I hope you enjoy the articles in this issue of our Newsletter. Your Funeral Coach is a Coaching and Mentoring Firm that lives in the funeral, cremation and cemetery services space. We offer a wide variety of affordable consulting options and have joined with some incredible companies to provide the very best advice and education possible to help owners and individuals grow themselves and their teams in our profession.
Welcome to our June/July Summer Newsletter. We appreciate our readers who have joined us, clients, and our professional partners that we work with in the funeral, cremation, and cemetery profession.
We call our publication, Above Ground Connections because we always want to be transparent and go “above and beyond” in the information shared in our content from our guest writers and Collaborative Network Partners. The word "Ground" is used as a play on words for our profession. The word Connections was chosen because we wish to connect in a meaningful way and provide quality education that is pertinent to today’s business professional.
We hope you will share our newsletter with those you know and might benefit from some of our content as well as to help us connect to more of your professional connections in our profession.
Top of mind this month is the Great Resignation that is continuing to affect us, as well as the growing inflation effect. The end of May saw our country experiencing unimaginable tragedies that began with the killings in Uvalde, TX. These senseless deaths have been devastating to families and communities, and increasingly difficult for all of us to understand and accept. I want to say a very special thank you to all in our profession that are helping families through these hard times. Your work is valued, and your talents are appreciated.
In my June 3rd blog post I share more about the work that the Funeral Service Foundation is doing to support these grieving communities, along with a peek at a few photos of Roberta’s House in Baltimore, MD a grief support center, that I toured recently with NFDA and the Funeral Service Foundation. This is an incredible place that was founded to help grieving families and esp. children to provide a place to go to understand and seek help with their losses.
The month of May was Mental Health Awareness Month and because of this, we are featuring more articles and blogs on this topic. You will hear and read about mental well-being, burnout, advocating for yourself and improving as a leader, creating a better business culture as well as being open to what talents and skills new leaders may bring.
The pandemic has perhaps been a large part of the cause of many of the mental health challenges in our world, our country, and our profession. I know most of you would rather not hear about it much anymore, but it has resulted in some very serious ramifications that are affecting people’s mental health, our businesses, and the future of the funeral, cremation and burial service profession. Thus, we must continue to learn from it and discover ways that we can recover, discover, and move forward toward a more positive future. I also believe that it is the responsibility of employers, managers, associations, and those on the front lines of our profession, to do all we can to improve the workplace culture, the benefits, and the mental health programs that our employees deserve.
It is also my hope that all our readers are engaged and promoting the much-needed awareness of how to better support team members in the workplace and that this effort is focused high on everyone’s radar.
Wishing you many blessings during the summer months ahead and if we may support you in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Monster is reporting that 95% of the workforce is considering a job change. Many are contemplating a switch because of a lack of passion for their current role, or they are feeling stalled in their career. Others are facing a decline in morale, high burnout, and a lack of connection to peers in the workplace, family, and friends. There are many reasons for the great resignation, and companies have a responsibility to retain their greatest assets: their talent.
So how do companies retain their people? Owners and managers need to offer opportunities for growth and development. Create trainings that empower staff and engage them to grow as a team and individually. Foster a culture that promotes connection with each other. Team building experiences and opportunities to appreciate the staff with a luncheon, or a random food truck can be a way to create comradery and cohesiveness. Encourage staff to find balance and harmony in their lives outside of the workplace. Create a safe place for employees to speak their truth and feel validated. Employees want to feel that their managers care about them.
Companies can create a motivating and supportive culture, but individuals also have a responsibility to prevent burnout. In March of 2020, alcohol sales spiked to record numbers. And streaming services increased exponentially. These statistics prove that many use these substances to numb feelings of anxiety, depression, and/or sadness. Instead of numbing, look at yourself with intention. Instead of trying so hard to become your “best self,” work on becoming your “favorite self.” Challenge thoughts of perfectionism and cultivate self-compassion. You survived this horrific time in the pandemic, so be kind to yourself and others. Create downtime at home, allow yourself to rest, and eat intuitively.
Creating a supportive culture that fosters growth and encourages your staff to find fulfillment in the balance and harmony of their lives will retain employees and prevent burnout amongst staff. People are no longer competing for jobs; companies are competing for talent. Creating a culture of support, encouragement, and fulfillment will attract talent that strives for balance, and therefore, you will retain your talented people that make your business thrive.
LEADERSHIP & WELL-BEING ARE A MUST!
Written by Marguerite Ham, Leadership Trainer, and Coach
So many of us, (especially those who take care of others personally and/or professionally), are feeling the compound fatigue from the events that have been occurring in our personal lives, at work, in our communities, states, country, and world. In a recent survey by Gallup, only 1 in 5 people feel as though their well-being is considered at their job.
Well-being is a powerful predictor of turnover.
Communication, Support, and Recognition are key components of leadership to bring a sense of personal well-being to their staff members.
Let’s look at these 3 Components and their Connection to Leadership and Well-Being:
1. Communication is key during times of uncertainty. Even if you don’t have all the answers, that is ok. Communicating the truth and instilling a sense of confidence that we will all get through this together. It is also imperative that the messaging from the leadership team is consistent and congruent, meaning that all are sharing the same message in all departments and in a similar time frame. Communicating often is also important, informing staff members of what is going on will create a sense of safety and allow staff to feel informed, calm, and more secure, which directly impacts staff well-being. Being in the dark leads to people “dropping in their own stories”, (most of which is untrue, it is human nature to fill in the blanks when we don’t know!) This is not just a one-way flow (from leadership to staff), taking time to listen to staff members' concerns is also important. It does not mean that we solve or have the answers to all of their concerns, it simply means that we are there to listen and assist them with finding solutions to their problems and addressing the organizational challenges. If a challenge is identified within the organization and the leader says, “we can fix that”, follow through and follow up with reports on progress. If you cannot address a challenge, let staff know, that is not being addressed right now. Honesty is key!
2.Creating a Supportive Environment for staff members. This includes many different areas like: Physical, Mental, Social, and Financial. Many have felt disconnected personally and professionally over the last 2 years. Creating a supportive environment by reaching out to individuals over the phone (not just email or text). If staff are working at home, a phone call or zoom call to simply check-in to see how they are doing goes a long way to someone feeling supported and cared for individually.
*Mental support, especially when there is a lot going on personally and professionally. Letting staff know they are not alone and if they are stuck can reach out and get the support, they need to continue to be productive and fulfilled at work.
*Creating a Social connection within your business is key to a sense of belonging. In the past, lots of “organic connections” occurred with staff passing each other by in the hallways, being with each other in meetings, and perhaps connecting after work for a bit of social time. Social time is important for staff to debrief, connect with each other about non, work-related conversations and simply have fun with each other.
*Financial Support does not mean we are giving staff cash! It means during these challenging times; we can offer resources for them to get the information they need to remain financially stable. Many organizations are now offering Financial Coaching to their staff members, assisting with creating budgets, getting the information they need from the HR department about their benefits, etc. As a leader, it is important to consider many ways to support staff members so they feel cared for personally and professionally which will build a stronger sense of well-being for staff.
3.Recognition creates energy, acknowledgment, and a sense of pride in staff and the work they are doing. Not all recognition is created equal! When considering recognition, keep in mind the frequency and quality of the recognition. A personal, specific recognition just once a week to a staff member makes them feel a stronger sense of well-being. When giving recognition, don’t just say, “you did a great job today or last week”, be specific. Example: “I heard you on the phone yesterday with a client and could tell they were upset; you did a great job listening to their challenge and helping them find a solution to their challenge. Thank you for taking such good care of the people we serve.” Verbal recognition goes a long way, especially if it is specific and sincere. Financial recognition; Ie: A bonus, raise, or promotion, can be important to some. During current inflationary times, financial rewards can help depending on the role and the value of the individual to the organization. Financial recognition, however, can soon be forgotten, and the employee may be looking for more! It is important as a leader to balance verbal and financial recognition and to understand their staff as to what is most important to them; a blend of all forms of recognition and appreciation is best to create a more positive culture.
As leaders, when creating a culture of well-being for your staff members, keep all three of these components in mind: Communication, Support, and Recognition. Being a leader is not an easy job, so be sure to also consider your well-being as well. What kind of support do you need to stay centered and balanced? Who is in your inner circle who you can connect with and get support from to help you maintain your personal and professional well-being?
5 STEPS EXHIBIT A LEADERSHIP MENTALITY IN THE FUNERAL HOME AND CARE CENTER
Written by Monica Torres
International Technical Trainer LE, LFD, Postmortem Reconstructive Specialist and Desairologist
Let your boss know when you went above and beyond expectations. Doing this will demonstrate what you’re capable of and will ensure that your work does not go unnoticed. Keep an extra pair of scrubs at work for slow days and go above and beyond by mopping the mortuary cooler, vacuuming the chapel, giving the removal van a good deep cleaning, or cleaning out the fridge in the break room. On slow days find something to do to keep busy and never let your boss catch you loafing.
Don’t skip work shifts
Don’t call in……but if you must, do it as soon as possible even if it’s a bit late or early in the morning. Funeral home staff is often stretched thin as it is and having even one part-time staff member call in last minute can have a catastrophic impact on daily operations and funeral services. Strive to show commitment, reliability, and be dependable. When you're consistent about delivering results with no excuses, this can significantly impact how your boss perceives you.
Bring a good attitude to work
Show off your leadership mentality by setting an example for others by showing up with a good attitude. The seriousness of working alongside death daily can really wear on your mental attitude and emotional strength. Write down a monthly affirmation or print out a funny “funeral meme” and keep it in the hearse, in the prep room, or tape it up in the AV room to spread positivity at the funeral home. Stay focused on keeping a positive attitude and share it with other staff and your boss.
Ask for help
Ask for help when you need it but also offer solutions to your own problems. If you are struggling at work around the arrangement table or in the prep room, consider seeking out formal training in the area you are struggling in. Often owners and managers struggle to offer mentorship or proper training due to over-demanding schedules and relentless intake of families in need. Take it upon yourself to secure online or in-person technical training/educational opportunities through scholarships or mentorship programs outside of the funeral home. Those who take initiative get noticed and set themselves apart as movers and shakers.
Dress to impress
Dress to impress by wearing clothing appropriate for the business at hand. Funeral directors and professionals meeting families should keep suits pressed and CLEAN. Shoes should be polished and appropriate for standing long hours and walking.
For women: choose heels 2.5 inches or less. Your hair should be well-groomed and styled (for men and women). Avoid trendy hairstyles not appropriate for business such as a “messy bun” and opt for a more polished look like a fishtail braid or low sweeping bun. Jewelry, makeup, and nail polish should be conservative and not distracting for staff or families. Wear comfortable, yet professional shoes. Women’s high heels create a slip and fall risk, and they also may cause back and leg pain.
Suits and dress shoes are not appropriate attire for the preparation care. Stick to scrubs, compression socks, or lab coat and keep it professional. Keep a separate pair of professional shoes meant for standing like Danskos or Crocs to change into for in-house preparatory work. I can’t tell you how many funeral directors I’ve seen walking around with blood splatter or other unknown body fluids on their pant legs or in their hair. Not a great look or smell and is not impressive when trying to comfort a family. Always use proper PPE while working in the prep room.
As a millennial woman navigating the workplace in a culture developed by previous generations, I have noticed differing leadership trends amongst fellow millennials and older generations. As more baby boomers retire, millennials are desiring to step in to fill new management positions and bringing with them a new perspective on business leadership.
According to an article written by Barbara A. Friedberg, statistics show that globally, baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are retiring at the rate of approximately 10,000 a day. Millennials already hold the majority of management positions, and their number rises with each passing year.
From my personal experience, millennials have a reputation for not following traditional management structures, especially compared to previous generations. According to a 2015 millennial leadership study, 91% of millennials in the workplace aspire to be in leadership positions, and more than half of these millennials are women.
With this new perspective on leadership styles and practices, there is a strong indication that Millennials, and more specifically women, may bring big changes in how executive and management positions are filled and carried out. What remains to be seen is how this new approach will impact companies and if funeral service organizations will embrace the needs of these new generations entering the workplace.
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