Join the Well-Being ChallengeSeptember 16th, 2021
When I announced we would move ahead with August as “pause month,” with the recommendation to reduce meetings when possible, I was really impressed with how many of you seriously audited your calendars and found time for more productive activities, or to simply pause and reflect during the past month.
There were a few of you who did not think this was a good idea, and in a large organization like ours, I would have been surprised if that had not been the case. We are a world-renowned academic medical center full of highly motivated, results-driven professionals who are accustomed to holding frequent meetings to bring teams together and drive to a consensus. It’s part of our culture.
That said, I don’t want the “pause” in August to become an isolated moment. I want it to become a movement towards a change in our culture – a culture where it’s O.K. to take time out for wellness, for the betterment of ourselves, our teams, our patients and our community. When we help ourselves, we are in a better mindset to help our patients and each other.
Given this, I am suggesting a well-being challenge to the entire organization.
This challenge is two-fold.
First, I am instituting standard 50-minute meetings for the entire organization.
Second, I challenge all Michigan Medicine leaders to brainstorm with their teams to determine and implement one simple well-being commitment which will be most relevant for their teams. This does not have to be extra work. Your challenge can and should align well with your team’s Engagement Survey Improvement Plan, which has a key focus on well-being and recognition.
Let me explain these two challenges and how simple, and hopefully helpful, they can be, especially with the help of some simple tools provided by our Task Force on Stress + Burnout.
Default to 50 Minute Meetings
When the HITS team upgraded to 365 Microsoft Outlook, I discovered that my team could set up a scheduling default that can shorten our meetings to 50 minutes, instead of the usual one hour, creating a space for 10-minute breaks between the frequent (I’d say too frequent) back-to-back meetings that are very common. This may seem like a small thing, but it can make a big difference. New research by Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index indicates that small increments of time can help you recharge and prepare for the next meeting or activity.
This simple change has been received very positively by those I work with directly. I strongly recommend that everyone set their regular meetings to this default.
Of course, there are always exceptions where meetings might need to take more or less time than our planned 50 minutes. This Outlook support page provides instructions for setting up your 50-minute default, or how to allow for the adjustment of the default, when necessary.
This 50-minute meeting initiative will be a way to give everyone a little bit of time back, without adding anything new to their plate. However, I recognize that a 10-minute break between meetings isn’t a solution for everyone, especially for front-line workers and many in the clinical setting who can’t get back to their desks very often. That is why there is a second part to the challenge.
Making Your Own Well-Being Commitment
Beginning in September, every leader with direct reports should use this leaders guide and related tools on our Well-being page of the Path Forward website to meet with their teams, brainstorm ideas to determine the best way to reduce job stress, promote respect and increase recognition. This could mean scheduling or prioritizing work differently, finding unique ways to connect with each other or utilizing our current wellness resources.
As mentioned above, this should not have to be extra work. This well-being challenge should fit well within your team’s improvement planning, which also have a key focus on well-being this year. For example, our employees’ key concerns include:
- Reducing job stress (items which measure this area reference burnout and feeling overwhelmed)
- Promoting respect for all members
- Increasing and improving recognition
The challenge also gives us an opportunity to all work together using our core values – Caring, Innovation, Integrity, Teamwork and Inclusion.
Continue to Assess the Value of Meetings
Our collective experiences in August were positive. I believe that is a reflection that, in truth, we can reduce recurring, scheduled meetings without adversely impacting our work. So, please assess the value of the meetings you attend. Many of you have told me that you may attend 2-3 meetings the same day that discuss the same topics, often with significant overlap in attendance. Others are concerned that it takes us too long to make decisions and attribute a part of this decision-paralysis to the many steps in decision-making, especially when there is a strong majority opinion, with some in the group who disagree. Moving forward in this setting is not easy and has not been the norm in our culture. These concerns are voiced across the organization and often seen in similar organizations.
Meetings come in all sizes and for many purposes and reducing meetings can be applicable at all levels of our organization. If we collectively assess and reduce meetings, where possible, it can help us build opportunities for well-being and bring us one step closer to improving our workplace culture.
In closing, whether you found the meeting pause in August helpful or not, destressing or not, I ask that you take personal responsibility for your well-being and consider what can be done in your work area to foster wellness. At the end of the day, one of the great strengths of our organization is creativity. So, as you think about how to better arrange your work and workdays, be creative! I am looking forward to hearing about and sharing all your great ideas in the coming months.
What do you think of the challenge? What is your team already doing to support Well-Being? Share your thoughts in the discussion box below.