How Are You?


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Laura Lee, D.I.D., LEED® AP, WELL AP™, WELL Faculty, Workplace Specialist, A&D Market Manager Southern Alberta

For the past few months, I have been asking friends and peers how they are doing, waiting a second and then repeating, “no really, how are you?”. People have been answering honestly and not just the standard “fine”. While by no means has it been a scientific study, I have noticed an underlying current of, well “meh” or something to that effect. When I came across an article in the New York Times by Organizational Psychologist Adam Grant he named that feeling. He believes that many people are in a state of “languish” because of the events of the past year and a half. He describes it like this; “It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield, and it might be the dominant emotion of 2021." Languishing is not considered depression, but you aren’t thriving either, it’s somewhere in between, your ability to focus and your motivation are depleted. In the article, Grant goes on to conclude that the antidote to languish may be a concept called “flow”. Named by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in 1975, flow “is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.” Pretty much the exact opposite of meh.





This got me thinking about all the articles and survey results that I have seen coming out lately about the record number of workers that are currently looking for new opportunities. In Microsoft's Work Trend Index for example which is a global survey of over 30,000 people in 31 countries, more than 40% of respondents said they are considering leaving their employer this year. You don't have to look very hard to find more information like this, Linkedin even has a hashtag, #thebigshift to discuss the topic. Posts on social media about having to put on real pants and battle the commute might make us believe that this mass talent migration is being spurred by having to go back into the office after working remotely for so long. I believe it runs deeper than that.

Throughout the pandemic, many organizations have been focused on the essentials of weathering the storm, rightfully so. Keeping business flowing as much as possible, managing the digital and virtual requirements for communication and the physical safety of employees. On the other hand, for many workers, they have been focused on layoffs, hour reductions, hiring freezes, and not a lot of career progression or even skill development opportunities. The physical separation from their networks and adapting to new ways of accomplishing tasks along with the heightened state of prolonged uncertainty has left its mark. Throw into the mix everyone’s individual circumstances and experiences with things like homeschooling, loneliness, and anxiety levels it’s not surprising there has been an impact on our psychological wellbeing. According to Gallup's State-of-the-Global-Workplace 2021 report, the next global crisis may just be a mental health pandemic.






So why are so many people looking to change their jobs right now? For sure some of the notices stating that a return to the office will commence on a specific date may be a contributing factor to some people’s decisions. However, that runs contradictory to the multiple global survey results where people are saying they do want to be able to come to a physical place to connect with their peers. I think the sticking point there is more about people wanting the autonomy to choose where to work from time to time now that we know remote work can be done. It’s also an easier justification for changing to offer than trying to explain a desire to get out of a deeper feeling of “meh”. I can’t help but think that #thebigshift is a way to get out of the state of “languish.”

How can companies avoid this mass attrition of workers? Or how can they ensure that those employees that are sticking around are actively engaged and thriving in their organizations? It could start by seeking to truly understand how their employees are feeling right now. Engaging in conversation not just sending out communications. Asking “how are you?” and listening. Prioritizing employee well- being and mental health. Perhaps helping their people find their “flow” again.



SAP AG - Teknion Case Study

Laura Lee

D.I.D., LEED® AP, WELL AP™, WELL Faculty, Workplace Specialist, A&D Market Manager Southern Alberta


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