Finding Joy When Life Happens: Inclusive Benefits for All Employees
July 25, 2019
Show Notes: Episode 60 – Empathy in the Workplace
July 29, 2019

Click here for this episode’s show notes.

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

JoDee 0:10
Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing humanity in the workspace. I’m JoDee Curtis, and with me is my co-host Susan White, a national HR consultant. I’m the owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm, and author of “JoyPowered®” and “The JoyPowered® Family.” Susan and I just released our newest book, “The JoyPowered® Team,” with five other authors. In today’s episode, we are going to talk about workplace empathy. I have to admit, this was a whole new concept for me, but in researching for the show today, I found the following statistics and a white paper from The white paper link is included in our show notes. Some of the statistics from the white paper that I found were really interesting: 72% of CEOs say the state of empathy needs to evolve.

Susan 1:10
And when they say evolve, I assume it means that people need to be focusing on it more in the workplace.

JoDee 1:15

Susan 1:15

JoDee 1:15
Yes. 58% of CEOs say they struggle with consistently exhibiting empathy in the workspace. I have to tell you why I think this is a whole new concept for me is not – I, you know, I won’t say I’m not aware of empathy, but it’s not natural for me, always, as we, Susan and I many times have talked about our CliftonStrengths® assessments, and Empathy is very low for me. So it’s not always my, my go to place. I try and be Strategic. I use my Strategic to consider people’s feelings and – but it’s definitely not a natural skill for me to have.

Susan 2:00
So you’re definitely one of those 58% of CEOs struggling with it.

JoDee 2:04
Absolutely. Absolutely. 90% of HR professionals believe diversity in leadership contributes to empathy. I also found that to be very interesting, as we’ve talked many times on the show, and in our work and you know, I think is a really hot topic these days is talking about diversity and inclusion. I didn’t, obviously, make that connection with empathy.

Susan 2:31
Yeah, it does sort of make sense if you start to realize that everyone’s coming at things from a different background, different raising and all those type of things, maybe you would have more empathy for them.

JoDee 2:41

Susan 2:42
That does make sense.

JoDee 2:43
That’s right. And one more stat: 82% of employees would leave their organization for a more empathetic organization. 82%!

Susan 2:54
Yeah, that does surprise me too.

JoDee 2:56
Yeah, that is huge number. So suffice it to say we’re in a tough labor market, it’s difficult to keep people, and empathy matters.

Susan 3:07
I’m so glad we’re gonna learn more about it today.

JoDee 3:08
Yeah, me too. And believe it or not, we have found a workplace empathy consultant.

Susan 3:14

JoDee 3:15
Which I think is fascinating, Liesel Mertes.

Susan 3:20
As you know, ratings and reviews on Apple Podcasts can help people find our show, so we’re setting a goal to have 25 ratings and reviews by the end of August 2019. We’d really appreciate it if you go out there and let us know what you think of the podcast. And to add a little more JoyPower to this goal, we’re going to send one lucky reviewer a free copy of our new book, “The JoyPowered® Team.” So if you write a review, make sure you listen to our episode on September 9 to find out if you’ve won. Remember, to be eligible to win the book, you have to review us on Apple Podcasts by August 31. We’re excited to see your feedback.

JoDee 3:56
Liesel is the founder of Handle with Care, and she empowers forward-thinking companies to support employees with empathy and compassion as they experience disruptive life events. That might be death, returning to work postpartum, a diagnosis, relationship transitions, or, you know, a relocation, could be lots of different things. She is passionate about helping people survive, stabilize, and thrive in the aftermath of adversity. From consulting with scrappy Ghanaian entrepreneurs to tutoring aspiring MBAs to teaching holistic wellness, Liesel’s vocational journey over the last 13 years has found its center in helping men and women emerge from the dark side of challenges. I think what I, and what we’ll hear more in a few minutes from Liesel herself is not only that she’s helping these people directly, but she’s helping leaders and managers deal with these situations of their employees, their peers, of their, their team members. So it’s not that she’s just helping people directly, she’s helping the workforce deal with these issues. But Liesel is a consultant, a writer, speaker, and soon to be podcaster, who believes that creating organizational cadences of care is essential to employee retention and satisfaction. So welcome, Liesel. We’re so thrilled to have you on our podcast today.

Liesel 5:40
Thank you, JoDee, it’s so good to be here.

JoDee 5:42
Yes, thanks. Well, tell us, how did you even get the idea to start this type of work? I’m, I’m totally fascinated with this specialty of yours.

Liesel 5:54
Well, the seed of this idea really was born out of personal experience, and to fully explain, I’m going to go back to 2011, when I was in my first year of an MBA program, and I had said yes to the Kelley School at IU and found out a week later that I was unexpectedly pregnant with our third child, a little girl. Yeah, so a lot of transitions all at once. A little girl who we named Mercy Joan, and we found out at her 20 week scan that she actually had a pretty profound birth defect, the base of her skull had not closed entirely, so she had this large fluid filled sac on the back of her skull, and the doctors really didn’t know, they didn’t know if this would be operable, if this would be terminal, and they said, you know, we won’t be able to tell until we have an outside the womb MRI. So I delivered Mercy right before spring break in my first year of this MBA program, and she actually died eight days later.

Susan 6:52
Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry.

JoDee 6:53
So sorry.

Liesel 6:54
Thank you. It is, it is a marking tragedy in my life. It – we realized that doing anything would be doing things to her and not for her, she couldn’t fully breathe on her own. And so that was, it was just horrible. You know, it’s terrible. And there’s the reality of experiencing your own grief, but then you go back to your place, you know, for me, my place of pseudo-employment was in this graduate program, and you go back, and you’ve obviously, you know, people have seen you’re pregnant, you’ve delivered this baby, and there’s so many conversations of, oh, your baby, she’s been born, and translating, actually she died, and all the levels of that journey. And in the midst of that, I realized there were some people who got it, they knew intuitively or by bent of experience, what to say, or these meaningful gestures, I can still remember Gail Nichols who was, she was in charge of student services, and she came to the hospital, and she had a handwritten note from the dean. She had a necklace that she brought me. She was the point person for being able to communicate to all of my professors so they could know and be attuned to it. While that didn’t actually touch the reality that my daughter had died, right, it didn’t make things better, but it made being able to return and actually believe like, this is a place where I am seen and known and can actually bring this grief and not feel totally excluded is so powerful.

JoDee 8:20

Liesel 8:20
I also experienced the people who missed me in that, and they probably didn’t even know how much they missed me. A couple of years later, my youngest is a little guy named Moses, he’s not so little anymore. He’s four, but he’s the baby, so we still call him little.

Susan 8:35
I love the names you’ve picked.

Liesel 8:36
Oh, thank you.

Susan 8:37
I know two of them and I think…

Liesel 8:38
I’ll give, I’ll give a shout out to Ada and Magnus and Jemima.

Susan 8:41
Oh my gosh, I love the names.

Liesel 8:45
But Moses, actually, unrelated to Mercy, he had a congenital heart defect, so he’s had to have a number of open heart surgeries at Riley. He’s doing really well, but that’s my own journey, right, hospitals. As it relates to this project to go through those hard things shaped me personally, and also opened me up to this community of people who have experienced hard, disruptive things. And this is going on in companies all across America even today. So as I heard their stories, as I began looking at existing support systems, and then about nine months ago, really intensively talking to managers and HR professionals, I believe there’s both a human need and a market need to meet people and better support them.

JoDee 9:26

Liesel 9:27
In the midst of disruptive life events.

JoDee 9:29
Right. Right.

Susan 9:30
So you mentioned that some people missed you. What did you mean by that?

Liesel 9:34
Oh, well, one of the major ways I think that people are inadvertently missed is just by the casual comments that are so off the mark, and what I think happened, so I’ll come back to how I was missed. But in the in the wider sense, I think what happens to managers and coworkers, is someone arrives and they say something that is just awful. You know, my wife was just diagnosed with cancer or my daughter just died. And people are on the receiving end of that news. They don’t know what to say. They feel without resources. And they either default to say nothing, which is hurtful in its own way. So I felt missed by the people who changed the subject and just had no idea how to acknowledge that. Oh, they would say, so are we still meeting later this afternoon for that project? And you just think like, ugh, you know, or the people, I think the other thing that people do is they just default to whatever cliche has been given to them in their times of pain. So whether that’s something like, well, you know, God just wanted another angel, and you, and you think like, I, I know you’re trying to be helpful right now, right? But actually, that’s a really painful thing and could potentially have all kinds of implications as… do you really know what you’re saying, are you just trying to say something, because I think that people want to be heard. They want to intersect. I believe they feel totally without resources and end up putting their foot in their mouth.

JoDee 11:06
Yeah, yeah. I think that’s, again, I’ll just bring up, I think it’s so powerful what you’re doing to not only to support the person who is in this moment of grief or struggle or transition, but to help the people around them to support them with what do I say, how do I respond, what, what can they do that is most helpful, and I believe, too, I’ve been that person who has said the wrong thing, or I’ve heard others say, you know, things like, oh, it was probably best, right? Or you know, that they’re, I know their intentions were, were for the best. But it was the default of just not knowing what to say.

Liesel 11:57
It ends up feeling tone deaf to the person receiving it.

JoDee 12:00
Yeah, yeah.

Liesel 12:01
Which is too bad, because that person who’s giving that statement, they’re obviously trying, right? They don’t want to end up in that place. And I think, I really believe that even both of you mentioned, I’m not naturally empathetic, even if we’re just looking at a strategic perspective for individuals to say, strategically you want to meet someone where they’re at in a way that’s meaningful if you want to steward your words and comments, let’s give you some training and some equipping so you know what you’re saying is not missing the mark for all the things that we measure in business settings. There haven’t been meaningful metrics or systems put into play for what is really a very human need, which is to feel seen and cared for in these times of disruptive chaos, right?

Susan 12:46
I recently saw a video by Celeste Headlee, I don’t know if you know Celeste, she’s written a book, I think… I shouldn’t quote a book name that I can’t think of, but she also was a public radio show host. And anyway, she said that it’s really important when someone shares with you something going on in their life for you not to say well, you know, my mother died too, several years ago, here’s what she went through. Or if someone says I, I’ve got cancer, well, I went through cancer. No one really in that moment of pain wants to hear about your personal experiences. It’s not about you, it’s about them who shared it with you.

Liesel 13:15
That is a great observation. Because actually, what it does is it, it takes the attention off of the person who is going through something hard, it’s – inadvertently what happens in that moment, is it’s a deflection and that person is put in the position of needing to comfort and acknowledge your pain, you know, to say, you know, they’re the one who’s going through a really messy divorce. And if you say, oh, you know, my first husband, he was such a jerk, and… then the only natural response is for them to go, well, I guess I’m, I’m sorry that your husband was a jerk. And then, then the conversation has pivoted away from them. So you start with that intent of wanting to comfort, but you end up inadvertently putting the tension on yourself.

Susan 14:01
And I think that’s a real natural tendency, especially, I’ve seen it happen a lot in the world of work. So Liesel, it’s funny, you did mention that, JoDee and I, when we first realized we got to have you this morning and have this topic, we said, we don’t think we’re normally very empathetic. And we do believe in StrengthFinders, we – a lot of the concepts we talk about is about how do we use our strengths. So we’re – we just assume that you are very high in Empathy, it’s got to be one of your top five.

Liesel 14:23
It’s not true. Not true at all! I think that empathy is a skill that can be built, and it’s something that life experience really can push you hard into, I have become more empathetic because I have seen the impact that empathy had within my story, and it’s been a skill that I’ve wanted to cultivate. I actually, I remember… so I remember being early on in college, and I came home and my mom was sharing a story of, of challenges she was having with this man who was leading an organization and she was telling me all this, and it was an involved story, and I jumped right into, well, have you tried…, and have you talked with…, and have you organized this board, and we had iterations of this conversation a few times over the weekend. And I realized that my mom would just shut down when I started doing that, she didn’t want to talk anymore. The conversation was pretty much over. And I thought, I’m giving super good advice. Like, what’s going on here? And the strategic part of my brain, actually observationally said, I think I know what I need to do right now. So the next time we had that conversation, and she finished, I said, that sounds really hard. I bet that’s super frustrating to you. And that gave her a chance to go, yeah, it was really hard and I am really frustrated. And we did, you know, maybe two or three back and forth like that. And then I went into some of my strategic ideas and, and and she received them and the conversation continued. And it was actually a point where the strategy part of my brain filed that away and said note to self, actually pausing and seeing someone’s feelings makes for a much softer landing for the things I would want to say, and so that’s, that’s, like, a small example. But I think especially in in the world of work, I am drawn to it, because I believe it does make a material difference in the life of someone that is having really hard things go on. But I think specifically as a tool for businesses to implement, because it helps you if, if part of the goal of your business is to keep doing your business and having people be able to execute their tasks with excellence, a compromised person who feels alienated and unseen and like they’re struggling all alone is not going to be able to do that with the same sort of way as a person, you know, we are communal people.

JoDee 14:30

Liesel 14:33
And to have community support. And even if somebody can’t fix it for you, to go, somebody’s there, and they’re going to help me along the way, actually speeds up their path towards stability. And it equips them to be able to encounter their tasks in a better way. So it’s the strategic as well as the human part of my brain.

JoDee 17:03
Well, I think my takeaway from that is, first step is acknowledgement, right? That we that we need to acknowledge their pain, acknowledge their grief. You mentioned that there’s not a lot of statistics or data available on this, but do you have some ideas on what is the cost in dollars of some of these disruptive life events?

Liesel 17:28
Yes, well, one of the most definitive studies, and I’m an advocate for more studies being done, because metrics are super valuable to make decisions out of, but there was a study done in the early 2000s by the Grief Recovery Institute, and the Grief Recovery Institute was looking at the actual cost in dollars to American businesses as a result of these grief-related events. So that was anything from a death to a divorce to the death of a pet even, they were, were taking a wide swath and sample. And at the time, the cost was over $70 billion.

JoDee 18:07
Oh, my goodness.

Liesel 18:08
Adjusted for inflation now in 2019, that’s a cost of over $100 billion a year. And that’s a big number. And it’s, you know, pretty high level, but as they broke down what that looks like, so an employee who is really worried about their mom’s cancer diagnosis and spending time looking on Web MD, or doing all kinds of things or just preoccupied or responding to texts throughout the day from the hospice provider, they don’t have as much bandwidth to be able to give to the task at hand. That’s the presenteeism where someone is showing up but they can’t be fully engaged. There’s all the way to the cost of a person who feels so mishandled by their workplace in the midst of this disruptive life event that they quit. They say I just can’t be here anymore. My boss is so much of a jerk, or I’m feeling so overwhelmed. I’ve just got to go. And then you have to calculate in the cost of recruitment, rehiring of someone, scaling up. So, and I think, as I’ve talked with people in HR, you know, that big number becomes actual stories within their workplace, of the person that they, that they lost, you know, and they, and they don’t really even have a name for how that story played itself out. They say, well, I don’t know. I mean, there was this divorce, and then they weren’t able to, you know, show up in the same kind of way, and they started blowing up at coworkers in a way that was really inappropriate, and then we just had to let them go. And that’s not to say that building empathy in the workplace automatically changes all of those dynamics. It’s really complicated stuff that people are dealing with. But I truly believe that there is an opportunity for businesses in those moments, that if you meet an employee, if your business provides meals, or support or managers who know what to say that person instead of saying like, man, work is such a burden and chore, I hate going there, there’s just too much right now, they can say, my workplace, man, they see me in this, and they get me and man, the affinity that is earned in something like that actually is so powerful. And when they communicate about your workplace to other people, this is such a great place to work, when I was going through that thing with my dad, they were there for me, they gave me the time I needed and I knew that I wasn’t alone.

Susan 20:34
Yeah, you know, I went through cancer twice, and in the workplace I was in, I’m sure I didn’t show up the same way every day. I’m sure that in my head I was just thinking, I got cancer, you know, all those things. And I really look back on it and I think how supportive my bosses were, my coworkers. And yeah, I think that sent a wonderful message to other people to say you know what, you’re not, you know, you’re not written off when you come back from cancer. And then I got it again, a different kind within the same next year, and I thought, oh, man, they must look at me like, you know, she’s on her last leg. But I wasn’t, I came back from it, I just loved the support. So I think it was an organization that really did support me.

Liesel 21:10
And you bring up something great right there, of, for the person who’s going through it, you said, they must think I’m just…

Susan 21:17

Liesel 21:17
You know, because there’s a certain amount of insecurity, right?

Susan 21:19
Oh my gosh, I kept trying to say I’m fine. I’m fine.

Liesel 21:21
Yeah! You’re, you’re trying, you’re trying to manage other people’s perceptions. In her book “Option B,” Sheryl Sandberg, who’s the COO of Facebook and her husband, she wrote “Lean In.” The next book she wrote was in the aftermath of her husband’s death after he, I think he was only 40, but he dropped dead on a treadmill while they were on vacation, literally. And she talked about they had two young children, the struggle of returning to work and especially in the chapters detailing this, she said that one of the things was she just felt she could not be good at her job anymore. She thought – she would be in meetings and she would think, what I said was so dumb and I misquoted numbers and how will I ever, you know, how… I can’t come back. I’m not good at it anymore. And I didn’t have like systems in place. But what she did have was Mark Zuckerberg as her boss, and a few other people who were able to come alongside at those moments and say, you know what, I know that you felt like that meeting didn’t go well, but we believe in you. We believe in your capacity. And you are important here. And that was like a watershed for her to have that, and she’s still Facebooking today.

JoDee 22:29
Yes, that’s a very powerful book. I’ve read that as well. And lots lots of good lessons in there about sort of helping us understand what people are going through as much as we can do that. But also Sheryl has become an advocate, I heard her speak last summer at our national SHRM conference as she has become a big advocate for companies increasing their bereavement policies that, you know, a normal bereavement policy is typically three to five days, right? And you think of, you know, an executive who has just lost their very young husband and she had two young kids, and to think she would have three days off and come back to work. I mean, it’s just unbelievable. But yet, that’s the normal course for many companies.

Liesel 23:28
And what if you have to travel to go to a funeral? You know, that’s something that has come up in market research, too, to say it’s brief, even if you’re just in town, let alone… and then, because you have to have policies in some ways to govern these things, you know, it’s like, what if, what if it was a sister-in-law that you were incredibly close to, but that actually doesn’t fall under immediate family members?

JoDee 23:51
Right, right. Yeah, right.

Susan 23:53
That’s rough. Awful.

JoDee 23:54

Susan 23:54
So, so Liesel, is anyone already doing work in this space or raising awareness around the topic of empathy in the workplace?

Liesel 24:00
That’s a great question. So we referenced Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Option B,” she, a couple of years ago, I think, really put on people’s radar screens, oh my gosh, there are… Not that we were unaware that people were struggling, but she articulated it from a different platform and really drew attention to things like bereavement leave, that was a big policy push. She’s also launched her 401(c)(3), which is her not for profit, called Option B, they do a lot about building resilience in the workplace. So they have some great online tools and modules for a range of different workplace sadnesses. The thing that I would love to see organizations like Option B pushing more into is to look at, what are the internal workplace cultures that we’re developing. Bereavement leave and policy and structure are really important, but even as I read between the lines in Sheryl’s book, I felt like what was the most powerful to you is what people inside your office were able to do and is there a way to teach and standardize that, because that was what was transformative. Along those lines, Dr. Alan Wolfelt from the Center for Loss and Transition out of Colorado has published some great materials on grief in the workplace. It’s really actionable. He has, like, 100 different one page suggestions on how you can do this well in the workplace. There’s also another really good book called “There’s No Good Card for This,” it’s by Emily McDowell, and I’m forgetting the name of the other author. But that’s incredibly accessible, it delves into just some of these basic, like, you should say this, don’t say that. Those are great tools. One of the things that I am excited to be developing is to take some of these good tools that are available in the world of books, or even people who are in speaking circuits and go to individual companies and to say can we aggregate some of this great knowledge and deliver it in a software based platform that is easy to use, accessible, and available? Because the reality is these books are great, I’ve read them. But if you are a manager at a law firm with a caseload and managing all these lawyers underneath you and something happens, you barely have time to finish the work of the day, let alone pick up, even if it’s just an 80 page book with great suggestions, to be able to read that, but if there’s a little micro-learning and a four minute you kno w, video or instructional, you can take that in, so…

Susan 26:28
And I have to believe that you really need just in time training on this.

Liesel 26:31
Exactly. You do.

Susan 26:32
You can equip people early on, but my gosh, three years later when it happens in that afternoon, you need to be able to go somewhere to get, get what you need right then.

JoDee 26:41
Yeah, you know, Liesel when you and I first met, I think that was one of the things I told you right away that I think this type of training or consulting around it is so powerful, but that most of us don’t think we need it until it happens, right? We’re like, in the moment, the employee comes into our office, we’re the employee going into somebody’s office, and how do we start the conversation? So tell us more about this tool that you’re building and how that will work.

Liesel 27:18
Yeah, we’re really excited about it. We are moving into raising capital towards the end of the year to build it out, but what is going to be is a software based system with two aspects of functionality. One faces the manager and one faces the employee, and it’s been really exciting to look at the different modalities and tools that are now available within adult learning delivery systems. And what we’re looking at is there’s, there would be an overarching sort of equipping like, hey, we have now – we are a forward-thinking company. We have partnered with this software system you would give people and awareness company wide of we’re now going to have the supports built in. One of, one of the aspects we’re going to build in that has been really well received is to be able to say, you know, a company, we just have meal deliveries for maybe six times over the next two months, and you can contract that out to Panera, or, you know, within these vendors of choice that we have available, because we know that you’re going to need food and it’s difficult to figure out, and we have a house cleaner that is available to come twice over the next quarter.

Susan 28:24
Sign me up for that right now.

Liesel 28:25
I know. Because one thing that I’ve heard as I’ve been in meetings with different CEOs and HR managers is they say, maybe we’re doing an okay job, but we actually get feedback into HR saying that it’s not standardized. You know, if you have an associate who is well-loved and has been there for 20 years, people are donating paid time off, they’re doing bake sales. But what about the person who hasn’t been there as long or maybe doesn’t have that rapport within their office? They’re getting inadvertently overlooked. So how do we build in just standardization? So that’s the overarching thing, something happens then to an employee and they have an initial call and they’ll be reminded, we now have this portal in the support system, and then they opt into the functionality, which will give them an employee dashboard where they can access these benefits. But the equipping piece is that the managers getting these micro-learning modules and maybe two to four minutes long, and they’re instructing them in all kinds of things, like how do you write that initial email to the team? Who do you need to check in with? This is good phrasing when you are… when you’re distributing workflow, what is a way to initially communicate to someone, to coworkers, that helps get them on board with being helpful instead of kind of setting them up for resentment later on down the line. Or when you’re having that scale of conversation, maybe six to eight weeks later, of getting someone back up to speed in their work, here are some framing talking points for the discussion that doesn’t automatically put them on the defensive. So these micro-learning modules will play out probably for about a year after the events. Have your functionality on the front end. There’s also an employee facing side, whether that’s testimonials from someone who’s gone through something similar or how to access the EAP, which is so often buried in that onboarding material, as you get overwhelmed in the workplace, where do you go to regroup and then return? So we’re making it actionable and digestible. And we’re still in the beta testing stages, so we’re developing all kinds of things.

Susan 29:17
That’s wonderful. Gosh, I think it’s very, very needed.

JoDee 30:34

Liesel 30:35
Thank you.

Susan 30:35
Liesel, can you give us and our listeners some practices that we can begin doing now to become better at showing empathy at work?

Liesel 30:42
Yeah, well, I think that we touched on some really low hanging fruit earlier on in the conversation, which is when you initially get that news, if you picture yourself in some ways, as a, as a mirror, even as a surface that a ball is bouncing off of, what you really want to be able to do when someone gives you the news of my pet that I really love just died, or my marriage is falling apart, that instead of going into your own story, or instead of offering some cliche about I think everything’s going to be all right…

Susan 31:19
Everything happens for a reason.

Liesel 31:21
Everything happens for a reason.

JoDee 31:22
Oh, that’s a good one. Yeah. Not a good one.

Liesel 31:25
The reason is that the universe is against me! That’s the reason.

JoDee 31:28
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Liesel 31:30
To be able to think of an emotion that someone in that situation might feel and, and even if it is something as basic as stating, that sounds really hard.

JoDee 31:40

Liesel 31:41
That also is great, because that gives the person the opportunity to engage more with that or not to say anything else, because sometimes people want to talk and sometimes they don’t. Another really practical step. Sometimes people who are empathetic in the workplace find themselves in the position with someone that’s oversharing. Someone who, it’s been, you know, 25 minutes, and they’re still telling you about their thing. I think that’s also what people fear…

JoDee 32:06

Liesel 32:07
If I step into this empathetic, you know, sort of a space, somebody is just going to take up all my time. So a phrase like, thank you for sharing that with me, I really appreciate that you trust me with that. There’s actually some other things that I need to get to today. But, you know, maybe this is something to be revisited at another point in time, or especially for your manager to be able to say, and we do have this EAP program, that would be a great place for you to take that, but to be able to kind of artfully shut the door on that so you’re not feeling overwhelmed. And another thing, a really actionable thing. So I’m, I’m working on a podcast right now. We’ll be launching in about a week and a half. And something that I’ve heard as people talk about disruptive life events and what they’re going through, so we, we have a guest, they come, they discuss a disruptive life event and then what people did well or what they did poorly. And we end with some really actionable tips, whether that’s adoption, or a divorce, or spouse’s diagnosis. But the common theme, which gets to this actionable tip that I hear again and again, is that silence speaks volumes, especially early on, you might think, I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to do, but the power of a phone call, or writing a note, or sending an email, even if it isn’t perfect, because sometimes when we talk about empathy, people think, oh my gosh, that seems so scary, I don’t want to do it poorly. But just to do something actually really matters. So write that note, reach out, ask, it does have an impact.

JoDee 33:45
That’s beautiful advice, Liesel. And I think you’ve really shared some great tips and some good stories for us. What – now, I know you’re building a tool that you hope to be out by the end of the year, but in the meantime, you are available to our listeners and their organizations for consulting, for one on one for training…

Liesel 34:08
Yes. I am doing training and equipping, some lunch and learn sessions, speaking at some HR events here in town. But as I said, I’m in the beta stages of testing. So I love… even if it’s just short engagements with companies, to be able to show some of these tools and micro-learning modules, and in those short times, you’ll get some really digestible, you know, they’re interactive sessions, you’ll get some tools you can walk away with. And so I’d love to hear from you. Also, I’ll offer a plug, check out our Handle with Care Podcast, it’s story based, people sharing about disruptive life events, and there’s some great tips that you can take away, so it can be used as a training tool. And it’s not just for managers. It’s not just for coworkers. It’ll also help you just be a better friend.

JoDee 34:56
Yeah. Nice.

Susan 34:58
And so Liesel, what – how can people reach you? What is your contact information?

Liesel 35:01
Yes. I am at It’s like diesel but with an L. L-I-E-S-E-L at L-I-E-S-E-L M-E-R-T as in truck E-S dot com. is also my website, where… and there’s a contact form, and you can fill that out as well. Yeah, my cell phone number’s there. So I’d love to hear from you.

JoDee 35:25
Alright. Well, thank you so much for sharing with us today. Very powerful.

Susan 35:30
Good luck with the business.

JoDee 35:31

Liesel 35:31
Thank you, ladies.

Susan 35:35
The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast is sponsored by our new book, “The JoyPowered® Team.” JoDee and I wrote this book with five of our colleagues, and we can’t wait for you to read it. “The JoyPowered® Team” challenges you to choose joy for yourself and your teammates, learn how to build inclusive teams, navigate workplace challenges, revitalize teams who falter, and thrive as teams evolve. Joy starts with you, whatever your role, industry, or area of expertise. Learn more about our new book and how to buy it at That’s W-W-W dot G-E-T J-O-Y-P-O-W-E-R-E-D dot com slash B-O-O-K-S.

So JoDee, we have a listener question today. And this one comes from Kay in Chattanooga. “We have some unusual job titles in our organization. They are fun and hip internally, but when I post them on social media and or job boards, I get lots of candidates who don’t meet the job requirements. What should I do?”

JoDee 36:47
Yeah, it’s funny, we’ve been talking about this a lot internally recently, because we’ve had some clients who do this, and I’ll give you a simple example, which is not really all that hip or fun, but we have a bank client who calls their tellers “personal bankers,” and they had been posting this position as a personal banker at $14 an hour. Well, the general job description for a personal banker is generally a higher-level wealth manager or facilitator of someone’s funds and assets or might work with other lenders and the organization to really help and guide this person in whatever area they might need, setting up trusts or… and it might not just be them, but they were not getting candidates, I think because really the the true position was a teller. So when they asked us for help, one of the first things we said is you have to post it with a more, you know…

Susan 37:59
Realistic job title.

JoDee 38:00
Right, right. Because otherwise you’re not going to get the people you need. Now sometimes I think if, if you can combine it a bit, you know, or in their case, I’m not sure I would have suggested those, but in some cases, maybe it is personal banker slash teller, you know, to let people know what it really is. I love to encourage people to be creative with their job descriptions, but the reality is when people are doing a keyword search for jobs, if they’re looking to be a teller, they’re not going to type in personal banker, right? So have fun with your job descriptions internally. The same also goes true for doing market studies for compensation, right? You, you might have a cool job title, but when you go to figure out what should this person be paid, you’re going to have to resort back to some more common…

Susan 38:59
Universally accepted, right, names.

JoDee 39:02
Right. Right.

Susan 39:02
Makes sense. JoDee, I think in that situation I’d call it, if they’re trying to, obviously, get somebody who they think could, you know, do more than normal just teller work, but they’re not willing to pay a lot more for it, right? Maybe I’d call it like a “premier teller” or just something that kept the word in there so people understood the job but, you know, glam it up,

JoDee 39:18
Right. Exactly. Yes, that’s actually, that’s even better advice. Keep that word teller in there so when they search for it, they find it, but then glam it up in terms of, you know, what, what really the job will be about.

In our in the news segment today, in a recent SHRM article, SHRM discussed the concept of micro-internships, and I thought this was really interesting. They, they dubbed them micro-internships, they’re paid, they’re professional gig work for college students, which can improve entry-level hiring, enhance campus recruiting, boost applicant diversity, and provide students and recent grads more exposure to a variety of professional jobs and tasks. They serve as mutual auditions for employers seeking talent, for students interested in roles or industry. But they are also outside a formal semester long program, and they described a micro-internship is, could actually last anywhere from just five hours to 40 hours of work on projects that tend to be due a few days to a few weeks out. Employers can post a job on the site including compensation and students bid for the jobs. A series of micro-internships can be a great way, of course, for students to experience professional entry-level work and different jobs and different industries. I think this is a great idea, where I hear so many companies who are looking for interns but don’t want to commit to a full semester or a full summer, and can be a great way for both parties to engage in these opportunities.

Susan 41:15
Oh, I agree. It gives them a kind of a taste of a particular business or industry, which will really help the student, I think.

JoDee 41:22
Yeah. And also a taste for the company to get to learn the students for potential hires as well. So.

Thank you for listening today. Please tune in next time. If you have missed any of our podcasts, you can catch all episodes for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts by searching on the word JoyPowered. If you like our podcast, be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any upcoming episodes. And we’d love for you to rate and review us on Apple Podcasts, it helps people find our show. If you have questions on any HR topic, you can leave us a voicemail at 317-688-1613 or email us at We are also on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter @JoyPowered. We welcome listener questions and comments.

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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