43
Libby, would you walk us through the primary elements of coaching with kindness?

Libby 10:49
My work is based on some research that was done by a few psychologists, you know, 30 or so years ago, and what they did was they looked at, what are the behaviors that can create an environment conducive to change? That’s honestly the short version of it. And you know, you’re – I’m sure you’re familiar with, you know, like, Marcus Buckingham’s “First, Break All the Rules” came at the end of the 90s. It was one of the first times that they said, well, like, what is it that the leaders are doing to help support great performance? Because most of the time, we’re just, like, looking at the performers and saying, “Well, what does this cool person do,” right? But what we hadn’t looked at before was, like, what’s the environment around this person that supports that high performance, high engagement, etc.? So what the research that I work with found was that there are four behavior groupings that create a high trust environment that allows people to be highly engaged, have high trust, perform better, etc. Like I always say to people, like, all the news is good on this side of the page, and the all the stuff you don’t want’s on the other. And it sounds so simple, it can’t possibly be true. But here’s what it is. It’s high levels of respect behaviors, high levels of empathy behaviors, high levels of specificity, and high levels of genuineness. And so part of what… what I like to look at and help people do is first of all, like, everybody’s got a poster with those words on the board. We know that. We all look at, you know, company values, and on some level or another, that’s what’s operating there is respect, empathy, specificity, and genuineness. The language might be different, but that’s what it is. But what most companies don’t do is define those things behaviorally, because I’ve never met anyone, even the most curmudgeonly, ornery, nobody wants to work with this person, who says, “I’m so disrespectful. Like, it’s just the way I am. Like, I see no need for specificity. Please read my mind.” Like, everybody thinks they’re doing great. And so… So part of what are the elements of coaching with kindness – I think, you know, there’s lots of methodologies. And there’s, you know, lots of ways to coach people. But I think we have to get down to the behavior level, because what we found out in the research was when someone was demonstrating high levels of these four core dimensions, whether they were a manager, a friend, a coach, or whatever, you know, a teacher, that there were… there was this environment that was conducive to great change and to satisfaction. And you all know this, right? Like, it sounds like common sense when someone feels like they’re in a trusting, safe environment, they get creative, they get innovative, they go above and beyond, they, you know, like – so it’s not, like, hard to think about that, but it’s not easy to do.

JoDee 13:56
And Libby, tell me a little bit more about specificity, or at least what I’m thinking on that one is, like, setting specific expectations. Is that…?

Libby 14:08
Yes, exactly. Yes. And here’s the… here’s the thing about these four elements. So high specificity… So just what you’re saying, JoDee, high specificity, so we’ve got… we’ve got the deadline and we’ve got the expectation set and we’ve got a model for what it looks like when it’s done well, like, all that stuff, right? So high specificity with low respect is no good, because what that means is the person feels micromanaged, controlled, not trusted. But in truth, when we balance it out and we deliver high levels of specificity with respect, the person feels like they’re being set up for success. And so most of the time, we’re out of balance in the way that we’re coaching. We’re… you know, like, we get frustrated. We’re like, why isn’t this person doing what I want them to do? Okay, I better get more clear, right? So now I go in with all the specificity and – but it’s very low respect, there’s no listening, there’s no conversation, so on. So we don’t get the results we want. But the opposite is also true. So here, I’m a manager. I don’t want to be a micromanager. I don’t want to seem controlling. Hey, this is a professional I hired, they should know what they’re doing, so I don’t want to give them too many details. Right? Like I used to do – I’ve worked in all kinds of industries and including prisons. And you know, what’s the worst thing you can do? “Here’s your keys. Good luck out there.” Like, not setting the person up for success.

JoDee 15:42

Libby 15:43
But we do it all the time. So specificity, I used to say – I don’t have any tattoos, but I used to say, if I was gonna get a tattoo, it would say “be specific” across my forehead, because mostly we’re not.

JoDee 15:56
I love that, because I always tell people I think the key to life as a parent, as a spouse, as a leader is to set good expectations. But I like that word “specificity” even better. That means even more than that.

Libby 16:15
You’re preaching to the choir here, because I could talk about expectations all the time. I actually wanted… I wanted to write a book – now, see, you all probably get it. But I wanted to write a book called “Why Performance Management is Sexier than Sales.” But – now, you laugh because you get it, right?

Susan 16:33

Libby 16:33
But, like, people would be like, “Oh, interesting.” But it’s really all about this idea that we don’t set clear expectations for people. We have terribly vague job descriptions, we don’t have any clear performance expectations, and we wonder why we’re not getting what we want and why it’s so hard and why we hate to review, all the things… like, don’t even get me started, JoDee.

Susan 16:57
Yeah. My husband always says the key to a happy marriage is low expectations. I know. And I think we’ve had a happy marriage.

Libby 17:06
You know what, though? I have to tell you, though, I gotta say, Susan, whenever I teach some of these classes, honestly, sometimes – most… it’s mostly men. I’m just saying, like, not not being gender specific here. They’ll literally come to me and say, well, on the section about specificity, they’ll be like, “you – could you, like, tell me how to talk to my wife about this? She wants me to read her mind.” I’m like, oh, that’s a different class. But yes, I can teach you about that.

JoDee 17:35
It’s funny you brought up Marcus Buckingham…

Susan 17:37
JoDee and he are really tight.

JoDee 17:39
I know.

Susan 17:39
I’ve got a photo of the two of them together.

Libby 17:41
I love Marcus Buckingham. Really? I love him.

JoDee 17:43
Yes, I love him too. But what was – “First, Break All the Rules,” that was the… I lost that book for a second. But that was really probably the first business book I read that I felt like changed my life. It changed my work life at least. And of course, Marcus was connected at that time with the Gallup organization and with the CliftonStrengths movement. And I – my number one strength is Maximizer, which is bringing out the best in people. So I am driven by this fact of helping others be better. But I know those are my intentions. And they don’t always – I know that people observe my behaviors and not my intentions, and so they – that doesn’t always connect with them, that I can come across as very critical, when really my intention is to help them be better. So how can we know that or make that connection, really, sometimes between… if our behaviors match our intentions?

Libby 18:57
Yeah, that’s a great question. And also, thanks for the context there. Because I understand the Maximizer strength. It’s one of mine, too. I mean, here’s what I like to say to people when they feel like there’s a gap there. And one is to say, like, literally at the conversation level, JoDee, I would say framing is your friend. And what I mean by that is when you are going into a conversation with someone, it’s a coaching conversation, or it’s a situation where you’re trying to convey this passion for, you know, hey, I want to help you do better, be better, feel less stress, pain, etc., like, all that is part of your… your own intention is that you actually share that, that you actually frame your conversation, you frame your feedback by stating right up front where you’re coming from. And again, it sounds so simple, but we don’t do it. Sometimes we just, like, kind of race right in there with our feedback instead of letting someone know what our actual intention is. I think the other thing that – so in my work, you know, going to someone and trying to respectfully resolve an issue or… or talking to them about something that they’re doing that you would like them to change, right, like a coaching conversation or a feedback conversation. So I use the word “confrontation,” which is very confronting, because there’s all these negative connotations about that word. But in truth, if you look at the root of it, to confront means to come in front of, and if we are willing to come in front of you, have a conversation about something that matters, that’s a courageous conversation. But the other mistake that people make is that they focus their language on what they don’t want instead of what they want. So for example, this is my, like, tried and true example, and everyone who knows me is gonna be like, “Oh, she’s using that one again,” but it works. So you say to a small child, “Don’t slam the door,” right? The brain doesn’t see “don’t,” the brain sees “slam the door.” So we get the door slamming again, but we really want is, “please close the door quietly when you come in.” But we do this all the time at work. So if someone hears you say, hey, stop doing this, don’t do this, change this, this is the wrong way, etc. – if they hear that first, they’re going to completely misinterpret your intention, because emotionally, they now are needing to defend themselves.

JoDee 21:37
That’s great advice.

Susan 21:39
Isn’t it? It’s really heavy. I’m going to work on with that with my grandson. When he does something, I’m going to – instead of saying “don’t do that,” yeah, “here’s what I’d like you to do.”

Libby 21:47

Susan 21:48
I love that. Thank you for that insight. So can you tell us from your opinion, how might coaching with kindness really lead to a more joy-filled experience at work and a better culture?

Libby 21:59
Well, one of the things that I like to tell people I wrote a little book called, “What Will You Do with Your 90,000 Hours?” and I was invited to give a keynote to a group of people who were graduating actually from an academy and they were they were going to be prison guards. And it’s not a job that I would want, because I think that’s really hard and just – I wouldn’t be suited to it. Right? But I love graduations, I love celebrations, and I was like, how can I be inspiring, because “Glad you’re doing this and I’m not,” is not a very inspiring, you know, talk, right? So I started… I started thinking about it and I started thinking about work and… and our relationship to work. And so I did a little bit of – I like to call it “poet’s math” where said, alright, if I start working here and I retire here, and this many hours a week, blah, blah, blah, and it was 90,000 hours, and the number was so massive that I just began using it and saying to people, okay, look, you’re gonna spend 90,000 hours not with your grandson, not with your loved one, not doing a hobby you love, but with these people that you didn’t pick, some of whom you don’t like that much. So what do we do to make that 90,000 hours amazing? And, you know, some of it, I think, you know, having joy at work, thinking about how my work can be more joy-filled and… and what the impact coaching with kindness could have on it is that, you know, as you know, when employees are engaged, like, all the news is good. I don’t – Is there any bad news when someone’s engaged?

Susan 23:41
I can’t think of any negative.

JoDee 23:42

Libby 23:43
No. No, right? Because… because who doesn’t want to be engaged in what they’re doing? You know, like, I’m offering up my – part of my 90,000 hours to you. That’s precious. That’s sacred. So I think that when we’re thinking about, like, supporting managers, leaders, supervisors, you know, whoever these people are that can impact, right? So there – because there’s different things. If I’m going to increase my joy at work, you know, some of that’s my responsibility, right? Like, some of that’s about how am I caring for myself? How am I managing my workload? How am I knowing what to say yes and what to say no to? How do I ask for what I need or want, and what happens if I don’t get it? You know, like, some of those things are up to me and having those kinds of skills. And I feel like managers and supervisors are often in the position, though, of coaching people to take that responsibility, but also coaching them to say, hey, you know, you matter here, here are the expectations, and we want you to be successful, so let me match up my behaviors to show you that. And I also think, you know, like, a lot of people talk about work-life balance, like if my… if my life felt better, more balanced, etc. Well, I don’t even know if I believe in that. Well, what I do believe is that what we want is a right relationship to our livelihood.

JoDee 25:06

Libby 25:07
Right? Like, if we’re in a bad – we don’t want our work to be like a bad boyfriend, right? We don’t want that. We want… we want to be in the right kind of relationship to how we earn a living. And most of that responsibility is on us. But I do think that the workplace and the people in leadership roles and those who support leaders can be really smart about creating an environment that’s the most conducive to people showing up and giving their best work. I mean, even… I’m getting ready – this afternoon, I’m gonna go do a team tune-up with a group and they’ve had some struggles, but the truth is, they’re choosing to work there. They’re saying, I’m going to give you some of my 90,000 hours. So on the one hand, we should value that as an organization and use the core dimensions of respect, empathy, specificity, and genuineness which create kindness, but it also creates accountability. And I don’t think those are separate from each other.

JoDee 26:10
Yeah. That’s excellent. And Libby, what about you personally? What’s a change that you’ve made in your own career that boosted your joy at work?

Libby 26:22
Well, I think that there’s, you know, something to think about, too, that I was thinking about this morning on my walk and being able to talk with you and to talk about, like, you know, joy, and I think that, you know, there are three people I love who are, you know, sources of inspiration for me. One is the poet Ross Gay, who I believe might be in Indiana. Anyway, he wrote a book called – well, one of his books of poems is called “Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude,” which is pretty much one of the best titles ever. But he also wrote a book called “The Book of Delights,” which is a collection of short essays, and he made a decision that he was going to write a small essay every day about delight. And – but the truth is, when you read it, there’s… everything about the human condition is woven in. You know, we only have joy, we only have delight, because we know what it is not. And it’s not about having, like, a spiritual bypass, you know, also. And I think that’s really important. And I think – I love his work. I love David Whyte’s work. He’s a friend of mine and a colleague, another poet, who wrote a great book called “Consolations” and has a really famous poem called “Sweet Darkness,” which is really about, you know, when we pretend that joy is a constant state, it’s elusive. It’s not the way it is. You know, like, the truth is, work is hard sometimes. The truth is, people are messy, and all those things. So you asked me a question about what I do. And so one of the things I do is, I stay inspired by reading things and being around people that inspire me. But I also take time to invest in my own development and growth so that I can stay curious, so that I can… like, it’s a radical act to be kind. It’s a radical act to be happy. I mean, if we look around the world, and we listen – and this isn’t about ignoring things that are important that are happening, that we might need to, you know, be involved in – but it’s easy to slip into cynicism, it’s easy to slip into these other places, the opposite of joy. So for me, I continually invest in my own development and growth. I make sure that I do things that inspire me. At the beginning of the pandemic, I did this – you can go and look at it online if you want to, and I have really bad hairdos because remember, we didn’t get to have our hair done for like… I’m just… just saying that, that’s my disclaimer – but I decided to do this little video series, like, just on my iPhone, called “One Small Thing,” and the… the idea was, well, what’s the one thing I can do today… today to increase my wholeheartedness and joy and presence? What’s the one thing? And so I did a series of 10 of them. And it was… it was for me as much as it was for, you know, anyone else because that was a hard time, you know, it was a hard time to…

Susan 29:33
It sure was.

Libby 29:33
…be in my house by myself and, you know, things like that. So.

Susan 29:37
Well, thank you so much for sharing. Yeah, it’s really wonderful. Ross Gay is with Indiana University.

Libby 29:44
He’s awesome. Yeah, he’s amazing.

Susan 29:46
Finally, before we let you go, Libby, how could our listeners reach you if they were interested in getting any coaching or guidance or talking further about this topic?

Libby 29:54
Yeah, you can find me at Libby Wagner at That’s my email address, but just is my website. There’s information there about the kinds of things I do. And you can sign up for my – I just send out one… one blog or article monthly and let you know about special events, things like that, but… And upcoming next year, usually working with me is, you know, either in person or virtually, but we also have some new self-paced classes coming up, so “Fearless and Fair Communication,” and other things like that. So yeah, you can find me on the website or all those places.

Susan 29:55
Thank you so much for being with us today.

JoDee 30:02
Yes, thank you.

Libby 30:06
Thank you. Thank you very much. Great to talk to you both.

JoDee 30:43
Thank you.

Susan 30:45
JoDee, I thought Libby was very good. She gave me some really good insights.

JoDee 30:49
I agree. She’s all up in our JoyPowered® philosophy for sure. So I love that.

Susan 30:56
She really is. And I don’t really know any poet, now I feel like I know a poet. I really loved what she said that we have 90,000 hours of work. So while she was – I was processing that, and I realized I’ve got more than 90,000 under my belt. I’m in overtime now. I should be charging more for my consulting. I’m doing overtime work!

JoDee 31:16
That’s right.

Susan 31:17
I found that fascinating.

JoDee 31:18
I agree. And a really important reminder to us to think, I’m – How am I spending it? And am I spending it in a place where I want to be and where I’m making a difference and where I can be kind?

Susan 31:34
Absolutely, yeah, I really enjoyed that.

JoDee 31:37
Susan, for our listener question today, someone asked us, “I’m starting a new employee relations job that has been framed to me as having a big relationship building element. Some advice on building relationships with a diverse group of people at all levels and backgrounds through an HR lens would be helpful.”

Susan 32:02
I really liked this question. I do think in employee relations our number one skill has to be connecting with other people, building rapport, developing relationships, because we need individuals to trust us. When there’s an employee that is coming forward because they’ve got a concern, perhaps they don’t feel they’re being treated fairly, maybe they feel that they’re being harassed, who knows what it is, they come to you and you’ve got to be able to build rapport with them. In order to have any kind of trust, you’ve got to be able to relate and connect with them. Same thing with every manager and supervisor that you are going to be consulting with as an employee relations person, you need for them to trust your advice. And for that to happen, you have to have a good relationship with them, right, at least have to have respect with each other. So ideas that I have. First of all, I think you’ve got to be very visible in your organization. People have to know who you are. The more that you can show up and greet people and meet people not in that crisis of an employee relations issue, but just be present when there’s volunteer activities to do, when there’s meetings, speaking up, being curious, spending time with different workgroups trying to understand the real jobs that they have, the work that they do, scheduling coffees and times to sit down with colleagues, with leaders, with managers to introduce yourself and to begin that process about learning their business. I think that’s a really smart technique. I would schedule listening sessions. If you’re in employee relations, you really do want to know what’s on employees’ minds, and not necessarily just at employee engagement survey time, but throughout the year. Use opportunities to meet with new staff members, maybe have a coffee with everyone who started in the last quarter, maybe a listening session a couple times a year with just a cross section of employees to find out what’s on their worry list or what… what it is that they have concerns over. I think sharing your vision of what employee relations is and what it should be and the kind of awesome workspace that you’re trying to make sure your organization has, sharing it, let people know what it is that you believe, I think that helps build relationships and build rapport. And then I think it opens up your opportunity when you’re meeting with employees and learning to hear about what’s good and bad that’s happening and it’s going to help you, I think, formulate the type of employee relations work you want to do. JoDee, anything I’ve missed or anything you might add?

JoDee 34:28
I think all your advice was spot on and just thinking, you know, they say you don’t want to go to a banker when you need a banker, right? You want to go before you need a loan. I think that it takes time to build trust and the more people can spend time with you and get to know you in even small bursts that they’re more likely then to bring difficult situations or to get your advice.

Susan 35:00
So true.

JoDee 35:01
Keep at it.

Susan 35:03
It’s time for in the news. posted an article November 1, 2023 by Carolyn Crist entitled “4-Day workweek postings are increasing but still are rare, Indeed says.” According to Indeed’s Hiring Lab, 0.3% of all jobs posted in September 2023 advertised a four day work week, which was up from 0.1% in 2019.

JoDee 35:32

Susan 35:33
I know, not – it’s not a huge part of our… of our world. The increase has been in veterinary, dentistry, and manufacturing, but not in office settings.

JoDee 35:44

Susan 35:44
Now, the manufacturing sector kind of makes sense to me, JoDee, because, you know, some large unions such as the UAW have made a four day work week a contract negotiation item. So that’s certainly on the table sometimes with collective bargaining units. But I am kind of surprised why veterinary and dentistry are on the list. I would think those are two things that you really have to be present for.

JoDee 36:09
Right. But you know, my doctor works four days a week, too, so…

Susan 36:14
You know what? My doctor does, too, now that you say that. Maybe three and a half days. Yeah, maybe it’s, you know, they’re doing a lot of hands-on care, but they’re doing it in a compressed workweek.

JoDee 36:22

Susan 36:22
So, interesting.

JoDee 36:23
But it is interesting to me, too, that it is so still so rare when both you and I worked four days previously in our careers. So.

Susan 36:34
Yes, you’re right. Well, this article cites a report that said three fourths of office workers say they would switch jobs if they could move to a four day workweek. There’s a – there’s big demand out there. And 1/3 said they would take a pay cut if offered a four day schedule. Which is when I worked a four day work week, I did take a pay cut. It was well worth it to me.

JoDee 36:57

Susan 36:57
However, employees of office workers don’t appear to be very interested in making the move. So we launched an episode of this podcast on January 31, 2022 entitled “The Four Day Work Week,” which is worth another listen if you’re thinking of exploring making the move in your workplace.

JoDee 37:15
Nice, good reminder. Well, thanks for joining us today and tune in next time and make it a JoyPowered® day.

Susan 37:23
Thank you. 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.

JoDee 37:53
If you liked the show, please tell a few friends about us and let us know what you thought by leaving us a rating or review on Apple Podcasts. You can find more information on our podcast, our books, our blogs, and more at We’re @JoyPowered on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook and you can send us an email at 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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