Show Notes: Episode 177 – Loneliness at Work
September 11, 2023
5 Ways to Know if a Job Will Bring You Joy
September 22, 2023

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

Jann 00:00
I think ultimately it just affects the bottom line in terms of productivity, satisfaction, growth.

Susan 00:10
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, an organization that I’m an executive collaborator with.

Susan 00:31
Today’s episode is focused on loneliness at work. According to a 2023 Glassdoor Economic Research survey of over 2,000 people, over half of employees feel lonely all or most of the time at work. It seems to be those with less work experience are experiencing more loneliness. Those with six to 10 years in the workplace, 47% of them describe themselves as feeling lonely. But those with 11 or more years of service, only 15% of them say they’re lonely at work. So there is a dramatic drop off the longer you are in an organization. Maybe it’s giving you more time to make friends, to feel more at home. But certainly we’re gonna lose employees, likely in the first few years of employment, if they don’t actually connect with others.

JoDee 01:19

Susan 01:20
Loneliness at work has increased 11% since January of 2022. This Glassdoor study reported that when evaluating job satisfaction, feeling socially connected to colleagues is critically important to workers. In fact, 89% believe feeling a sense of belonging within their company is vital to their overall workplace happiness, and 49% say a good social life at work has a significant impact on their overall job satisfaction and mental health.

Susan 01:51
To learn more about loneliness at work, we’ve invited a guest, Jann Freed, PhD. After 30 years of college teaching, Jann left a tenured full professor and endowed chair position to practice what she was teaching. Jann has a recurring column in Training Magazine, both online and in print. Jann’s latest book came out in January 2023, entitled, “Breadcrumb Legacy: How Great Leaders Live a Life Worth Remembering.” Welcome, Jann. We’re very glad you’re here.

Jann 02:22
Well, thank you very much. I’m honored.

Susan 02:24
So Jann, why are we hearing so much about loneliness at work right now?

Jann 02:29
You know, the research I’ve done is loneliness was an epidemic before the pandemic. And so, you know, as workplaces are trying to come back together, you know, the pandemic forced people into social isolation, but people were lonely even before that. So I think it’s just a number of things. You know, social media gets a lot of credit for isolating people, you know, sitting on our mechanisms or machines. But that forced isolation, and, you know, people at home and just the whole idea of COVID, and people losing people… I don’t want to say my father died of COVID, but I definitely affected his length of life. So…

Susan 03:16
I’m so sorry.

Jann 03:17
I think those are kind of the primary things right now.

Susan 03:21
No, that makes good sense.

JoDee 03:22
Why are people feeling lonely, especially at work?

Jann 03:27
There’s a lot of discussion, debate, research now about remote workers. And what’s interesting – and I’ve done a lot of work in this area – is that, you know, like right now, even in my town of – or my city of Des Moines, Iowa, several of the big insurance companies are requiring people to go back to work at least three days a week. And many of them say that they can choose the days that they want to come back. I think that’s very reasonable. I, personally, as a person who taught Business Management and Leadership for 30 years, I think that, you know, the culture and get you… You learn so much from being around others. So I personally am kind of definitely an advocate for hybrid workplaces. But workers got used to autonomy, flexibility. And I’m amazed at the young people who say they – I was just speaking with someone the other day, and now she’s in her mid 30s, but she said, “I want to look for a new job, but I want it to be remote.” And I just never heard anyone be that direct about it. So I think that’s why, you know, workers getting back… because actually she described, she said, “Well, I work for, you know, right now, I’m a hybrid, but I’d rather be remote because when I go to work, I never know who’s there. There may not be anybody there, because the day I pick they’re not…” So I think there’s just a lot of confusion around us. And so I think workers or employees are hesitant to give up the control that I think they felt during COVID.

JoDee 04:58

Susan 04:59
You know, I think to me that people who work hybrid or want to work just alone, you know, at – from home, I would think their loneliness would be higher, because they’re not engaging with, you know, strangers or making friends at work. But are you finding that not… that’s not so true, people who are in workplaces with people that they don’t know and love, they’re feeling the loneliness? Do you have a point of view on that?

Jann 05:23
I think, you know, if you’re lonely at work, you’re lonely at home, and it just follows you is what I think. And I think when people are at home, you hear a lot of, “Well, I can get a lot of things done. So I can, you know… I can be at work, but I can also get the laundry done, and I can, you know, have something in the oven for dinner.” You know, I think people are really multitasking and forgetting that… it’s easy to kind of forget you’re lonely. And again, I like to emphasize that there’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. I guess I would go back to there’s research that says, people don’t have, like, five good friends to count on. Like, you know, some people don’t have a person who in an emergency they could call. So this whole idea of that’s when you know you’re… you’re really lonely, that you feel like you don’t have a support group, there’s no one you can count on, there’s no one you can confide in. You’re really lonely. So the… the fact of relationships, which I have a chapter in my “Breadcrumb Legacy” book on relationships and loneliness go hand in hand. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the recent book, “The Good Life” by Robert Waldinger on the Harvard longitudinal study. And after 80 years or more of studying people, what really makes people happy? It’s relationships. It’s not quantity, but it’s the quality of relationships. And do people have a – he calls it social fitness. You know, do you have… we have to work at being fit socially, that… because people die, they move they retire, especially in the workplace. So you have to constantly be thinking about cultivating new friends, and most people don’t think like that.

JoDee 07:07

Susan 07:08
No, I think that’s a really excellent point. I’m gonna check that book out.

Jann 07:12

Susan 07:12
And Jann, why do you think HR professionals and business leaders should be worried about this topic of loneliness at work?

Jann 07:19
Because I think ultimately, it just affects the bottom line in terms of productivity, satisfaction, growth. I think, to me, I would compare it a lot to higher education, you know, where if students are lonely, they’re not going to be probably performing very well. You know, a lot of it is – in fact, when I was college professor, we had to recruit students, and I can’t remember the book now, but there’s research that says that students who are in at least one activity are more likely to stay in college, perform better. You know, it’s that social connection again. And so I would always, when I’m recruiting students, I would always say, “Now, it’s really important… regardless of the institution, it’s really important that you find some tribe, some connection to keep you in the institution,” because otherwise, people feel like, “Well, I don’t fit, this isn’t right for me,” or “I don’t like it here.” So, you know, I think that that connection is so important, because it does affect performance, and particularly in any kind of collaborative workplace where you work in teams.

JoDee 08:27
You know, it’s interesting, you’re talking about students, Jann. Course, that’s what you’ve done for 30 years. A good friend of mine went this weekend with her sister and her nephew to drop him off at college. And he went to Creighton University, which is nine hours away, and – but that’s where he wanted to go. And he was there two days and he texted his sister, and – or his sister texted him and… and she said, “How are you doing?” and he said, “I’m lonely.” And I thought that was interesting in that, you know, 20 years ago, we would have said the words “He’s a little bit homesick.”

Jann 09:17

JoDee 09:18
But that word “lonely” was just, like, painful for me to hear. And of course, the whole time he had been there so far were all these orientation activities, you know, maybe more going on to include than ever again. But – so when you’re talking about students or employees, how do people make friends?

Jann 09:45
Well, that is something that I’m spending a lot of time developing. And I’m working on that because the older we get, it’s harder to make friends. You know, most of our friends are what we call front end loaded. What that means is we meet people in… elementary school friends, high school friends, college friends, then, you know, you might get married, you have kids, you meet friends through your kids. All that tends to be front end loaded. So when your kids are, you know, in college or out of college, and you’re working, you know, some of your best friends are now retiring from the workforce. And so again, I think making friends is really important. And it’s difficult. So, a couple of tips, I think you’ve got to take the initiative and reach out. For instance, I’ll give you an example. About a month ago – another couple in our neighborhood are good friends of ours. We’ve had a lot of turnover in our neighborhood, older people going to retirement places, younger people moving in. And so we have a lot of neighbors that we really don’t know. We wave to them as we drive by. So I suggested to her, I said, “Well, would you want to co-host? Let’s do a cocktail party from five to seven on a Sunday night.” And I hand wrote invitations and I hand delivered them. And let’s invite people we don’t know… in the neighborhood, people we don’t know. So if we know them, well, you know, we’re just going to – like, somebody said, “How come we weren’t invited?” “I already know you.” So we can… So we intentionally invited people we don’t know. And I said that on the invitation. I said, “We’re inviting people to get to know each other, and we’re inviting you because we don’t know you.” You know, and we had a great turnout, I think there was only one couple who didn’t come. And we said bring kids if you want, we had probably 30 people. Everybody enjoyed it. And I had name tags. So you know, taking the initiative. And that’s just a neighborhood thing, but you know, I often say in the workplace, if there’s somebody who looks interesting, you know, ask them for coffee, ask them for lunch, you know, make a coffee date. I like to get to know new people. One of the things that I often do is if a good friend is having… well, okay, here’s another recent example. So a friend of mine, she’s relatively recently divorced and wanted to move to Denver, so she got a job in Denver. And I said, “Okay, I’d like to have a little dinner party for you, and you can invite the guests.” So I didn’t know anybody she invited. And even though she’s a pretty good friend of mine, she’s more of a professional friend of mine. I didn’t know anybody she invited, and I said you can invite up to, like, I think I said eight people, 10 at a max with my husband and myself. And, you know, that’s another way to meet new people. So I think you have to take the initiative. And I asked, because it takes some… it takes some effort. You know, it takes some time, it takes some thought and everybody, you know, who came to that neighborhood cocktail party. I mean, I got thank you notes. And I mean, people just really appreciated it. And now, you know, you put a name to a face, and you have some idea of what they’re like if you want to include them in something else. So those are just, you know, a couple reasons, examples where I’ve taken the initiative. And, you know, will these people be good friends? I don’t know. But I think I could go borrow a cup of sugar now, where I don’t think I could before.

Susan 13:19
It’s gonna save you mileage to the grocery for sure.

Jann 13:22
Exactly. Exactly. So I think, you know, taking the initiative, being somewhat creative, getting out of your comfort zone is important. So, you know, that’s where I would start there. But actually, I’m working on a big paper about this whole topic. So I’m very passionate about it.

JoDee 13:38
You know, it’s so funny you mentioned this – and I won’t get too sidetracked by this – but just last night, I watched a movie on Netflix called “Poms,” P-O-M-S, and it came out in 2019 but I’d never heard of it. And Diane Keaton is the star – there are lots of stars in it. And she just found out that she – in the movie – that she had terminal cancer, and she was moving to a retirement village after living in her house for 45 years, and she wanted to be around more people. And so they told her at the village they could join any club they wanted or they could start their own, and she started a cheerleading club.

Jann 14:31
Oh, that is funny.

JoDee 14:32
Because initially she wasn’t making friends and she didn’t know anyone. And they said, “Well, what do you like to do,” or “What did you used to like to do,” and she said, “Well, I was a cheerleader in high school.” And then all these women who, turns out, were lonely or looking for something in their lives join and it is funny, but it is… It is so real, I think.

Jann 14:58

JoDee 14:58
Maybe not cheerleading, but…

Jann 15:00
Yeah, no, I think that’s… and did you say that was on Netflix?

JoDee 15:04

Jann 15:05
Okay, I’m gonna look that up. That’s great. Because I was a cheerleader.

JoDee 15:09
I was too!

Jann 15:10
Yeah, yeah.

Susan 15:11
I was a grade school cheerleader.

Jann 15:13
Yeah, oh that… I didn’t even… we didn’t have them in grade school. But in high school and college, both I…

Susan 15:18

Jann 15:18
So anyway, I’ll look that up for sure, because a good friend of mine is – we always talk about cheerleading, she was a cheerleader friend. But you reminded me a bit of an example that I talk in my book, and the chapter title is called “Who Will Help You Move the Couch?” and it’s a story about my husband, because he had asked me to move the couch and… or we were doing some painting, I think, and, you know, he said, “Well, let’s go move the couch,” and I said, “Well, yeah, we need to move the couch, but don’t you… Can’t you call a friend to move a couch?” and he goes, “No, who would I call?” you know, “I don’t want to bother.” That’s a men, you know, man thing. “I don’t want to bother someone.” I said, “Well, you need more friends.” And he didn’t get offended, because I said to him, “If you weren’t here, I could call somebody to help me move the couch.”

JoDee 16:06

Jann 16:07
He didn’t get offended. He kind of said, “Well,” you know, “Well, what should I do?” So I said to him, “Well, you love to read, start a men’s book group.” And I said, “Don’t invite all your best friends, because you already know them. Invite a couple who you really enjoy, and then have them invite a couple, and then have them invite a couple, and set a limit, and… but really try to emphasize you want to pick people who enjoy reading.” And it has been very successful. He never wants to miss it. He’s so proud that he started it. People now want in it. And it’s been…. So now if… if we had to move a couch, he would have plenty of men to call. Again, that idea came to me just out of my research that, you know, you got to take initiative, you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone, and you’ve got to be aware that making friends takes some effort.

JoDee 16:59
You know, I think one of the things this movie sort of brought to light to was… because I think there’s a lot of people who would say like, “Well, I’m not an initiator,” or “I don’t want to start something.” But it was all – it was not only that she started the club, but the women who were so thrilled to have been invited, right?

Jann 17:23
Yes. Yes.

JoDee 17:24
It made a difference on all sides.

Jann 17:27
Yes, yes. And I think that’s… that same thing is true in my husband’s book group.

JoDee 17:31

Jann 17:32
Because they were selected and they were invited, they really want to stay in, and so…. That’s interesting. Yeah, that’s good.

Susan 17:41
That’s very special. So Jann, I know that you use a term called “breadcrumb legacy.” Tell us a little bit about what does that mean, and how does it relate to trying to make sure you’re not lonely at work?

Jann 17:54
My previous book that came out in 2013, published by the Association for Training and Development, and that was titled “Leading with Wisdom: Sage Advice from 100 Experts.” And one of the themes – every chapter is a theme. After interviewing all these people – and I really did interview some of the biggies, Warren Bennis, Margaret Wheatley, Marshall Goldsmith…

JoDee 18:20

Jann 18:20
…Parker Palmer. Really, I – It was exciting. And one of the themes that emerged that became a chapter was called “Leaders Live Their Legacy.” So I was asked to do some speaking on that book, some workshops on that book, and I would ask people, “When do we leave our legacy?” And people would say, “Well, when we leave, when we die, when we leave the Earth.” I’d say, “That’s true.” “When we leave a career, we retire.” I’d say, “That’s true,” I’d say, “but what about when I leave this workshop, I leave the speaking engagement? What about you leave a meeting?” We are leaving our legacy all the time. And recently, I gave a workshop and a man said to me, because I say, you know, if you think about your breadcrumb legacy daily, then it can be your true north, it can be your guiding light, it can be your moral compass. And this man in a workshop said, “Well, don’t you think it’s self-centered to be thinking about the legacy you’re leaving every day?” And I said, “Well, let’s replace the word ‘legacy’ with ‘impact’ or ‘influence.'” I said, “Do you think it’s self-centered to be thinking about the impact you’re having on others on a daily basis?” Because your impact is not necessarily always positive. If you’re not thinking about it, and you’re not intentional, your impact could be negative, and then… and then that negativity feeds into the workplace as what we call “toxic leadership” or “the dark side of leadership.” You know, I don’t think most people – I also do a workshop on why good leaders go bad, but I don’t think most people wake up in the morning and say, you know, “I think today I’m going to be a bad leader.” But I… I think it’s an ego that takes over and then manifests itself in very negative, unhealthy behaviors in the workplace. And then that creates a toxic environment. So, you know, these negative behaviors that I’m talking about, when the ego takes control, they often manifest in terms of greed, jealousy, envy, micromanaging, overcontrolling, defensiveness, not open to feedback, all of these negative behaviors can literally make other people ill. So when you’re really saying, you know, I need to leave really good breadcrumbs on a daily basis, because I would not want to hurt anyone else, I think that that’s powerful. And I might just mention that I’ve done two TEDx talks, both on chapters in my book, one is called “Becoming a Nobody,” and that was a virtual TED Talk. And these can be found on YouTube. And the other one’s called “Embracing Death: Seeing Life through a Different Lens.” So I have a whole chapter in “Breadcrumb Legacy” on embracing death, and how when you embrace death, you’re really a healthier person. And I talk a lot about that. So.

JoDee 21:12
Love it. And what can we do to be making more positive changes in that area, either for ourselves – I mean, one of the things you just mentioned was to be more intentional – but maybe to help others do this, as well?

Susan 21:30
Especially about loneliness.

JoDee 21:32

Jann 21:33
Well, first of all, we can’t help others – it’s kind of that airplane oxygen thing, you know, put on your mask first before you help others. We really can’t help others unless we really help ourselves. So one of the… the reactions to my book, as people are really… it’s gotten very positive feedback, because at the end of each chapter, I have what I call “breadcrumb ingredients” for applying the concept chapters. So it really starts with self. And I think when it comes to loneliness, you know… so at the end of that chapter on relationships, “Who Will Help You Move the Couch,” you know, I talk about things that people can do and some of the activities, really, you could do with your department or others on your team. You know, for instance, one… one idea that I like a lot and I got from a professional conference, is to have a talent show. At this professional conference, I mean, I’m telling you, there were people there from University of Michigan, Yale, Harvard, University of Southern California, and it’s a volunteer thing, you sign up, and it’s another way to get to know people. Now, some of these people, you know, a very powerful leadership guru at Yale is almost a professional saxophone player. And one woman, you know, again, who teaches leadership and business management, was really trained to be an opera singer. So you have really, you know… but if you do this, like, in your department, or… like, I never performed, okay, because I didn’t feel like, well… but anybody, you know, if you do this in your department, with your workers or with your team, you could even call it a “no talent show,” you know? And what would… what do people want to share about themselves with others? So, you know, you could say, you could read your favorite poem, it could be something that you’ve written yourself. When I suggested this in a graduate class, one of the students who was actually a manager, he went back and did this and he said… he came to class and, you know, weeks later, and he said it was so fun and people enjoyed it. He said somebody came in, and they were showing us how they could juggle, they could juggle four things at once, you know, somebody else came in and said… and brought a backpack that this man – this male employee – had sewn and made himself. So you just don’t know what people… But that, again, is another way of relationships are a lot about trust. Well, first of all, it’s hard to trust people you don’t know. But you know, so you’re building trust, you’re learning something about someone else, creativity, and all of these things lead to conversation. So just a simple thing in the workplace is I encourage all of my coaching clients, lead by asking questions. Lead by asking questions, because you build community. So instead of saying, you know, “How was your weekend?” Okay? No, what was most… “What was the most enjoyable thing you did last weekend?” you know, “What are you looking forward to doing this weekend?” Because that leads to a conversation. You know, someone could say, “Oh, that’s my daughter’s 10th birthday.” “Oh, great. What are you going to do? You know, any special plans?” You know, so ask open-ended questions, and then that will lead the conversation, and that then helps build community. So I think one of the leader’s jobs is to really help build community in the workplace, and that can help address the lone…. I mean, I think it really should be, like, number one. Number one, build community. How do you do that? You’ve got to get to know people. How do you do that? You can start asking questions, you can take the initiative and plan some social activities. You know, I tell my coaching clients, you know, if you want to plan some social events, create a little team and have them create it so that they’re creating events that they want to do. And I think that’s really important. So I think leaders need to think they need to build community and make that a priority. And in both of my books, “Leading with Wisdom” and “Breadcrumb Legacy,” I give all kinds of ideas of how to do that.

Susan 25:43
Yeah, I think it’s a really great advice. Jann, can you think of any companies out there that you think – or organizations that are really leading the way in trying to build social capital and community with their employees?

Jann 25:55
Used to be you would hear so much about Google, and you know, their kind of fun workplace. My son is dating a woman now who works at Google and she says it’s not so fun like that anymore. It’s gotten so big, and you know, she…

JoDee 26:11

Jann 26:13
So in terms of, you know, name recognition, you know, I’m not exactly sure… I keep… I keep beating this drum, because I don’t think enough of them are like that, you know.

Susan 26:23
I think it’s an important message.

Jann 26:25
I want to highlight one kind of local company. It’s an international company, but it’s called Vermeer Manufacturing, and they make farm equipment. And they really do pay attention to building community. And one example I like to use for them is, they really stay in touch with people who have retired, and they invite them to town hall meetings, and they want to keep them in the loop so that they know what’s going on at the company, because they know that they’re ambassadors out into the community. So too many companies – this is another topic that I’m passionate about. Too many companies just encourage people to leave or leave early, you know, the early retirement packages, and they don’t try to do anything about really making those people feel good, feel honored, feel respected. And they don’t try to capture the knowledge. So I call it “lost knowledge.” Wisdom is walking out the door. And so that that’s another topic that I’m very passionate about.

JoDee 27:28
And Jann, do you know of any other tools or resources that organizations are using or that we could encourage organizations to use?

Jann 27:41
I just think organizations need to allocate some financial resources to give them… to encourage the leaders to build community. Okay? Now, it doesn’t have to take a lot of money. You know, my husband’s firm is an example where quarterly, they have social outings. It’s… again, it’s planned by a small group of employees. And, you know, they’re simple, like bowling, okay, and… bowling and pizza. And, again, you don’t have to have talent, you don’t have to be great. You can be, you know, you can have fun bowling and hardly score at all, okay? But… so it doesn’t take a lot of money, but I think it’s got to be, like, a sincere effort of you really want to build community, because I’m working with a big manufacturing firm now and – to try to build community. And it’s a real challenge, because people don’t even want to show up to social things because they don’t trust management and… and they’re angry, they’re hurt. And so I’m trying to heal a lot of things going on in the workplace, which is not easy, but important. So I think maybe just making a priority, and I think expecting leaders to build community, you know, that that’s part of their job, I think expecting that. If you want to know why people are behaving the way they do, or why they don’t do certain things, you look at the reward system. What are you rewarding people? And if you’re not… if you’re not attaching any importance to building community, to how they’re evaluated, it won’t happen.

JoDee 29:18

Susan 29:18
No, I think that’s fair.

Jann 29:20
Because it takes time and effort and work. And if there’s a “well, no one cares if I do it anyway,” then….

Susan 29:26
I think that’s fair. So Jann, we love to ask all of our guests a JoyPowered® question. What do you personally do to prevent your own loneliness at work?

Jann 29:36
Today, I have a coffee date with a friend that I haven’t seen for a while. I make a high priority of meeting with people, and I like one-on-ones, you know, because that’s, I think, how you really get to know people and, you know, I encourage leaders in the workplace, you know, invite people to coffee or lunch one-on-one, and don’t talk about work. It’s all just, you know, getting to know one another. I call it old-fashioned dating. So I would do a lot of old-fashioned dating with people. And because now I am self-employed – before I did have, you know, a department and colleagues – but for the most part, you know, it’s either I’m with clients, or I’m by myself. And so I go out of my way to either schedule coffee, or if I get asked, then I try to make it a priority to go.

JoDee 30:23

Susan 30:24
That’s great.

JoDee 30:25
And we will put links to your books and your TEDx links on our show notes. But how might other people reach out to contact you if they want to learn more?

Jann 30:40
So my website, maybe you said that, and my email’s, just Jann Freed at So two Ns and two Es on both sides. I’m very active on LinkedIn, trying to get more active on Instagram – a little, I’m a little late to the game, but I’m trying. But LinkedIn is really my best source. If they go to my website, if they subscribe to my email, they would get an email newsletter monthly. It’s easy to read, and a monthly newsletter and a monthly podcast. I too, have a podcast called Becoming a Sage, where I interview people about work and life wisdom. And I’ve interviewed some interesting people on that. And that’s just once a month. So if they do subscribe, they would only get two emails from me. And so I’d love them… love them to check out my website, too.

JoDee 31:35
Yeah. Well, thank you. And thank you so much for joining us today.

Jann 31:40
Thank you for the invitation. I’m honored.

JoDee 31:42

Susan 31:43
JoDee, wasn’t that interesting? I thought Jann really had some good points.

JoDee 31:47
Yeah, it is fascinating to me, so many aspects of it, about the difference in older employees or younger ones, even students, right? And how in my example, too, we’ve… we’re more likely to use that term “lonely.” Not that it wasn’t true before, but we didn’t call it that.

Susan 32:12
Exactly. And I really do think the point about employers and leaders, HR leaders, particularly, that we need to make sure that we’re really focused on how do we create a community here at work and provide space and time for employees to get to know each other, hopefully, they’re going to learn to like each other, perhaps if they’re lucky, they’re going to build friendships. Because if people have friends at work, you can read any of the Gallup research done on this, they are so much less likely to leave you if they have a friend at work, they’re so much more likely to be productive and engaged. I just think this is an important topic. And Jann’s point, you got to hold your leaders accountable for making it a priority, creating a sense of community. So I thought it was really insightful, and I certainly enjoyed it.

JoDee 32:56
Yeah, you know, in the book, “First Break All the Rules,” which Marcus Buckingham wrote with someone else that I should know, but I forget their name right now. But you know, he – they developed this, what they call the Q12, the 12 questions you should ask your employees or your teams or your leaders. And one of those questions is, do you have a best friend at work? And for so long I’ve heard many people say they struggle with that question. They’re not sure that’s the right question. Including me. But now I realize what he’s getting at. A lot of… he… Marcus likes to have kind of extreme questions or go, instead of saying, “Do you have friends at work?” he asks, “Do you have a best friend at work?” And even if you do just have a lot of good friends, I think that’s the point. You know, you are you engaged at work with other people?

Susan 34:08
I think it’s such a smart question. I look back on my career, and even when I’ve done some really difficult things, I think work-wise, when I had a really good friend that I was working on it with, honestly, it was just so much more joyful, and so much easier to do. So I think it’s an important message. And I hope that our listeners, you know, they’ve got the interest as well in trying to figure out how do we help our employees make friends at work?

JoDee 34:32

Susan 34:32
Let’s get them less lonely. I just love it.

JoDee 34:35
Susan, we have a listener question today. In a recent episode, we mentioned that concerted activity protected by employees, such as complaining about your boss on the job or other things. “Is there any protection for managers or supervisors for the same types of activities? Are they discussing pay or concerns to the boss, etc.”

Susan 35:05
Yeah, I thought was a good question. Well, neither JoDee nor I are lawyers, so we’re going to share with you our HR knowledge on this. Protected concerted activity is really critical to Section VII of the National Labor Relations Act. And the National Labor Relations Act and the National Labor Relations Board that, you know, is alive and well and make sure that the act is followed. That applies only to the private sector. So if you’re a government employee, or if you’re a farm worker or an independent contractor, you’re… that does not apply to you. So there’s exceptions right there. But beyond that, the National Labor Relations Act, they purposely excluded supervisors and managers from the act because protected concerted activity, they wanted to make sure it wasn’t people that were too close to the employer. And so that’s why it is just your non-supervisory staff that’s protected. So what I… what I would say, technically, no, but if you’re an employer, you do want to have a great management team and a great supervisory team who feels valued, seen, and heard. And certainly, if you are trying to run an organization and you are not providing the space and time for your supervisors and managers to be able to speak up when they’ve got concerns, it’s going to be a very long row to hoe. It’s going to be a very difficult situation. So I’m hopeful that management of companies, leaders of companies recognize that the same protections that your workforce has, non-supervisory workforce, it’s so smart to make sure that you’re listening to your managers and your supervisors and providing them that same window of opportunity to complain when things aren’t right.

JoDee 36:42
Right. I like it.

Susan 36:44
It’s time for in the news. Judith Lamb posted an article on on August the seventh 2023, entitled “On Demand Pay on the Rise.” JoDee, I don’t know about you, but I am seeing this option popping up in a variety of different places.

JoDee 37:01

Susan 37:02
Good. Yeah. It’s where you can ask your employer to pay you for the day, instead of waiting for a defined organization-wide payday. Judith suggests that with Gen Z growing up with immediate financial mobile apps like Venmo, PayPal, etc. they’re used to doing financial transactions when and where needed. She cites a survey, which is the State of Gen Z 2021 – 2022 by the Center of Generational Kinetics, where 61% of Gen Zers said they would like the option for daily pay.

JoDee 37:35

Susan 37:35
Isn’t that crazy? I think about you know, living for payday, which there’s been many times I’ve been living to that next payday, right? The thought that if you want to be able to go to your employer and say, hey, I want to get paid for today, or for the last two days if I needed to.

JoDee 37:48

Susan 37:49
Very, very different. Judith suggests that giving our employees the flexibility and control of when they are paid, as well as reducing the stress of workers waiting for that pay day, could really make this a good recruiting and retention offering. I do think it’s worth us as business leaders and HR professionals to see if our staff want or need this option, or if it makes sense for our organization. Early in my career, I worked in an organization where we could do pay advances up to a maximum of, I think, three times a year per employee.

JoDee 38:20
I remember that too.

Susan 38:22
Yeah, do you? But what we ended up doing, we eventually did away with it, because it was too costly for us to do these off-cycle pay cuts. But I’m thinking maybe we ought to rethink it now, because it could be a competitive advantage, and with technology being so much better now, the ability to transfer money to an employee is a couple of keystrokes as opposed to what it used to be in the back of the day.

JoDee 38:46

Susan 38:47
I think it’s worth thinking about.

JoDee 38:48
Yes, I find it interesting. I do think, you know, it will definitely be more expensive for the employer to run more payrolls, and I also don’t think it’s very good for individual budgets. Right? You know, you want to buy something today. Oh, I get paid today. So…. But I’ve… where I’ve seen it most or heard about it is in fast food restaurants, or senior living communities, you know, maybe for aides or…. The thing too, I think it used to be mainly that employees would… at least wouldn’t quit till after the first paycheck, and now I think they could like, you know, just work a couple days and say “I don’t like this, but I got paid,” right?

Susan 39:41
Yeah, yeah, that’s true. That could be. It’s interesting, I think back about the people that would get the pay advances. What we found usually is that they were trying to meet an immediate need, and it turned out to be a quick fix. However, they’d need it again and again and again, which is why we ended up doing a limit of three, and we started feel like we weren’t really helping people, because it was fixing the short problem, but not the real problem, which was money management.

JoDee 40:06

Susan 40:07
Or they were in a job that just wasn’t paying enough for what their needs.

JoDee 40:10
Yeah, I agree. But you know, our world is different, so maybe this will be a good strategy for some.

JoDee 40:20
Well, thanks for listening today and make it a JoyPowered® day.

Susan 40:25
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JoDee 41:01
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Susan 41:30
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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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