Articles & Blogs

Are we Listening?

One of April’s themes is Stress Awareness. This theme struck home to me as a funeral service professional. I recall so many stressful moments and times in my life as a funeral director and business owner. The very first and most significant stressor came in April. On the 11th day in 1987, my dad died when I was 30 years old. I was highly stressed. I did not know how to be an owner, manage people, or manage myself at the same time I was mourning my dad’s death. It was a difficult time for both me and our team at Baue’s. We managed through it somehow by supporting each other, taking deep breaths on days when it became overwhelming, and being sure we took time off when we felt we needed it most.

Are people in Funeral Service and the Deathcare Profession feeling stressed today? I believe many are, and it seems we’re not giving them the support they need. We made it through the Pandemic, which was tough for our profession and others. Some employers and managers seem tired of hearing about burnout. Are they ignoring it, thinking it’s been four years, and we should be over it by now? I still see burnout happening, and while we talk about it sometimes, what are we doing within our organizations to address it? Are we offering resources and programs for handling stress? We must prioritize both physical and mental well-being by bringing such programs into our workplaces. Some associations and speakers are offering programs, but I wonder how many in our profession are listening. Thanks to our friends at ASD, HERE is a link to the resources currently provided in our profession.

The demanding hours and the emotionally challenging situations we face may take a toll on our mental well-being. Unfortunately, many employers in our profession haven’t designed schedules that prioritize a healthy work-life balance. I frequently hear about this from those I coach and read online, especially from younger generations who express feeling overwhelmed, stressed and burnt out. Are we listening?

Think about it: Is it right to expect your team to work for 10 days straight and then only give them a couple of days off before starting the cycle again? When do you think they start feeling the most stressed and burned out during those 10 days? Have we even bothered to ask them? And are we actually listening to what they have to say?

Funeral Service needs to wake up and listen to their staff!!! We must do better in how we schedule them, engage them, educate them, mentor, them, and coach them.  I believe that adding key elements of listening, empathy, mentoring, and engaging into our workplaces will make a difference in the stress levels of our staff. I believe it will also reduce turnover and enhance our ability to recruit new staff in the future.

According to Gallup’s latest research, 44% of employees worldwide are saying they are stressed. In fact, this is a continuous record high that began in 2021 right after the Pandemic was ending.

Managers are feeling increasingly burnt out and disconnected, often more so than their teams. They do not feel listened to, and their supervisors or owners are not keeping them informed about what is going on within the organization. They do not feel that they have been taught the skills that are needed to become better at their jobs and to grow themselves as leaders. Managers want more training on engaging their employees and developing them further. Managers report that they are short-staffed. Their employers are cutting jobs to save money and the responsibility is falling on them to take over the missing roles. They do not feel listened to!

The managers are under even more stress as their staffing levels are shrinking. Since the pandemic, well-being and work-life, balance has been at the forefront of core needs for all employees. In fact, it has become the reason there is 51% of staff members that are looking to leave their employers. Most of them are part of the “Quiet Quitters” movement and the owners may never know why they are leaving. However, the research is clear. It is because of the lack of engagement in the workplace and not identifying with the company’s culture as the top two reasons. They are saying that the companies do not seem to care about their issues with work, life, and balance. Employers are not listening!

Gallup also shares that 80% of employees who have been receiving meaningful feedback are more fully engaged. However, the disconnect for me is that if the managers are stressed and burnt out, will they be able to be good leaders and coaches to their team members to help them feel more engaged? The answer is most likely no.

How can companies improve employee engagement? As a former owner with over 120 employees, I believe as caregivers, it’s crucial to prioritize both our own well-being and that of our teams, including managing stress levels effectively.

Regardless of your organization’s size, whether you’re an owner with a handful of staff, you are a multi-location firm, or part of a large corporation, recognizing and addressing your stress levels and their impact on your staff is essential.

When I was a younger owner, I did not know how to manage people. I had some incredible mentors and coaches who helped me understand the importance of listening empathetically to our staff. They also helped me better hear from the staff and work to change myself in my leadership abilities. The biggest lesson I had to learn was to use my heart more when I was interacting with my team and be open to hearing how they felt.

Part of the Engagement movement is to increase and show empathy. I find this interesting on so many levels. Are we not supposed to be an empathetic profession? Are we losing our empathetic ways or are we so stressed that we cannot show empathy to others much less to ourselves?

I believe that effective mentoring programs within companies are vital for success, attracting and retaining talent, and solving employee engagement issues. Mentoring involves listening, spending time, and showing care, fostering empathy. Just as we do for client families, it’s critical to extend the same empathetic listening to our staff. When you are mentoring others, you are listening to them.

Here are some key components to effective mentoring programs:

  • Regular weekly or biweekly meetings with listening & two-way communication.
  • Sit-downs of 30–45 minutes with team members.
  • Personal check-ins, where you ask how you can better support them and enhance workplace culture.
  • Listen to their concerns and ideas for improving the company’s workplace.

To learn more about my mentoring programs, don’t hesitate to get in touch! Explore how you can change your work-life balance initiatives and establish impactful mentoring programs within your organization or for personal growth.

For my top 10 Mentoring tips, click HERE.