May 19, 2022


Today's episode focuses on employee mental health, fixing the "Great Resignation" and, employee retention with Jeremy Cooper of Balanced Life
Jeremy Cooper Bio - backgroundWith over 20 years’ working in IT and Life Sciences, Jeremy has a wealth of experience covering operations, architecture, projects, and leadership. During various roles Jeremy has had exposure to supporting companies through hyper growth, mergers, and acquisitions, building out high performing teams and transforming how services are delivered. 
However, it came at a cost. 
Due to his drive and work pressure (mostly self-inflicted), he ended up burnt out and struggling to leave the house due to anxiety. Jeremy was a shell of a person that was just transacting through all aspects of life. 
During his recovery, Jeremy discovered how much our habits shape our work and lives, and strategic changes can transform us. Implementing these habits and showed them to others transformed his life and career and led him to form Balanced Life with a mission to help individuals and organizations find High-Performance and Balance.
  • What are some stigmas around mental health in the workplace?
  • What are the signs of burnout and how can we prevent it?
  • How can employers learn to recognize burnout in employees and what can we do to help?
  • What effects does mental health and burnout have on company retention rates?
  • What can companies do to improve retention rates during such uncertain times?
  • Are corporate wellbeing programs effective?
  • How can a company help their employees separate work from home life?
  • What are some good habits to practice when looking to improve workplace mental health?
  • How do we fix The Great Resignation?
  • What advice would you give to companies looking to improve their mental health awareness?
Let us know what you think of the TribePod podcast! Please rate us on your favorite podcast platform. 

Download free HR resources designed to make your work life a little bit easier.
Employer Brand Budget Template, Cost of Unfilled Jobs Calculator, Diversity Statement Examples, Creative Recruiting Strategies and more...
Speaker 0 (0s): Hello listener. And depending on the time of day, Good morning or good afternoon or good evening, I want to start off this episode of TribePod by telling you about Jeremy Cooper. Now, Jeremy Cooper has over 20 years of experience in it and life sciences. He has a wealth of experience covering operations, architecture, projects, and leadership. During various roles. Jeremy has had exposure to supporting companies through hypergrowth, mergers, and acquisitions, building out high performing teams and transforming how services are delivered.

However, that experience came at a cost Due to his drive and work pressure. Mostly self-inflicted Jeremy Cooper ended up burnt out and struggling to leave the house due to anxiety. Jeremy was a shell of a person that was just transacting throughout all aspects of his life. During his recovery, Jeremy discovered how much our habits shape our work and our lives and how strategic changes can transform us, Implementing these habits and showed them to others, transformed his life and career and led him to form Balanced Life, which is a company that has a mission to help individuals and organizations find High Performance and Balance.

And this episode of TribePod, I will be speaking with Jeremy Cooper on the topic of employee mental health, fixing the Great Resignation employee retention and more stay tuned. It all begins. You are listening to TribePod a podcast series of interviews of interests to the HR community. It is hosted by Jim Stroud, sponsored by Proactive Talent and enjoyed by you today. S episode begins right after this.

Speaker 2 (2m 4s): Let's face it we're in a whole new world. Now We know that the reactive old way of hiring in the post and pray model is expensive and it's getting more expensive every years. What employer brand does is it is a long term strategy that will help you get better at hiring faster and at a higher quality.

Speaker 3 (2m 23s): 75% of candidates will research a company before even applying. And 86% of candidates will not work for a company that has a bad or non existent employer brand. Some of the many benefits of having an effective and strong employer brand include doubling the amount of applicants you get per job posts, decreasing your cost per hire by 40% improving employee retention by 60% and overall just yield better Glassdoor reviews.

Speaker 2 (2m 50s): We know that companies with stronger employer brands spend about 10% less overall for talent.

Speaker 4 (2m 56s): A lot of talent helps out clients with their Employer Brand by going in and working with them in several phases to learn more about the culture, the people, what are the important values to each and every employee. And then to share that story and refresh the employer brand, or build it from the ground. The benefit of having an effective employer brand is that you're going to be able to attract the talent that you've really want to join your company and not just people who would be simply applying for whatever requisitions you have out there. They generally love your message, love your culture, and are there to be with you for the long haul.

Speaker 0 (3m 31s): For more information on Proactive Talent, visit them online at Proactive Talent dot com or click the link in the podcast description. Hello, and welcome to another episode of tribe pods. Today, we have a very special guest, special guests. Tell us who are you and what do you do?

Speaker 5 (3m 49s): I'm Jeremy Cooper. I'm the founder of balance life. So it's a, an organization that helps individuals and teams and organizations achieve basically life balance. So productivity and create an anti burnout culture. And that came from my 20 plus years working in it with some fortune 500 big biotech companies. And just seeing that overwhelming pressure that people work under and needing to have that break, because we've discovered that the productivity and balance increases the wellbeing of the individual, but also increases the success of the organization as well.

So it's, win-win

Speaker 0 (4m 29s): Nice. Nice. When you say mental health in the workplace, it seems to carry a stigma with it. What would you say are some stigmas that you've noticed around mental health in the workplace?

Speaker 5 (4m 42s): I it's, it's the fact no one wants to talk about it. Cause it's, it's the admitting you have a fault or there's, there's something wrong with you? I mean, it took me a very long time to realize I'm not broken. I just, I just needed to get some help because I never felt I could tell my boss that I was struggling with burnout and anxiety. A my, my anxiety at one stage was I, if I had a two minute taxi ride, I'd be panicking and I would be worried about like preparing to go out.

I, you know, my bathroom anxiety that I'll just get out in the open at the start. Was it about feeling like I needed to go to the toilet? And I kind of felt if I told my boss that he wouldn't understand it at all, but what would then happen is I wouldn't get the good projects. I probably wouldn't get promoted. Yeah. If there was any layoffs, restructures, like I'm, I'm the target and it's, and it's probably not true. But as soon as you've got something you're struggling with any sort of workplace situation is going to pour gasoline on it. So it, you never feel like you can talk about it because you're never sure what the repercussions is going to be.

And, and also there's some bad managers out there. So some people do have bad managers where there will be a backlash. So it stops people wanting to talk about it in society, sort of doesn't want to hear people's problems. They want to see everyone's Instagram best life. Not, not what's really going on.

Speaker 0 (6m 8s): Yeah, that's true. It's interesting how some illness, some, some health issues get stigmatized, whereas others don't. So if you were diabetic, for example, they're probably wouldn't even register on anyone's radar. It wouldn't be anyone's concern. You know, it's funny how that works, but why do you think it works that way?

Speaker 5 (6m 32s): Well, firstly, if I, if I then turned around and said to my boss that I, I have diabetes, they'd be like, okay. Right. So what do you need? Yeah. Do you need light? So they'd put that service around you. I think part of the problem is it's how do you diagnose it? And I actually run a run a podcast as well. And one of the things we talked about was, is it burnout? Or are you just lazy? And I think a lot of people will sort of say, I'm, I'm struggling. And people are like, almost prove it.

It's like, I can't prove it. I've got no motivation. I've got, yeah. I'm, I'm not getting stuff done on time. My, to do list is piling up and I'm procrastinating about what today. Right. That could be burned out or it could just be a lazy person. And there's so much gray in between the two it's like, how do you know which one it is? How do you, how do you trust the person? And that's why trust and resilience is so important in organizations because you have to believe in your staff. But I think that's why it's like that unseen thing that maybe some people use it for the wrong reason, but yeah, there's, there's too much of it that sort of swept under the carpet and people don't want to hear,

Speaker 0 (7m 42s): Do you think managers become more sensitive to burnout? When we have such an overwhelming tide of, of, of epic events? Let me, let me, let me just say we have what The depend Dimmick. We had things going on in Ukraine potentially on world war three on the horizon here in the states, we got a potential recession that people say where some people say we're already in a recession. That's a lot of things happening at one time and everyone who's living and is aware of what's going on.

They have to out imagine, be more sensitive to it. Do you think managers become more sensitive when there's so many world events happening at the same time? Or do you think they're like, whatever deal with that on your time?

Speaker 5 (8m 33s): Yeah. Bear both pro it depends on the manager. And I think especially mid, mid level managers have it incredibly tough because they're kind of far enough through their career that they're, that they're not seen as this new person needs lots of support, lots of, you know, HR training courses, things like that. And also when you get to kind of the top, you've got a really good peer group. You've got pre and exec coach and lots of support frameworks around you that kind of messy middle almost where you've got junior people lower down that are, they need you.

And that you're saying with these uncertain times, they are looking to you or yeah, they're looking to the HR business partner or whoever it is for them. Like this support. It's like the world is getting turned upside down. What do I do on a daily basis? They're also then trying to feed that back up to their leadership team about the challenges they've got below. And obviously they've got some concerns and pieces as well. And I think that's where a lot of that overwhelm comes in. I mean, I was a, I was a senior director of it as we went into lockdown and I sent out a message to my team.

And it was basically saying, you know, we're at the start of an absolute world, unknown. This has never happened before. And we can kind of go into this with a, with an open mindset or we can go in with a, this is all going to be a problem because what we kept seeing was so many people were saying, I don't know how to deal with this. I'm a failure. I'm like, I don't know. No one knows how to deal with this. That was the thing I think there was that pressure on people. And no one turned around and really said to them, you're not expected to know how to send 90% of your staff site in 48 hours.

Or you're not supposed to be able to that. If it is a world war three, no one alive was in business during the last world war, no one knows how, how that's going to happen. So I think it's like cut people. Some slack is like the biggest message that I passed out to people it's like my service desk was answering the phone to people and they were like, I feel so bad. Cause my child was crawling across my lap and I was having to like feed it. And this person needed support. It's like, you didn't shut the daycare, but I think it's, it's helping people be that little bit more resilient and feel like they're supported and that they're not going to get in trouble for stuff outside of their control.

I think that will help Calm people down.

Speaker 0 (11m 7s): As you say that, I'm wondering if let's say I'm a mid-level manager and I see what I suspect is several of our workers feeling burnout. What are some classic symptoms that I could recognize potentially for burnout as opposed to being lazy? Assuming I could even determine between the two.

Speaker 5 (11m 30s): Yeah, absolutely. I, I always think the, the biggest thing is burnout's a bit like a sign wave. So it's like it's got these peaks and troughs. And when I was, when I was struggling, I, I always thought I was like, like a highly functioning pan out person because some weeks I would be delivering projects, really engaging. And then a week later, suddenly everything was negative. Didn't lie. My job. I'd, I'd be sat in a meeting and I'd be giving nothing positive or I'd start to ghost people.

And then two weeks later I'd be up again. And, and it's that roller coaster that I think people need to look out for because I'm being a bit contrary, like a lazy person's lazy. They haven't got that drive. They probably don't like their job. They'll procrastinate over lots of things. Someone that's struggling from burnout will do that peaks and troughs because they're desperate to do a good job and they'll find that energy and they'll they'll sort of drive forward. So as a, as a manager, the thing I was looked for was where does that change in personality?

Whereas that changing mood change in energy level to, to just understand what's their baseline and how things change. I think that's, that was the number one thing for when I started to try and spot it, but I'd had it. So it kind of helped in some ways.

Speaker 0 (12m 53s): Hmm. So would it be accurate to say then that someone who is suffering from burnout is, is temporary. It ebbs and flows to your example, but someone who is lazy is pretty much consistent, whether it is just don't do worry.

Speaker 5 (13m 10s): Yeah, yeah. I'll address the lazy one. Yes, absolutely. They're there. They're just generally not, they're not that productive person. They're not driven. It's like, then they don't have that kind of focus. That the burnout thing though, it's, it's not just something that all's sort of switch back and forth it's cause I, I really don't want to, I'm sort of always scared about not giving burnout. It's justice. It's about how bad it is and how dark a place you get. I mean, cause I was absolutely numb.

I would sort of, you know, tread water through life, nothing, nothing, man. And then the interesting to me, like my, my kind of kids' birth and stuff like that, it was sort of like, I wasn't, I couldn't couldn't enjoy the moment cause I was kind of shut down and, but when someone's burned out, there will be the peaks and troughs, but there will be lots of troughs. So it's not to say that someone can just re recover from burnout or burnout like this. Like one week on one week off thing is, is brutal. It takes a long time to recover from, it needs a lot of support.

And that's why I always think, yeah, that yeah, the cents spent on prevention is worth dollars of cure sort of thing. Cause it's yeah. The earlier you can catch it the earlier you can help people the better. But yeah,

Speaker 0 (14m 30s): I imagine that mental health while burnout in particular has a significant impact on a company's employee retention rates. Could you, could you speak on that a little bit?

Speaker 5 (14m 46s): I think it was Deloitte did a, did a study and they found that a, an employee with good levels of wellbeing. So yeah, that's their, their mental, physical wellbeing would stay with the organization on average two years longer than someone with a low level. And that, that really resonated with the yeah. The clients we've got. And yeah, when we've talked to organizations, because What often happens is people will try and run away from a situation. So if they're struggling with burnout or they're struggling with anxiety or depression, because we spend what eight, nine hours a day at work, if I've, if I've woken up feeling, feeling depressed, the kids are driving me crazy.

I'm frustrated. I walk into work. I walk into work with a bad mood. I have a bad day at work and then I've associated bad day with work. So the stress was because of work. Not that I brought it into work or I took it home from work and bits of that. So you generally try and run away from the situation. You'll you'll think that, oh, when I go to work for such and such company, it will be better. And then you'll go there and you'll find out actually, no, it's, it's something deeper rooted than that.

So yeah, that improving people's wellbeing has, has that direct correlation. I mean, similarly with productivity, see yeah, the, the improved productivity is, is directly tied. I think it was 31% improvement in productivity when you, when you improve people's wellbeing. And, and if you think about an employee, like if you've got high staff turnover, obviously you've got that Cost of staff turnover. You've got all the training costs and bits of that, but also that, that member of staff during the first year probably isn't that productive because they're being trained up, they're learning the organization, they're sort of finding their feet, learning all the SVPs and stuff.

You really start getting their benefit from like year two, year three, year four. So your, that extending that two years is like extending the time of really good productivity of that person as well. So it's, it's, it's not just the, how long they stay for. It's the staying past a certain period that you really start to see the value.

Speaker 0 (16m 58s): Okay. Okay. I think someone listening to this may think to themselves, well, you know, well we have several wellbeing programs, you know, maybe we do a yoga class or maybe we do, I don't know, team building exercises or something. How effective do you think those are overall in your experience?

Speaker 6 (17m 30s): Little pipe over there?

Speaker 5 (17m 32s): Yeah. So I, I always think that the people that don't need a wellbeing program we'll, we'll get a load of value from a wellbeing program. So if you're, if you're not really struggling, you'll, you'll do the planning sessions. You do the, yeah. You'll do the mindfulness and bits. So that could cause got the Headspace. Right. But if you're struggling, I, cause I, I used to struggle with this. So yeah. I worked for a fantastic pharmaceutical and they had all these different opportunities and different programs and one of them was like Palacios on a Tuesday.

And I used to sit there and think so, how do I, how do I tell my boss that I'm struggling? I've got too much work. I'm like struggling with my productivity. I'm going to walk out. I'm going to go to my office. I'm going to get my yoga mat. I'm going to walk past him and go, oh, I'm just off to meeting room for, to do an hour lattes. Like how does that work? I can't do it for myself. And, and that's the, that's the challenge that I know that Plaza is, is people from yeah. Flexibility from clearing your mind from improving your mobility.

So from that respect, brilliant thing to do for wellbeing program, but it, it needs a bit more of a, like a pattern interrupt. It needs to be a bit more in your face with people, to be honest, because if I get the monthly wellbeing newsletter that says, or read this article on healthy eating and go do parties on a Tuesday, or spend five minutes doing mindset, if I'm really burned out or if I'm struggling, I probably won't even notice that it came through because it will be in the 2000 unread emails or I'll scan read it and think that that sounds a bit, we will, I'm not going to do that.

Or I'll mark it as by to read later and then probably never do it. You need to kind of get in front of people. You need to help them like a micro level, just to feel that little bit better each day. And I feel that that's where the, some of our habits like that, the habits that build our life are those little things. If you can make someone spend two minutes in the morning, having a bit of mindfulness can make a massive impact to their day, or if you can give them a little couple of tips that they can try this to improve the quality of your sleep.

Another company I was talking to you, they said that they had a nutritionist come in and do a talk two weeks before Christmas. And they were like, don't come and talk to me two weeks before Christmas about nutrition and make me feel like I shouldn't eat Turkey. And I shouldn't, I should eat all the protection that comes to me in January. And maybe we'll have a conversation. So it's like meet the people where they're at. How can you give those little micro changes? How can you sort of make them feel that little bit better each day? Cause you know, the day you start to feel better. You go, oh, this works, I'll try something else. Or this works.

I'll try something else. And, and that was, that was how honestly how I transformed my life. Yeah. I, I lost a ton of weight after some horrific engagement photos, like 65 pounds for, for a wedding for our wedding. But it was all through these little habits and learning. I needed to move a little bit more. I needed to eat a little bit of this, of this and it, and it wasn't like this extreme weight loss thing. Cause that's where you see like the biggest loser shows where everyone loses amazing weight and then just piles it all back on.

Same with the mental health. I had to like little steps each day to push my comfort zone or learn to be a bit more grateful or yeah, all these little things. And then they'd built up and I do stuff on a daily basis now that helps my mindset. And I forget that I even do it cause it's just, it's ingrained. And I think that's how, that's how the wellbeing problem programs need to change. They need to understand what people need and then give them what they need in small enough doses that it's, it's not overwhelming. It's easy to do.

If something doesn't resonate, they can try something else rather than feel like there's this big pilot, but your other, I love team building events. I think they're, they're, they're awkward to get starting and you'll see everyone in the corners of their room a bit like a college disco for the first person, right. Ask someone to dance.

Speaker 0 (21m 39s): Right.

Speaker 5 (21m 39s): But once, but once that's happened, I think they're great because you do see problem solving. You see people come together and you'll then see them maybe having a drink in the evening later and build those actual connections. And that's what we're losing during lockdown. Isn't it it's like you don't have that. But I think it's important to go back to the offices at least a few days a week for the conversation you have, as you walk into the meeting room and the conversation you have walking out. And I think that's where team, building's great. It's those realizing it's a human that you're working with, that they've got problems.

You've got problems helping, helping each other out. And that's where team building is awesome because it's just bringing that group together.

Speaker 0 (22m 20s): That's interesting. I like what you said about those little interpersonal moments when you're meeting with someone needed a FaceTime. It makes me wonder if there needs to be a, a shift throughout the whole world of work in terms of how HR interacts with the workers. A lot of times, when you, at least in my experience, well, so for present experience, when you mentioned HR, you know, someone's in trouble, you know, it's like you can be called to the principal's office or mom and dad has come by it and union in trouble.

But I've prior to present day experience. When you, when I've dealt with HR or seen people do of HR, it was always with a sense of dread like, oh, I got to deal with HR. But if HR to your point was more of a seen as, I don't know, more welcoming or more complimentary on, I don't know if I'm using the right word, but if they're not seeing so much as the boogeyman of the office, but as someone who genuinely cares about the wellbeing of the people who work there, I think that'll maybe improve a lot of the wellbeing in the officer route because a lot of these wellbeing programs in the gauging on the mental health is going to come from the HR side of the house, right?

Yeah. So they should have better relationships or close relationships with a lot of the workers. I guess we have a smaller, you can do that, but how could a large organization, let's say a five, a 500 or a thousand employee sized company? How could they get that warm and fuzzy feeling? How could HR get that warm and fuzzy feeling on a one-on-one interaction when your company just so big?

Speaker 7 (24m 6s): I think

Speaker 5 (24m 8s): I, and I might get, I might get some chairs from the HR community when I say I, firstly I think managers and leaders need to realize that they've got more responsibility in this then. Cause I think there's so many times they, they will push something and say, that's hate towards problem. Oh, HR does this. HR needs to deal with that. And, and I think a lot of the stuff that they don't want to do is push the HR and, and then HR does seem like this. They come in for the performance reviews. They come in for the pips.

They come in for like these like things like contracts and bits like that. Whereas a lot of that should be manager driven. And then that allows HR to do like, it's, it's human resources. It's, it's helping, it's not just controlling people, which I think like you say, and that's the kind of legacy side. It's how, how do they help with like organizational design? How do they help with capabilities? How do they, like if you have the HR person that you knew you could bring in, maybe comes to all of your meetings.

I think that that's important when you get to a certain size of group or certain size of organization, you have that HR business partner there's in all the meetings that sitting there and can understand that the challenges of a department that can then offer solutions that would help them, whether that's around productivity retention. And I think that that they'd see fit rather than it being. Can you come in? Cause there's a problem because we're not, I remember I remember going to meetings and you'd see that, Hey Charles, on the invite and like you were saying, you assume there's a problem because HR, HR was only brought to the party when there's going to be a fire or something bad.

And I, I've got some amazing HR business partners and teams that I work with now and have in the past. And I think there's a ton more talent and things they can give if they're given the opportunity to, it's not operational tasks. So yeah, I think getting them at the table consistently is the, is the path forward.

Speaker 0 (26m 13s): Very good, very good. There's this phenomenon going on right now called the Great Resignation, which I, I think part of the reason is because of burnout and, and some of is reactive to a lockdown in pandemic is certainly part of it. How do you think companies can fix this Great Resignation and, and retain their employees better?

Speaker 5 (26m 35s): I think, I think one bit is there's, there's some pent up movement, so there there's a lot of stuff that people can't impact. Hm. So yeah, if, if, if say let's say people have a 10% starter and rate year on year and basically no one really moved for two years because yeah. If you were in a job during lockdown, sit it out, you know, cause the, the risk of moving and stuff like that. Yeah. I stupidly quit my job and started a company during lockdown, but maybe that's that says more about me, but so some of it is just that backlog of, yeah, people were a bit fed up with their career and you know, and now they're looking to move.

So there's always going to be a free fall like that or, or they want to move back home to where their family is because they realized during lockdown life's more important. There's not really a lot you can do about that unless you're sort of offering fully remote, working in bits. But I think the big thing that's disengaging people is the kind of lack of alignment with values. And I talked to organizations and you look at what their company values are. And then you go in and ask the staff, are you actually living those values?

And quite often it's not because yeah, when times are tough or work gets busy, the, the values are kind of pushed to one side with, with really aggressive goals that people feel like they can't achieve. And then they feel like that's when the job becomes a job. And, but you, you kind of need to make people feel part of the company, make people feel part of the family. A lot of people sort of say, it's the millennials and the gen Z and stuff like this that are, yeah, they've got, yeah, they've got no work ethic. They'll, they'll move.

And, and things like that. So actually they want to go work for a company with a purpose where they feel like they're making an impact and, and they don't care about the, the, the coffee and the bean bags and things that everyone says that they do. They want to make a dent in the world. So it's helping people understand what does your company really do? How does, how they can align to that value, make them part of something a bit more special, because I think that's how you retain people. It's like a company that you want to work for rather than it being a paycheck, because paycheck to paycheck, you can, you can move.

But if you feel part of something, that's that special to me,

Speaker 0 (28m 60s): All very good tips in all very much appreciated Jeremy Cooper. You've been a great guest. If someone wanted to reach out to you personally and get more information, how can they find you online?

Speaker 5 (29m 10s): My main platform I stalk on is LinkedIn. So yeah, I'm Jeremy Cooper on there and my company is balanced life. So we're on balanced life, And so there's information on there. Some of the talks that we do around high performance life balance, some of the programs we do with, with companies. So yeah, I mean sort of saying about that dent in the, the biggest thing we want to do is just help people not have burnout. Like I had in like my business partner had to, to really change, change how people see work.

Yeah. We, we should be enjoying life. We should be doing jobs that inspire us. And, and I truly believe too many people give up on their job because of external factors. And if a company helps the employees have that life outside of work. And my mum always used to joke that I had no hobbies. And if I, if my sole focus in life is work and providing for the family, I will look to move every opportunity because I want to earn that little bit more money. I want the best job title. I want all this, but when you start to help your employees and give them a life outside of work and you support them and you care about them, they wanna stay.

They wanna, they want to be with this company. And, and that's what we want to help companies do to, to be that kind of anti burnout culture and that real employer of choice. So it's a lot of fun, but yeah, that's where you can find me.

Speaker 0 (30m 39s): Very cool. Very cool. Well, again, Jeremy Cooper, thank you for being a guest on TribePod. You are appreciated. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. A thousand times. Thank you for listening and subscribing to our podcast. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please send them to us. You can reach us at TribePod that's T R I B E P O D at Proactive Talent dot com.

We look forward to hearing from you.


      From Good Intentions to Execution: Implementing Holistic DEI Solutions

      From Good Intentions to Execution: Implementing Holistic DEI Solutions

      OnDemand Recruiting: Affordable Recruiting Help

      OnDemand Recruiting: Affordable Recruiting Help

      Want to work with us?

      Contact Us