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This year, be the kind of mindful manager that helps prevent employee burnout – The Globe and Mail

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Dr. Geoffrey Soloway.

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Dr. Geoffrey Soloway is founder and chief training director of MindWell-U

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization for the first time classified workplace burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” in the International Classification of Diseases.

Defined as a “prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors within the workplace,” burnout is a common problem that affects workers across all industries. Characterized by emotional exhaustion, feelings of depersonalization/disconnection, and negative evaluations of oneself, burnout can wreak havoc on employees, as well as have a negative effect on a company’s overall health and productivity.

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Moreover, it is also damaging to the economy. Studies have shown that 500,000 Canadians miss work every week due to mental health and stress-related illness, which costs the economy $50-billion a year, when absenteeism and presenteeism are factored in. Obviously, employee burnout is bad news for business, and managers should be aware of its negative consequences.

So how can a good manager prevent employee burnout?

  • Check yourself. As flight attendants recommend that you put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others in the case of an emergency, managers should consider their own state of mind at work. By working on personal resilience, emotional regulation skills and self-awareness, a compassionate and mindful manager who has the ability to self-regulate will be more likely to support others effectively.
  • Recognize the signs of burnout. For example, if your employee complains of exhaustion, pay attention. Are they consistently working overtime? Constant fatigue can have major consequences in the workplace. From mere sleepiness to forgetfulness, employees and their work can suffer if stress-related sleep deprivation sets in.
  • Improve communication. Meet with employees regularly to discuss work-related issues, but also to chat about what’s going on in their lives outside of work. An ongoing, informal dialogue can build trust and confidence between a manager and an employee, and it allows the manager the space to check-in with the employee if they notice any unusual behaviour. If an employee is struggling, they will be much more likely to share their feelings with an attentive (and non- judgmental) manager who encourages open conversation.
  • Encourage mindful check-ins. Start meetings with a moment for everyone to notice how they’re feeling and share one word to capture their state of mind; develop a team cue or catchphrase to help bring people back into the present moment when stress hits.
  • Encourage and support monotasking versus multitasking. Encourage employees to “go deep” when needed, and abide by boundaries set during these periods. For example, if your employee needs an hour on Mondays to do some distraction-free, heads-down writing, respect that time and refrain from booking meetings during the allotted hour.
  • Walk the walk when it comes to work-life balance and mental health. While at an organizational level, many companies boast of a strong emphasis on work-life balance, it’s often mere lip service when it comes to actually implementing policies that will help employees from burning out at work. Employers who don’t deliver when it comes to work-life balance and mental health initiatives will suffer in terms of employee retention. Especially as millennials flood the workforce, potential employees are looking at the mental health and wellness benefits offered by an organization before they sign up to work there. A good manager will enforce policies to encourage a healthy work-life balance, such as giving employees the option to work from home occasionally, and insisting that vacation time be used. When it comes to mental health, managers should promote healthy routines in the workplace, such as taking breaks for exercise and practising mindfulness. A recent study between Mindwell, the University of British Columbia and the University of Queensland showed a significant decrease in employee burnout and a significant increase of work engagement amongst staff at a Canadian health authority which participated in a mindfulness challenge.

Happily, in the past few years, we’ve seen a decline in stigma surrounding mental health, and an increasing number of organizations offering mental wellness programs. It seems to be paying off. A recent analysis by Deloitte Insights found a median return on investment of $1.62 for every $1 spent a company spends on investing in workplace mental health, with an ROI of $2.18 for programs that had been launched at least three years ago. Clearly, caring about your employees’ mental health is good for your company’s bottom line.

Keep that in mind when battling burnout in the workplace.

This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab.

Stay ahead in your career. We have a weekly Careers newsletter to give you guidance and tips on career management, leadership, business education and more. Sign up today.

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How One Woman Dealt With Cancer During Covid-19 And Her Message For Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Forbes

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an opportunity to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer. While there are many ways to honor, celebrate and mark this month, when you speak to Jennifer du Toit, she wants one of the top priorities of women everywhere to make screenings and put your health on the top of your to-do list.

In 2018, a study by Redbook and HealthyWomen (a non-profit dedicated to providing women with health information) found that 45% of women over 30 do not make time for their own health, in part because they’re too busy managing everyone else’s. In addition, 77% are not getting regular screenings and check-ups, and while 83 % of respondents say they are happy to be managing their family’s health, 66% say they feel only “somewhat in control” of their own health.

Making matters worse is the pandemic. There has been a sharp decline in breast and cervical cancer screening due to COVID-19. The total number of cancer screening tests received by women through CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program declined by a steep 87% for breast cancer and 84% for cervical cancer during April 2020.

I spoke with Ms. du Toit about her unexpected breast cancer diagnosis during the pandemic, what she learned from this experience and what she wants you to know.

A Cancer Diagnosis Following A Healthy Mammogram Months Earlier

Ms. du Toit is a healthcare benefits consultant. Her work is primarily with employers to design the benefit plans and programs they offer to their employees – including medical and pharmacy benefits. Her forte is helping companies get the most from their investments in benefits to reduce costs or elevate recruiting, retention, reinvestment, and employee engagement.

She works at Buck, an integrated HR and benefits consulting, administration, and technology services provider. Headquartered in New York City, she is the lead Health consultant for one of their large national clients and is a member of the US leadership team.

It was in 2020 that du Toit noticed that she was feeling completely exhausted. “I figured my fatigue was attributable to stress, or perhaps I was anemic,” du Toit explained. “I wasn’t too worried. I was healthy. That said, I also knew it was time for a preventive exam. I booked the next available appointment with my primary care physician (PCP) a few months out. About four weeks before that check-up, I felt a small lump. I didn’t think much of it. I don’t have a family history of cancer, have never smoked, and I exercise. So I figured it was a fatty deposit, and my PCP would tell me exactly that during my appointment.”

When du Toit saw her doctor, he checked her records and reminded her that she had a clean mammogram only seven months prior. Still, he did the exam and very calmly told her he was getting her into radiology for another mammogram that afternoon. Immediately after the mammogram, the radiologist scheduled her for a biopsy the following morning.

“While I was awaiting the biopsy results, I went about my normal routine,” du Toit said. “I was scheduled to travel for work – so I did. On my way home from the airport, the radiologist called to tell me my biopsy results. It was cancer.”

Ms. du Toit spent the next two weeks meeting surgeons, an oncologist, having a series of tests and scans, and in between all of that, she was traveling for work and attending meetings. She was convinced this couldn’t be much, would be easily removed, and she’d be back in business as usual. Unbeknownst to her, however, and despite the normal mammogram seven months earlier, this cancer was moving fast and was aggressive. Post-surgery, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.

Dealing With Cancer And Remote Learning During A Pandemic

du Toit had a double (bilateral) mastectomy on March 12, 2020, the day after the World Health Organization declared that the coronavirus outbreak was a pandemic; less than four weeks after she saw her primary care physician for an initial check-up.

On top of managing her health and working full-time, du Toit also has two children. Henry, her youngest, is on the Autism Spectrum. So, she was not only dealing with cancer and a pandemic, but a special needs son who had his routine upended both by remote learning and his mother’s diagnosis.

du Toit makes clear that she was fortunate to have a lot of help. “My mom, a retired nurse, was on a plane to New York the day after I told her it was cancer. And my husband was everywhere, always, with anything we needed. He would sit next to Henry, off-camera, the entire school day to keep him on task. Our oldest son was more self-sufficient, but he wasn’t interested in remote learning either. So the three of us formulated a “divide and conquer” approach to navigating the pandemic, remote learning, cancer, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and anything else that came our way.”

While du Toit stated that she would never wish the pandemic on anyone, in some ways, she shared that it did help her to balance work and go through treatment more easily.

“Before the pandemic, I traveled a lot for my job,” she said. “As cancer was about to put a screeching halt to my work travel, the pandemic stopped travel for most everyone anyway. My clients and colleagues were all having to work from home at the same time I was being grounded. Meetings were held virtually, and neither my company nor my clients required on-camera participation. As a result, I was able to keep doing my job as ‘me.’ Not as ‘me with cancer.’ So, I think the pandemic helped from that perspective.”

However, the pandemic also kept du Toit’s husband and mother from attending any doctors’ appointments or during chemotherapy, which at times was difficult.

Work Became A Respite

In the early days of the pandemic, on their weekly Zoom call, du Toit told the US Leadership Team at Buck of her diagnosis. On that same call, a colleague announced that she, too, had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer and hadn’t been sure how to tell the team. Afterward, a second colleague reached out to tell du Toit that her mother was going through the same thing. It quickly became clear that Buck would not only be supportive, but many could empathize.

Working was also a welcome distraction. “Work was my normal,” du Toit shared. “It was something I could focus on while cancer treatment was swirling around me. I could manage my job from a desk or bed, and no one knew the difference. So work became my ultimate distraction from cancer.”

In addition, her work experience also came in handy when managing her insurance coverage. While she still had her frustrations in ensuring claims were paid correctly and that specialty medications were being processed, her background in healthcare was a help.

Her Message To Others

Considering the Redbook and HealthyWomen study and the decline of screenings due to Covid-19, Ms. du Toit wants to encourage all women to prioritize themselves.

“Keep up with your preventive visits and screenings,” she encourages. “Don’t be complacent with a recent ‘clean’ check-ups or scan. Listen to your body – you know you better than anyone else. If you feel off, get checked out.”

Ms. du Toit also reminds us that it’s ok to ask for help, whether it’s your family, job, or friends.

“I know I have difficulty admitting when I need help. However, I was amazed and humbled by the help and support my family and I received during this time.”

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Delta variant, shortages severely restrict U.S. economic growth in third quarter

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The U.S. economy grew at its slowest pace in more than a year in the third quarter as a resurgence in COVID-19 cases further stretched global supply chains, leading to shortages of goods like automobiles that slammed the brakes on consumer spending.

The weaker-than-expected growth reported by the Commerce Department on Thursday also reflected decreasing pandemic relief money from the government to businesses, state and local governments as well as households. Hurricane Ida, which devastated U.S. offshore energy production at the end of August also restrained economic growth.

But there are signs that economic activity is already regaining momentum amid declining coronavirus cases driven by the Delta variant. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a fresh 19-month low last week. Even with the third-quarter setback, the level of gross domestic product hit a record high and the economy is now 1.4% bigger than before the pandemic.

“The growth speed bump in the third quarter is an unwelcome surprise certainly, but it will not send the economy off into the ditch because it is partly based on supply disruptions in the auto industry that has cratered sales with inventories near record lows on dealer lots,” said Christopher Rupkey, chief economist at FWDBONDS in New York.

Gross domestic product increased at a 2.0% annualized rate last quarter, the government said in its advance GDP estimate. That was the slowest since the second quarter of 2020, when the economy suffered a historic contraction in the wake of stringent mandatory measures to contain the first wave of coronavirus cases. The economy grew at a 6.7% rate in the second quarter.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast GDP rising at a 2.7% rate last quarter. The meager growth came mostly from a moderate pace of inventory drawdown. Business inventories decreased at a $77.7 billion pace compared to a $168.5 billion rate in the second quarter. As result, inventories contributed 2.07 percentage points to third-quarter GDP growth.

Inventory accumulation remains weak owing to shortages, especially of motor vehicles. Motor vehicle production fell at a 41.6% rate after declining at a 14.1% pace in the second quarter because of a global shortage of semiconductors.

Excluding inventories, the economy contracted at a 0.1% rate last quarter. The scarcity of motor vehicles hammered consumer spending, which grew at only a 1.6% rate after a robust 12% pace in the April-June quarter. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

 

(GRAPHIC: Consumer spending takes a breather – https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-ECONOMY/byvrjrwykve/chart_eikon.jpg)

 

Spending on long-lasting manufactured goods dropped at a 26.2% rate. Motor vehicles cut 2.39 percentage points from GDP growth, the biggest drag from autos since the second quarter of 1980. Excluding motor vehicle output, the economy grew at a 3.5% rate last quarter, a slowdown from the 7.4% pace in the prior quarter.

Spending on services was surprisingly strong, notching a 7.9% growth pace amid demand for air travel and car rentals. Demand for services at hospitals and restaurants rose, as did bookings for hotel, motel and university campus accommodation. Services spending accelerated at an 11.5% pace in the April-June quarter.

 

(GRAPHIC: The drag from Detroit – https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-ECONOMY/jnpwewdmepw/chart_eikon.jpg)

 

The government estimated that Hurricane Ida cost about $62 billion. Inflation remained hot, eroding spending power. The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding food and energy, rose at a 4.5% rate. The core PCE price index increased at a 6.1% pace in the second quarter.

The combination of high inflation and slow growth could fan fears of stagflation, something that most economists do not believe is imminent as output is seen picking up through 2022.

“Stagflation will be the talk of the town, but we should not fall for this misleading narrative,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics in New York. “Inflation dynamics are definitely moderating expansion with sticky supply-driven inflation, but the economy isn’t stagnating.”

Stocks on Wall Street were trading higher on upbeat earnings from Caterpillar, Merck and Ford.

The dollar fell against a basket of currencies after the European Central Bank pushed back against market bets that high inflation would trigger an interest rate hike as soon as next year. U.S. Treasury yields rose.

REGAINING SPEED

Slower growth will have no impact on the Fed’s plans to start reducing as early as next month the amount of money it is pumping into the economy through monthly bond purchases.

With the summer wave of COVID-19 infections behind, cases declining significantly in recent weeks and vaccinations picking up economic activity is regaining steam. Consumer confidence rebounded this month and orders for capital goods excluding aircraft raced to a record high in September.

The labor market is tightening, though pandemic-related worker shortages could keep employment growth moderate this month. A separate report from the Labor Department on Thursday showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 281,000 last week, the lowest level since mid-March 2020. It was the third straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold.

The number of people continuing to receive benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 237,000 to 2.243 million in the week ended Oct. 16. That was also the lowest level in 19 months.

“Given the massive number of job openings, look for claims to continue declining for some time and look for the labor market to remain drum tight,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economics in Holland, Pennsylvania.

Though wages are rising, inflation is reducing consumers’ purchasing power. Income at the disposal of households after adjusting for inflation decreased at a 5.6% rate last quarter. The saving rate fell to 8.9% from 10.5% in the second quarter.

High prices and lack of trucks as well as communication equipment cut into business spending on equipment, which fell at a 3.2% rate after three straight quarters of double-digit growth. Trade was a drag on GDP growth for a fifth straight quarter following a drop in exports.

Shortages and expensive building materials weighed on home building and remodeling, leading to residential investment contracting for a second straight quarter. Government spending rebounded on state and local government investment.

 

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrea Ricci)

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Premier of Canada’s British Columbia to have throat surgery

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John Horgan, premier of the Canadian province of British Columbia, on Thursday said he would have surgery on Friday to deal with a lump in his throat and intended to remain in his job.

Horgan, 62, became premier in 2017, leading a minority left-leaning New Democrat government for more than three years before winning a majority in September 2020.

“After noticing a lump in my neck, I went to the doctor to get a number of tests over the past few weeks. Those tests have revealed a growth in my throat that requires surgery tomorrow,” he said in a statement. “Any further treatment will be determined after the surgery.”

Horgan, who was operated on for bladder cancer in 2008, said he would stay in his job but had appointed public safety minister Mike Farnworth to be deputy premier “out of an abundance of caution”.

British Columbia’s economy – the fourth largest among the 10 Canadian provinces – accounts for around 13% of national gross domestic product.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Grant McCool)

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