Show Notes: Episode 195 – How to Handle HR Burnout and Empathy Fatigue (with Liesel Mertes)
May 20, 2024
JoyPowered® Networking – Make It Happen.
May 24, 2024

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Liesel 00:02
If this lands only on your shoulders, that is a fast track to burnout. What data shows again and again is that people want to be supported by their managers and immediate teammates.

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, a large scale HR firm that I’m an executive collaborator with.

Susan 00:32
We hear from listeners who are HR professionals often. Many of them share they sometimes feel overwhelmed, burned out, or just unable to feel empathy for others when they feel they are personally out of gas. Several listeners have asked us to devote a podcast episode to this topic. So today is the day! Calm Business had an article entitled, “Are You Suffering from HR Burnout?” They cited the World Health Organization’s three dimensions of work burnout. So listeners, listen and see if any of these resonate with you. Number one, feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion. Number two, increased mental distance from or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job. And three, a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. I know, kind of a dreary topic for today, but I think it’s important we explore it, JoDee.

JoDee 01:29
I agree.

Susan 01:30
Let’s talk about some signs that may indicate that you’re experiencing burnout.

JoDee 01:34
It’s a sign when you are becoming increasingly critical of your workplace or your job or role.

Susan 01:42
Or you feel listless or unmotivated in your work.

JoDee 01:45
You no longer put the effort in at work that you used to.

Susan 01:50
You constantly long for the weekend. Even on Mondays.

JoDee 01:53
You feel overwhelmingly tired for no apparent reason.

Susan 01:58
You fail to get satisfaction from work achievements.

JoDee 02:02
And you find yourself leaning on unhealthy coping mechanisms, like drinking, drugs, overeating, or not eating.

Susan 02:13
I’ve never understood the not eating, because I’m always attracted to the overeating.

JoDee 02:17
Me too.

Susan 02:20
Some causes that Calm Business suggests could be for some of these feelings, first of all, maybe you’ve got unclear or moving job targets.

JoDee 02:29
Or maybe you just have too much work on your plate.

Susan 02:34
Maybe it’s because of an unhealthy workplace culture.

JoDee 02:37
Or you have a manager that doesn’t support or recognize your contributions.

Susan 02:44
Or maybe it’s a work-life imbalance.

JoDee 02:47
Or maybe you just have boring work.

Susan 02:52
The reality is, that’s sometimes true. And I guess finally, other things going on in your life affecting your ability to bring your A game. For HR people in particular, I think we are sometimes more vulnerable, vulnerable to burnout. We are often the culture cheerleaders who everyone leans on to find the positive. We are the sounding board, that trusted confidant for employees at all levels, and often hear things that can rattle us to the core. As a staff area, we’re often underfunded, underappreciated, and the first to have to take cuts when meeting budgets are in jeopardy.

JoDee 03:26

Susan 03:26
We spend so much of our work time taking care of others, with usually no one taking care of us. Yeah.

JoDee 03:34

Susan 03:34
We’ve invited one of our favorite guests to share her insights on this topic. Liesel Mertes is the founder of Handle With Care Consulting, where she consults with client businesses on workplace empathy. She is a certified holistic lifestyle coach, and she has her MBA from Indiana University. Welcome back, Liesel. Liesel, you work with a lot of organizations of various sizes. Have you picked up on any stress, burnout, or empathy fatigue with the HR people that you interact with? What are you seeing?

Liesel 04:05
Absolutely. What I am seeing in the relational, embodied, actual people that I talk to mirrors a number that first came out in 2022, and I was really taken aback. It was that 98% – it was, Forbes reported it from a smaller group – but 98% of HR respondents said that they felt burned out at that point. And while there has been settling and recalibration, there are just still so many demands. There’s so many disruptive life events that layer on top of just the business of doing HR, which can be somewhat tedious, a little overwhelming. So especially when I do sessions and I’ll talk about change fatigue and how it partners with compassion fatigue, you can see people lean forward and begin nodding and say, yes, I am dealing with both of those things. So I’m, I’m seeing a lot of it in the stories that I hear both during sessions and also when people come up to me afterwards and say things like, “Can you give me some more tips on boundaries? Because I’m going through a lot.”

JoDee 05:10
Yeah, I love it. Well, and if we as HR professionals are dealing with burnout, right, we are not, not as likely to be compassionate or show empathy to our people, either. So what kinds of behaviors, maybe words or acts do you recommend that HR people do that demonstrates more empathy to those we work with, even when at our core, we may not be feeling it in the moment ourselves?

Liesel 05:44
Yes, let me, let me circle back to that question of things we can do, because I think even implicit in the act, in the asking of the question was something that is important, which is that when we’re dealing with this rate of depletion, it can be a hard ask to continually keep giving in an outward-facing sort of way. And that is true whether you carry the title of HR, or, you know, child to a failing parent or friend to someone who’s going through a hard time. Like, we know, both in our personal and professional lives, it’s hard to just keep giving, giving, giving, and HR is a pretty people-facing position. So before I mention the meaningful things, let me just note there’s, there is a lot of content and tips around how you are sustainable for the long term so it doesn’t just feel like a grinding ask every time. Some of those are physical. You know, I don’t want to sound like the mother to anyone out there. I’ve got four children on my own. I don’t want to mother any of you. But some of the things that your mom might tell you. Things like, what is your basic sleep? You know, what is your hydration? At the physiological level. Others are more tactical. Do you have rituals to signal the end of your workday, or are you just always on? So that’s, that’s an entire sidebar of a conversation. But let’s say that you are beginning to put more sustainable practices into play, but still, the moment comes when someone needs you, or they are reporting in that they have to go because their partner was just in a horrible car wreck, and you’re thinking, I am just in the midst of doing the payroll and, like, I’m not ready, I’m tired anyway. Acknowledgment. Like, first is just to convince yourself internally to know that these moments actually really do matter. Like, they are not ones that you plan for. And they are a tipping point of people who say, I want to stay with this organization, they are there for me, or well, they don’t give a crap about me, like, I give so much for them and I’m just disposable. And you are the hinge point of – it’s not everything. We can talk about how managers can alleviate HR stress but, like, your response really matters, and acknowledgement. So coming back in a full circle way, what are things that really matter? There’s in the moment response, that’s important. “You go, we’ll take care of things,” you know, acknowledging and releasing them. There is meaningful follow up. That is really a differentiating point. We can, we can talk about that. Don’t say things like “take all the time you need,” because it’s just not true, and that leaves a lot of ambiguity to be able to help the manager have meaningful timeframes to check in regularly. And then I’ll pause, because I don’t want to monologue the whole time, but planning for, in your calendar, anything that matters. Plan your follow ups and be present in the moment. So that’s just a smattering of things that you can do in the moment.

Susan 08:43
Yeah, I love that insight on “take all the time you need,” because at the beginning of horrible things in our life, that’s usually the messages that we, messages we receive, when in reality when you’re not back in three days or you’re not fully functioning in five days, that’s when, you know, all of a sudden managers start to think we have a performance issue with this person, when in reality, they were given a blanket statement that you might have, in a moment of need, you took to heart. So thank you for that insight.

Liesel 09:10
Yeah, people, we have these weird grief-averse culture, and people have not trained and equipped us with great ways to – so we’re reaching for phrases or comforting things that people said to us in the past without really thinking about their energetic and also, like, just logistical impact. You think, oh, we say “take all the time you need” because that’s what people say, but I mean, employees intuitively know they don’t have all the time they need, they have whatever undefined time horizon is in your head, because there’s a power dynamic that’s there and they don’t know what it is, which leads to a low level of anxiety, like, have I trespassed on it, does this person – have they suddenly, like, switched from caring for me to thinking I’m a slacker, instead of being able to say somebody, like, “Take, take the next 72 hours, don’t check your phone, don’t check your email, we will circle back then and talk about next steps,” which is just a great – it doesn’t have to be 72 hours, take the next day, whatever you can give organizationally, which also, in helping with just the HR communication cycle, if your managers can do this, then they also have time to be able to check with you about what they should do and what they can offer and just continuing to have these time-bound check-ins really helps smooth out communication.

Susan 10:30
Yeah, that’s a powerful and practical tip. So thank you, thank you for that. So, Liesel, how can HR professionals kind of fight through their own mental or emotional health exhaustion to bring their better selves to the work situation?

Liesel 10:45
You know, it’s, it’s interesting, even the, the phrasing of that, because, because there is one part – using the term “fight” for it, there is one part that it is, like, contending and pushing through, but we’ve got this long term exhaustion, I think, that any of us that you can talk to, like, there are elements since 2020 related to the pandemic, where we’ve been fighting, we’ve been pushing, and even sometimes that, like, ugh, is it still, like, a fight? I mean, it’s one more front. Like, there’s, the, the phrasing serves you till it doesn’t. Thinking about how you can be sustainable for long-term impact in a way that matters, like, thinking of yourself with the same sort of care and concern that you’d give to your vehicle. Like, you don’t just drive through indicator lights on your vehicle. Anyone who is not just buying a new car every, you know, 200,000 miles knows you have to, like, care for – and you don’t despise your car because it needs care. You think “this is what allows the car to continue to operate.” I really like thinking about it in terms of rhythms of rest and productivity. And just like any created thing, we have to exist and not despise that there is a nature, that we have to exist within that. So with that acknowledgement, I am an entity because of who I am, but also because of what I give to others, that needs care, and I want to treat myself that way. And then beginning to examine some of our practices. I like talking in four main categories about things you can do to be sustainable. One is in your thinking. We love talking about reframing, thinking and all that, that’s where a lot of counseling or even just business self-help – change how you talk to yourself. Do you talk to yourself like you talk to a good friend? Do you connect with what your why is and who you want to be and how you show up for work? Powerful stuff. I think just, you know, like, a key takeaway, a podcast-level takeaway, are you talking yourself at the end of a long day the way you talk to a good friend? Just begin examining some of that messaging that you give to yourself. So that’s a much wider conversation, but there’s cognitive, but we’re also embodied. And I think lots of times, in our, in our uber-connected, we do most of our work on computers, and it’s all production age, we forget that there are things we can do in our body that really help us to be sustainable. That’s why we have idioms that show our holistic selves, like “you are a pain in the neck,” “you are making my stomach churn.” And there’s also great hopefulness in that, because how we treat our bodies translates powerfully into our mental space. It’s very hard to continue to be anxious in a body that is relaxed. I am really upping my focus on breathing. I had the occasion to be in the ER for some chest pains that were related to the, the anniversary of our daughter who died, her death. It ended up not being a long-term thing. It’s the mystery of the body expressing grief. But also I got to, like, watch real outputs in my numbers as I was telling a story that caused me stress, and I could just see it, like, climbing and I thought, you know what, I need to, the, you can actually see on these monitors how breathing deeply and taking some moments can calm you down. Also wrapped up in physical health is sleep, hydration, meaningful movement. I’m getting in middle life, so I really like a good walk. Those are some of the first things that go out the wayside when we’re busy and disconnected. And just two more quick ones. We also operate in communities. We are made to live in communities. Do you have a good community of support? That’s what communities like a podcast community or some of the communities that Purple Ink creates…. Also just, you know, like, do you have people that are actually your real, good friends that you get to talk to you and you connect with in our disconnected age? Like, that’s almost an afterthought. And if you don’t – counseling is, I love talking about how accessible and helpful – some of the healthiest people you know are in counseling. You don’t have to be at a really broken place, especially if you’re teetering on the edge. Like, I’m a heavy utilizer of counseling. Man, that’s why I still love my husband 17 years later. That’s why our family didn’t fall apart after the death of a daughter and hospitalization of our son. Final thing, also, organizationally, like, sometimes we turf it all to HR people, like, well, just manage the stress and keep being sustainable. Sometimes they’re broken organizations, that they’re really asking too much of you and their policies are terrible, and they’re burning through their people and it is broken. And there are reasons to choose to say, sometimes, sometimes that’s security, it’s notability, it’s your life stage. But also know that is not every organization. And if you are powerless in the midst of it, and you’re feeling it in your body, and it’s taking a toll on your relationships, not every workplace is that way, and you can change it from the inside, or you can vote with your feet and be somewhere else.

JoDee 16:04
Great advice. Earlier, you talked about, as an example, not telling people to take all the time they need when something tragic or serious happens. And by the way, I quoted you on that a couple of weeks ago with a group I was working with. That is something I’ve heard you say several times, and it really sticks with me. But what are some other mistakes that we in HR might make with, with good intentions of demonstrating empathy, but they actually are the wrong thing to say or do?

Liesel 16:46
They miss the mark. Well, I always want to preface there, it’s a little bit like bumpers in a bowling alley. Like, the goal is to keep you from guttering out, but the goal is not perfection. It’s progress. So as you listen to some of these things, you might think, like, “oh, I’ve done that, oh, no, I’m the worst,” like, it’s not to get you hung up on that. It’s – because we’re all on a growth trajectory. “Let me know what I can do to help.” If you’re someone who says that a lot, kudos to you for actually having words and wanting to step in, many people don’t even get there, so don’t beat yourself up, but if you’re someone who has said that, and then people don’t follow up, there’s a reason for that. When they’re emotionally flooded, it’s really hard to do an inventory of all the things you might need. So I really like encouraging people to make very specific offers of help. Frankly, one of the most helpful things you can do, and this is just to pass on to managers that you work with, is you help control their sche – like, managers help control the schedules of people. And there’s an HR leader that I love here in town, and she said, anytime someone’s going through really hard, something really hard, I just go through their calendar, and I look at any unnecessary meetings, and I just get rid of them or I make them an email or give them back the gift of their time.

JoDee 18:13
Love that.

Liesel 18:14
Taking inventory on long-term projects. You know, is there anything that needs to shift that’s more of a managerial instead of an HR? One of my favorite things in helping teach anyone, but specifically for this conversation HR professionals, about things that they can personally skill up and, like, what is their personal growth trajectory is by introducing them to empathy avatars. These are some memorable types, which help be granular enough for people to identify with, but also broad enough to give you a little psychological distance. It’s not you doing it, you’re living into a “Cheer-Up Cheryl” mentality, which is one of them. So in the skilling up, like, “Cheer-Up Cheryls” are ones that are always looking on the bright side and “you’re so strong” and that could, you know, “tomorrow is another day” and sometimes in HR for people who are maybe earlier in their careers, maybe they – before some of the shine has went off… For that type specifically, not saying “at least.” That’s a favorite turn of phrase for “Cheer-Up Cheryls.” “Well, at least you…” whatever might come after. For me, after our daughter died, it was “At least you still have Ada and Magnus,” my living children. Observably true. Never actually made me feel better. Just made me feel like you’re not listening to me.

JoDee 19:40
Yeah. Yeah.

Liesel 19:41
One more avatar tip. You know, there’s a lot, but just many times there are people that go into HR and they’re helpers, they like connecting. The “Commiserating Candace” wants to jump right in with their own story. “I know exactly how you feel. Our car broke down also and it’s just such a pain,” and before you know it, inadvertently the whole story is about you. So a particular awareness around that is also helpful.

JoDee 20:10

Susan 20:11
Yeah, that’s great. Great, great mistakes to avoid.

Liesel 20:14
One suggestion that we just didn’t cover, but I think I mentioned it, planning in your calendar for how you want to follow up. This is something that I continue to level up in my own practices in doing. Like, because of the work I do, because of who I am, I can tend to be really good in the moment. Like, I’ll reach out with a text, I will call, even though I’m not actively managing a team of HR people. But recently, within the last six months, I had a friend and colleague who I had asked, “Your grandmother died, I know she was so important in your life, how are you doing?” She wrote me a long response, and then was able to tell me a couple of months later, she was like, “I was really disappointed. Like, you never followed up on that.” With me, I had gone through the first step of doing it. And my response was, you know, “That’s not who I want to be. Thank you for letting me know, I’m sorry, I see how that felt really bad to you.” And that can happen. You know, maybe in your practice, you’re like, I’m actually pretty supportive in real time. And, but just putting reminders, so I am leveling up again, my intention to drop a week after something happened, just something easy. You know, “check in with Joyce a month later,” “ask Tom about putting his parents in long-term care, how are they doing?” It helps actualize our best of intentions. And this should not only be HR. The goal is to democratize the skill set. When we talk about avoiding burnout, if this lands only on your shoulders, that is a fast track to burnout. What data shows again and again is that people want to be supported by their managers and immediate teammates. It’s a question I ask on every pre-session survey. “Who do you want to support you during hard times?” And I did work with a company in November of 2023. And HR is always the lowest answer, like, most companies – the options: manager, friends, family – HR, like, never breaks 11%. And you could, you can select multiple options. They could choose HR. This company, I told them, I was like, “people must love your HR,” because it was at like 18%. And that’s not a knock to HR, it just shows that people want their primary care to come through manager. So one of the best things you can do to avoid burnout is equip your managers to be able to share this load.

Susan 22:40
Boy, that is a terrific insight. Really is. So great ideas. Any other advice for our listeners who are feeling burnout or empathy fatigue?

Liesel 22:49
It’s hard. You don’t have to be stuck there. You know, it’s, these are skill sets that you can grow in things like empathy and human connection. So don’t lose heart. We have all different levels of competency and comfortability. It’s one of my favorite ways of talking about it. You can grow in this skill set. You can also grow in your practices of sustainability in this. And as you think about burnout, just really thinking, like, you, you’re not a resource. You are someone who is worthy of your own attention, care, and stewardship so you can be good not just for work, but for your life in general. So there’s a path. There are helpful resources. You have a community of people who are actively engaging in, in the stewardship that’s necessary. And I think, I think that this episode will drop, we’re recording it in late winter, but it’s going to drop in springtime, and even just seeing the seasons of renewal of the Earth itself. Burnout, feeling spent does not have to be the end of your story. So take heart, you actually are incredibly important in how you create cultures of care, and I hope that you receive that care from others also.

JoDee 24:09
Yeah. Thank you for sharing that, Liesel. On a JoyPowered® note, what is the most recent thing that brought you joy in your own work?

Liesel 24:21
I was doing a session a couple of weeks ago, and I love getting to work, not, not just, like, a 90-minute or two-hour thing. I like working with organizations over time, it really allows you to see progress and growth. So I was working with this cohort of about 14 people. And there was this moment, one exercise that we did was have people share their aspirational avatar, who they want to be. So we had people like “Patient Paul” or “Mindful Mackenzie” and they’re, they’re standing up and they’re presenting and they’re, they’re saying some of the characteristics, like, who do I aspirationally want to be. And it’s beautiful because when you have people who are actively thinking about how to create cultures of care and being – and they’re engaged and they have been skilling it up. As a facilitator, I just got to step back a little bit and see this team, which is from all over the world, they’re from London, they’re from New Jersey, they’re from Florida, take the occasion to step in and call out strengths in these people, you know, they’re sharing this, this is where I feel like there’s still a gap. This is where I’m growing. And to be able to say that, it was just such a beautiful moment. It’s the best of what you want to see as a facilitator, of people taking the content, putting their own flavor to it, and growing in it. So I loved, I loved that moment. It was also in this beautiful, like, second story, sunlit conference room looking at an a lake and I thought, this is the goal. This is, this is what you want to be doing. So.

Susan 25:56
A magical moment.

Liesel 25:57
It was beautiful.

Susan 25:58
Yeah, beautiful. So Liesel, how could our listeners reach you if they want to continue this discussion or tap into your consulting?

Liesel 26:05
My website is On almost every page, there is a “schedule a free consultation.” So I would love to talk, you can know more about what Handle with Care does, also just connect with some of your pain points, opportunities. So that’s a great place to go. And there’s a number of different things that I do, whether that is one-day training events for people to come and bring their teams in company sessions, or conference speaking, also, stay posted at that website, because I’m really excited in 2024 to have an online offering for companies at scale or where travel costs or dispersed workforce makes it really hard to get people in the room. Or carrier pigeon, you can try carrier pigeon.

JoDee 26:56
Thank you so much for joining us today, Liesel. You always have such great insights. And sometimes I just feel like you have the perfect words for situations that I’m always trying to remember and reflect back on.

Liesel 27:14
Thank you both.

Susan 27:15
Thank you so much.

Susan 27:17
We came across an article that Rachel Boisu wrote on on May 23, 2019, entitled “9 Ways to Handle HR Burnout,” that also offers suggestions on things we might want to do when we find ourselves hitting the wall.

JoDee 27:32
Number one is to identify the root cause and really think about what is causing you the stress. Was it an event? Is it just constant? You know, people in your office, think about who is causing it? Is it a group, a department, a person? And how will you address it or them – that group?

Susan 28:01
Yeah, taking it head on, make sense. Second idea, break up your routine. Maybe you need to cross train. Maybe you want to learn some other things in your organization. Feed your need to keep learning. Change up the patterns that you’ve established for yourself,

JoDee 28:16
Or start a new project. And that can be inside or outside of work. Give you a different perspective, something else to focus on.

Susan 28:26
Number four, take breaks. And you know, I think that we as HR people have to remind ourselves that we cannot care for others unless we take care of ourselves. So think about sharpening your saw and truly giving you time to check out.

JoDee 28:40
And number five, give back. Volunteer outside of your normal job to help someone else or to help an organization. And again, that could be someone inside your organization or outside of work. It may be your church or a community group or a neighbor.

Susan 29:00
Number six, prioritize self-care beyond just taking a break. Really put your nutrition, your exercise, your mental health as a priority for what you invest in.

JoDee 29:11
And number seven, rethink meditation. We suggest you go back and take a listen to one of our prior episodes called “Mindfulness in the Workplace” that launched on March 25, 2019 with Saundra Schrock. That was, that was an excellent episode and she had lots of different ideas that we could be doing.

Susan 29:37
Number eight, ask for help. And I know that’s hard for a lot of us. But I do think you’ll be surprised at how many people are curious of what we do in HR and are capable of pitching in to help write communications, review resumes. Some people really enjoy doing that, that that’s not their day job, but they enjoy it. Screening candidates, planning a company event. You don’t have to own everything, you can actually reach out to colleagues and empower them to be of help.

JoDee 30:04
And unplug and unwind. This, I think, is a message directly for me most times. Be the champion of taking time off and really being off. You can be a role model to set boundaries except for absolute emergencies.

Susan 30:27
Yes, as leaders, there are things we may want to consider doing to help our employees avoid developing burnout. Many of our listeners actually manage teams of HR people. So recommendations that Calm Business has for us as HR and business leaders include, first of all, guide your employees to resources when you sense that they may be hitting burnout. Self-check tools like the Maslach Burnout Inventory, mental wellness tools, your EAP, point them in the right direction.

JoDee 30:59
Check in regularly with your team members. You know, we talked about all of those signs of burnout that we need to address in ourselves, but look for that in other people as well.

Susan 31:14
Number three, give recognition. You know, your, your employees want to be seen, valued, and heard. Make sure that you are doing that and calling them out when things are right.

JoDee 31:23
And give space for people to take breaks as they need them, and also to take time off and to use their full vacation or PTO time every year.

Susan 31:36
And then finally, remind your staff why their work matters, and why they matter. It never gets old for people to hear that what they’re doing has value.

JoDee 31:46
Yeah, absolutely.

Susan 31:48
So JoDee, I think this topic was a really an important one for us to explore. What thoughts do you have?

JoDee 31:54
Well, I know one thing I kept thinking about as we were talking, and I’ve talked a little bit about this before, that I used to think breaks were only for smokers. And then when I got a dog about 10 years ago, I started taking more breaks to walk our first dog and now we have two dogs. So not only was I taking a break, but I was getting outside, I was going for a walk, you know, several benefits to that. Well, when my husband retired almost two years ago now, he walks the dogs all the time. So it reminded me that I’m not taking that break like I used to and not getting outside. So good reminder for me.

Susan 32:45
Yes, excellent.

JoDee 32:47
Susan, we have a listener question today, where they asked, “What interview format do you find most effective for interviews conducted via a web meeting portal?”

Susan 33:01
My go-to is Zoom. I’m most familiar with it. I use it all the time. But I certainly, if my clients, my consulting clients want me to use Teams, I’ll use Teams, GoTo Meeting, I’ll use FaceTime in a pinch. I absolutely love interviewing where I have eyeball to eyeball if it’s culturally respectful for that individual, as opposed to a phone type of interview. Now, certainly, if I could do in-person, that’s great. But in today’s world, most of the work that I do is, you know, done remotely. I think all of these platforms are intuitive for most professional-level candidates. But I also recognize that there’s a number of people out there who don’t use these type of platforms. And so I think you have to be sensitive if you’re dealing with candidates who, they feel awkward in a virtual setting, maybe spending time at the front end of your interview explaining the mechanics of the tool, making sure that they’re comfortable with it, and not just, you know, jumping right to your interviewing questions. Any other insights you might have, JoDee?

JoDee 33:04
I have the same answer as, as you. Zoom is my go-to, but one additional one that we are using is called SparkHire, which is a mechanism to record interviews. You can – of course, you could record in Zoom too, but Spark is set up not only where you could just record a conversation, but you could also have the candidate record answers to questions that you’ve provided to them. Now, I think there’s a lot of value in that in one way in particular that we use it, is they can then send a video to several hiring managers or people in the department or people to see and learn about the candidate. But it does make some people really nervous to, to do it, or they might just keep recording over and over trying to make it perfect and actually taking a lot more time on it. But we like it. We like the tool.

Susan 35:17
And I’m familiar with HireVue, which is a competitor of SparkHire, very similar, you know, vehicle. And there’s many, many others out there. So listener, we’d love your input, and any of our listeners, if you’ve got a platform that you find particularly effective, don’t hesitate to let us know about it.

JoDee 35:32

Susan 35:34
JoDee, it’s time for in the news. HRmorning posted an article by Ryan Ramsey on January 15, 2024, entitled “Today’s Lifestyle Spending Accounts or LSAs.” The term lifestyle spending was new for me, JoDee, but the idea of tailoring your benefit offerings to meet the wants and desires of your staff is not. Unlike traditional FSA or HSA offerings, with LSAs employees have the flexibility regarding the types of products and services they use the funds for. An LSA is an employer-funded account that enables employees to apply post- or pre-tax dollars toward benefits that they want. Some examples of categories of benefits some employers are making their LSAs eligible to be spent on include gym memberships, fitness classes, nutritional supplements.

JoDee 36:26
Meditation apps.

Susan 36:29
Home office equipment for remote work. Ergonomic chairs, standing desks, treadmill desks.

JoDee 36:35
Fertility or reproductive health or adoption support, which many times are not covered under a health plan or other benefits.

Susan 36:46
Paying student loans or financial planning.

JoDee 36:46
Commuter benefits.

Susan 36:47
Tuition reimbursement.

JoDee 36:47
And wellness or volunteer activities.

Susan 36:52
Ramsey cites an Espresa study that said 85% of employees in 2023 participated in some form of LSA program, from very simple to elaborate. They may not have been called an LSA, but that’s what they were.

JoDee 37:12

Susan 37:13
It’s important that as HR and business leaders that we make sure our staff knows the creative benefits we have made available to them, so that they could tap into them and that we use things like our LSAs to re-recruit our talent every day that they are with us.

JoDee 37:28
I love it. Thanks for joining us today. We hope you tune in next time, and make it a JoyPowered® day.

Susan 37:38
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 38:07
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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