HR Superstars
HR Superstars

Episode 9 · 1 year ago

The CHRO’s Role in Addressing Mental Health in the Workplace w/ David Hanrahan


What is the first step on the path to high results?

Answer: when leaders care about their employees as whole beings.

Employees do their best work when their deepest needs are met. How can we work toward an environment that is compassionate, fulfilling, and safe?

We talked with repeat guest David Hanrahan, Chief Human Resources Officer at Eventbrite, about the state of mental health post-2020 and the CHRO’s role in addressing mental health in the workplace.

What we talked about:

-Depression, anxiety, and social comparison in the workplace

-The balance between caring for people and pushing results

-Questions to ask your people to check in on them

-How to uncover your people’s motivators

For the entire interview, subscribe to HR Superstars on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher. Or, tune in on our website.

You're listening to HR superstars, a podcast from fifteen five that highlights stories from the front lines of HR and people ops. Each episode will showcase fascinating conversations with leaders offering their unique experiences and advice for building an extraordinary company and culture. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to HR superstars. I'm Shane Metcalf and today we're concluding our two parts segment with David Hanrahan, David tit talks about mental health, especially through the two thousand and twenty pandemic. We'd like to take a moment to thank you, our listeners. We value you and hope that these last few episodes from these incredible leaders can help as the world continues to progress through the pandemic season. Enjoy. Okay, so one of the things that we've been hearing from a lot of guests. We actually had the C HRO of twitter on a little while ago. I you know, the leaders of Oct some other really great companies that are all saying the same thing, which has mental health and well being his leap frogged as a priority and importance of the HR row cpos out there to start factoring that into the equation. Like it never has before. Yeah, curious. Do you agree with that? Are you seeing that happen? How are you supporting the mental and emotional wellbeing of the what do you call them? Bright links, brightlings? Yeah, great, yeah, you know. But before the pandemic, Mac I could sort of cite all sorts of different data that would make this really start. But essentially a mental health crisis in society, particularly from millennials and the generation entering the workforce now. College graduates today have a x suicide rate that of college graduates in the s Oh my God, one in five or one in four adults experiences mental illness in the year and this is growing. So it was growing before the pandemic and now in the pandemic there's been a three to four x increase in incidence of anxiety and depression among working adults since the pandemic, and so it was a crisis already. It's now...

...compounding and it affects. It affects people all over the place. And for the workforce, obviously there's all sorts of good reasons for why you should be worried about this as a CEO or satro, because of work disrupting, anxiety and depression at what does that do to your your culture, to your really talented employees who, if not for this, could be, you know, a lot more effective their job, if not for struggling with this thing? And so for me, I saw this definitely at Niantic, I saw it. I saw really talented engineers, entrepreneurs, take your pick, at all levels struggling with it. And then we adopted of this program I'm called Spring Health, and I'll talk about modern health as another one that, when you look at it, this is on demand therapy and coaching. The engagement rate is like thirty percent, which is like huge, meaning like thirty percent of the company are using this thing, which is for a very niche thing, if you would think about it's like this is for your mental health. It seems somewhat niche, but thirty percent are using it and then they're getting on demand therapy. And so for us it's been really crucial for a couple different reasons. One of them was the impetus for event rights. Mental Health Journey was at one of our events, the Gilroy garlic festival, that we staffed. Had A shooting at the at the festival and we saw this firsthand. Mental Health, like people were struggling afterwards and like we need something. We realized, wow, we really need a solution, and so we adopted that. And now mental health. For me, I think it's one of like the top three important trends for a stage row to really to lead on and for us, we have talked about mental health to try and destigmatize it. So I think mental health has a stigma and the more that leaders talk about this openly, talk about like I struggle with anxiety, depression and and have forums, then you see that it becomes like normal, it's like it's okay to not be okay. Is something we talked about out of them right. So today, on this day that we're talking, we're on what's called a...

...break break. So we launched a program earlier this week for one Friday a month the next six months, we're just going to take the time off to recharge, take care of mental health or mental wellbeing, encouraging people to check out modern health or headspace or take your pick of program aims to take care of yourself, because it's happening in the pandemic right now even worse. People are burning out, they're worried. This is the election week. Anxiety intentions running high and we're not immune to that. But I think if you're in a live events industry, you know your our creators are employees. There's lots to be stressed about and so mental health is a central concept for us around the future of work. So Great. Do you think this is something that's going to continue on post pandemic? Do you think that we've heard this trend, not just for you but other leaders and and my hope is that you know, we continue to lean into this into the future, that this is kind of a bit of a wake up colon and acceleration of, you know, a more human organization. But but I'm curious what your perspective is on that. I think so, and I'm not an expert at like why this is happening, but my understanding is with things like the the way social media works and the way the news works now, with it's like it's not on a newspaper, it's not on like the evening news that you turn on for thirty minutes. It's just that we're inundated with it. And so the workforce right now, people in College, people in College and people in high school students are having to struggle with something that I never struggled with when I was in high school, which is social comparison, instagram and Linkedin and all these reasons for me to sort of like feel like I'm a failure is something that is really worrisome. And so is it. Is this going to be there after the pandemic? Is Mental health going to still be a priority? Is it going to be something that we should be like really focusing on? I say absolutely, because those things, those things don't seem like they're going away. Social Media, the way the news works, and I want to be clear. I'm you know, my hope is that we find some way as a society to make the necessary shifts and changes so the root problem isn't there. And simultaneously, my hope is that companies really realize that the emotional and...

...psychological wellbeing of their people, regardless of those underlying things, should be a concern for them to owne. So kind of a tough question, but how do you actually in reality, balance supporting people who are struggling with mental health with performance, with results? Because again, it's easy to take a single perspective right it's easier to just say hey, look, we're going to be in more relational and we're going to give a lot of allowance to people that are struggling and we're not going to be measuring people on the same performance metrics. Or it's easier to say, look, we're a results or into performance culture and we don't really care if you don't feel good, you're not hitting your numbers, you're not producing, you're out of here. So it's much harder to synthesize those two things. You know, we're like humans. We have to have two eyes and two hemispheres of the brain and it's so uncomfortable being both of those things, so usually just pick one side. Yeah, how are you striving to integrate both of those? Well, I think there's this interesting thing that Kim Scott coined ruinous empathy, which start ups struggle with all the time, because you got green managers, you got first time founders, you got you got a culture of like you know, yeah, things are great, you're great, and like if we gotta fire that person, and raise your hand. If you've ever done that, you know it's like yeah, that's it's a it's real. You mentioned kindness before and I think, I think one of the reasons people think that kindness is counter to high performances. They're comflating kindness with being nice. Totally relates to Brunu's empathy. Totally different things. That's right. That's right. Hey, if I got to tell someone some like fatal flaw they have, that's going to be not kind. So kindness doesn't work for us because that would get in the way of me telling you the truth. Telling you the truth is kindness. Like, Hey, David less, chat like that meeting just now. We got to talk, you know, the way that you're communicating with that team. It's just like it's going to hold you back in your career. Is going to hold you back. Now, you know, some of the the most...

...important moments in my career was when someone had the courage to tell me something that was like a weakness, right, and like I'll never forget it. Like it can be tough in the moment. You Run through your Sarah Cycle of sad, angry, rejection, acceptance, happy, but those moments where someone was like hey, I gotta, I gotta tell you this thing, it's like Gulp, you know, but it was because they cared. It was because, like, Hey, I'm telling you this because I believe in you. You gotta get this communication style under control, like you got it. You got to find ways to collaborate more effectively. I'm like, let me give an example, and there's all sorts of reasons why humans don't do that, why managers don't tell people the true truth, because it's hard. night, I got this tough conversation with David tomorrow, or because I know this person's already struggling. They have kids at home, their kids are being down their door and bugging them and their spouse lost their job. So, oh, I can't lay another heavy brick on their shoulders right now. Yeah, that's right. And so your question. How do you have performance? How do you how do you like drive high performance and balanced mental health when, like, people are struggling? So if they're struggling with their mental health, how do you have a performance conversation amidst that? Maybe the mental health is like part of the performance, you know, like maybe performance is not going well because there's anxiety. They're deal with this anxiety about having to juggle too much, and so, you know, it's kind of counterintuitive, but like I gotta have a performance conversation with this person. I'm going to start with hey, how are you really doing? How are you really really doing, and talk about this. What's up? What are you struggling with? And like, well, childcare bailed on me this week. You know, white this sick. I'm like, you know, mom passed away. I'm still struggling with that and like all this stuff, talking about that and like treating someone as a full human as opposed to like, I gotta skip past this and just get to the performance conversation. Is Your pathway. That is your pathway for performance, for like getting like unlocking people's potential, is to deal with that stuff. But she shall set you free. Yeah, that's right. In that empathy. You know, you know, and we're like,...

...we're not that far removed from the days when mental health was stimatizes. You don't talk about that at work, you know, like Hey, hold, you have a therapist. Wow, what's wrong with you? Yeah, time out, I'm going to talk about this with you. You know, call the EAP offline, and that's just not true anymore. Like you gotta have mental health conversations, and the typical refrain I get from people's like hey, isn't that like hippo, you know, like you can't talk about that. Isn't that private? And like sure, of course you know. Like what's your diagnosis? You don't, you don't ask those questions. But how are you really really doing? Is a question that will touch on that person's mental health and we'll be up for them to share. They might choose to share them, might not want to share, but if they want to share, like sit in that moment, you know, like I was on a panel with another leaders said like Hey, I'm a clinical psychia psychiatrist by background and I just having to be a sat row now and like I will tell you cannot have managers do them. And then another another Satro, said I agree, like our managers should not be doctors, but they should be ready to talk about mental health and listen. Right, I'm not going to be your doctor, I'm not going to be a therapist, but I'm going to listen to you. And Training your managers how to do that, how did that comfortably, how to deal with tough stuff and and how to get people help right, because, like, if someone needs help, how do you get them help? That's important. Trait a manager should know well, and it's so interesting because they think they had. It used to be a little more acceptable of like, Oh, I'm having mental health stuff, I need to talk to hr, but now it's actually it is part of the managers responsibility to dig in, to understand how are you really really doing, so that I can support you in unblocking. Yeah, yeah, I think so. I remembered a conversation I had with some students earlier this week. I was on a panel and they're ask me a question like hey, what, what's the skill that we're going to need to learn for the future, and the first topic that came to mind is you know your mental health. Like that's what I want you. I want you to understand how to set your boundaries. want you understand, you know how to take care of yourself.

I want you to understand how to sort of have your like your flexibility in your choice and like have control of your mental health. That's a skill that I think you all need to learn. So yeah, in all different ways, like this is a core part of how we build a really high performing organization the future and I think it's also it's an inspirational thing for hr organizations to like really wrap their head around. Where do you source optimism? Where do I source optimism? Well, every report about a vaccine that I see every day, this is like hey, look at that, look at that, you know so. But where do I source optimism? I'm just naturally optimistic. I believe in what we're doing. I really believe in the job. I I'm inspired to do this job and I'm also inspired by like working with really great people. So I have a direct report, Tanya, who's just like my rock, and I source optimism by seeing others get really fired up about their job as well, and that just makes me incredibly optimistic. Okay, one more question. So every week we're asking different questions inside of our own platform, fifteen five, and so I'm always looking at okay, what are the questions that are going to unlock the next level for our company, for people? And I do already have one question from you, which is, how are you really really doing? And I'm wondering do you have any other questions that you think we should ask our people or that people leaders should be asking their team on occasion? Yeah, how am I really really doing? This week is fraught with tension, so fraught with anxiety. For all sorts of different ways, but I'm really enjoying this conversation. So today, this moment that we're in is really fun. WHO's energizing? There's a question or an exercise that I'll leave you all with a from a former boss, Gendulski. Her exercise with the motivational pipe chart and the question is what...

...motivates you? And on the Pike Chart You have an empty pie and I could put down forty percent is like work life balanced. Ten percent is like my manager relationship. XPERCENT is pay whatever, and then red, yellow, green. How all those motivateds are getting met. Every time I've done this exercise is fascinating because I'm always surprised. Wow, this is a lot of red and yellow on this pie chart and this one thing is forty percent. I never knew that before and like, let's talk about why it's read. What's getting in the way, let's how can we move this from red to yellow to a green? It's always fascinating. It's essentially your engagement survey at the individual level for each of your team members, and it's a huge unlock because what motivates us is what drives our high performance. Yes, when highly motivated, you know, and whether that's extrinsically or intrinsically motive, will more highly motivated. We're going to perform really well and you can be surprised by people who you think like Hey, I thought you're doing well, but this is all red and yellow. That person's holding back, you know, you think that person's really good at what they do, but they're red and yellow. They're holding back, they're holding back discretionary output and ideas and innovation and nonetheless doing well in your eyes but not doing well for in their eyes they can do a lot better. And going to the extracite and going through a simple question, spending an hour with your director ports on this is always fascinating to me, and this is an exercise you can find online. It's like it's so fascinating and it's been so helpful for me. Every time I've done it. I'm getting a private messages from both our producer and David here of like Oh, that's the next feature in the product. To Bil I was like, I love this, I could see this in our products. Yeah, well, I think that it's so genius. It's so great because it's about uncovering unmet need and actually fulfilling our needs. Understanding our motivators and then fulfilling our needs as human beings is the path the high performance and results. And what a beautiful vision of work where that the environment we create. We...

...create those conditions to have our deepest needs met and that is where we can then do the best work of our lives. And it's the discovery process. You have no idea what's going on. I have a similar question. I used I still do ask because I have, you know, my direct reports list out what are the things that energize them versus one of the things that suck their energy away. And like, from the outside, someone may look like they're doing an incredible job at everything and half of the things they're focused on or draining than of energy. And so like this, I feel that this maps amazingly well to that in the motivational side. So thanks for that. Very cool. Totally well, David, we're at a time huge thank you to you great work you're doing. It's so exciting to think about the the pent up demand for live events that is coming down a pipeline. Yeah, and so thanks for the great work you're doing, thanks for the Great Company, your love, your compassion and being a brightling in this world right now. Thanks, guys. Really enjoy the conversation. Really Glad you had me here today and really appreciate it. Where can people find you? Where can people follow you? Are Are you putting out any of these thoughts? Are Sharing these things on any networks? I do, linked in. Linkedin is probably where I'm most to posting things all post an article or just a post every once in awhile. So yeah, find me and Linkedin. I've really found linkedin is the one social network that I don't feel horrible after spending time on. Totally, totally, yeah, I really weird. It's like it did. Blows my mind that I spend way more time on Linkedin than on facebook. Now I'm like, who am I like, how did this happen? Yeah, yeah, it is infinitely a more uplifting experience. I agree. I agree. I found out that that's one social media that I found actually helpful. That's really great. All right, thank you so much, David. Great to be with you today. Thanks, guys. Fifteen five is the only evidence based people and performance platform for highly engaged and high performing organizations. Strategic HR leaders in all industries use the platform to win by...

...improving communication, up leveling their managers and increasing company wide engagement. Learn more at Fifteen Fivecom you've been listening to HR superstars stories from the front lines of HR and people ops. Be Sure you never miss an episode by subscribing on your favorite podcast player. If you're listening on Apple PODCASTS, we'd love for you to leave a thoughtful review or give a quick rating by tapping the stars. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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