Asian@Work Dairies: Alvin Kuang, B2C Engagement Product Designer At Glassdoor

May is Asian and Pacific American Heritage (APAH) Month, which offers an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the multitudes of Asian history and culture. Garnering this deeper understanding feels especially important this year. The AAPI community has experienced 6,603 hate incidents against them from March 19, 2020, to March 31, 2021, according to Stop AAPI Hate’s national report. According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, there has also been a 164% increase in hate crimes against the AAPI community in 2021 alone. 

For Asian and Pacific American Heritage (APAH) Month, we wanted to create an editorial series that showcases the faces of our Asian employees to gain their authentic perspective of how it’s like to be Asian at work. Our goal for the Asian@Work Dairies campaign is to capture internal employees’ raw and honest experiences juggling working from home, taking care of their families, and witnessing hate crimes within the Asian communities. 

Glassdoor Asian Impact Network – our Pan Asian Employee Resource Group’s mission is to celebrate and support Pan Asian multiculturalism and cultivate a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace. GAIN aims to elevate Glassdoor’s Asian community’s voices and empower our members in business decisions, product development, recruiting, and workplace culture. Additionally, they strive to foster professional development, mentorship, and leadership opportunities for their members.

We want to capture these transparent and genuine conversations and share them externally to act as an example of how other employers should shed some light on this issue by offering support to this subgroup of employees. Learn more about Alvin Kuang, B2C Product Designer at Glassdoor.

Glassdoor: Thank you so much for choosing to participate in the Asian@Work Diaries series. Could you please introduce yourself and how you identify?

Alvin Kuang: Thank you for having me! I choose to identify as a second-generation, Gay Chinese American who grew up in the East Bay of Northern California. I work as a Product Designer on the Glassdoor consumer engagement team.

Glassdoor: If comfortable, could you speak about the intersectionality of being gay and Asian, and can you share any personal experiences?

I think for me, one of the biggest things is navigating this intersectionality, where it’s a combination of race and sexuality together. My parents are immigrants to the United States. They don’t really have a lot of context or understanding about LGBTQ history or even the experience of who identifies in the LGBTQ community. When growing up, my parents were very supportive and gave me everything I needed to survive, but there came a certain point when I realized that there were specific things they didn’t really know how to support me in.

I personally don’t feel any anger towards them because I felt given the context of how they grew up and what they’ve been through, it was hard to expect that they would be able to proactively discover resources for me while raising their children, taking care of their own families, and building a new life in a foreign country. So, instead I had to lean heavily on my chosen family, which consisted of a lot of my friends who were extremely supportive, understanding, and open to me discussing my discovery process pertaining to my intersectional identity, particularly being queer and asian. To this day, I weigh the importance of my chosen family almost on the same level as my biological family since they both contributed greatly to my self-development and who I am today albeit from different aspects of my personhood.

Glassdoor: Thank you so much for sharing. It’s pretty layered. Leading into more into the person of color side, have you ever encountered them model minority myth in your career? And if so, how, how has it affected you?

Alvin Kuang: This question is a little bit harder to answer because the model minority myth is not always so explicit. It has become almost integrated into these normalized interactions or expectations, especially within corporate settings. It’s tough to identify if it’s actively happening to you or maybe something that was part of a behind the scenes discussion that you weren’t included in. I think where the model minority myth comes in is that sometimes it doesn’t matter if you actually do speak up more in meetings, if the other person is already biased in their way of viewing you, even if you’re doing it more, they won’t see it due to their own biases that are beyond your control. You can be doing the work, but if the other person isn’t trained to understand their biases, then you are essentially at a roadblock. That’s why I think it’s important to raise awareness and educate others like policy makers around these concepts to bring in the perspective and impact positive change. It’s also important because I believe there are likely many Asian-Americans who grew up benefiting from the model minority myth without realizing what it was, how systemic it is, and how harmful the effects are on their own and other marginalized communities – ultimately leading to the perpetuation and normalization of it. Increasing educational awareness within our communities and outside of our communities helps to benefit everyone so that they can develop more self-awareness, check their own biases and begin to look internally, questioning the things that they were taught or brought up with that they didn’t even realize or question as the status quo.

Glassdoor: I know that the model minority myth is specific to Asian culture, but those bias undertones can be seen across the POC spectrum. It’s so important to, like you said, bring awareness to dismantle these oppressive systems that we as people of color are intrinsically buying into because it leads up to success and stability. With that said, how do you think companies can mitigate and solve biases when it comes to the Asian community?

Alvin Kuang: I truly believe that only through unity can we create a larger impact and change towards building a better world. Creating the spaces where we can have people learn vulnerably and be willing to sign-up for educational programs like Glassdoor’s allyship workshops that have been being conducted are great examples of how to foster this dialogue and be more open to discussing it and asking questions.

And then hopefully, those that are in control of creating those policies can have more insight into those decisions being made since they are better equipped to empathize with those they would be effecting. Additionally, other folks from marginalized communities can share their perspectives and get a more shared common understanding leading to more solidarity. A lot of times, there are many more patterns and similarities that we share than we may realize, regardless of our cultural upbringing or background.

Glassdoor: Totally, we’re more alike than different. Pivoting to what’s going on in the world. There’s been really an unfortunate uptake of hate crimes against the Asian community, as we’ve seen in 2020 and now in 2021. How do you feel about these recent hate crimes against your community, and how has it affected you?

Alvin Kuang: Honestly, it’s been very disheartening. I think it’s excruciating because this family concept is just very huge in Asian culture. So, when you see on the news that there are other folks who look like your relatives being attacked, whether they’re older women, young kids, fathers, etc. it feels like it is a member of your own family. I think that’s how a lot of our community processes these incidents. So you can imagine that if you’re constantly hearing your family members are being attacked, it makes you feel really fearful because members of your community are seen as relatives who have taken care of and raised you.

I think it’s really shocking for many Asian Americans to realize that the very thing they’ve been doing, which is “playing by the rules,” isn’t necessarily working and is actually demonstrating the model minority myth in action. Asians are starting to take a more active role in defining their existence and presence which is inspiring. As difficult as it’s been to see all of these hate crimes, what gives me hope is that there’s a lot more awareness being raised within the Asian community around the model minority myth and how far that expands as well as amongst other marginalized groups.

The unity that I’m starting to see in terms of support both within the Asian community, that is so diverse, and outside of the Asian community is incredibly compelling. Prior to the influx of hate crimes, the model minority myth was working so well that a lot of Asians didn’t even really know where they stood within the social fabric of the country. Now, things are becoming clearer and folks are taking a more proactive role in amplifying their voices. Unfortunately, it has taken something as serious as what’s going on right now to have this sort of deeper acknowledgment.

Glassdoor: Thank you. That was so beautifully said. Lastly, how has Glassdoor been supportive of your community during this?

Alvin Kuang: Glassdoor has been really great in the sense as they’ve been highlighting a lot of the GAIN ERG work that’s being done. The organization of the connection circles for current events and sharing what’s affecting various other marginalized communities have been a great way to connect with humanity. I was amazed by the difference that it made for me and being able to actually have these candid conversations with other colleagues who I may or may not work with regularly and to be open about how tired we may be feeling or how we’re processing all the events that are going on while still coming to work. To share and connect across experiences that may or may not be similar to you is something truly amazing.

Glassdoor: Thank you so much, Alvin. I appreciate your time. And just your honesty in sharing your experiences.

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LGBTQ+ Employees Are Less Satisfied Than Colleagues at Work

As we stride into Pride Month, working for equitable companies is top of mind for many job seekers and employees. Despite some progress being made, LGBTQ+ employees still face an abundance of challenges at work, making their workplace experience less than ideal. In fact, Glassdoor data shows that LGBTQ+ employees are less satisfied at work compared to their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts, and while certain companies and industries are highly rated by LGBTQ+ employees, others still have progress to make. For anyone wanting to work for a company that truly celebrates Pride Month, Glassdoor has made it easier than ever to research companies and see how LGBTQ+ employees really feel about their workplaces.

What We Did

Last year, to help improve equity in the workplace, Glassdoor launched new Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) products and began allowing users to voluntarily share their demographic information. This allowed LGBTQ+ employees, and other groups, to see company ratings and pay data according to other LGBTQ+ employees within a specific company. Today, the Glassdoor Economic Research team examined U.S.-based employee reviews from users who anonymously shared both their sexual orientation on Glassdoor and submitted a 1-to-5 star rating of their current or former employer as of 5/3/21.

LGBTQ+ Employees are Less Satisfied at Work

LGBTQ+ employees gave their companies an average overall company rating of 3.27 stars out of 5 – that’s below the average overall rating for non-LGBTQ+ employees (3.47). And, across Glassdoor’s six workplace factor ratings, we see that LGBTQ+ employees are less satisfied with their companies. Most notably, LGBTQ+ employees are less satisfied with the company’s Senior Leadership (2.88), along with Career Opportunities (3.03) and Compensation & Benefits (3.13) when compared to non-LGBTQ+ employees.

“Unfortunately, it’s not surprising to see that LGBTQ+ employees rate their workplace experiences lower across the board when compared to non-LGBTQ+ employees,” said Scott Dobroski, VP of Corporate Communications and a member of Glassdoor’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group. “While many companies will turn their logos and social profiles to rainbows for Pride Month, creating a more equitable company is more than just symbolic or superficial moves. It’s about action. Company leaders should take time to solicit feedback from their LGBTQ+ employees to better understand what’s working well and what needs improvement to further support their workers.”

Glassdoor Economic Research – Includes at least 3,000 LGBTQ+ ratings for each workplace factor rating as of 5/3/21.

Industries Rooted in Creating Change are More Highly Rated by LGBTQ+ Employees

When we take a closer look at how LGBTQ+ employees rate their companies, Glassdoor data shows LGBTQ+ employees are more satisfied working in industries recognized for giving back and creating change. LGBTQ+ employees rated companies in Government the highest, with an average overall rating of 3.74 out of 5 stars, followed by Education (3.69) and Non-Profit (3.47).  Conversely, LGBTQ+ employees rated companies in Telecommunications the lowest with an average overall company rating of 2.93, followed by Health Care (3.02) and Business Services (3.07). Other notable industries, like Internet Technology, landed in the middle of the pack, with a 3.33 rating from LGBTQ+ employees. Each industry listed has over 100 ratings from LGBTQ+ employees.

How Companies Compare According to LGBTQ+ Employees

Among the companies with at least 25 ratings from LGBTQ+ employees, we also examined how LGBTQ+ employees rate their companies overall. Among the 10 companies listed below, LGBTQ+ employees are more satisfied at four companies, including Kroger and Walgreens, and less satisfied at six, including Amazon and Target. In addition, we see that LGBTQ+ employees at Apple rate their employer the highest (4.14), while LGBTQ+ employees at Wells Fargo rate their employer the lowest (2.65) among this group.

“Choosing where to work is an incredibly important and personal decision, especially for those who identify as LGBTQ+,” said Dobroski. “There are a variety of factors that can make their work experiences potentially more challenging, from differences in health care coverage to cases of employment discrimination and more. To find a company that is truly the right fit, we encourage job seekers to go deeper into the employee experience on Glassdoor and leverage LGBTQ+ company ratings and pay data to help them make more informed decisions about where to work.”

Company Average Overall Rating by LGBTQ+ Employees Average Overall Rating by Non-LGBTQ+ Employees
Amazon 2.85 3.45
Apple 4.14 4.05
Kroger 3.29 3.20
McDonald’s 3.21 3.14
Starbucks 3.56 3.85
Target 3.31 3.67
The Home Depot 3.29 3.67
Walgreens 3.19 2.97
Walmart 2.70 3.20
Wells Fargo 2.65 3.27

Glassdoor Economic Research – Includes at least 25 LGBTQ+ ratings per company as of 5/3/21.

LGBTQ+ Employees Deserve to Be Themselves Work

At Glassdoor, our mission is to help people everywhere find a job and a company they love, and that includes helping people find companies where they can be their authentic selves at work. We believe research is a critical first step for finding the right company, and there are millions of insights and resources on Glassdoor to make it easier. Glassdoor also published two free guides that can help LGBTQ+ professionals and employers wanting to create a more inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees.

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Asian@Work Diaries: Meet Sonia Moaiery, Senior Manager Product Marketing

May is Asian and Pacific American Heritage (APAH) Month, which offers an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the multitudes of Asian history and culture. Garnering this deeper understanding feels especially important this year. The AAPI community has experienced 6,603 hate incidents against them from March 19, 2020, to March 31, 2021, according to Stop AAPI Hate’s national report. According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, there has also been a 164% increase in hate crimes against the AAPI community in 2021 alone. 

Glassdoor Asian Impact Network – our Pan Asian Employee Resource Group’s mission is to celebrate and support Pan Asian multiculturalism and cultivate a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace. GAIN aims to elevate Glassdoor’s Asian community’s voices and empower our members in business decisions, product development, recruiting, and workplace culture. Additionally, GAIN strives to foster professional development, mentorship, and leadership opportunities for their members.

For Asian and Pacific American Heritage (APAH) Month, we wanted to create an editorial series that showcases the faces of our Asian employees to gain their authentic perspective of how it’s like to be Asian at work in honor of Asian History Month. Our goal for the Asian@Work Dairies campaign is to capture internal employees’ raw and honest experiences juggling working from home, taking care of their families, and witnessing hate crimes within the Asian communities. We want to capture these transparent and genuine conversations and share them externally to act as an example of how other employers should shed some light on this issue by offering support to this subgroup of employees.

Learn more about Sonia Moaiery, a mother of a newborn, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Glassdoor, and proud first-generation Punjabi Sikh. 

Glassdoor: Thank you so much for choosing to participate in the Asian@Work Diaries series. Could you please introduce yourself?

Sonia Moaiery: I’m Sonia Moaiery, and I’m a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Glassdoor, which means I work closely with our Product, Marketing, and Sales teams to deeply understand our customers to build world-class products and bring them to market! I have been at Glassdoor for 3 years, and I just had a baby boy who is now 5 months old. I’m a first-generation Punjabi, Sikh and my husband is Persian from Iran. I’m into all things related to yoga, hot sauce, and word games! 

Glassdoor: Could you please share your experience working during a global pandemic while also having to take care of your newborn? How has it been for you?

Moaiery: I’ve just returned to work from parental leave this week (it’s good to be back!), so I’m still getting the hang of working, newborn, pandemic! However, I can comment on pregnancy and parental leave in a pandemic. I found out I was pregnant a week after we closed our offices in March 2020, the experience came with pros and cons! I was able to be home on the nauseating and exhausting days. However, it was nerve-wracking to go to all the doctor appointments alone. My son had to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for two weeks after being born. It was an emotionally challenging time because only one parent was allowed to be physically with our son during this time due to covid. Spending Christmas Day in an empty NICU alone with my son was certainly a low point, but bringing him home healthy a few days later was the best present I could ask for. During leave, I really understood the idea that “it takes a village,” but in a pandemic, your village is limited or even zero. I am so incredibly grateful our moms were able to safely travel to provide us with support for a few months. It was humbling for me to realize that I needed my own mother more than ever while becoming a mother! 

Glassdoor: Have you ever encountered the model minority myth in your career? If so, how did it affect you? 

Moaiery: I have mostly through subtle assumptions that have been made about me. A few examples stick out from my past:

  1. A boss who assumed that I wanted to take on analytical tasks on a project versus more creative ones. 
  2. A peer asked me where I’m really from when I introduced myself as a Floridian.
  3. A coworker gave me a “compliment” that my clients may not find me credible because of my youthful Indian skin!

While these assumptions and comments didn’t hold back my career, they added up and contributed to a lack of belonging I felt in my work community. 

Glassdoor: How do you feel about the recent hate crimes against the Asian community? Have you been affected by the recent hate crimes against the Asian community and surges of COVID-19 cases in India?

Moaiery: As a Sikh American, the recent mass shooting in Indianapolis taking the lives of 4 Sikh Americans was devastating. Sikhs have long been victims of racial violence, and this attack brought new trauma to our community. It’s deeply troubling that we continue to see these patterns of violence occurring, and it weighs on me that these attacks could happen to my family and friends. Sikhs and all minorities should not have to fight for our existence continuously. However, our community is strong and resilient; we believe in what we call Chardi Kala – the idea of maintaining a mindset of joy and optimism even in the face of adversity. 

Glassdoor: How has Glassdoor been supportive of your community during this tumultuous time? 

Moaiery: I am so grateful to be on the founding leadership team of GAIN (Glassdoor Asian Impact Network) at Glassdoor. I have appreciated the organization’s support in starting a new ERG, especially giving us the time and space to dedicate to GAIN. Working with and getting to know my fellow GAIN leaders personally has been cathartic for me during this tough year.

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Can Anybody Have A Career Sponsor Or Is It Only For Specific Roles?

Since our school days, we’ve been steered towards mentors who help us grow our ambitions, achieve our goals, and advance as professionals. But career sponsors could be even more important when it comes to the concrete measure that signifies advancement: stretch assignments, promotions, and raises. Having a sponsor, a career champion, can be a game-changer, especially for minority professionals. 

For as vital as sponsors are when it comes to career advancement, it seems like we hear less about them than we do about mentors. Can anybody have a career sponsor, or is this just for specific jobs? Here’s what you need to know. 

A professional symbiosis.  

Most of us have either had a mentor or served as one. Mentors are advisors. They help mentees shape their ambitions and plans. Mentors are qualified to serve in this capacity because they are experienced experts. They have relevant professional experience to offer. Mentors don’t have to work at the same company or even in the same industry as those they mentor. They are sages, coaches, and counselors. We need them, but we need them differently than we need career sponsors. 

Sponsors are senior colleagues. When they notice a junior co-worker’s talent, they take a special interest in developing and advancing that protégés’ career.  Sponsors use their connections to help their protégés succeed, advocating for their protégés and helping them to earn raises and promotions. Advancing a talented, emerging professional helps sponsors too. It grows their reputation and leadership skills while advancing the protégé’s career ambitions. It’s a symbiotic relationship rooted in action that furthers both sides’ reputations and aspirations.

The value sponsorships add.  

Career sponsorships are an important part of advancement. Payscale’s Teresa Perez points out that nearly 57 percent of employees have career sponsors. Employees who have sponsors tend to be better paid. Perez refers to this as “the Sponsorship Premium,” noting that professionals with sponsors earn nearly 12 percent more than their unsponsored peers.  

Professionals who hold higher positions tend to benefit from more internal advocacy.  Perez explains: “When we look at the data by job level, those higher up the corporate ladder tend to have higher rates of sponsorship. Fifty-five percent of individual contributors (i.e., those who do not manage others) say they have a sponsor. Each step up the organizational ladder sees an increase in sponsorship: 59.2 percent of managers, 63.1 percent of directors, and 65.5 percent of executives say they have a workplace sponsor.”

In addition to increased compensation, other perks like stretch assignments are some benefits that can come from being sponsored by a senior colleague. George Santos, Director of Talent Delivery and Head of Marketing at 180 Engineering, explains the impact a sponsor’s endorsement can have: “Since they themselves are usually respected members of the company or notable industry figures, their willingness to recommend you goes a long way. They can also help you get access to training that will help advance your career.” 

Does my company have sponsorship opportunities? 

Santos points out that sponsorships tend to be associated with senior roles at larger companies. However, a personal endorsement is a powerful mechanism for advancing smaller operations, too, though, perhaps, in less formal ways. Santos explains: “candidates sometimes have career sponsors without even realizing it. Personally, I’ve spoken to many employees who ended up landing a promotion thanks to a recommendation from a senior colleague who they may not have even been aware was fighting for them. That being said, career sponsors do play a significant role in how many contemporary businesses decide who to promote.” 

Likewise, Santos points out that large companies are not the only ones using internal employee assessments to make promotion and advancement decisions: “Small and medium-sized enterprises are also frequently home to similar dynamics wherein sponsors advocate for their replacement or convince executives to invest in an employee’s training. Even self-employed workers can land clients and get access to funding thanks to career sponsors who give credibility to their work.”  

Santos points out that more industries, too, are inviting sponsorship opportunities: “Increasingly, we see the concept of career sponsorship extend beyond the business and tech world and into a plurality of other industries such as education, politics, media, and many other jobs as well.” 

Creating quality opportunities for diverse professionals. 

In their upcoming book, The Business of Race, authors Margaret H. Greenberg and Gina Greenlee explain: “Sponsorships are one of many practical approaches to advance a company’s diversity goals in a systemized way. How? Executive teams at most large companies conduct a Talent Review Meeting at least annually. This is an opportunity for executives to identify professionals from under-represented groups, such as women and people of color, who can grow with the company. Then they are paired with an executive sponsor.”   

Creating this system and facilitating these relationships can have key bi-products for companies. It can help them address and reduce racial and gender pay gaps. It can also help a company create a leadership pipeline among diverse team members. Finally, it stands to bolster retention by creating a sense of belonging among diverse staff members. 

In a recent interview with Harvard Business Review, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, economist and founder of Coqual emphasizes that it’s important for senior professionals to maintain a diverse portfolio of protégés. Hewlett explains: “So it’s about identifying. It’s about including. . . difference matters, and it’s precious.” 

 Santos points out that sponsorship is a way for leaders to engage mindful minority professionals. He explains: “Unfortunately, minority job candidates are often still disadvantaged in comparison to their peers, as they are often not given their due access to promotions and training opportunities. Career sponsors help rectify this imbalance by calling attention to candidates who deserve to be recognized for their knowledge, hard work, and talent. They can help minority job candidates avoid being overlooked due to ignorance and prejudice, and promote a workforce where diversity is better represented in senior positions.”  

How to find a sponsor. 

A sponsorship relationship is built over time. It’s built on confidence and trust. Santos explains: “There is a lot at stake when it comes to promoting someone to a senior position. As a result, managers and business owners are often cautious about doing so. Career sponsors are people who leverage their own reputation by vouching for your strengths and recommending you as a candidate for career opportunities and promotions. They are important because they advocate for you on your behalf and help mitigate any potential concerns management might have about hiring or promoting you.” 

While mentorships are ubiquitous, sponsorship relationships tend to happen by invitation and can therefore be more subtle to pursue. Many companies have mentoring programs that are easy to find and target. Finding a relationship with a sponsor, however, can require a different approach. 

Hewlett explains that sponsorships “often happens fairly organically because the younger person has to display a great deal of value. And oftentimes, the senior person is looking for a value add, you know, a skill or an experience in the younger person that they don’t have themselves, that allows the older person to expand their own scope and span. So it’s very reciprocal. There’s some risk in it. And it’s really about progression for both of the individuals.” 

It can be challenging to engineer an organic relationship. Your colleagues stand to be willing to sponsor you if they have confidence in your skills and abilities. Santos explains: “Career sponsorship is tricky because it is not something you can go out and find. The process has to start with your own performance. You need to build your list of achievements and talents so that people are willing to put their own reputations on the line to fight for you behind closed doors. Unless you already have a pre-existing relationship with senior figures at a company, career sponsors have to notice you.” 

Other than doing stellar work, Santos recommends taking these steps: “What you can do, however, is increase your chances of being noticed through your work and achievements, as well as by promoting your visibility by taking any opportunities that will allow you to showcase the factors that make you a unique and talented individual. By being transparent in your career goals, you can further your chances of being noticed as well. Finally, you can target your efforts at likely career sponsors by making an effort to recognize senior figures at a company that seems to have a lot of social capital. From there, you should make an effort to form relationships with them based on shared interests and your passion for the job.” 

Greenberg and Greenlee add: “For professionals seeking a career sponsor, start by identifying a mentor. He or she may know more about the sponsorship process at your company. They may also be able to broker a relationship with a potential sponsor. Bottom line? Prove your value first by meeting or exceeding job expectations and then be proactive and make your career aspirations known.” 

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9 Ways to Create Belonging for Remote Employees

A sense of belonging, experts say, is a shared feeling that permeates through a company’s culture — that each employee is a part of a team with a common mission and backed by a strong support system. It’s easy to spot belonging in a workplace, according to Porschia Parker-Griffin, founder and CEO of Fly High Coaching: Just look for workers who collaborate together and feel valued.

Or, as leadership expert Magalie René explains, “belonging is smack in the middle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s the foundation upon which self-esteem and purpose rest. In its absence, the workplace becomes a job of ‘get through the day’ instead of a chance to contribute ideas.”

But belonging is more than a feel-good opportunity for employees. It has a payoff for companies, too. “If people feel like they belong in their workplace, then that suggests their values and their goals align with the overall company ethos,” says Akhila Satish, CEO of Meseekna. “And that means they’re not only working to get a paycheck, but also to further your company’s goals.”

Employees who feel as if they belong within their companies help those businesses myriad ways: They contribute to a positive culture through enthusiasm for their jobs and the company; increase employee engagement and reduce company turnover; and increase productivity and revenue.

Employees that feel a sense of belonging also “work harder, and put in more time and effort to do their job,” says Parker-Griffin. On the flip side, “when people don’t experience a sense of belonging, they naturally do what’s expected — and not much more,” says René. “There’s also less incentive to connect on a personal level. The best companies are made up of individuals who feel personally connected to, and even in some way responsible, for the organization’s success.”

And a sense of belonging can be especially important for remote workers.

A real lack of in-person interaction can lead many remote workers to feel separated — in more than a literal sense — from their teams and workplaces, says Parker-Griffin. And “a sense of belonging is the difference between being a value-added team member” and not, René says.

For many out-of-office employees, “their managers won’t be around to monitor their work ethic as closely,” says Satish. They “need to be really passionate about the company in order for them to keep up their productivity and effort,” she says, and positively contribute to the organization.

That’s just one reason why “companies with remote workers should take extra steps to create a sense of comradery and team spirit,” says Parker-Griffin. If they do, their remote employees can “remain engaged with their colleagues and in their role,” and contribute positively to company.

Now that you know what a sense of belonging can do for your organization and how important it is for remote workers to feel it, here are nine ways to create belonging for remote employees.

1. Give remote workers plenty of opportunities to contribute.

Remote employees can feel disconnected from their teams and — when it comes to meetings — a few steps (or miles) away from the planning process. So, “managers should give their team members an opportunity to contribute to the agenda of team meetings ahead of time,” René says. By allowing remote workers to add to a meeting’s agenda, you single to them that they are key members of your team, she says. It can also “mitigate any discomfort people may have in sharing in a group setting and supports them in overcoming communications challenges,” René adds.

You can promote collaboration outside of meetings, too. For example, you can encourage your staff to spend time talking outside of official meetings to talk about projects, says Parker-Griffin. “This allows remote employees to engage with other team members more frequently,” she says.

2. Schedule routine meetings for “virtual” facetime.

Parker-Griffin suggests scheduling meetings with remote employees weekly, either by Zoom or phone. “Creating a regular group or one-on-one meeting with a remote employee can really help them feel included and supported at work,” she says. “The visual component of being on camera can increase connection, but if that isn’t possible, a phone call is another alternative.” If you have a small team, she also suggests taking the time for one-on-one meetings. These get-togethers can “enhance belonging by showing that you care enough to invest your time with them,” she says.

3. Start team meetings with networking opportunities.

To create a sense of belonging among your employees — especially for those logging in from a distance — René says it’s important to give your team a chance to network whenever they meet, even virtually. She recommends starting each meeting with a five to 10-minute fun networking opportunity, perhaps using prompts to spur conversation and connection. “The prompts can create opportunities for individuals at different levels and from different backgrounds to learn about one another and connect,” she explains. And for remote workers, “this is an ideal way to create or replace the water cooler moments that are becoming less common with virtual work.”

4. Be transparent in how and why your company makes its decisions. 

Big company decisions such as bringing on a new team member or client — or letting employees go — can “sometimes make more of an impact on your employees than you realize, especially when they’re not in the office with you watching your decision-making process,” says Satish. Being transparent about why things are happening, however, can have the opposite effect: It can make remote employees feel like they’re an integral part of the team. So, “make sure to always make your team feel like they understand why you made a decision,” says Satish, “and make yourself accessible for questions or feedback. And when in doubt, be overly-communicative.”

5. Conduct regular “temperature checks” with remote workers.

When communicating with remote workers, consider asking your them, “How are you feeling?” instead of “jumping directly into an update on deliverables,” says René. But taking a moment to ask employees about their emotional health, they will likely feel a sense of belonging. “People experience belonging when they are heard,” she explains. “You don’t need to have a solution or response. The question alone offers an opportunity for a team member to share,” and it’s that opportunity that makes people feel cared for. Plus, “vulnerability creates connection,” she says. “Virtual work requires more effort to build a strong working relationship. This is a great way to cultivate it.”

6. Recognize your remote employees’ efforts.

Parker-Griffin recommends that companies “prioritize recognition of your teams.” Here’s how: “When you see something positive happening, take a moment to send an email to your group and highlight the remote team members who are doing a good job,” she says. “This gives them visibility among others who they don’t see and can go a long way in helping them feel that they belong.” If you want to take things a step further, you can share your appreciation in other ways, she says, such as sending remote workers gift cards or company-branded promotional materials such as a notebook or pens to “give them a physical representation of your acknowledgement.”

7. Make your expectations of remote workers clear — and practice what you preach.

“It’s especially important with remote workers to make sure you’re making your expectations abundantly clear and following them yourself,” says Satish. Why? Because if you’re “telling your employees to do one thing but dropping the ball yourself, you’re going to start making those employees believe that your beliefs actually don’t line up with your behaviors,” she says, and that can lead to them feeling disconnected from your teams a whole. “For example, if you’re always telling them to be online at 9 a.m. but you don’t respond to emails until 10, then you might be sending them the wrong message,” she says. “That could lead to resentment from your team in the long run, so make sure your asks are standards you’ll be able to uphold yourself.”

8. Host virtual happy hours to foster connection.

Every once in a while, ask your team to join a virtual happy hour on Zoom or another online platform, suggests Parker-Griffin. “As a leader, you can set the parameters,” she says, but a nice idea is shipping your team snacks and drinks to enjoy during their time together. “A gathering like this facilitates discussion about topics other than work, and builds relationships,” she says.

9. Take time to recognize things that may be affecting your workers.

René recommends that you “take an intersectional approach to leadership by acknowledging any particularly traumatic public events occurring that affect the marginalized members of your team.” Here’s how: mention the event, then say, “Please let me know how I or human resources can be of support,” she says. If this feels a tad too personal, René urges you to reconsider: “Ignoring traumatic public events is the quickest way to make someone feel invisible,” she warns. “This is especially true when working with members of the BIPOC community.”

She adds that “compassionate leaders make those around them feel seen. People who experience being seen are more likely to feel they belong.” Plus, “remote workers are often navigating the personal and professional simultaneously, particularly when working from home,” she says. 

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How To Honor Asian Heritage Month And Further Your Awareness And Advocacy

Asian and Pacific American Heritage (APAH) Month offers an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the multitudes of Asian history and culture. According to the Library of Congress: “The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.”

Dr. Joliana Yee, Assistant Dean, Yale College, and Director, Asian American Cultural Center, explains that honoring APAH Month in the workplace “is an important way of letting Asian-identifying employees know that their heritage is seen as a valuable and important part of workplace culture. It also provides an opportunity for employees who do not identify as Asian to learn more about the histories, cultures, and social experiences of their Asian-identifying colleagues, neighbors, and community members living in the U.S.”

Garnering this deeper understanding feels especially important this year. According to the Center for Study of Hate and Extremism, hate crimes against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community were up nearly 150 percent across the country in 2020. The AAPI community has experienced 6,603 hate incidents against them from March 19, 2020, to March 31, 2021, according to Stop AAPI Hate’s national report. According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, there has also been a 164% increase in hate crimes against the AAPI community in 2021 alone.

“In the midst of so much loss and violence against Asians, it is more necessary than ever to celebrate the rich history and cultural heritage found within the Asian diaspora because joy is resistance.” Shares Dr. Yee.

Each May, we have the opportunity to show our AAPI pride and to deepen our awareness so that we can be well-versed allies to our AAPI colleagues, friends, and family members. Here are five ways to honor APAH Month in our hearts, minds, and workplaces this May.  

1. Creating workplace cultures of belonging.  

Workplace culture matters. We can’t do our best work unless we feel safe, comfortable, included, and valued. Dr. Yee explains how recognizing awareness events at work enhances culture: “It allows employees to know that they can bring all aspects of their identity to the workplace and not have it be deemed ‘unprofessional.’ When employees can be more fully themselves in the workplace, they will likely be more fulfilled, build meaningful relationships with colleagues, and a sense of community.” 

Inviting educational opportunities for employees makes for a dynamic culture; that’s good for employees, and it’s good for business. It gives us the chance to forge a deeper understanding of ourselves, our colleagues, and the clients and customers we serve.   

Dr. Desai points out: “In professional settings, by celebrating diversity, you are sending a message that this is a value that is good for the company. Studies show that diversity of approaches and thought, coming from a diversity of backgrounds is actually beneficial both for work culture, but also for good results.”

2. Fostering belonging.  

An initiative that has worked well at Glassdoor is the Glassdoor Asian Impact Network (GAIN), our newest Pan Asian Employee Resource Group (ERG). GAIN’s mission is to celebrate and support our Pan Asian multiculturalism and cultivate a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace. We aim to elevate Glassdoor’s Asian community’s voices and empower our members in business decisions, product development, recruiting, and workplace culture. Additionally, we strive to foster professional development, mentorship, and leadership opportunities for our members.

We want to create a world where everyone has an inclusive and equitable place at the table, along with employers, to develop a safe and diverse workplace for all.  We know our collective voices are more influential together, so we aim to share awareness about intersectionality and allyship for all communities with our ERG program. 

3. Learning to listen.   

This has been a frightening, dangerous time for the AAPI community. Like their colleagues, friends, neighbors, and family members, we can help make the workplace, neighborhood, and community safer and more harmonious by listening, learning, and trying to understand what that experience feels like to be true advocates and allies.  

May’s awareness events can aid us in this work. Dr. Yee points out: “It is also an opportunity to bring awareness to the fact that the violence and abuses against Asians that we are witnessing in the U.S. today is not something recent nor will it be resolved by bolstering systems of policing.”  

Dr. Desai explains: “One of the biggest challenges Asian Americans face is that they are often seen as ‘Asian,’ not American enough. This year, it is proven that the violence against Asian Americans has grown by 150%, especially in big cities. This year, we need to recognize that despite the myth of a model minority, Asian Americans suffer prejudices, but often in silence. It is high time that we recognize the perception of ‘otherness’ faced by many Asian Americans of diverse backgrounds and a variety of histories in this country.”

It’s important to hear the voices from the community that we are honoring with our awareness. That is truly the purpose of any awareness event. 

Dr. Desai suggests: “You can begin with one step at a time. Learning about others who are different from you and learn to see the world from their perspective. Avoid making judgments and create a sense of empathy. Hear different stories. . . Avoid keeping your circle so small that you don’t ever hear different points of view.”    

4. Plan workplace events to celebrate.

Planning events to honor APAH month is worthy, important work. Finding the right team and approach is vital to the success of awareness programming. Christopher K. Lee, Founder and Career Consultant with PurposeRedeemed, advises: “Have Asian American and Pacific Islander professionals share their voices. Don’t speak on their behalf. This seems obvious but is often overlooked. Along with this, don’t make them feel tokenized like this is the one time a year your business wants to hear from them.” 

Dr. Yee recommends this approach, which can safeguard staff against tokenization: “Don’t place the burden of observing heritage months on a handful of employees who identify as such. If you’re inviting employees to volunteer their time, institutionalize measures to meaningfully recognize their contributions to your organization in their annual performance review to ensure they are not doing uncompensated labor at the expense of their own wellbeing.”   

Lee adds another important point to keep in mind: “Don’t treat Asian Americans or AAPI as one homogenous group. We are not. Most people see themselves first as Vietnamese or Korean or Indian or so on – not as AAPI or Asian American. The experiences each of these groups have historically faced are very different. So be cognizant of that when speaking of the Asian American experience or making blanket statements.”

Finally, use this awareness opportunity to bolster ongoing efforts rather than making it feel like an annual pop-up interest. This ongoing support stands to make employees feel recognized, included, and safe in their professional culture. Dr. Yee recommends: “Redirect resources towards, and spotlight grassroots organizations in your local communities who are doing critical work in supporting the needs of Asian communities in the U.S. Do not relegate these efforts to one month in the year and look at these issues of racial violence as interconnected so that advocacy efforts are not counterproductive to the well-being of other marginalized communities.”

5. Stand together at home. 

APAH heritage month is an invitation to speak to the reality of what the AAPI community is experiencing, what our country is experiencing.  

Dr. Desai shares: “Let’s recognize first and foremost that the work of building a perfect union of this country is not yet done and continues to require focused attention. This means that no matter where we are and who we are, we need to call out social injustices no matter who suffers. As we saw in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, people of all ages and all colors and ethnic backgrounds showed to protest and demand justice. This needs to be not a one-time occurrence but an ongoing effort. This is not just to fulfill the potential of America, but also to make it a beacon for others in the world. . . Let’s put this idea of global belonging in practice by starting at home.”

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5 Ways To Start Emotionally Recovering From The Pandemic

There’s plenty of eager chatter about what comes next: will it be a hybrid, remote, or an in-person workplace? It feels like leaders are anxious to cue the next chapter-capitalizing on the new skills that employees honed while powering through a once-in-a-century crisis.

We all want to get back to normal. While it’s exciting to see vaccine impacts, we need the emotional equivalent. If there’s ever been a time to take a break, a hiatus, a sabbatical, it’s now. 

Many of us have been holding our breath, just trying to get through. We’ve been saving our PTO, in case we get sick or need to care for a family member. We’re exhausted from powering through a traumatic time. However you’ve hustled to make this work, it’s been a long, emotional haul.

The Washington Post’s Christine Emba writes: “The vaccines are known to cause side effects . . . Thus the follow-up shots in particular are being looked forward to like a grim Christmas morning. I’ve lost count of the number of friends who have, jokingly but not really jokingly, expressed the desire for an unimpeachable excuse to lie down.”

How can professionals recharge and emotionally recover from their experience of working through the challenges of 2020-21? May is Mental Health Awareness Month; make a real commitment to yourself. Your mental health is precious. Consider these tips as you contemplate your emotional recovery.

1. Accept what you need.

It’s a challenging time. Many of us are trying to work around feelings of burnout, exhaustion, and unprocessed trauma. Emba writes: “Every era has its typical disorder, but our own might have several. Even before the pandemic, our depression and anxiety were well-documented; so, too, were our burnout and anomie. The coronavirus has allowed us to put a name to our feelings: These days we’re ‘languishing,’ or ‘hitting the wall.’ Underlying it all is a feeling of being deeply, deeply tired.”

While chatting about our collective emotional exhaustion on social media can feel like a healthy outlet, it isn’t getting us the real help that we need to own and understand our feelings.  

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) reports: “During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder . . . up from one in ten adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019.”

In July 2020, KFF conducted a poll to track participant’s health during the pandemic; the poll found many negative indicators:

·   36 percent of respondents were having trouble sleeping

·   32 percent felt that their eating habits were impacted by stress

·   12 percent indicated an increase in alcohol or substance use

·   12 percent indicate that chronic conditions are becoming more problematic because of stress

Mental Health America (MHA) shares that “46 percent of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life.” Recognizing that we’re struggling with a mental health issue is no cause for shame; in fact, it’s common.  If you’re concerned, work with your colleagues in human resources to learn more about your coverage or call your insurance company directly. The MHA also offers online screenings and information about local treatment resources.

2. Find an outlet for self-exploration.  

For more than a year, we’ve been swept up in a frenzy of trying to make things work in an emergency situation. Now, life is starting to look sort of normal. This gives us the chance to start asking: how am I doing with all this?

Samantha Foster, founder and president of the mental health nonprofit, Rethink Mental Health Incorporated  shares: “One way people can begin rebuilding emotional resilience and reducing stress from the COVID pandemic is to open up a dialog about their emotions, stressors and concerns. By expressing emotions as opposed to suffering in silence, people can begin to process what they are feeling and get to the root issue of emotional distress. Opening up a dialog can mean speaking to

a mental health professional, talking to a trusted friend or loved one, or joining a support group of like-minded individuals who can help you know that you are not alone in what you are going through.”

Foster points out that not everyone is comfortable sharing their feelings with others. She recommends: “If you are not ready to speak to others, you can also open a dialog and process pent up emotions through journaling, art or other expressive mediums. Whether small or big, opening up a dialog about your mental health can help you release negative emotions, find the root causes of emotional distress, make changes to your life for the better, and ultimately recover from the emotional and mental anguish you have experienced from the covid pandemic and more.”

You’ve come through, big time, for your employer and for your family. But how are you doing? Identify an outlet that enables you to explore this question.

Ask yourself hard questions, too, about your job: Does your job truly work for you and your family? If you could change anything about your job, what would that be? Is it a healthy fit for you? Is it fulfilling?  You deserve a job that truly you. You deserve to thrive at work and at home. You deserve to be healthy, inside and out.  

3. Create routines that serve you.

Recognize that you pay a price for trudging through. Notice it when stress and worry stick to you. Consider how you might manage that stress in a way that serves you. Then build your routine accordingly. Make it attainable, so that you can succeed, while staying emotionally and physically healthy. 

If you’ve found it hard to work up the energy to stick to an exercise routine, for example, start by committing to a daily walk. The CDC reports: “Walking is a great way to get the physical activity needed to obtain health benefits. Walking does not require any special skills. It also does not require a gym membership or expensive equipment. A single bout of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can improve sleep, memory, and the ability to think and learn. It also reduces anxiety symptoms.”

Routine movement reduces stress and anxiety, according to the CDC. Incorporate routines that you can manage: morning sun salutations, lunchtime walks, or evening bike rides. Pick your practice and commit.

4. Make time for yourself.

Decide what you need-a week in the woods, a weekend getaway, a staycation. Bring the kids or ask family members to assist, so you can travel solo. Hit the hiking trails, the botanical gardens, or the beach. Figure out what it means to get what you need, and make that your priority. Get your rest, and take some time to reflect on what you’ve just been through. Block those days on your calendar, and let the world happen without you while you heal.  

Whitney Lauritsen, Well-being coach and host of mental health podcast “This Might Get Uncomfortable” shares: “My top tip for stressed out professionals is to add more down-time into their week. Many people overwork themselves, which leads to physical, mental, and emotional burnout. This can lead to trouble sleeping, imbalanced eating, and other health issues that contribute to stress.”

Lauritsen emphasizes the importance of committing to self-care and building regular breaks into your schedule: “It’s important for professionals to schedule time on their calendars to get adequate sleep, take breaks throughout the day, move their bodies, and disconnect from devices. If they’re having trouble doing this, writing a priorities list can help. Start by writing a list of every task, appointment, deadline, and desire that comes to mind. Then mark which are most important and urgent. Organize and schedule accordingly. Ideally, this will show gaps in the calendar for rest and non-work related time.”

5. Make your job habitable.

You’re more than an employee; you’re a valuable person. You’re the talent that employers are eager to retain, especially now. Many employers want to hold onto the people who helped them adapt, streamline operations, and power through the pandemic.

If you’re happy with the job you have, do the work to make it a better emotional fit for yourself. Use the clout you’ve garnered, helping your company to get through the pandemic, to make your job more habitable.

Emba writes: “Instead of giving in to our work-guilt, we could push back: We could press upon employers the value not in offering a day off ‘if you need it,’ but a day off, period. The more fortunate among us might choose to rest against our inclinations, to allow ourselves to take that day, and then take another — and also to recognize that those around us deserve the same. At a certain level of uptake, norms might begin to change. But that will take some brave first movers — or rather, not-movers.”

Be a “non-mover.” Review the wellness benefits that your company offers. Use them. This is a time of change. It’s a time of culture building. Contribute to that work by demanding a professional culture that prioritizes employee wellness. You and your colleagues deserve it.

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Overwhelmed? 5 Practices Remote Employees Can Use To Recalibrate

You know that moment when you realize that you’re losing control? You’re outside of your body watching everything scatter. You can’t see step one-what initial action would help you get a handle on this? Panic washes over you: “How do I get on top of this? OMG-calls keep coming in. My daughter is knocking. The dog won’t stop barking. I’m overwhelmed.” 

Being overwhelmed is an uncomfortable and unhealthy state. Many of us have been experiencing this as our personal and professional lives have blurred together during the pandemic. Professional life is urgent, but our personal lives are urgent too. How does one prioritize when multiple, important obligations are clamoring for our attention in the same space?  

Managing our wellness and environment can help. It takes some big picture planning, plus maintaining good routines and habits. On top of that, it helps to discuss our limitations, honestly and directly, without caving in to guilt.  

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We owe it to ourselves to create systems and practices that protect us from getting overwhelmed. These are five practices remote employees can start enacting now.  

1. Guard your sleep routine.   

Good sleep is the root of wellness and productivity. When children are small, we create a bedtime routine for them. They take a bath, have a glass of milk, hear a story. We give them a wind down period that is physically and emotionally relaxing. 

Adults, likewise, benefit from dedicating attention to calming ourselves at night and creating a routine that ensures deep, refreshing rest. “Sleep hygiene techniques and regular sleeping hours help improve cognition throughout the day and increase productivity. Individuals should create a workspace devoid of distractions if possible. The workspace should not be in the bedroom as this could affect sleep quality.” Explains Dr. Leela R. Magavi, M.D., Psychiatrist and Regional Medical Director for Community Psychiatry

Set yourself up to feel better throughout your workday by adhering to a calming routine each night. 

2. Create an environment that serves you.

There are some factors about professional life that you can’t control. You can’t always control your work volume; you can’t dictate how many phone calls or emails will reach you throughout the day. But you can control the space that those communications reach.  Making that space comfortable, clutter-free, and stocked with healthy snacks and drinks positions you to handle your work well. That’s what employers do when they design an office space and culture.  

Dr. Magavi advises: “Natural light and cooler temperatures can help maintain focus. . . Everyone has a different temperament and ideal learning environment and would benefit from different modifications based on their own individual needs.” Think about what you need to feel calm and focused. If your company is planning to continue remote or hybrid work, it’s worth deciding what you need to make this arrangement comfortable. 

In addition to environmental factors, calming practices can help. Dr. Magavi recommends: “Partaking in stretches periodically throughout the day could assuage anxiety. Squeezing a stress ball while completing anxiety-inducing tasks could help release stress. Some individuals keep their pets around them and pet them or hug them intermittently, which can release oxytocin and bolster mood.” 

While there are challenges to working from home, like trying to balance your own work with that of your spouse, roommate, or children who may also be at home, there are also benefits like being able to arrange your workspace. Build on the positives, and create a space that serves you.  

Consider, too, the factors that triggered your feelings when you’ve found yourself overwhelmed. Dr. Magavi advises: “It is imperative for individuals to pinpoint what exactly has been worsening their productivity, and tackle this accordingly.” 

For many of us, what feels so challenging about this time is that our routines have been upended. Dr. Magavi shares “Disrupted structure particularly affects inattentiveness…Limiting screen time and maintaining familiar routines inclusive of mindfulness activities and exercise as much as possible could improve focus and motivation.” While some screen time is necessary for work and school, it’s helpful to take a look at where we can eliminate the excess and build in healthier, more energizing activities.  

3. Adhere to healthy habits 

This is an exhausting time, which can make us feel the urge to collapse. But getting through a difficult time requires extra attention to those details that help energize us to succeed. Adhering to a healthy routine sets us up to feel better than collapsing into disorganization. This can create the conditions which can cause flare ups where we get demotivated and overwhelmed. 

Dr. Magavi offers this advice: “Each success releases neurochemicals such as dopamine, which positively reinforce healthy behavior and focus itself. Dopamine and norepinephrine are implicated in inattentiveness, so any activity that increases these levels could boost focus. If an individual writes down a goal to walk with weights for twenty minutes, and crosses this out when completed, this will release some positive neurochemicals. The next day, if demotivation strikes, it is helpful to think about the success from the prior day and attempt to repeat it again.” Notice what works, and keep building your routine around that which helps you.  

Dr. Magavi further advises: “Writing down top goals for the day and then crossing these out could help individuals gain clarity and keep track of tasks. Tasks could be broken down into educational and work activities, emotional and physical wellness activities, and social activities. Goals should remain achievable to avoid demoralization. Finishing tasks and reaching goals with loved ones can improve motivation and accountability.” Again, when you recognize that these activities help combat feelings of lethargy and demotivation, use that awareness as your motivation to keep building them into your routines.  

4. Get the support you need 

Living through a global pandemic is difficult. The CDC reports that June 2020 saw 40 percent of American adults struggling with substance abuse and mental health. There’s no shame in it, and you’re certainly not along if you’re struggling.   

Dr. Magavi points out that “Some anxiety and stress is necessary in order to initiate tasks and gain momentum. However, when stress causes distress or functionality concerns, this could adversely impact processing speed, working memory and performance. Individuals with significant mood and anxiety concerns and feelings of sadness and demoralization, which affect their functionality should consider scheduling an appointment with a psychiatrist or therapist. Cognitive behavioral therapy allows individuals to identify their anxiety pattern and tackle this by reframing thinking and engaging in healthy behaviors. In some cases, medications are warranted to treat mood and anxiety concerns.” 

Talk with your human resources team about your options and insurance coverage related to mental health or call your insurance carrier directly to learn more. 

5. Advocate for yourself 

Talk with your manager about the issues that are making your job hard to manage. If you’re struggling to keep up with the volume and intensity of work, share that feedback. If you’re struggling to balance work and life, discuss it with your manager. 

There’s no shame in finding it taxing to power your team through a global pandemic by working in a whole new way while also inhabiting the same space with your family. That is a lot to take on. If you’re finding it challenging, that doesn’t mean you’re bad at your job or you’re failing in any of life’s spheres in which you are an active participant. It means you’re a human being, and much is being asked of you at an exceedingly stressful time. It’s ok to invite a conversation addressing that.   

Know that you are not struggling alone. Many employees are trying to make this arrangement work any way they can, often sacrificing their own wellness to do so. Microsoft’s recent Work Trend Index Report notes: “The digital intensity of workers’ days has increased substantially, with the average number of meetings and chats steadily increasing since last year. . . Despite meeting and chat overload, 50 percent of people respond to Teams chats within five minutes or less, a response time that has not changed year-over-year. This proves the intensity of our workday, and that what is expected of employees during this time, has increased significantly.” 

Remote employees are burning themselves out trying to keep pace. The report explains: “Self-assessed productivity has remained the same or higher for many employees over the past year, but at a human cost. One in five global survey respondents say their employer doesn’t care about their work-life balance. Fifty-four percent feel overworked. Thirty-nine percent feel exhausted.”

The Microsoft report indicates that globally 40 percent the workforce are considering a job hunt this year. If your company wants to retain you, they need to hear you. If they don’t, then perhaps it’s time to consider starting a job hunt of your own.  


You are one person. You can handle a lot, but it should not be at the expense of your wellness. You matter more than your job. Do what you can to make the job you have habitable. But if it can’t work, move on. Find your fit. You deserve that. 

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Making Olive Oil Soap in the West Bank

Value-added agricultural products are all around us, but many students aren’t accustomed to thinking about commodity chains and recognizing the agricultural component of a product if it is not directly consumed.  This video about the production of soap in the Palestinian West Bank is an excellent example of an older way of using olive oil and creating what hipsters might refer to as artisanal, craft soap (after watching this one about West Bank soap, you can watch a very similar video about traditional Syrian soap production).  I really like this video for a S.P.E.E.D. (Social, Political, Economic, Environmental, Demographic) / E.S.P.N. (Economic, Social, Political, eNvironmental) type of an activity were you provide/show the resource to the students, and have them identify and then discuss the geographic themes from the given resource.  

I really went down a Youtube rabbit hole with this one, because once you learn about olive oil soap production, you might need to know more about how olive oil is produced.  I’ve really enjoyed TrueFoodTV over the years, and below, I’ve embedded an excellent clip from them that nicely shows the the geographic context of the Mediterranean agricultural region (and if you want some culinary tips on olive oil, I’m officially now out of my depth, but here is a clip from TrueFoodTV).  

GeoEd Tags: culture, place, video, food, food production, Palestine, agriculture.

Picture in Aleppo of traditional olive oil soapmaking.

2020 Census Means Congressional Shake-up

Texas, Florida and North Carolina are among the states that will gain congressional seats based on new population data from the U.S. census, a shift that could boost Republican chances of recapturing the U.S. House of Representatives from Democrats in next year’s midterm elections. The overall U.S. population stood at 331,449,281, the Census Bureau said on Monday, a 7.4% increase over 2010 representing the second-slowest growth of any decade in history. The release of the data, delayed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic, sets the stage for a battle over redistricting that could reshape political power in Washington during the next decade. States use the numbers and other census data to redraw electoral maps based on where people have moved.” SOURCE: Reuters

It is constitutionally mandated that the U.S. government conduct a census every ten years.  There are many benefits for all that data, but the original purpose was to allot congressional seats in the House of Representatives.  Today the number is locked in at 435, so as states’ populations grow or (relative to others) shrink, a given state many gain or lose seats in the House.  This ends up being very consequential, especially in a two-party country that is pretty evenly divided.  

New York and California (two of the largest states with the most seats) are the most upset since they are seeing their relative political power in the House of Representatives wane for the first time in decades while Texas is smiling big with 2 added seats.  Little Rhode Island is letting out a huge sigh of relief, since it was projected that Rhode Island would be losing 1 of their 2 congressional seats along with federal funding that is attached to that seat.  However, Rhode Island managed to retain their two seats. The census only says how many seats a given state will have, but it is up to the state government to reapportion the districts.  Redistricting can be very contentious and when it gets overtly and unfairly partisan, that’s when regular old redistricting can become gerrymandering.

Things to Consider: What demographic shifts have led to these new political patterns on the map?  Will these shifts lead to gerrymandering?  How will this impact the states gaining (or losing) seats? 

Tags: electoral, gerrymandering, USA, mapping.