Show Notes: Episode 42 – Social Media and Mental Health in the Workplace
November 19, 2018
Transcript: Episode 43 – Executive Coaching
December 3, 2018

Click here for this episode’s show notes.

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

JoDee 0:08
Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing humanity in the workspace. I’m JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm, and author of “JoyPowered®” and “The JoyPowered® Family.” With me is Susan White, a national HR consultant.

Today we are having a discussion on a topic that seems to be affecting many workspaces. It’s social media and mental health in the workspace, and with us today to share her thoughts and ideas is our expert Danielle Ireland. Prior to graduating with a master’s degree from the IU School of Social Work and working as a therapist with Healing Hearts of Indy, Danielle worked as a performer and ballroom dance instructor. I can’t wait to hear more about that one. Her journey from performer to therapist wasn’t a clearly defined path. It was a seven year process of fear, sweat, step, stumble, get up, learn, and repeat. With each move towards discovery, clarity, and purpose, she recognized a desire to share the tools she was learning with others. Her current passion project is working with clients to use social media as a force for good in the world. She’s also the creator and host of the podcast Don’t Cut Your Own Bangs, the remedy to the “everyone has it figured out but me” feeling. I was recently a guest on Danielle’s show, so I encourage you to check out her podcast as well.

Susan 1:40
I’m going to.

JoDee 1:43
So Danielle, I’m always fascinated with how people got where they are. People find it unusual that I was a practicing CPA turned HR professional, but I can’t beat your story, a ballroom dancer to therapist. So tell us more about that.

Danielle 1:59
Well, you know, you know, kind of, like you so eloquently put, it wasn’t a straight or linear path. But I think what connects my love of dance and performance with the work that I’m doing now, there, there was an element of I wanted to challenge myself, push myself past what was comfortable, and every time you step on stage, and I shouldn’t say everyone, because that’s a generalization, but for the most part, there’s some sense of fear. Am I good enough? Am I going to do this well? Is it going to look all right? Am I going to fail? And so you’re risking failure with every performance and that – I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but that thrill, that was probably, that was what made it exciting to me. And then on a personal level, I think working with the students that I was teaching ballroom dance to. What I loved so much about that work that I did for so long was that people would come into the studio and what they really wanted was to feel better about themselves. And they would come in with maybe a high school reunion or a wedding or some important life event where they wanted to walk in and feel good in their bodies and feel good about themselves. And so…

JoDee 3:06
I love that!

Danielle 3:07
…dancing was the vehicle that – it really wasn’t about the steps. Like, one thing I learned really early on is that the only people that really cared about ballroom dance technique were the instructors. But for the most part, yeah, the students wanted to have a good time and what they wanted ultimately was able to walk into a room with confidence and, and not be scared.

JoDee 3:26
And so there was therapy in that after all, right?

Danielle 3:29
Yes, and I had no idea, but I can connect those dots now.

JoDee 3:33
Yes, I love it. I love it.

Susan 3:35
So Danielle, let’s talk about social media. Why do you think people are so drawn to social media?

Danielle 3:41
I think ultimately, what we crave is connection. And more so, I think, than what – I mean people are, are complex and it’s hard to take complex individual perspectives and feelings and distill them to one main principle, but one thing that seems to be true throughout culture, religion, ideology, and gender is we want to be seen and heard and fully appreciated and connected in our lives, and social media, in many ways, has increased that potential. I think, though, with this platform that most of us are already connected to, it’s also introducing some potential challenges, because we weren’t, we weren’t taught how to interact with it. Right? I mean, this wasn’t something, you know, I mean, apart from generations who are native to technology, like, this is a relatively new concept. And I think that’s part of where the trepidation or the fear is within companies or even within families is, I don’t really know how I should be relating to this, what’s good, what’s not good, what’s healthy, what’s not healthy. And there’s, I think, a lot of potential for, for, for connection, opportunity, even growing businesses. I mean, there’s so much potential, but there’s also some challenges and fears people have around that too.

Susan 4:53
That is so interesting, because we’ve recently seen a number of very famous people abuse social media, and I never thought about it, we’ve never been taught how to use it. So you know, maybe that’s right. Maybe we’ve never set up, like, what are the norms as a society, and what’s okay to tweet, what’s not?

Danielle 5:09
Yeah.

JoDee 5:09
Right.

Susan 5:10
Interesting.

JoDee 5:10
Right. Right. Very interesting. And what are some of the more common complaints you hear about social media, Danielle?

Danielle 5:18
Yeah, I like that question a lot, because I think, for the most part, when we’re, when we’re stepping into something we don’t understand, right? What we’re really overcoming, or what we’re really wrestling with is fear. And so when we are afraid or we feel vulnerable or intimidated or uncertain, we have some default behaviors that we fall back into. And this is within relationships. So you could, you know, maybe we get critical, maybe we find something to judge, maybe that’s when we even fall into gossip around, like, personal circles, right? Something about what I’m seeing, what I’m experiencing is making me feel uncomfortable. So I’m going to deflect or criticize or find fault with, and I don’t think this is intentional. I think this is mostly happening unconsciously. But I think because we’re intimidated or maybe uncertain of what the norms are… Because to be honest, like, to address that point that you made just a moment ago, I don’t know if we even really know what the norms are. And I don’t know if this has been present long enough to really even find…. So much of the data that’s, like, that we’re finding in the scholarship and literature out there is that, you know, they’ve been gathering data for as long as, essentially, Facebook has existed. And I remember when Facebook was launched, when I was in college, so it’s kind of on the job learning in terms of discovering those norms. But I think a lot of the complaints that people have is, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s unhealthy for self-esteem. It’s, you know, it’s, gosh, it leads into maybe poor self-image, or it’s really sucking up and really draining a lot of our time. People spend a lot of time online and on social media. So I think time, time and self-esteem are probably two of the biggest complaints or fears that we have about it.

Susan 6:49
Yeah, I was having breakfast this morning with someone, and I, she asked what I was doing today and I said, “Oh, I get to do podcasting.” And I told her what the topics were. She said, “You’ve got to ask the expert,” so Danielle, I’m going to ask you, she says, “I don’t know what to do. I’ve got a coworker, it’s in a medical office, who, the phones are ringing, people are coming, and she’s just absorbed watching on her Facebook. She’s just forever on it.” And she doesn’t know how to approach that. So I would love your advice on that, but also just to really talk about the impact of social media in the workplace specifically.

Danielle 7:19
Absolutely. So, well, to first address the, you know, the woman who is struggling with an employee that seems to be having a hard time doing her work and function online at the same time. So what that really makes me think of first is this misconception I think we have, or maybe a falsely held belief, about our ability to multitask. I think so often when we’re having conversations and our phone is present, what we tell ourselves and what we tell others is, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I’m listening,” and, and what you can’t see right now is I’m actually mimicking texting with my hands. But, you know, like, “Oh, no, it’s totally fine. You know, I’m hearing you, I can listen, I’m listening to everything you’re saying,” and phone’s down. “Now what were you saying?” And it’s so, it’s such a fault. And so with that example that you gave specifically, what I would probably say is there needs to be better boundaries in place with the phone in general, like, so, some of the some of the data that we found with social media and how that relates to mental health is different than what we have found with technology and mental health. So, you know, the only behavioral addiction that’s actually diagnoseable according to the DSM-5, the diagnostic mental health manual, is gambling addiction, right? So we’re talking about gaming addiction, we’re talking about pornography addiction, we’re talking about technology addiction, and we’re using those terms very loosely, yet, that actually does not exist yet in – at least in a formal way. So we understand what we’re saying when we use that language, but I think it’s really important to differentiate that none of those are clinically diagnoseable yet.

Susan 8:52
Okay.

Danielle 8:52
Because we’re still trying to learn, we’re still trying to really figure this out. And again, it’s, like, on the job learning. So what’s really interesting about technology, I’m going to use air quotes, “technology addiction,” specifically, the receptors that fire off in the brain when we see an alert or a ping, like we’ve received a text or we hear the ding or we hear a phone ring, or even we feel the vibration on our phone. Right? That immediately pulls our attention away from the conversation we’re having or the task that we’re doing and it disrupts. And so what’s happening in terms of anxiety, stress, maybe even, you know, ranking anxiety in the workplace, is we’re having a hard time focusing on any one task longer than three minutes at a time, because there’s so many different things calling to our attention. So really, if we, it’s not so much about social media, specifically, I think, in the workplace, but having stronger boundaries about technology in general, because what’s interesting is social media in and of itself, and what we found in some of the research is that social media itself, there is no direct causal connection between social media and self-esteem, meaning that social media is not necessarily been found to be a direct cause or a link to feeling good or feeling bad. What it is… I, in my – now this is my opinion, right? I’m not gonna refer to – this is just Danielle’s opinion.

Susan 10:09
We’ll take it.

Danielle 10:09
Take it or leave it.

Susan 10:10
Yeah.

Danielle 10:11
My opinion is is what social media is doing is it’s ramping up the volume and cranking up the intensity of pre-existing conditions that people already have existing within relationships. The fear that we’re not enough, comparing ourselves to others, criticizing others. So my approach and my hope is that through further self-examination, clarity, asking better questions, and creating boundaries within ourselves on a personal and individual level that we can define for ourselves what a healthy relationship with social media is, because some people might be able to get online and might be able to scroll on their phone and see a beautiful family sitting on a plaid blanket and enjoying a picnic and, you know, in a beautiful family photo and think, “Wow, that’s so lovely, good for them.” Someone else might see that same photo and think, “Oh my god, I’m, I’m alone. I don’t have that. What’s wrong with me?” You know, “Why don’t I look like that mother who lost that baby weight so quickly after having a child three weeks ago,” and then we start tumbling down this rabbit hole of self-doubt, self-criticism and shame. And what’s challenging is to differentiate. Is it social media that’s caused that, or is there something – or is there a deeper conversation I need to have and social media has maybe brought that to light for me?

JoDee 11:23
Exacerbated some of those thoughts already. Interesting. You know, I love – Well, I’m always so disappointed when I hear people talk about multitasking and that we really can’t do it, because I spent, like, 53 years telling myself no one was better at me than multitasking. And now, I’ve spent the last year trying to remind myself that I, I, the research says I can’t do it. But I do a lot of training on time management and goal setting and I – my number one thing I always tell people to do to be more productive and to help stay more focused is to turn off all those buzzers and pop ups and bells ringing and… I know, I read a book, it has a lot of great ideas, but I’ll tell you it took me a long time to read, is a book put out by Microsoft called “Take Back Your Life.” And one of the number one statistics they talk about early in the book is how just hearing an email pop up or a social media alert or something can distract you 10 times longer than you think it does. So if you spent even 30 seconds, looking at, listening to the pop up, looking at, at the comment, the text, the email, whatever it is, and we think that we, we turn around and go right back to our work, but it really takes us 10 times longer than the action itself to get refocused on our work. So.

Danielle 12:57
I think that’s so accurate and such a great point. So, so I guess when we think about multitasking, like, I and I would imagine listeners, I could almost probably hear people saying, “Well, no, I can!”

JoDee 13:08
That would be me.

Danielle 13:09
Sure.

JoDee 13:10
Would have been me.

Danielle 13:13
Well, and the truth is, so maybe like the asterisk to add to that is you can jump around from task to task to task. But then in terms of mental health, how is that impacting your stress level? Right? Because it’s, it takes a lot more effort and a lot more energy and brainpower to go back to what you just said so well, to reorient your focus back to what you were doing, and so if we’re finding that we’re overwhelmed, swamped, or having employees that are burnt out at work, it may be that, okay, so maybe you do feel like you’re able to do multiple things at once. Maybe you can multitask. But, you know, what’s, what’s the trade off?

Susan 13:47
Right. So, Danielle, for any of our listeners who happen to run companies or they’re HR folks, is there anything that we as employers should be or could be doing to help this impact of social media in the workplace? Should we have policies or training or is there anything, any advice that you would have?

Danielle 14:03
Oh, that’s a good question. It’s a really good question. As far as the conversations we should have, or, you know, people who are in HR or business owners trying to figure out how they want their employees to relate to social media, I think the first thing I would probably tell anyone is to… a lot of the stress or challenge, challenging conversations that I’ve been a part of begins with resisting that social media is existing. You know, wishing we could go back to a simpler time, wishing that it could be different than what it is. And so I think the first step on to truly create those boundaries or put those rules in place, whatever the guidelines, you know, however would, that would be structured is to first accept that social media is. All of your employees have a profile of some, like, of some shape or form. And if you’re going to invite someone into your company, right, you have guidelines with how you expect employees to relate to one another, like what is, what is conduct that feels, like, appropriate to you within your organization or under the umbrella of your mission statement or your values, right? You have precedents in place of how you want employees to relate to one another. And what I think new employees coming into a company with social media have to recognize, and this is now their work, right, the individual works, and then the company’s work, is to recognize that their social media is an extension and ultimately a representation of the company they work for. So if you’re if you’re working with this company, what you’re putting out into the world is not only a reflection of you, but now a reflection of the other networks you’re connected with. And then that would, I would almost say probably in the hiring process, are you willing to, you know, surrender, take down, edit, maybe, some of the images you already have up or some of the posts you’ve already made, as it fits within, you know, our, the boundaries of our company, or even privacy settings, right? So, you know, if you’re not willing to do that, can you change the privacy settings so that potential clients, customers, or other you know, companies that we relate with, you know, you can keep that to yourself, but if it’s public it’s now representing me.

JoDee 16:06
My three millennial children have told me many times that us old people don’t – I’m not including anyone in that except myself – don’t know how to use privacy, that only younger people use privacy settings effectively, so.

Danielle 16:25
Well, then…

JoDee 16:26
That’s, I need to work on that.

Danielle 16:28
…that would be a great opportunity for training.

JoDee 16:29
Right.

Danielle 16:30
That would be a wonderful opportunity.

Susan 16:31
It would, for a lunch and learn or…

Yeah!

JoDee 16:32
Yeah.

Danielle 16:33
I think it would be… and I think, too, like, social media…I’m gonna maybe sound a little like, I don’t know, a little too like a children’s program, but, like, social media can be your friend, too.

Susan 16:42
Yes. That’s right.

Danielle 16:44
It’s a fantastic connector. It’s a…

JoDee 16:46
Right, I love it for that.

Danielle 16:47
Oh, it’s an incredible resource and it can be an ally in your life. We just have to figure out how we can do that safely.

JoDee 16:54
I just think there’s so many people in the world that want to know what my children are doing on a daily basis, and I want to be able to share it with them!

Susan 17:02
Or what my granddog had for breakfast this morning. You know, I’m sure people want to know. Yeah, I – this is a bit of a tangent, but I have worked in firms where they had rules against using your cell phone during the day. And with all the work around studying this and the concept of nomophobia, realizing that employees who did not have their cell phone on or with them caused so much anxiety, I’ve seen firms really step back from that. And they just say, you know, please use discretion, step outside or go somewhere private rather than being in a workspace. But are you finding that to be true, Danielle, that people are allowing people have their cell phones with them?

Danielle 17:37
I don’t know if people are allowing it in terms of I don’t know if that’s necessarily a conscious choice, but I think what they’re butting up against in terms of establishing boundaries is resistance. Because what they’re really… where people have a tendency to go, what I’ve seen, and I fall victim of this too, well, I maybe not fall victim, but I’m 100% guilty of this as well. Once the cell phone is on the table, if I’m trying to have an intimate one-on-one conversation with you or an important meeting, the cell phone’s on the table, already some of my focus is pulled to this, whether it’s, whether the screen’s face down or face up.

Susan 18:08
That’s true.

Danielle 18:08
Whether it’s… or this is a really nice sneaky tip where we wedge the phone between our leg and the seat.

JoDee 18:15
You’re giving away my secret!

Danielle 18:17
But we feel the vibration and ultimately what, what our phones, I think for the most part, again, this is Danielle Ireland’s opinion. So please, this is 100% opinion here. But what I really think we’re resisting or what we’re clinging on to is a sense of control. Having that phone means, this is usually where people go, “Well, what if there’s an emergency? What if someone needs to get ahold of me?” We think that having this phone near us is almost like, you know, the kangaroo and the baby joey. If I can just keep this with me, on me, near me, then I’m less likely to lose control, have a mistake, not be able to respond to a problem. So we, what we would ultimately have to overcome is our own surrendering of that control, I guess. Yeah.

JoDee 19:06
It’s interesting, my husband and I actually had this discussion last weekend about having our cell phones with us, when we did and when we didn’t. I get a little irritated at him sometimes because he walks the dogs, mows the lawn, works in the yard…

Susan 19:21
What a bum! How can you stand him?

JoDee 19:23
…all these things where he doesn’t take his cell phone with him.

Susan 19:28
Oh, sure.

JoDee 19:28
And then… and I might need to get ahold of him, so I find that frustrating. But last weekend, we went into church, and he said, “Turn your cell phone off.” And I said, “Well, I left it in the car.” And he said, “Well, what if there’s an emergency?” I’m thinking, this might be the last place there would be one. So we just had such opposite opinions on when there might be an emergency, you know.

Danielle 19:54
I think that’s a really, that’s a, that’s such a great conversation to add to this and that’s where I think there’s never going to be like 10 simple solutions or a five point plan to find your perfect relationship with social media, because it is so individual. And I think what we’re oftentimes in a hurry to create is a process and a plan. And we’re thinking very critically and very logically, but what we’re not addressing is this is ultimately an emotionally driven decision. Right? We, we want to be able to prevent problems, and within companies or within businesses, what if an employee needs me? What if, you know, what if, you know, and so we’re… those what ifs are really what’s controlling the decisions, not necessarily the phone or social media, it’s the what ifs.

Susan 20:35
Right, right. So how can people use social media to create a positive impact both in their lives and at work, Danielle?

Danielle 20:42
Ah, that’s so wonderful. Thank you for asking that question. Because I do believe so strongly that social media can be used as a force for good in this world. Everyone now has a public voice. That is something that our generations prior did not have, have access to, that there was not an opportunity we have before. And I think, you know, this is a Spiderman quote for anyone who might be listening who enjoys the Marvel Universe. But you know, “with with great power comes great responsibility.” So I truly believe that we have been all given access to this remark – I mean, so many businesses now solely exist online, I can count, there’s probably beyond what I can count of relationships that have either been formed, created, or continued and have been able to last because of what this technology has allowed us to do. I have friends that live in other countries that I still talk with every day. So I think that really to use it as a source for good, I think what’s so important is when we have these critical and important conversations about boundaries, expectations, and how to be efficient and effective at work. It’s equally as important that we also add… basically, like, question. Okay, what’s, what’s wrong with this and what’s right about this? What’s working and what’s not working? Because I think typically the buck stops at what’s wrong. And we focus on the problem. And so often the solution isn’t found in focusing on the problem.

JoDee 22:09
Right. You know, I was thinking when Susan mentioned earlier about employers maybe disallowing people to have their cell phones with them, that – and this has been, I don’t know, at least eight, maybe nine years ago. So I’m not sure how common this is anymore. But we had a client who blocked Facebook from employees’ computers so they couldn’t get on Facebook. Of course, what most of them did was they used their – they blocked it on the computers, but what they employees were doing, of course, were getting on their phones, which might have even been taking more time to get their phone out. But at the same time, the same employer was advertising their business on Facebook.

Susan 22:53
Oh my gosh.

JoDee 22:54
And I found that so interesting, that they saw the benefits of advertising their organization but yet, were hindering their employees from getting on at the same time. So hopefully we’ve come beyond that.

Danielle 23:09
Well, I think to add to that, to do some thinking of how would a company like, okay, so how, how could we potentially implement this at work? So I think, you know, do you allow your employees to have a social conversation that is not solely about projects or things that are happening at work? And if your answer to that is yes, it’s hard to say, “Well, you can talk about things that aren’t work related at work, but you can’t have a digital conversation that’s not about work at work,” right? And so I think the larger conversation if we include social media in how we want to communicate within companies, rather than make it two separate entities, then it might be, then we might find a better, a better system that works for the individual.

JoDee 23:46
Right. Interesting. Very interesting. So we can’t talk about social media without hitting a few common HR practices around social media as well. So Susan, a question for you. Can recruiters check out candidates before recruiting and hiring them?

Susan 24:05
They can. And in fact, I get this question asked a lot of me, and I always say, “Let’s stop for a moment and think about what is it that you’re wanting to find out or you feel like you need to do it.” And, and some people come back with reasons that I think are, you know, that’s legitimate. But I think you want to be very, very careful about it. And that is, I don’t want every hiring manager out there trolling the social media to see what they can learn. Because first of all, they’re going to usually find out the person’s race, their gender, their age, and perhaps if there’s a disability that’s visible, so on and so forth. And I’m just not really comfortable with lots of people who don’t have a need to know about things that should not affect the hiring decision to find it out. So one of the best practices that I recommend is that if social media is going to be part of your pre-employment process, that you wait till you are fairly serious about a candidate, but have somebody in HR be the person who does it so there’s one sole person. I would, for every candidate, I would not pick and choose, I would make it a consistent part of my practice. And I might even have, like, a little checklist about what it is that I’m looking at, looking for. And I would not record anywhere in my notes the race, the gender, anything that from an appearance standpoint that I learned. So that would be my advice, but I would love your thoughts.

JoDee 25:18
I totally agree with you.

Danielle 25:21
Yes, absolutely. And I think something that you spoke to really well, is that, you know, what is your intention? What is the intention behind looking online? Right? And because that could lead to unconscious bias, like, part of what I heard you say is maybe unintentional or unconscious bias.

Yes.

Potentially, you know, all kinds of, you know, unhealthy behaviors that we want to avoid. And I think another lens that would be helpful to look through when you’re deciding what are you looking for when you get online is go back to your company’s vision, mission, and values. Right? So not only are you looking for potential problems, right, because that’s probably what we’re more likely trying to find out first. Ooh, do they have a, would this be a problem, would this be a problem? But also, what do they have already that is in alignment with what we believe as a business or as a company? And then that can also be folded into the conversation in a positive way. You know, when we were looking at such and such a profile, we did notice a couple things we might need to address, we might need to talk about some privacy settings or potentially taking some images down if you’re okay with that. But we also want to compliment these things that we’ve seen that might make you a great fit. It can also just, it can soften that conversation, too.

JoDee 26:25
Right. Very nice, very nice. And what happens if an employee, quote, “bullies” another employee or maybe makes disparaging comments via social media, even if they are doing it during their off time?

Susan 26:40
It’s not okay. You cannot use social media as a tool against other employees to harass or bully or do anything else that could be potentially illegal. So not okay.

JoDee 26:53
Yeah. So Danielle, thank you so much for being with us today. I learned a lot about social media and I think our listeners will really enjoy this podcast. How can our listeners reach out to you specifically if they have questions or want to use your services?

Danielle 27:13
Well, absolutely, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share some of my social media handles on your podcast. So on Instagram you can find me at @d.ireland.d. On Facebook you can find me at Danielle Ireland LLC. That is a private profile, not my personal profile. So that just kind of, that was one of my personal boundaries that I put in place, so kind of fits within our conversation.

JoDee 27:38
Makes sense.

Danielle 27:38
And then also you can find me at www.danielleireland.com.

JoDee 27:43
And let’s – I mentioned your podcast earlier, again, but remind us the name of your podcast and how they can find that as well.

Danielle 27:50
Absolutely. So the name of my podcast is called Don’t Cut Your Own Bangs. And the purpose for that podcast is to remedy essentially feeling alone in your struggles and feeling like you’re not enough. And my hope is that through some humor and some conversations, vulnerability, and laughter, we can just feel a little less alone in trying to figure this life out.

JoDee 28:09
Yeah, it’s a great podcast. I’ve listened to many episodes now and I really enjoy it.

Danielle 28:14
Oh, thank you.

JoDee 28:15
All right, well, thank you again.

Susan 28:17
Thank you so much. It was really good.

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This is the listener question for today, JoDee. The question came from Zach in Alexandria, Virginia. “Susan and JoDee, we’re expecting to lay off a whole department before the end of the year. One of the employees in this group is pregnant and I’m concerned this might be viewed as discrimination if we let her go. What should I do?”

JoDee 29:04
Well, the bottom line, Zach, is that if she would have been laid off otherwise, you still should continue to lay her off and it doesn’t – the fact that she’s pregnant doesn’t impact the situation. In other words, it, it actually could go the other way if you kept her, but I’ll, I’ll kind of give the official answer. When your business situation necessitates a reduction in force that lays off multiple employees at the same time, that might include pregnant workers provided pregnancy doesn’t constitute the reason for their inclusion in the layoff. So obviously, you would have to be very careful that she wasn’t selected, but Zach’s question said he was laying off the whole department. If a layoff only includes pregnant employees or consists of only one employee who happens to be pregnant, obviously that could be a discriminatory practice and could show a pattern. An employee on FMLA based maternity leave could also lose her job, by the way, if her employer can show that she would have been let go despite her pregnancy. So, Zach, if that, if the layoff were to be delayed and at that point she’s already on leave, the answer would still be the same.

Susan 30:21
Well, that makes sense.

JoDee 30:22
To be laid off. Right?

Susan 30:23
Good question.

JoDee 30:25
In our in the news section, the typical low income worker 40 years ago, perhaps an entry level person, a cashier, a receptionist, earned about $9.42 an hour when adjusted to today’s dollars. So that’s, that’s a point to be made, it, it is adjusted for inflation. But in 2016, the person working in that same job earned about $9.33 an hour, which is actually 1% less than almost 40 years ago.

Susan 30:59
Oh my gosh.

JoDee 31:00
So even though the recession is over, the economy is strong, unemployment is at an all-time low, many businesses are turning healthy profits, and the financial markets have surged, it is not translated into an increase for many of those lower level workers, which, I found that fascinating.

Susan 31:21
And frustrating.

JoDee 31:22
Right, right. A recent SHRM report suspects the following. That, of course, so many of those positions have gone to automation or global outsourcing and have started to replace many of those low skilled positions, which reduces the overall demand. A four year college degree no longer promises the financial bargaining power it once did. The decline in labor unions has made it more difficult to negotiate higher pay for those positions. And the minimum wage, although it has risen, it doesn’t really afford the buying power that it did decades ago. Also, companies have grown gun shy following the recession and prefer to keep those labor costs low.

Susan 32:06
Yikes.

JoDee 32:07
I thought that was an interesting statistic there.

Susan 32:10
You know, given the fact that our podcast originates in Indiana, it’s, I think, important to note that our minimum wage has not changed here in, I think, the last nine or 10 years. And so even though we have states like California and elsewhere that are on the path to $15 an hour, we’re still at $7.25, and that is the starting minimum wage that many companies still continue to pay.

JoDee 32:32
Yeah, interesting. I, I’m embarrassed that I didn’t realize that, Susan, so that’s good.

Well, thank you for listening today, and please tune in next time. If you have missed any of our podcasts, you can catch all of our episodes for free at iTunes, Google Play, Podbean, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts by searching on the word “JoyPowered.” That’s all one word. If you have questions on any HR topics, you can call us at 317-688-1613 or give feedback on our podcast via our JoyPowered® Facebook account, or on Twitter @JoyPowered. We welcome listener questions and comments.

Susan 33:16
Thank you.

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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