Jane Miller, president and chief operating officer at Gallup, joins the podcast to talk about why employers should be invested in workers' wellbeing -- and the unique impact the pandemic has had on female employees. "Wellbeing is a significant component to any strong culture. It's a foundational element," Miller says. "It impacts how a person shows up at home, how they show up at work -- and really, it's about their capacity for what they can accomplish every single day."
Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio is posted above.
Mohamed Younis 00:07
For Gallup, I'm Mohamed Younis, and this is The Gallup Podcast. This week, we take a deeper look into women's wellbeing at work, the progress made and the challenges that remain for women in today's workplace. Jane Miller is president and chief operating officer at Gallup. Jane, welcome to the podcast, ma'am.
Jane Miller 00:26
Thank you, Mo. I'm looking forward to this.
Mohamed Younis 00:29
I'm so happy you made time to check in on us. You wrote last year something that really hit me between the eyes. I remember reading it, and I remember talking about it with you, and you said: "Too often, wellbeing is dismissed in the business world because it's considered to be personal, therefore falling outside of the professional sphere -- but wellbeing is, in fact, a critical driver of an individual's overall performance in the workplace. Thriving employees positively impact the organization's bottom line." I just wanted to bring you on and ask you to tell us more about that. Why should a business care about the wellbeing of their employees?
Jane Miller 01:07
Well, first of all, I do believe business is personal, so therefore it's great that wellbeing is also personal. And wellbeing is a significant component really to any strong culture. It's a foundational element, and I believe -- and live and breathe -- that it's a leadership value that should be activated on a daily basis. So, to me, it's kind of everything to a culture. It's that important. It impacts how a person shows up at home, how they show up at work, and really it's about their capacity for what they can accomplish every single day. When your wellbeing is good, when it's thriving, you can do so much more -- in your relationships, in the work at hand, really in everything that you do. So it impacts how individuals see and feel about their company, about their manager, about their clients, their work and ultimately their home. You know, just literally yesterday I received a note from someone who's only been at Gallup six months, and they said, "I just want to thank you, I worked somewhere else for 15 years and my wellbeing is so much better, being here. Even my child noted that I'm a happier dad." And he said, "That's everything to me, so thank you for what you do every single day to make wellbeing a priority for all of us as associates." And it just literally made my day. But that's what it's all about.
Mohamed Younis 02:22
Amen. And really, like, when you think about the human factor, that's what motivates that person -- a big part of it -- to get up and go every morning, right? It's that kid and their happiness and their future. It's just amazing to me, Jane, how -- like, I'm a baby of the '80s -- so much of this now seems like common sense. But we've been talking about this at Gallup for over a generation now. What has it been like for you to watch, like, the world come to this realization from where you sit?
Jane Miller 02:51
You know, it is amazing because in some form we've been studying it for, to your point, at least 20 to 25 years under various, maybe, names very actively with clients since about '05 or '07 … and it kind of has gone in waves in terms of really where it will catch on and then not catch on. And I think it's caught on in different countries, different companies, kind of at different times, and maybe that's dependent upon who the leaders are, would be my hunch. So it has been fascinating to watch. But for all the bad that there was during COVID, there is so much good that has come out of COVID that has created a much-needed societal change. And I think one of the things is wellbeing. There's a paradox right now for women, for example. Their engagement has never been higher, and yet their burnout, as it relates to their wellbeing, is also at an all-time high. So it's a, it's an unusual paradox. But we've got to continue to figure out because of COVID for all the things we know, the stress, the worry, the burnout, the additional hours that people were putting in, kids, schools, masks, no masks. People are emerging from it -- if companies are doing it right -- much stronger and much better when there's a focus on their wellbeing and what it takes to help each individual thrive.
Mohamed Younis 04:03
Yeah, let me ask you about that. What steps can organizations -- or really, have you seen organizations -- take when it comes specifically to women's wellbeing in this point in time we're living in?
Jane Miller 04:14
It's a huge question. But I think that, you know, first you have to look at the strategy, or holistically … are you really thinking about all five areas for every human within the organization? Are you thinking about the career? Are you thinking about their social aspects? Are you thinking about how you're helping them financially? Are you thinking about -- did I just say social or physical? And then how they think about career. There's five in there: career, social, physical, financial and community. So strategically, you have to be thinking as an organization, do I have systems, structures and standards for how I support those five areas for my associate base? And then how do you have managers really think about it at the individual level -- to say, this person wants more time at community and they're at the stage and age where they can do that. This person really wants to focus more on their finances. So how do I help them? This person really wants more social time at work and outside of work. So how do I help them think about their social? So you've really got to take both a strategic, holistic approach as well as the standards and the structure. And then how do you narrow to what is meaningful and thoughtful to every single individual? So one of the things we found -- again, for men and women -- but first and foremost, assure they have a right fit in the job. Do they love what they're doing, and can they use their strengths to make the job work?
Jane Miller 05:31
One of the things we found is, you know, whether you're client-facing or not client-facing, everybody has a portfolio. And when they're on their radio dial or working to their strengths, they are much more productive, much more successful, and therefore thriving. And that's the most important thing a manager can do, is help them find a right fit within their job. And then the second piece that really ties into it is, do they have a schedule that works? One of the things we found from the pandemic -- well, that Gallup's known for over 50 years -- is flexibility within a framework for how work gets done is really, really important. And COVID brought it to the surface more than ever from a societal perspective. And I think we really have to work with people's schedules, in the confines of what the client needs, and you really can make that work. And I think a lot of people still think there has to be, you know, just a, a flat schedule, but women need asynchronous schedules. Women need hybrid. They need remote. And they are at their absolute best because they can flex for kids. And I think when we do that for women, it makes it better for men, it makes it better for kids, and it makes it better for families, and ultimately for society. So, the more creativity leaders and managers can do to really help their employees have the best schedules and the best work portfolio -- that is the crux of what wellbeing is. And then all the other things that surround it with financial, social and community, are just the icing on the cake.
Mohamed Younis 06:52
I love how you framed it that way because even if you're not a woman, the concept applies. Of course we come from kind of the historic viewpoint -- society, all of society, really Western and Eastern society -- that this is about creating more flexibility for women to really be able to, like, live their fullest potential in all aspects of their life that they choose without it having to cost them their career. But even if you're a dad and a single dad with kids, the concept still applies, right? Like, flexible workspace is really a very neutral way to say human beings are different. They're fact patterns are different. Businesses need results. And there are ways where you can actually improve the results you're getting as a business, as a team, as a nonprofit, whatever you run, when you take those things into account.
Jane Miller 07:44
And really the bottom line is the bottom line because people want to work for a company that cares about them. So, you know, we always say we're a high-performing, high-caring culture, but at the end of the day -- and we just did this contrast study where we asked CHROs, "Do you care about your employees?" And I don't remember the exact percent, but let's just say that they all said, "Yes, of course we care for our employees." But when you ask the employees, they don't see it. And I think that that's a critical thing because we've got to begin to figure out why some managers are natural at showing that they care about a person and why others do not feel the care. It almost goes to the point of disrespect -- where women are more likely to feel a level of disrespect and women are more likely to feel because we have, as an aggregate, Empathy in our top five and men don't. I don't, personally, but as an aggregate population, in our StrengthsFinder, we find that women have Empathy. So they're more likely to feel things that feel dismissive or disrespectful. And so we really have to think about how that plays into their purpose, their passion and the outcomes of their job. But, the more people are cared for, the more likely they are to stay at an organization, be productive in an organization, and ultimately retention is a significant portion of what can drive bottom line, for lots of reasons. It retains clients, it retains associates, and there isn't the level of turnover or hiring or unnecessary costs when you truly care about people and help them have a better life.
Mohamed Younis 09:06
I'm going to ask the ultimate "dude" question now, because -- I have to, because you're one of the best people that can answer it for me, and you're really, in my world, the person I can go to to ask this. If you're not a woman, what role can we as men play as effective allies in today's workplace? And I ask that because it's really dangerous from a guy's perspective to cross over into the line of this, like, toxic protector syndrome where you're well-intentioned but you're saving somebody that doesn't need to be saved, and that's the whole point. What role should a guy play in making sure that they are being a useful, productive colleague and ally in creating the kind of environment that produces the best results?
Jane Miller 09:50
I think it's an absolutely beautiful question, and I'm going to answer it two ways. One is, it starts at home. So, let me start with home, and then we'll jump to work. And that is, I think, that it's that true "power of two" partnership you have with your partner or spouse, where you say, what can I do to help you be successful at home and outside of home? Whether it's certain chores, whether it's getting the kids to school, whether it's making lunches -- where does your partner need the most help at home so that she can clear, she or he, can clear their minds to be able to get off on their day and be able to come home and you guys can have a relaxing, thriving life. So that's, that's one of the most important ways, is what men can do at home. Then, as partners, managers, leaders, colleagues, coworkers, I think it's truly important. You know, there's a spectrum of femininity and masculinity, right, that we all have, and it really all starts with strengths. So how do we begin to say to our partners at work, OK, you're on your achievement drive. How do I help you take some of the things off your plate so you can get out of here by 6:00 tonight? How do I help you figure out how you can make that 8:00 meeting in the morning with your kids? Or do you need me to move the meeting to 9:00 so you can get your kids off because your husband's out of town?
Jane Miller 11:09
I think you have to always be thinking about the scheduling aspects -- because again, at the end of the day, you're working for the same common purpose, mission or cause, but how we get there is riddled with the logistics of the day that really can cause the stress that's not necessary if the partners are working through it. Then the other thing at work is, in our engagement database, that is tens of millions of people around the world for several decades, women outscore men on every single question in terms of their engagement being higher than men except for one question. And that one question is "My opinion seems to count." And for whatever reason, and our research has to continue to get underneath it, whether it's strengths, whether it's society, but women do not feel like their opinions count as much as men. And I think that men need to help listen more. I think they need to be intent about trying to cue into things and I think they need to carry those voices a little bit further. I have some great male counterparts and female counterparts who even carry my voice, and I have a very loud voice.
Jane Miller 12:10
But there are times my opinion doesn't count, and I know who can help translate me. So I will say, hey, will you translate that? And I think those with the courage, the conviction, the belief, the strategy, where we need to form our strengths together, need to help carry other people's voices. And sometimes men need their voices carried too, right? I mean, we all do, but I think opinions count and listening is a really, really important thing for leaders to do, above and beyond, obviously, mentoring, championing, sponsoring, you know, all the basics. But Gallup's research has really gone beyond those. Those are givens. Those are bottom line, you have to do those things. But above and beyond it, you've got to set a bigger, broader culture that expects wellbeing through the things that make the everyday schedules work for clients and the everyday schedules work for women and men and individuals so they can have a great life.
Mohamed Younis 13:01
I wanted to end by asking you, sort of, about progress made and biggest challenges. You've really explained a lot of the progress that's been made, at least for those of us who are fortunate to work in a workplace that takes these concepts and the science, really, to heart. What are the challenges that still remain ahead of us on the road?
Jane Miller 13:21
You know, I think we can't get there fast enough. So even though I would contend that progress has been huge since about 2016 and then COVID propelled it to the next level, we're still seeing, you know, it's about 50% of organizations really aren't able to work remote. And there's still too much debate about remote and hybrid. And the reality is, it works in most companies if you have the metrics, if you have the performance and if you have great managers. So, more and more companies have to get on the bandwagon of how to make it execute and to really think through the logistics.
Jane Miller 13:58
I think some organizations still just want to close their eyes and go, "Everybody in, 9:00 to 5:00. Everybody in, 8:00 to 6:00. It's the only way." And there's no doubt that in-person makes a huge difference to friendships, to catching things in the hallway, to really getting some of the vibes and the feels. So there needs to be some in-person, 100%. But there also are huge advantages to the remote and hybrid piece. So the faster companies come along with thoughts like that -- futuristic workplaces -- the faster, it's better for everybody. But obviously the "Great Resignation" meant a lot of women fell out of the workplace, and the only way we're going to pull those women back in is to get more opinions counting, more mission, more purpose, and then again, the logistics of scheduling to really work for people's lives while still keeping business or maximized and better.
Mohamed Younis 14:51
That's Jane Miller, president and chief operating officer at Gallup. Jane, thank you so much for being with us.
Jane Miller 14:57
Thank you, Mo. I enjoyed it a lot. Take care.
Mohamed Younis 14:59
That's our show. Thank you for tuning in. To subscribe and stay up to date with our latest conversations, just search for "The Gallup Podcast" wherever you podcast. And for more key findings from Gallup News, go to news.gallup.com or follow us on Twitter @gallupnews. If you have suggestions for the show, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Gallup Podcast is directed by Curtis Grubb and produced by Justin McCarthy. I'm Mohamed Younis, and this is Gallup: reporting on the will of the people since the 1930s.