Forum 360°: David Posen talks about psychological health of young workers

Friday, November 22, 2013

The 2013 edition of our Forum 360° event was a great success. We welcomed around 120 participants in Toronto.

Our keynote speaker, Dr. David Posen gave an engaging presentation on the psychological health of young workers and what employers can do to help them manage stress.


Note: The information between brackets describes the visual and audio content of the video that is not dialogue or narration.

[Situation: Dr. David Posen and Josée Dixon, Vice-President of Business Development at Desjardins, talk about stress management in the younger generation.]

Josée Dixon: Hello, I’m Josée Dixon, Vice-President, Business Development. I have the pleasure of being with Dr. David Posen. Dr. Posen is a physician, he’s also a book author, but he has devoted his career around stress management. Today, we will be talking about stress management with the younger generation, Generation Y people, who are coming into the marketplace. Dr. Posen, welcome!

Dr. David Posen: Thank you very much.

Josée Dixon: Dr. Posen, if I am a manager of Generation Y employees, how can I better manage them to ensure that they have a successful integration in the workplace?

Dr. David Posen: Well, first of all, bring them in slowly. Show them the ropes, show them what you want from them and then start to give them work that’s challenging and interesting and where they feel it’s meaningful and they’re giving valuable work to the organization. And coach them, but don’t micro-manage them, and give them, they need regular feedback. They want, they’re used to regular feedback about how they’re doing and, you know, praise, it doesn’t have to be excessive, but they want to know how they’re doing. Clear goals and then give them some exciting work as they develop more skills: give them more challenge.

Josée Dixon: So, is Generation Y really a different generation? Or is that just an urban legend?

Dr. David Posen: No, I think, I mean, the generalities are. There are a lot of characteristics of the Gen Y, you know, population. In some respects they’re not that different and in some respects they are. Because of the way they were raised. You know, they’re used to speed, they’re very comfortable with change, they’re actually very tech-savvy, they’re very good at social networking, but they’re used to having a lot of, you know, feedback and even praise and so on. They’re not used to strict deadlines and high expectations; we need to teach them about accountability. But, you know, they’re eager, they’re energetic, they’re enthusiastic and if you can keep them engaged, they’ll be terrific workers.

Josée Dixon: Canadian employers have a hard time today because they are dealing with multiple generations at the workplace. How can they detect early signs of psychological stress on the younger generation?

Dr. David Posen: Well, I think there are three things to look at. First, of all, their health. You know, are they getting sick a lot? With colds and flus and so on. Do they get a lot of headaches? You know, they’ll have abdominal problems and so on. And a lot of them are very open, and they’ll talk about those things. Secondly is their energy level. Especially if they’re generally energetic and it starts to flag, that’s a signal. If they start to lose their sense of humour, if they’re less amiable and friendly. And the third thing is their mental function: concentration, memory, decision-making. If you start to see they’re slower in their work and they’re making mistakes and so on, those are signals that you need to pay attention to.

Josée Dixon: And what about the employee themselves, that younger employee, what could they do improve their own integration in the workplace?

Dr. David Posen: Well first of all, I think they have to be willing to learn the ropes, they have to be willing to find out what the culture is like and what accountability is about and what they’re expected to do. But they also have to take care of their own health and basic things: getting enough sleep, which is crucial, and most people aren’t getting the sleep they need. Regular exercise is really important. Good nutrition. They need to take responsibility for their own well-being and they also need to learn stress-reducing techniques for themselves. Whether it’s meditation or abdominal breathing or whatever. So it’s not all on the responsibility of the employer, but it’s a shared responsibility.

Josée Dixon: Dr. Posen, thank you for having this chat with me.

Dr. David Posen: My pleasure, thank you.

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