Focus on Leadership: Employee Well-Being and the Anxiety Epidemic

At the recent month long The Gratitude Symposium  Chester Elton, and Adrian Gostick Founders and Authors of FindMojo focused in on what may be characterized as an epidemic of employee anxiety brewing in the workplace and what we as leaders can do to help combat this phenomenon and help to cultivate employee well-being.

Their session entitled- “The Anxiety Solution: 8 Strategies to Help Teams Build Resilience, Handle Uncertainty, and get Stuff Done,” began with Elton and Gostick sharing some sobering statistics:

  • #1 issue in the workplace today is anxiety
  • In 2018- 15% of workers living with an anxiety disorder
  • In 2020 30% of people had an anxiety disorder
  • 50% of millennials and 75% of Gen Z say they have quit a job for mental health reasons
  • Only 10% of employees feel like they would feel safe speaking to their boss about their anxiety.

With employee anxiety at an all-time high, and the need to retain employees a priority in the home care industry- the question becomes, how can leaders address the anxiety while continuing to motivate their employees to stay engaged?

Elton and Gostick share that it is important for leaders to help employees by preparing them, by setting the right expectations and leading with positivity instead of fear. This can be accomplished by:

They also stressed during their session ways in which as leaders we can work to “spot anxiety”:

While Elton and Gostick shared 8 ways in which leaders can work towards building a culture that enhances mental safety and resilience (You can listen in to their session for free HERE or any of the other sessions from the symposium’s 45 speakers and though leaders), one of their biggest takeaways unsurprisingly centered around the idea of embracing gratitude as a way to combat anxiety.

The speakers shared “Anxiety can make talented people feel like frauds, their external validation is not matching up with what they feel internally- Imposter Syndrome.”  It may seem like too much gratitude can be a bad thing, but the reality is that showing gratitude and recognition for their contributions can be a powerful positive motivator, because “let’s be honest, no one has ever gone home and said that they got too much recognition.” But its not just about the act of showing gratitude and recognition, the efforts should be done “now, often, with specificity, and with sincerity.”

Take for example the “The Ten Penny Story”:

A general manager from Avis rental cars explained that he places ten pennies in the one pocket of his pants every morning. Over the course of the day, he actively seeks out moments where his employees are demonstrating the company “values in action.” When he sees an employee caught doing something great, stops and shows gratitude and recognition for their actions, in the moment, with specific and sincere praise. He might offer them a small token of appreciation etc. But, for each moment he does this, each action he finds, he moves a penny from one pocket to the other, ensuring that all ten have moved by the end of the day. This is how one leader embraces gratitude in the moment, with frequency, specificity, and sincerity working towards combatting employee anxiety but also gives himself a salient, tangible, reminder to practice gratitude in a meaningful way.

As we work as a community to address our workforce challenges, I encourage you to think about your organizations and what you can do as a leader to identify anxiety, practice gratitude, and positively impact well-being.

Building Capacity in the Direct Service Workforce: Moving Forward from the Summit

On April 28, 2021, in follow-up to their December Summit, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) hosted a webinar entitled “Building Capacity in the Direct Service Workforce: Moving Forward from the Summit.”

The session focused on three key subject areas including:

  • Person-Centered Practice- Delivering Quality Supports People Want
  • Coordinating Care Across Systems and Settings
  • Professional Development- Building Key Competencies

It is encouraging that CMS is showing its commitment to the direct service workforce and is actively looking for insight and collaboration across sectors to address the existing workforce challenges. The conversation and participation at this webinar session was lively and many representatives from various organizations and states were sharing their perspectives on opportunities but also discussing innovative solutions. 

Overview and resources shared from the session can be found HERE.

CMS plans on extending invitations in the near future to state Medicaid agencies to participate in a learning collaborative aimed at discussing and developing new strategies for addressing direct service worker issues. You can ask for more information by emailing HCBS-learning@lewin.com

CMS Webinar: Building Capacity in the Direct Service Workforce: Moving Forward From the Summit

Wednesday, April 28, 2021 3:00-4:30 PM ET Webinar Registration The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is hosting a webinar to advance learning and share recommendations from the intensive on Quality Jobs Equal Quality Care: Building Capacity in the Direct Care Workforce that was held at ADvancing States’ Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Conference on December…

CMS Webinar: Building Capacity in the Direct Service Workforce: Moving Forward From the Summit

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is hosting a webinar to advance learning and share recommendations from the intensive on Quality Jobs Equal Quality Care: Building Capacity in the Direct Care Workforce that was held at ADvancing States’ Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Conference on December 3, 2020.

The direct service workforce (DSW) plays a key role in efforts to rebalance long-term services and supports systems from institutional to community-based services. Direct service workers provide essential support for many people, contribute to overall health care quality, and promote community inclusion and independence.

Many stakeholders can help to build the capacity of the DSW, but state Medicaid agencies are uniquely positioned to lead changes. This webinar will highlight capacity building strategies shared by states during the HCBS Conference intensive. The webinar is open to the public and will focus on strategies for state Medicaid agencies, state agency partners, managed care plans, and HCBS providers.

By the end of this interactive webinar, participants will:

  1. Learn more about DSW challenges, approaches, and promising practices related to providing person-centered care, coordinating care across settings and systems, and encouraging professional development.
  2. Hear directly from state Medicaid agencies about promising practices supporting capacity building in the DSW.
  3. Provide feedback through interactive polling and discussion on the recommendations identified by participants of the HCBS Conference intensive.
  4. Find out more about an upcoming learning collaborative and other future DSW learning opportunities for state Medicaid agencies.

Featured Facilitators

  • Michelle Reynolds, PhD, University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC), Director of Individual Advocacy and Family Support, UMKC Institute for Human Development
  • Erika Robbins, Vice President, The Lewin Group
  • Barbara Kleist, Program Manager, Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota

 Please contact HCBS-learning@lewin.com with any questions.