In this episode, Jason and Jordan dive into the essential aspects of employee wellbeing and the roles both employees and employers have to play.
Jordan and Jason kick off by stressing the vital role of attracting and retaining talent in organizations — no shortcuts here! They introduce the thermostat vs. thermometer metaphor to discuss effective measurement and management of talent.
They highlight the significance of aligning a company’s mission and vision with its employees. When personal values resonate with the organization’s purpose, engagement and commitment soar. They explore the evolving perspectives on finding purpose in work, comparing different generations.
Recruiting comes into play as they delve into how mission and vision make a difference in attracting the right talent. They also discuss the World Health Organization’s expanded view of holistic wellbeing, going beyond traditional wellness programs.
The interplay between work and personal life is examined, touching on the challenges faced by working parents. They even throw in a popular HBO show’s take on work-life balance for extra insight. And who should really take responsibility for employee health and wellness?
Remember, wellness isn’t about checking boxes — it’s about deeply embedding it in your organization’s culture. Setting the rules of engagement is crucial for creating an environment where your people can truly thrive.
Tune in to this episode for a comprehensive exploration of talent attraction, mission alignment, work-life balance, and holistic employee wellbeing.
Key ideas and highlights
- Both employees and employers play a vital role in employee wellbeing.
- One of the biggest ways to ensure employee wellbeing is in your recruiting strategies.
- Today’s workforce demands purposeful work. How can employers provide purposeful work?
Word of the day
- Auspicious — said @ 15:47 ✅
- 0:00 Introduction
- 2:56 No matter how you cut it, all roads lead to attracting and retaining talent
- 4:32 How wellbeing is a Thermometer not Thermostat
- 7:06 The importance that the mission and vision of a company matches with the employee
- 9:39 The difference between previous generations and today’s in finding purpose in work
- 11:50 How mission and vision matter in recruiting
- 16:15 W.H.O. and the expanded view of holistic wellbeing
- 19:40 Work and life can’t be separated
- 21:02 A TV show’s commentary on work-life balance
- 23:12 Who is really responsible for employees’ health and wellness
- 28:02 Wellness is not about implementing programs and checking boxes
- 30:26 How setting the rules of engagement can help your people thrive
- 33:33 Episode Recap
How many hours and years of our lives do we spend on work? For nearly all of us, we spend 30 plus years and one third of our days in our vocation, more time perhaps than we spend at rest or at play. But this isn’t a problem. Why? Because work is good. Work needs to be integrated deeply into our lives and must be in line with our most important goals and values. And if it is, we have a far more complete and fulfilling life experience. Welcome to the How People Work podcast, where we explore the intersection of how humans think and act and how they apply themselves to their work. When you understand both of these things, you’ll be equipped to be insightful, compassionate, and compelling leaders. Welcome back to How People Work. I’m one of your hosts, Jordan Peace. Jason Murray, alongside me as usual. We had a great episode last week. I thought we had a great, I’m self congratulating so
I thought so too.
We had an enjoyable episode. It was
It was enjoyable. I enjoyed it.
People might have liked it. They might have hated it, but I enjoy, enjoyed it. You seemed to enjoy it. We were talking about wellbeing. Yes. And we got on some, I don’t want to say high horses, but we got passionate about some ideas around wellbeing and what it ought to be, what it means that it’s a deeper idea. Talked about the World Health Organization. We talked about some Jewish wisdom literature from 4,000 years ago. We really ran the gamut of sources in terms of thinking through wellbeing in today’s world and why this topic has resurged as something really relevant to the employee experience, to attracting and retaining and keeping employees, et cetera, et cetera. One of the things I noticed in the show notes in preparation for this week is that you had this phrase, wellbeing. We’re going to continue with wellbeing if you haven’t picked up on that. Listeners, wellbeing is the thermostat. So often you’ll hear analogies and Hey, this is the thermometer, this is the thermostat. I assume that’s where we’re headed here, but frame up for us what is meant by wellbeing is the thermostat.
Yeah. Well, you just jumped right to the punchline.
I know. I’m sorry.
Yeah. I mean, when I was thinking about this topic of wellbeing, I couldn’t help but think about what are the metrics by which companies often sort of gauge the success that they’re having with people in their organization.
And last week we criticized and said, it is not engagement.
Yes. Because we don’t, well, we said engagement is more complex than it’s often thought to be.
But then off camera, we really ragged on it even further. Let’s be honest.
I will neither confirm nor deny this.
And so there’s sort of this sense of all roads lead to attract and retain. And so I can’t help but remember a couple years ago, we were part of an accelerator program where we were basically in small group settings with anywhere from 8 to 10 different people leaders over the course of a number of weeks. And so I think I spoke with in just a few weeks, over a hundred different people leaders. And when I kind of pressed people on, yeah, everyone talks about engagement and everyone talks about wellbeing, but what really matters? And when you got people off the record, everyone’s like, yeah, attract and retain, right? You’re like, yeah, I thought so. I thought that’s what it was.
So you want to have really great employees and then you want ‘em to stay. Yeah. Okay. That makes a whole lot of sense.
And so what I think is interesting about that is it does matter, right? I mean, we run a business and there’s costs to running a business and there’s real and material matters to be considered when it comes to attracting good people and keeping ‘em here. You can even think of it in terms of employee lifetime value. You’re going to hire somebody, you’re going to pay ‘em. Like are we going to get output from that individual that’s commensurate with the productivity of the overall organization? It’s necessary.
You’re a monster. You want productivity from employees.
I’ll take that on to save you from that criticism, Jordan. So send all your hate comments to me, Jason Murray on LinkedIn. I think it’s
I think it’s okay -
Oh is it?
To want productivity from people you pay money to.
Oh, well. And so there’s tension though between maybe what an employer wants, what an employee, how an employee might perceive some of that, right? But I think the problem with both of those things when we think about attract and retain is they’re thermometers. They’re not thermostats. When most people are taking readings of their metrics as it pertains to recruitment metrics as it pertains to retention, we’re simply looking at what happened in the past, how well did we do It’s what we would call lagging indicator.
Measuring outcomes, measuring, what is the temperature in the room right now.
And so there’s only so much that you can do with that. And I think what’s interesting, we measure this stuff with our customers. And so we know things like, for instance, companies that offer flexible benefits have 84% higher loyalty, employee loyalty than their competitors. And that’s almost two times better, which means these companies are also most likely to have better retention, presumably if we believe that loyalty is a leading indicator of retention. And so when I say wellbeing is the thermostat, I think it’s one of those things that is a leading indicator of what’s going on inside of an organization. So you want people to stay, treat ‘em well, right? And make ‘em feel cared for, give them the tools they need to be healthier, happier, purpose-driven individuals. And I think that is the reason or the context for why wellbeing is this important topic for us to discuss.
Yeah. It’s funny, when you were talking about a track, I, again, off camera, just side conversation, one of the things that came up was this idea of how people choose to work, where they work or how they choose a boyfriend or a girlfriend, or how they choose a spouse or whatever the case may be. And what I was taught at an early age, and maybe I had just exceptional mentors and people in my life was, Hey, figure out who you are. Figure out your identity and then figure out what your mission is. And then when you are running, chasing down your mission, kind of look to your left and look to your right as you’re running along and see who’s running alongside you. Maybe that person could be the person you might want to marry, somebody, like the person you might want to spend your life with. Maybe that’s your mate. The idea was mission and mate.
So that was apparent to me that, hey, I, I’ve got a mission that is sort of higher and greater, and that is the thing that my life is dedicated to. And I should probably find people in my life, whether that’s a spouse or friends or whomever that are on that track. And so when I go to look for a job, I should look for someone that is advertising. This is our mission, this is our vision, these are our values. Oh, that’s aligned with me. I should, maybe this makes sense. I’m going to go apply. I’m going to go see it and check this thing out. Whereas I think more often than not, we’ve got people coming in and they get really lit up about the mission or the vision or whatever, but they don’t know if it aligns to their own because they don’t have one, right? So they adopt the company’s mission and they are attracted, to use the word here by that. But then they don’t stick around because all of that early fervor sort of dies out when it’s just like, well, I don’t know. I guess I don’t really care about that much. Anyway, it was just a job. But everything’s always going to be just a job, right?
Well, I mean, I think for very few people, is the company’s mission ever going to be the penultimate sort of thing that -
Well maybe not the penultimate, but not the ultimate.
Not, yeah. Okay. Fair enough. For you as an individual. Yeah. I mean, it seems a little pre-
They should align.
They should align. But it seems preposterous to see, man, when I hop out of bed in the morning, I couldn’t be more excited about the mission, the company that I work for. Right? Right. Yeah. I hope that people is maybe a secondary
thing that brings value and meaning to them. I hope what they wake up and say is like, Hey, I like the people that I love, the people that I care for, my spouse, my significant other, my children, my friends, my community, my local community, my broader community, whatever the case may be. I have a laid out set of values and purpose in terms of what I’m trying to accomplish there. And then what’s great is you can take that to what you’re describing with an organization and say, Hey, to the degree that the mission of the company matches or aligns with some of those values, that’s awesome. But if it doesn’t or if it doesn’t perfectly, because how many of them will perfectly align to everything? you can probably none of ‘em. Yeah. You can still say, well, the things that I’m doing at this organization are still enabling me to be successful in these other areas of my life.
So actually something we were just talking about off camera too was we sometimes rag on our parents’ generation. Cause sometimes they worked for 35 years, 40 years, and jobs that they hated. And it’s easy to criticize that and just say, oh yeah, they just put their heads down and didn’t even think about it. But what motivated them, if we want to shine a light on the positive aspect, is they did it for their family. They had that ultimate purpose for them that motivated them to move through what was probably just a terrible set of working circumstances that they hated. And I think that’s part of what we criticize as after 40 years of that, it just kind of beats you down and you see what it’s done to them. But at the same time too, there has to be a little admiration, I think, or the fact that they had something so significant to them that it drove them to actually make that sacrifice, we might even call it for their family.
I think it’s the right word. Yeah, absolutely. No, I think it is. I, it’s incredibly commendable and it’s sad to me that the paradigm that we’ve set up is it’s one or the other, you know, have this great purpose in life and work is just toil and it’s like,
I don’t like binaries.
Right, exactly. I know you don’t, right? Toil. It’s just toil and hardship and suffering and pain. And it’s like, but it’s all for this great higher purpose. And honestly, I’ve had to pick one or the other. I probably would pick that rather than having a job that as much as it possibly can, feels really good. I love my coworkers and we’re having a great time, but I have no freaking clue why I’m doing it other than to pay bills so that I can go spend more money to receive higher bills so that I can make more money to go out and buy more stuff, to receive higher bills, right? If I’d rather have the great purpose than the crappy job. So I think when this attract and retain, my point with I was trying to make there is I assumed that starting our business, that we would attract people through really promoting our mission, vision, and values.
And that those maybe the values probably most predominantly would speak so loudly that when people were interviewing or they were checking on our website or whatever, they would go, Hey, those are also my values I’m in. And we have seen some of that. We’ve seen some really mature, I would say fully integrated adults that have gone, oh, that I see it. Right? That is what I value too. I am in. And those have been the happiest, most engaged, most whatever word you want to throw in there, people at Fringe. And I think they’re going to stick around to the end, whatever the end is, and however far away the end is, because they’re just like, this feels like home. This feels like me. This feels like I created the company because it’s so well aligned with who I am. And then you still have others that I think we’re a little bit more flashes in the pan.
Yeah. I’m just like, oh, this feels good. I like how these people treat each other. This is cool. But there just wasn’t a core mature idea of what I’m about and what my world’s about what my worldview is. And so the charm sort of wore off after a while and it was just like, well, I just kind of want more perks, more benefits, more stuff, more pay more, more, more, more. Right. Yeah. What’s going to keep me here? Make me happy. Buy my loyalty. Yeah. Right. Yeah. So I think as you go about recruiting, you got to think about who you’re recruiting. Don’t just recruit people that have the skillset. Don’t just recruit people that seemingly think that your software or whatever the thing that you do is cool. Oh, I’m just such a fanboy fangirl of what you guys do. It’s such a cool thing. Okay, what are you about? And it doesn’t really matter what the answer is. It just matters if there is one.
Is there an answer? Is there an answer to what you articulate what you’re about?
Can you articulate a worldview? Right, A purpose? And if they can’t, I don’t think that necessarily means they’re like, well, you absolutely don’t hire this person, because that’s what development is for and that’s what training is for. And that’s kind of part of the job, especially younger people that just haven’t had a lot of life experience to figure this stuff out. But I think it’s a huge red flag if somebody’s just like, well, I got skills. I can do the job. Yeah. Okay.
Yeah, it’s really interesting. I mean, this is a little bit of a sidebar and then I want to bring us back. But in the role that I’m serving in at Fringe now on the innovation side, that’s actually a topic that I’m really excited about because at least from the research that I’ve done around the psychological literature and so forth, it indi- would seemingly indicate that there’s a pretty low threshold for how much time people need to spend thinking about their purpose in setting a few goals in order to actually make a really substantive change in how they feel from a standpoint of their own sense of wellbeing. And then how that translates into productivity and so forth. So much so that there’s certain assessments that just have you sit down, think about your life a little bit, come up with a few goals that might be meaningful.
Yeah, probably won’t get it perfect the first time. But right in about 90 minutes, these researchers found that in about 90 minutes of doing this, that they could see a 30% increase in productivity from individuals simply because they actually had a greater sense of purpose now in the work that they were doing day to day. I mean, it’s so wild that it’s not this monumental task that I think sometimes it feels like, oh man, I got to figure out my life’s purpose. How the hell do I do that? It’s like, no, actually, just the first step is pretty small.
And I think when people start a new job, it’s the perfect timing. It’s like this, it’s an auspicious opportunity, if you will, to go, okay, I’m in a period of transition. There’s something very new about my life. Now’s the moment. And I feel like people respond really well when they first come into an organization and you hit ‘em with that type of training or opportunity.
It’s super cool to build that in for organizations. So anyways, I want to bring us back to this Deloitte study so that we actually get to it.
Didn’t we promise, about 15 minutes ago we were talking about Deloitte study?
Yes, we did. And so maybe a little bit of recap. In the last episode, we talked about this more holistic kind of definition that’s put forth in this article. And so just to recap that a little bit, the study references the World Health Organization who lays out a framework for wellbeing or employment rather as a social determinant of health. Meaning that they see employment, your work is a really substantial and significant part of your overall wellbeing. And so it’s inescapable, it’s just as important as your community. It’s just as important as your physical health, your work and employment is a significant part of that. And one of the things that we talked about that I think is really useful is the sense that it extends beyond sort of the typical categories that we talk about in the employer space, which are usually limited to physical, mental, and financial. And what the World Health Organization is saying, no, it’s bigger than that. It’s social, it’s communal, your sense of purpose, your sense of I have the ability to grow and learn. It’s a more holistic kind of viewpoint of this. And so the article in Deloitte refers to this in the sense of human sustainability. And I got real excited when I saw that. Cause I was like, oh my gosh, we talk about human flourishing all the time. And so it felt very analogous. And so-
You felt vindicated with your phrase
On the one hand, I’m like, I don’t know. They’re consultants. Dunno how I feel about saying the same.
But they’re good ones though!
They’re talking about it at least so vindicated in that sense.
Yeah. I love this diagram that you shared in the show notes here, and I think we got to just read it since obviously folks aren’t seeing this here. So there’s a matrix here, left side, right side, left side being legacy thinking, right side, being forward thinking. And that’s where this ambition for human sustainability is coming from. And there’s three blocks here, the first of which says wellbeing equals finding balance between work and life. That’s the legacy thinking. That’s what wellbeing is defined as, right, is if I just find work-life balance, then I’ll be good. Because work is the negative, stressful, hard thing, and life is the perfect idyllic moment of rest and peace and prosperity and everything else. And if I just balance the two and keep away that horrible work stuff as much as possible, then I got a chance of being happy and sustained and fulfilled, which there’s just a lot of sarcasm in my description there.
Then there’s this forward thinking idea of work as a determinant of wellbeing. So work is determinant of wellbeing and part of life work directly shapes the condition of an individual’s wellbeing. So let’s stop there. So looking on the left side, this idea, and again, my sarcasm probably betrayed a lot of what I’m about to say here, but this idea that it’s about a balance and that is going to solve the problem, I think is the negative side. We were praising the previous generation, their kind of willingness to suffer. But the negative of course being, as we said before on the show, that the idea that work is just bad.
Work is bad. We just want as little of it as possible.
I’s a transaction for value. That’s all it is. Nothing more.
And then life is all as if life is just all good and easy. I often find life harder than work personally, I don’t know about you.
I’m just laughing because I think about kids, again, I’m like anyone listening that has kids are like, ha! Life is easier. Right?
Exactly. I mean, we have eight kids between us, which is easier Friday night or Monday morning. Monday morning is a cakewalk by comparison to Friday night.
You can ask our wives, they’ll tell us.
Yeah, exactly. And so obviously that is legacy thinking in a way that we’ve discussed a lot. And then whereas this idea around work being a determinant of wellbeing and work being part of life, that’s actually really refreshing to see that particular phrase work is part of life.
I agree. I agree. And I don’t think it can be overstated. I mean, they’re using clinical terminology coming out of the World Health Organization, these determinants of such and such. But I mean, it just basically means you can’t extract it. Right? Yeah. It’s not a dichotomy. It’s not this other thing, it’s it not only is it just an inescapable part of life. Yes. But it’s actually a valuable part of life and we should see it as such.
It is funny, I told you about this, but I don’t want to, this is a long tangent. I’m not going to take us out, I promise. But that Apple TV show Severance, I told you about this thing.
You tell me. I haven’t watched it yet.
It’s crazy. I mean, it’s literally that they are severing people’s brains in such a way that when they’re at work sounds awesome. They have no idea who they are outside of work. They don’t know if they have a spouse. They don’t know. They have no clue. And at work, they are a new personality. They give them the same first name, but they only know work. And if they’ve worked there for a year, they feel as though they’re a year old. They don’t have experiences beyond that one year. Right? Yeah. It’s wild. But when you watch something like that, it highlights just how duh it is that these two things must be integrated. Because the characters, whether they’re the people that only know work, and the people that only know home. They spend their entire existence trying to figure out who the other person is and what they do and what they’re like and what they enjoy. That’s all. They obsess over it. So they’re constantly thinking about the other thing that they’re not integrated with that they don’t have the knowledge of.
So man it’s so wild.eah, because I mean, if you think about it, the premise there, well one, I don’t know about anyone listening to it, but the reaction I have is like, oh my gosh, that is so weird.
It’s weird, it’s horror. It’s really, it’s more of a horror show than something else.
It’s wrong. And I feel like most people would probably have that reaction of something about that doesn’t feel right. Yeah, maybe I can’t articulate what doesn’t feel right about it. But if you, what’s happening there is you’re taking the premise of work-life, work-life balance, and playing it out to the logical extreme.
Right? And you’re saying, okay, we want to separate these things. Here’s the most extreme version. And when we see that, we say, oh no.
Oh no, no.
That is not what we want. No, no, no, no, no, no.
Yeah, nevermind. Yeah, I don’t want that at all. So I, I think that should tell us just intrinsically that there’s something that we’re not wired for it to be that way.
Yeah. I mean, the show might, you know, you might have a couple of uneasy nights’ sleesp. I’m not going to recommend it fully, but it is very fascinating and ironically directed by Ben Stiller, who I’ve only ever seen do comedy. So it’s pretty ironic. The second section here, well, so this is interesting. This is speaking of generational differences, this is huge. Wellbeing is the responsibility of the individual. That is the legacy thinking. And the subtext. Organizations believe individuals have primary agency over their wellbeing and do not acknowledge the ways that work has an impact that individuals cannot control side forward thinking. Wellbeing is a shared responsibility. So in this case, organizations are accountable for designing work that enables individuals to use their agency to maintain wellbeing. Creating an environment conducive to wellbeing is a responsibility of leaders and a core component of their skillset. So pretty fascinating cause I think we would agree wholeheartedly with the right side that it is a shared responsibility. But I think what we’ve seen in practice though, sadly, is that we’ve seen in some cases that the pendulum swung too far. I know you hate binaries, it swung too far. Whereas hey, instead of wellbeing as a shared responsibility, wellbeing is the responsibility of the employer.
Right. Well, and that I think that comes out of the dichotomy of work-life balance where work is bad. So if work is bad, you as the employer are doing bad things to me, you need to make it less bad because it’s work. And so you need to make it less bad for me, right? Yes. And that comes from as an individual. So it is not just employers need to rethink that framework. It’s as an individual, if that’s how I’m going to approach it, it’s going to be hard for me to see it in any other way. But if I’m willing to approach it and say, Hey, what is the, and it’s a little interesting that we do this in the work setting. Yeah. Because when it comes to health, for example, physical health, do we blame other people for the outcomes of our physical health, right?
Iean we might sometimes, but ultimately what I put in my body -
Doctors have a lot of liability insurance as a result of that. Well, that’s true. But yeah.
I was something I was listening to recently though, and I’d have to find the kind of source for this, but they said 80% of your physical health, or 80% of your health outcomes are just physical lifestyle things that you do. And 20% are hereditary, more clinical kind of stuff.
Some you literally can’t control.
Control, which means that, hey, that 80% I’m primarily responsible for what are my sleep habits? Yes. What do I eat? Do I exercise? Minimally, so on and so forth.
But there is this idea that your employer controls one-third of your time can determine -
Which is significant.
Where you work and when you work, and how many meetings you’re in and so forth. And so in that sense, I think there is a shared responsibility even on the physical health side to create a conducive environment.
So I think that’s the important thing, is making sure that we’re helping to remove some of that tension. So this survey of HR leaders that I did recently actually highlighted the fact that the perception of HR folks for the most part is that there’s a significant tension between the needs of employees and the needs of the business. And so I think what we need to help do is sort of figure out where the areas that the interests are aligned. And I think that comes back again to the human flourishing, right? Yes. Well, I think the interests can be aligned around these areas where when individuals are doing better is better for the business in terms of productivity, attract and retain, so on and so forth.
But there’s some beliefs I think, that need to be turned around for that to actually work. If work is just bad. And the avoidance of work is really the whole goal, and it literally doesn’t matter what an employer does.
You could pay great wages, you could give great benefits, great pto, et cetera, but really the whole goal is just to work as little as possible and to get paid as much as possible for it.
Right? Yeah. You can’t fix that one. People have to adopt this attitude that work is good and work is meaningful. And it’s actually part of being that fully integrated adult with a mission, with a purpose with character. That work is part of how I play out in the theater of the world, the thing that I’ve been put on this world to do. Right? Yeah. Right.
Well, yeah, yeah, totally agree.
The last section here, just so we can more fully cover the Deloitte study, and less our own musings for once. The left side of the legacy thinking, the best solution is to offer perks and benefits. Organizations believe their role in workforce wellbeing stops at the offering of benefit packages, opt-in programs and wellness perks. Man, have we seen that? And the right side, organizational structures impact wellbeing. So wellbeing is a measurable outcome of the way organizations are designed and the norms that determine how work is done. So not to say benefits are bad, perks are bad, opt-in programs are bad wellness program, those things are great. The problem is the box checking attitude of just like, look I gave you the stuff!
A hundred percent.
Love the stuff. Use the stuff, use it.
It’s your responsibility.
It’s your responsibility.
I’ve washed my hands.
Yeah, exactly. Done, right? Very Pontius Pilate. But this idea that it’s about the norms that determine how work is done, the design of the culture, the design of the work, again, it’s right back to this cultivating the right environment.
Yeah. Yeah, a hundred percent. So I mean, to me, what stands out in that is that we’re talking about the employee experience is sort of how I would summarize these. If you were to combine perks, benefits, organizational structures, so on and so forth, all these things that impact, I’d just call that that is the employee experience, right? And it has to be designed with intentionality. And that’s literally the imperative I think of the HR profession now. It’s not just benefits, it’s not just whatever silo compliance administration that HR has often been put in. I think the key role that HR has to play, and probably only they can uniquely play, is this designer of the employee experience because they stand in between the needs of the business and executive teams and so on and so forth. And the people, they’re most capable and in the position to understand what the people need and what the business needs.
I don’t know that you know this, but we have a person at Fringe whose title is an Employee Experience Designer. Did you know that that’s the title? I didn’t know that.
I knew that,
Which I kind of thought was at the time that that title was given a very kind of novel idea. I had not seen that out there, but I think it is a really apropo description of exactly what the role should be. Last thing I’ll say on this is the language here, the norms that determine how work is done, norms is a soft word for rules, the rules of engagement. And it’s so important. I was listening to something recently about games, and we’re going to talk about this next week. I think we’re going to talk about play, right? But the idea around games, games don’t work unless there’s rules, right? You can’t play a game, you can’t enjoy a game, you can’t have any predictability that any certain strategy is going to yield a certain outcome because it, it’s just kind of chaos, right? And children play games this way sometimes, especially small children, or they change the rules as they go along, or they have no rules at all, or they break them with no consequence.
And then what immediately happens and ensues is chaos, right? It’s fighting and screaming and yelling and he’s cheating and he lied and he like whatever. Yes. And I think this is on the right side, by the way. This is the forward thinking side, right? So I think when we think about, well, there’s rules and there’s norms and there’s, it’s too buttoned up. It’s too old school. But actually, I think what gives people the ability to have freedom in their work and the ability to thrive in their work is to know what is the ideal? What are we like here? How do we work? How do we treat each other? When do we work? Where do we work? You might be flexible about that answer, but you have an answer to those questions. And I think sometimes I can be guilty of maybe giving people this impression that’s just like, well, just do it how you do it, just do your thing. It’s cool. I want to be the buddy. I want to be the bro. And as opposed to thinking, no, actually we have a well thought out way that we get work done and how we treat each other, how we do that work, and putting some parameters in place and actually putting some, we used to talk about children a lot, but I actually putting some rules in place, rules of engagement is actually quite freeing and leads to wellbeing.
We can’t win something if you don’t understand the rules.
You don’t know how the game is played.
Or if there are no rules. So we need those to understand how we’re making progress and so forth. And there’s really interesting research on all that stuff too, because if we’re not making obvious progress in ways that make sense to us, then it actually causes stress and so on. And so those norms and rules are actually really important. And I think what’s kind of being specified is not the fact that there aren’t norms today, but they’re the wrong ones.
Right? They’re arbitrary.
They’re arbitrary. We need new norms. The world’s changed. How we work’s changed. People have changed, their expectations have changed. Our life experience just with the world has changed. So we need new norms.
So I’ll recap that as we are wrapping up the episode. Work is a determinant of wellbeing. Wellbeing is a shared responsibility. I think that’s super important. I think we can’t go old school and just say, well, you know what? You want to be happy, figure that out at home. But when you’re here, you work. And we can’t also swing the pendulum too far. And just like, oh, welcome to the asylum. We’re going to make everything perfect for you and everything we’re going to take care of every single need.
The asylum. I dunno why you chose that word.
I don’t know why I chose that word either, but it just makes me crazy thinking about this idea of, yeah, you, your job to make me happy.
It’s like it’s preschool or something.
Shared responsibility, right? Yeah.
Come on in. Just have fun.
Yeah. Right. Yeah, no rules. Just enjoy yourself.
Play at the stations.
And then lastly, organizational structures impact wellbeing. And so I think Jason put it incredibly well. It really, the job, the whole purpose of HR at this point is really just thinking about designing an employee experience in which people know the rules of engagement. They know how to be successful. They’re fully integrated adults that have known and have been trained how to think through their purpose and their mission in life and how that aligns to the mission of the company or doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, we kind of coach ‘em out so they can go find alignment. I think that is the job these days, not to check boxes, not to just throw benefits and perks and offerings and check those boxes off, but to really design a conducive environment for wellbeing.
Yeah. So hit me up with the word of the day next week so I can be in preparation.
Word of the day for our next episode is Equivocal.
Equivocal, equivocal. Equivocal. Yeah. Which is not equivalent or equal or equitable or I’m going to have to look that one up. I know the prefix, but that’s about it. Well, thank you for listening to How People Work this week. I really enjoyed, Jason. Thanks for the preparation and the insights as usual, and we’ll see you next week.