This past week I learned two new terms. They have been important for me to reflect on in both my personal and work life. And it all started with listening to a podcast titled, “The Healing Power of Poo.” (This was not a recommendation from my daughter, it’s not that Pooh. *grin*) The podcast is called Chasing Life and it’s hosted by CNN Medical Correspondent, Sanjay Gupta. I won’t go into the details, but one message I heard loud and clear was that vegetarians and plant-based eaters have a much healthier micro biome than meat eaters, especially red meat eaters. My activator strength kicked in and I immediately told my family, “We’re implementing Meatless Monday and there will be more vegetarian meals served at dinner!” My daughter, who would eat Mac & Cheese every day if I let her, was fine with it. My husband’s reply was, “Well, it better have cheese!”
All kidding aside, this notion in my brain created a ripple effect and I started looking for vegetarian and vegan recipes and watching a few different documentaries about where we get our food and our health. And I learned what it was I was experiencing – moral distress. Moral distress is when one knows the ethically correct action to take but feels powerless to take it. My personal moral distress was coming from knowing what I needed to do to be kinder to the planet and to promote long-term health and wellness for me and my family. We know as state workers, if we experience waste, fraud or abuse, we can call the Secretary of State hotline and report it. I’m not thinking about things at that level. I’m thinking about our employees coming into the workplace who are experiencing or have experienced moral distress. What can we do to support them? What should we do? I’m not here to define what’s ethically right and wrong. But I do care about each one of us feeling safe to come to work. I care about us supporting healthy human systems that show our employees we care about them, and we care about them being successful at work. It takes people to help people and we need to check in on each other. It’s not enough to say to someone, “You need to practice self-care.” Telling someone to take a warm bath puts the onus on that individual. We need our community now more than ever. We need each other. As managers and leaders, we can help to create a safe place at work by being seen and seeing our people, by listening and enabling others to be heard, by valuing each other’s contributions and by encouraging each person to contribute.
The second term I learned this week is nudging culture. Nudging culture is a concept where we can alter people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding them to choose other options. If you were to ask a roomful of people, “Who wants change?” Many hands would go up. If you were to then ask, “Who wants to change?” Hands would go down and you’d most likely be met with blank stares. Hearing the word change brings up fear and uncertainty and we feel uncomfortable thinking we must change how we do things. Reopening to the public and spending time back in the office has created fear and uncertainty in some employees. Giving options of hybrid work and working from home is a great example of nudging culture. We are integrating back into our work communities and we’re also able to have some control in what that looks like. I’ve heard employees express gratitude for the opportunity to work from home. For some it has provided more work time and less stress.
I’ve only touched the surface of these two terms. I’d love to hear from those of you who have examples of how you’ve navigated through these areas in your life and with your co-workers. We can learn and grow from each other.
Here’s to more caring and connection…and carrots!