Work/Life

Are You Getting the Optimal ROI on Your Wellness Plan? Checklist For You (Part 1)

 

85% of companies with 1000+ employees have wellness programs, mostly driven by an effort to contain healthcare costs and costs associated with lost productivity, absenteeism, and disengagement. However, a noted shortcoming, even of the most successful wellness programs, is adoption and consistent, long-term participation.

The average ROI for these programs is 6:1

3.27 ROI for medical costs and 2.73 on reduced absenteeism.

Doesn’t even take into account productivity and engagement that can be a tertiary benefit of wellness, nor further impacts on workplace safety, talent acquisition and retention, morale and community, also known as value on investment (VOI).

This is increasing all the time with better data and additional breakthroughs in

Below are components of successful wellness programs. Check how many you have:

  • Strong awareness and education, which usually requires heavily utilized internal communication channels
  • Cultures, policies, and environments that are consistent with wellness behaviors
  • Baseline evaluations tracking system, and regular progress assessments
  • Amenities on site, not just for fitness, but also meditation and hygiene
  • Group accountability and support without social pressure to engage
  • Reward-based vs. punitive incentivization, possibly even gamification
  • They have a dedicated administrator
  • Offer a variety of fitness and nutrition management options
  • Bottom line benefits are a byproduct, not the intention; the wellbeing of its people is the intention
  • It addresses the true keys to behavior change (habits and beliefs) and addresses the real reasons why people fall out, which can be a multitude of things, like life events, shame, and lack of desired or expected results
  • Holistic and integrative wellness that addresses all facets of wellbeing (Get our report, How Mindfulness Training Quickly Transforms Organizations here.)
    • Social
    • Emotional
    • Physical
    • Financial
    • Mental

Common reasons why wellness plans fall short of projected and/or optimal ROI include:

Lack of Awareness

On average, only 60% of employees aware that their company has a wellness program.  It takes a concerted and dedicated campaign to ensure that all employees are aware. It means that employees have to be reminded ongoingly. Managers also need to be trained and, often, policies adjusted.

This also aligns with the point that wellness programs need a dedicated leader and team, depending on the size of the organization, which adds expenses yet improves ROI, like any good investment. Many companies have appointed someone to lead wellness programs who still have to deliver on their primary role duties that are not wellness-related, like a Benefits Manager.

The effort has to be rolled out in collaboration with legal, marketing, human resources, finance, training and development, and potentially (ideally) vendors, coaches, and consultants. A wellness program leader needs ample time to communicate thoughtfully, as well as to assess status and progress thoroughly.  This leader also needs to be trusted and influential to coordinate all of the cultural, logistical and policy-based adjustments that may have to be made, as you’ll read below.

Also, if your employees have to report progress to someone who is a stakeholder in their performance, they may not feel safe being candid when a personal issue is interfering with wellness goals (and work.)

Low Participation

On average, 24% of employees participate and the ones most likely to participate already have active, healthy lifestyles. As organizations often find, inspiring people to voluntarily make hard changes is quite the challenge. Humans have a built-in survival-based resistance to change. Also, there’s no one silver bullet way to get a large population of people to want to change because we all have different drivers.

Few wellness programs include personalized coaching equipped not just to educate participants on the pragmatic steps of becoming healthier, but also to help each individual prospective participant identify what will inspire them to make and sustain changes in their behavior and lifestyle. Take into account all of the different REAL reasons why people veer off of wellness journeys and the real things that have been proven to augment physical health efforts.

Many learning and fitness programs have incorporated community due to the observation and a 2007 Harvard study that found that obesity is “contagious.” There is a belief, which seems to be supported by science, that people tend to be a product of the people with whom they surround themselves.

However, there are a lot of complex social intricacies that happen when one person tries to effectuate change in his or her own life. It can cause emotional, sometimes subconscious, negative reactions among a person’s social circle, including the social circle at work. Even when an individual makes a completely independent decision to change there can be social repercussions. Even when encouragement and peer pressure are absent, there can be adverse emotions. Encouragement is often perceived as pressure or shaming, even when the intention is pure, and cause even worse social backlash.

While participants can be coached in how to navigate these relationship complexities, the non-participants often remain unaware of their own resistance to change that can be spurred by someone close to them changing.  If there was a minimal coaching option, these employees could have someone there to help them recognize their resistance and emotion and make a more conscious decision versus letting resistance and emotion make the decisions for them.

The differences in how people come to change are frequently unacknowledged. Some people need data to buy into change. Some people need a compelling emotional outcome. Some will reject any idea that they feel is being imposed upon them. Some people will do something just because it’s the right thing to do and some tend to say yes to everyone else but themselves.  Each of these tendencies needs a different approach to encouraging new habits, and yet still people will change on their own time and terms.

Many companies institute smart policies on security that trains employees to protect corporate data, which promote this sense of distrust. Then employees are asked to share personal health, including mental health data, with a corporate or 3rd party resource.  The need to measure ROI is then communicated as more paramount than wellness. Some programs are all or nothing, and whether a person decides to commit or resist making lifestyle changes that could positively impact. Programs, therefore, need some flex to accommodate what a person is comfortable sharing and changing with the support that can help the person continue to build upon small changes.

The risk assessments and biometric screenings that employers offer can be perceived as an attempt to use fear to scare employees into change, but there are still a lot of people who would not act with that knowledge. In fact, it can make real change seem so unobtainable it can inspire resignation, denial and additional stress. They don’t have to be the only starting point. Already healthy employees are the ones more likely to participate.  Make it easy to start at 0 without having to confront an ugly starting point.

Encouraging employees to start with mindfulness and mini-meditations for stress relief, educating them with information on the scientific basis for it, can help employees start with something that requires little time and change, but lead to greater self-awareness. It is like a gateway drug for change. (Epic Careering is a specialist in Mindfulness, Mediation and Emotional Intelligence Training. Get our full report, How Mindfulness Training Quickly Transforms Organizations, here.)

More companies will find participation increase when obstacles of time and sacrifice are removed when there are flexible participation journeys offered, and when the stigma and relationship complexities of changing within social circles are alleviated from both sides with coaching.

Inherent Inhibitors

Some companies have programs that can’t be followed because actual work policies or facilities inhibit it. Whether it be the work hours, lack of showering facilities, lack of secure bike racks, or a cultural expectation that employees will work or meet during lunch. For example, employees can’t participate in walking Wednesdays if on Wednesdays their boss requires a report due after lunch. Some policies, like accrued sick time, will have more of your workforce in the office when they should be home.  It can keep them sick longer and spread the sickness to more of the workforce.

Some companies offer snacks as perks (or for cost) to employees, but they don’t necessarily qualify as healthy snacks. It may sound like a simple swap from unhealthy snacks to healthy snacks, but when you dig into how much is actually altered, it’s a bit easier to understand why such a simple change can cause resentment. Managers need the training to understand how to help employees vocalize and process even small changes, to reinforce leadership’s commitment to wellness without making employees feel dismissed.

Musculoskeletal issues are a primary reason for absenteeism and a real reason why many people veer off of physical fitness plans. Ergonomic workstations, standing desks, and FSAs (flex spending accounts) that employees can opt to allocate for proactive health efforts, such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, supplements, massage, will serve to augment efforts and reinforce the message that workforce wellness is a priority for the company’s leaders.

Don’t expect employees will be able to form work-based habits and regiments without accommodations to do so. Often companies don’t evaluate the logistical, procedural, and actual lifestyle challenges that keep so many people from making changes, whether a company sponsors and supports that change or not.  Creating lasting changes is already challenging enough; if companies really want their employees to enjoy significant improvements to their health, all policies and facilities need to be evaluated with the intention of eliminating any and all potential logistical, policy, or facility shortcomings. If the ROI of your wellness program is falling short of expectations, look here first.  When you want to level up your ROI, look here first. There is a lot that technology can do to help, and most of the capabilities that can help your company already has.

Next week I will be sharing Part 2 of the rest of this segment. Stay tuned!

 

The Pirates – “Mind Over Matter” (Temptations covering Nolan Strong)

Released in Sept. of 1962 This is The Pirates (aka THE TEMPTATIONS!) covering the Nolan Strong & the Diablos classic Detroit hit, “Mind Over Matter (I’m Gonna Make You Mine). Eddie Kendricks on lead vocals…

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

When Is Self-Care Over-Indulgent?

 

I promote self-care a lot because I know that science supports it.  Stress in the workplace contributes to major chronic illnesses responsible for most early health-related deaths. It’s also a high cause of absenteeism. Self-care CAN be a way to manage stress.

However, since I teach generation Z and Millennials and work with Generation X through baby boomers, the chasm in understanding of the role of self-care and reasonable limits to self-care during work hours is vast and causing a lot of conflicts in today’s workplace, which has never had so many generations before.

Millennials have been accused of having a sense of entitlement. One of my current students, a millennial, even admitted that their reputation is earned.  However, the workplace also has much different expectations than when the generations before them entered the workforce. For the most part, there was a finite beginning and end to the workday. However, since internet and cell phone connectivity have enabled people to work remotely, the delineation between work hours and personal hours has been blurred. In some family-friendly companies, the employees who are parents enjoy more flexibility in their schedule, but the single employees are sometimes expected to pick up the slack.

How do we create boundaries around self-care that don’t cause drama that threatens collaboration and productivity? How does a company decide what is fair, enough, and truly restorative?

Firstly, it’s unrealistic and refuted by science to assume that people will fulfill all of their self-care needs at home. Brain fatigue starts to set in after just a few minutes of concentration. One or two 30-second breaks per hour to do something pleasurable is sufficient to restore the brain. Yawning and stretching (very slowly) are highly restorative exercises. This is a great time for mindfulness, like being present and still. The best part about mindfulness is that employees will start to become more and more self-aware and emotionally intelligent, and will naturally consider the impact of their self-care regimen on others.

Self-care does not have to consume a lot of time, in fact, less than a minute. But people misunderstand self-care and engage in activities that actually contribute to mental exhaustion, like social media, “venting,” and personal errands.

Even some fitness activities can be draining rather than restorative. It only takes 10 minutes to increase oxygen to your brain. There is some science that suggests that endurance training can make you more resistant to fatigue, but that doesn’t mean employers can allow employees to run a marathon during work hours.

If we follow a model that our country’s laws were designed around, your rights end where another’s begin.  Because emotional intelligence does not fully develop until the 3rd decade of life, usually well into a person’s career, most entry-level workers have blind spots around how their self-care impacts others, and they need to be coached here. They also have developed habits, especially social media, that can lead to greater distractibility and more frequent mental fatigue, which leads to more mistakes and less accountability.

In my career prep course, as well as in my coaching practice, I work with my students on defining who they want to be at work, what reputation they want to build, and how to brand themselves and deliver on that brand for optimal career growth. They are taught the neuroscience of mindfulness and are guided in making it a life-long habit.

My firm, Epic Careering, offers coaching to companies that achieve the same results, and as a byproduct employees spend less time in drama, less time in self-indulgent non-self-care, and more time cooperating, collaborating, and producing.

Schedule a consultation today and catalyze the growth of your employees’ potential tomorrow.

Bachman Turner Overdrive – LOOKIN’ OUT FOR NO.1

Bachman Turner Overdrive – LOOKIN’ OUT FOR NO.1

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

If You’re Robbing Yourself of Fun and Self-Care During Your Job Search, You’re robbing Yourself of Results (Prescription Within!)

 

When I was out of work for 10 months after 9/11, I was not only in between jobs but also in between living arrangements. I wasn’t officially a roommate to my boyfriend (now husband) and his roommate since I was not paying rent, and I could not continue to live with my bachelor father, because some things you can’t unsee.

I had moved back in with my dad after leaving a cheating boyfriend at the age of 21, met my husband four months later, and was laid off six months into our relationship.

I had student loans to pay and some credit card debt that I’d accrued while searching for my first job after college. I had also finally bought a brand new car, a Saturn SL2, after being stranded one too many times on the side of the road with a broken down car, so I had a car payment as well.

After being informed that cleaning and tidying were insufficient forms of rent, and if he (the roommate) were me he wouldn’t be doing pilates at 3 PM or hiking in the middle of the day, but hitting the pavement.  I felt added pressure to spend all my time either working doing anything so as not to be home when he was home, but also not spending my time on self-care. I walked to a business within walking distance, since gas was a luxury I couldn’t always afford, and worked for minimum wage doing menial tasks while neglecting self-care. My depression worsened, and interview anxiety manifested, whereas I’d never had interview anxiety before.

As an employee, I was known to be sharp, intelligent, forward-thinking, and organized. As an unemployed sponge, I was now considered a burden, a leech, and essentially useless. Even though some friends were helping me out, giving me referrals for jobs, I was not making them look good at all. I was showing up as the unemployed sponge, not the confident, value-adding, trend-setting, technology-savvy people person.

After the business down the street told me their business slump meant my minimum wage job was no longer, I went back to taking care of myself. Neglecting myself wasn’t working; it was backfiring. So was doing work well below my capacity and potential. Something else I realized – my husband and his roommate didn’t know how to land a corporate job. Hitting the pavement was not producing jobs that would position me to pay my bills and rent and sending online application after online application left me powerless and dejected. I had to go back to my network, which I avoided when I was depressed and doing demeaning work. I had to show up as the person who would add value

I went back to pilates and hiking regularly. I spent my transition time finding out who my network knew (this was before LinkedIn). I shifted my criteria to target GROWTH opportunities that required a college degree, whether in recruiting or not, and challenged myself to find ways to have fun that didn’t require spending a lot of (or any) money so I could remember why people wanted to be around me.

I landed, finally, and then was laid off again three months later, but landed again five weeks later, and then was promoted three months after that. I knew that eventually, I would teach people what I learned about making a job search effective AND fun, and how essential both are.

Nearly 16 years later, here I am with 13 years of experience doing just that under my belt and when my clients express to me that their emotions and thoughts are getting the best of them, I prescribe them fun and self-care. Now, after years of studying human performance optimization and neuroscience, I have an even better understanding of exactly why fun and self-care are essential to job search success.

Do you remember learning about Pavlov’s dog?  Reinforcement is key to learning positive behaviors and making them habits. Reward yourself for engaging in job search activities that are effective, but perhaps stretch your comfort zone, like attending networking events, asking your friends and contacts for introductions, inviting hiring managers to speak or meet, and calling to follow up. The more you associate these activities with a reward, the more motivated you will feel to do them.

And, once you get results this way, the shot of endorphins will further compel you to want to repeat them.

Make sure your self-care routine incorporates exercise AND restoration. Exercise is not just healthy for your body, but also has proven clinical impacts on your mental state, helps you feel more confident, and increases oxygen to your brain to make you smarter! Restoration and recuperation is key to preventing physical fatigue and brain fatigue, both of which can negatively impact your performance and mood. Making time for stillness and reflection is essential to seeing where and how you can improve as a human being, teammate, and as a performer.

To take this all a level up, identify and engage in activities that put you in the flow. The more you can put yourself in a state of flow, the better you intuitively, swiftly solve problems and make decisions. For me, being in the woods or out on the water, coloring, making crafts with flowers and plants, swimming in the ocean, sitting in my hot tub, dancing to live music, attending development-related classes and webinars, watching sports, and yoga put me in a flow state.

Make a list of activities that make you feel like you’re in the flow, and set time aside on your calendar each week for these. Steven Kotler, NY Times best-selling author on the subject of flow, recommends at least 15% of your time be allocated for this each week.

Also, don’t avoid people because you fear their judgment. Isolation is a confidence killer and anxiety inducer.  Invite the people who know and appreciate the “real you” to spend time with you at least once a week. There are plenty of things that you can do that don’t require spending money, such as a game of catch, card and board game potlucks, picnics, and gathering to watch your favorite show or team. Keep up your team skills while in transition. You can even invite them to volunteer with you.

Having trouble justifying this to the stakeholders in your job search? Tell them it is a prescription, professor’s orders, and show them this:

 

If you want additional emotional support and guidance (not just advice, which I give freely here) on how to spend your days to optimize your performance and results, schedule a free consultation.

Put The Lime In The Coconut

AND SHAKE IT ALL UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

We Are In Big Trouble If Leaders Don’t Start Doing This

Reflections

How do we shift from a world where rampant mental illness pushes people to the limits of their humanity to a world where we take good care of one another?

Could it be as simple as breathing??

Letting go?

Healing?

Processing?

Allowing?

Surrendering?

Choosing happiness?

Self-reflection may be simple, but it’s not easy.

I cherish my time for self-reflection. Without it, I tend to stay in a stressful loop. In a moment I might start to go down a rabbit hole, thinking about an interaction that I had or have to have. Without time to process these thoughts fully, they just stay in a loop.

There is something I am supposed to get from these repeating thoughts, which is why my brain keeps showing me it. I need to reveal it’s meaning, process my emotions about it, and then put it behind me as completed. If not, my energy gets sapped. I find it hard to focus and all tasks take longer. I may even procrastinate or escape into TV or social media. Still that thought loops.

It’s like when you are running late for something and you keep going back to your house for different things you forgot and it just gets later and later. Ever do that? Be in such a rush that you forget important things and it causes you to be even later?

I notice that if tasks and obligations, including my cherished kids and clients, keep me from giving these thoughts my full attention for a while, I start to resent them. I get short tempered. I set up boundaries to protect myself. I have more freedom to do so because I am self-employed. Still, when I accept work, I make a commitment and that commitment has to be fulfilled. I don’t always see a busy time coming and I get stuck

However, companies need to adopt a self-care culture to allow their people to grow and develop not just skill wise, but in their consciousness. Our planet actually depends on it!

Otherwise, we get unconscious producers in power, focused only on producing hard results without consideration of consequences. This explains situational greed, a neuroscience concept I introduced in a previous blog in which the brain starts to rewire itself to pursue more power and/and possessions, sometimes even becoming addicted to the dopamine release of acquiring more power and/or possessions. Without being able to regularly take time, which becomes even harder as you take on more responsibility and authority, this can go unchecked and lead to a host of toxic conditions and detrimental consequences.

Without that time, I could not have written this!

A balance, however elusive, appears to be the more accurate place from which to make critical decisions that impact many.

Not work-life balance, but production and reflection balance. An employer can’t assume its employees are doing this at home.

This is a generalization, but often those at the top of the income chain employ the assistance of others to take care of admin/housekeeping, even child rearing. But do they use the time that is freed from those tasks for reflection? Or, do they use that time to produce or feed ego?

Most other people, including top producers, are going home and attacking a busy kid activity and homework schedule plus a home care task list. Then they zone out consuming media because they are mentally and emotionally exhausted – another generalization, I realize.

Still, I think it’s fair to say the general workforce is not in the habit of making time for self-reflection, and if they are, they doing it incompletely and getting stuck in the loop I described above.

The loops below are a much better model for conscious growth, whether you are a leader or a producer:

Achieving Conscious Leadership

 

  1. Consumption – Make plans based on new insights, illuminations, teachings
  2. Reflection – Consider how people and planet will be impacted directly and indirectly
  3. Production – Set goals and intentions and execute
  4. Reflection – Examine direct and indirect impacts, as well as own performance relative to higher self

The key is self-intimacy (into-me-I-see). Not just asking how was it, evaluating in terms of results, profits, etc., but asking how was I. Sometimes the answers aren’t good, and the ego doesn’t like them.

But the higher self, the one who wants to continually evolve into a better and better person, a better leader and a more positive influence on the people around them, needs them.

Coincidentally, I came across this warning signs list this morning. I thought someone might need this more than music, so I’m sharing it.

https://www.higherperspectives.com/warning-signs-nervous-breakdown-2610845741.html

Think What Happened To Elon Musk Won’t Happen to You? Think Again!

Reverse Engineering Internal Sabotage for Prevention [Part 1 of 3]

SpaceX Discovery Fire

Discovery Fire Galaxy 2016

The Tesla sabotage incident Elon Musk made the world aware of last week raises a few great questions.

  1. How does somebody who would be inclined and capable of sabotaging your company get into your company, and how can you prevent that?
  2. How can you choose the right person for promotion, but still make sure that those who didn’t receive a promotion stay engaged and working in the company‘s best interests?
  3. Once you know that your hiring process allowed a saboteur to get through the screening process, how do you make sure that the rest of your workforce is on the up and up without insulting knows of higher values and morals?

All great questions, but we’re going to focus on #1 today and tackle the other two in subsequent posts.

If you took a look at Tesla’s Glassdoor profile, you’d see that they rate highly, at 3.4 out of 5 stars, but only 57% would recommend Tesla as an employer to a friend.

Overall, people are in it for the mission of disrupting the energy and transportation industries, and 85% approve of the job Elon Musk is doing. The common complaints, however, are lack of work/life balance – long hours with minimal pay and inflexible attendance policies. The benefits are not quite making up for the lack in fair pay, either. Plus, lack of procedures are making employees feel like they can’t even be efficient in the time they spend there.

Apparently, people get fired unexpectedly and are given little to no feedback on their performance. Also, one employee reports that it’s rare to be recognized, even if you’ve achieved the “impossible;” it just becomes the standard expectation from that point forward. They are letting go 9% of their salaried workforce (outside of production) to cut costs. They also are churning through people who find it hard to stay more than a couple years.

Musk knew when he decided to step up and disrupt very wealthy and powerful industries that he would become a target. However, with the workforce complaints piling up, I wonder why he didn’t see an internal attack coming.

Perhaps he isn’t familiar with altruistic punishment – a reaction embedded in our brain that gets triggered when a person believes he/she or someone else is being treated unfairly. Why did nature install this type of reaction in our brain? To promote cooperation that supports the evolution of our species.

In answer to #1, biologically, science has proven all human beings are capable of inflicting harm on someone who has treated others unfairly. It stands to reason that people have varying thresholds.

I think of Clark Griswold when I think of altruistic punishment. It hardly matters what National Lampoons movie you choose. He always had the best of intentions to show his family a great time and make meaningful memories. When other people’s shenanigans and acts of God threatened to sabotage his plans, he felt fully justified in breaking laws and violating other people’s safety and/or property to achieve his well-intentioned mission. In the end, people admitted that they were being unfair and Clark and his family got away without punishment and with amazing memories that brought them closer together as a family. Good times. I don’t see the Tesla employee enjoying such a happy ending, but maybe.

I’m sure Musk has his own justifications for keeping things the way they are – in order to be profitable, the company has to produce 5,000 Model 3s each week. People have proposed that he be stripped of his Board Chairman position. The company’s shares are worth 16% now than they were last year at this time. No doubt, Musk is under a lot of pressure to control costs and boost production to survive as a company and achieve his mission. I’m sure employee belief in the mission is the thing that Musk was depending on to get him and his over-stretched workforce through these challenges. Unfortunately for Musk and his mission, it wasn’t enough, and the costs have been extremely prohibitive, though he still remains certain that he will achieve his production goals.

Yes, Musk confessed to sleeping at the factory. I’m sure he wants his workforce to see him as a model employee, to see that he’s willing to put in every drop of his effort and time for the sake of his mission. Can he really expect them to show the same level of commitment AND perform, stay, endure with few perks to their lifestyle? Once they have been hired by any of his companies, they become premier talent for the taking.

He suspects the jilted employee was collaborating with someone associated with Wall Street or the industries he’s disrupting.

Here’s the thing: if you were losing or stood to lose millions of dollars with the widespread production and purchase of solar/electric vehicles, and you knew that many employees were unhappy with the conditions under which they work, might it occur to you to convert an employee into an accomplice?

Not all companies have such enemies, but they do (or will) have competition.

Out of curiosity, I scooted over to Elon Musk’s other companies’ Glassdoor profiles to see what was said about them. I had heard that a recent graduate I know received an offer to work for SpaceX, but turned it down because it required 70 hours per week. SpaceX is very highly rated at 4.4 out of 5 stars, and Musk’s approval rating is even higher at 97%! It seems that even though lack of work/life balance is still a very common complaint, improvements have been made since 2015. So far, though, it looks like the mission and the high caliber of talent is keeping the workforce going. It’s been rated a top place to work for 2018.

I headed over to SolarCity, which has been part of Tesla since 2016 and is being led by Lyndon Rive. As you might expect, lack of work/life balance is the #1 complaint, but other common complaints are also poor training and lack of communication from executives. It also seems that background checks are quite extensive. One employee waited 12 weeks for verification. This was while the company was part of Tesla, and before the saboteur came out with his confession. I wonder if the saboteur made it through the same comprehensive and stringent background checking, yet still wound up wanting retribution.

So, should you tweak your hiring practices to include measuring the altruistic punishment threshold of potential employees, or should you address workforce complaints to the best of your ability?

It seems to me that sound, fair workforce cultures and policies are the best way to prevent internal sabotage. These are fixable problems!

If I were a shareholder, I’d be highly skeptical that the company could become profitable by cutting the workforce outside of production while doubling production.

I wonder how the costs of attrition, lack of efficiency, quality issues, and extensive internal sabotage rack up against the costs of more flexible work days, increased monetary incentives, improved feedback and communication, and career planning. Could Musk have avoided quality issues, delayed launches, sabotage and having to do a workforce reduction if he invested in solving the issues affecting his people?

As much of a visionary as I can agree Elon Musk is, it seems his eyes are on the prize and not his people. This is a strategic failure I hope doesn’t result in the combustion of his company, especially as new competitors emerge regularly.

One employee already stated that he feels everyone fears that the company is one disaster away from imploding. Could it be?

Is your company at risk of a similar fate?

If you answer yes to any of the questions below, then your company is at risk.

Please nominate your company for a workforce audit (all submissions are confidential!) by e-mailing us with your company’s name and the name(s), direct e-mail address(es) and direct phone number(s) to any and all contacts who would be the most logical point(s) of contact. C-level executives are logical points of contact, but so are majority shareholders and Vice Presidents empowered to make workforce investments.

  • Does your company put profit above people?
  • Do your executive leaders seem inaccessible and lack transparency?
  • Would you consider the working conditions to be inhumane and/or counter-productive?
  • Do they fail to acknowledge achievements?
  • Are your performance evaluations lacking in clarity on what you can improve or how you can grow?
  • Do they fail to give you feedback or deliver it harshly?
  • Is unprofessional behavior tolerated?
  • Does it seem certain kinds of people always get the promotions?
  • Are initiatives lacking in funding while executives take home healthy salaries and bonuses?
  • Does your boss play favorites?
  • Is communication one-way or non-existent
  • Are you fearful of what will happen if you make a mistake based on a history of punishment vs. development?

Beastie Boys – Sabotage

Music video by The Beastie Boys performing Sabotage. (C) 2009 Capitol Records, LLC

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Consultant and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and recently instructed for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Cabrini College, where her students won the national competition and were named America’s Top Young Entrepreneurs.