A federal judge on Monday approved a partial settlement in the long-running dispute over equal pay between U.S. Soccer and its World Cup-winning women’s national team, but the players’ fight with the federation is far from over.
The ruling by Judge R. Gary Klausner, of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, rubber-stamped an agreement on working conditions that the sides had reached last year. When he rejected the players’ core arguments about equal pay last May, Klausner let them continue their claims about unequal working conditions in areas like team flights, hotels, venue selection and staffing support.
Before they could pursue an appeal of their equal pay defeat, the players needed to resolve those issues. With that agreement now in place, the players said, they will return to the core of their legal fight: an appeal of Klausner’s ruling that dismissed their demands for pay equal to what the men’s team earns.
“Now that this is behind us, we intend to appeal the court’s equal pay decision, which does not account for the fact that women players have been paid at lesser rates than men who do the same job,” said the players’ spokeswoman, Molly Levinson.
The women’s players sued U.S. Soccer in March 2019, contending they had been subjected to years of unequal treatment and compensation. Twenty-eight members of the team filed the initial lawsuit, which later grew to include anyone in a larger class of players who had been part of the women’s team since 2015.
The players pressed their equal pay argument for years — through on-field protests, interviews and social media campaigns — as they piled up victories and two World Cup championships on the field. Then Klausner rejected them in a single devastating paragraph last May.
In that decision, Klausner ruled that not only had U.S. Soccer not paid the women’s players less than their men’s counterparts, but also that he had been convinced that “the WNT has been paid more on both a cumulative and an average per-game basis than the MNT” over the years covered in the case.
It is unclear how long an appeal of his decision could take, or even whether it will be decided in a courtroom or at the negotiating table.
Click here to read the full article on the New York Times.
By Tawanah Reeves-Ligon, Editor Professional WOMAN’s Magazine
A great philosopher and songwriter once asked the question, “Who runs the world?” Of course, the answer has been, and remains, that we do.
The impact of women on our economy and in our communities is so great. Though last year presented many professional and personal challenges to women, it also produced some of the greatest comeback stories we’ve ever seen.
Starting with our Wonder Woman of the Year, Tiffany Haddish, Professional WOMAN’s Magazine is going to highlight some of the amazing women that are inspiring and motivating us to keep moving forward.
You may recognize Haddish from her work in movies like “Girls Trip.” But the Emmy and Grammy winner is a Wonder Woman in business as well, running her own production company. She said, “It’s not all about me, and I don’t have all the stories.
There are so many stories to be told. I wanted to create a company that is female-run and that is telling our stories and giving opportunities.” You can read more about Haddish’s business and vision on page 102.
All of our Wonder Women in this special issue have brought something unique to the table in their businesses and organizations. Get inspired by their stories starting on page 4.
Learn how you are contributing to the era of women entrepreneurs on page 80.
And, if you find yourself still on the hunt for your next career move, feel free to get some tips on how to “Stay Positive During a Long Job Search” on page 27.
We are so thankful to our readership, as you are all Wonder Women, changing the game in your respective spaces.
Continue to work your magic in the world, and we will continue to support you on your journey.
Language carries with it an unusual power: a single word can heal or hurt. Words can create cultures of belonging or exclusion, and it’s important to know which words or phrases are which, especially if you value diversity (and you should :)).
The way we use language changes as the culture at large changes, and the trend is towards respectful people-first language. It can be hard to keep up — but it’s essential for a healthy, inclusive culture at work.
“Using inclusive language helps build trust and credibility, particularly with groups that have felt historically underrepresented or misrepresented,” says Rachele Kanigel, editor of The Diversity Style Guide.
Here are ten outdated words to cut:
1. Addict → person with a substance abuse disorder
Addiction is a disease — but we shouldn’t equate a person’s identity with their disease. The word addict perpetuates the negative stereotyping and stigma around those who have an addiction. That’s because it acts as shorthand for those ideas. The more appropriate term, according to the Partnership to End Addiction, is now person with a substance use disorder or person struggling with an addiction.
2. Non-white → person of color
The primary issue here is that non-white assumes whiteness as the default identity. It creates a sense that those who don’t fit into that particular category don’t belong, or in some way less than those who are white. It’s best to avoid non-white altogether, and to use something that is both more direct and less white-normative, like people of color.
3. Elderly → senior
Ageism is real, and using the word elderly to describe someone is one of the ways that it can manifest. The word invites the discrimination that older individuals often face, and it’s associated with things that are typically thought of in a negative light, like sickness or inability. So it’s best avoided. A better phrase would be older person or senior adult.
4. Homeless → people experiencing homelessness
Using this term to describe a group of people means defining them according to one trait they happen to share, and one that, for many, is a temporary state. It perpetuates the stigma associated with homelessness. A better option would be to say, someone who is experiencing homelessness.
5. Sex change → transition
According to GLAAD, the term sex change places an unnecessary emphasis and focus on the surgical aspect of transitioning. The decision to have surgery or not is a personal one, and someone who has transitioned should not have to reveal whether they’ve had surgery or not. The term sex change has also been used in the past to out trans people, so it’s both offensive and outdated. The preferred term for the surgery itself is sex reassignment surgery or gender affirmation surgery.
6. Exotic → just don’t, especially if it refers to a woman
The term is often used to describe women of color. To those who have been described this way, it can foster feelings of being objectified, especially given the term’s racist colonial roots. Because the term is mostly meant to describe non-living things, it’s dehumanizing to use it to describe a person. Finally, it implies the person being described doesn’t fit a certain standard of beauty (remember non-white?), even as it objectifies them.
7. Whitelist → allow list, permit list
To some, this may seem innocuous, as the term has been used in a number of industries, especially software, for a long time. But the idea of color-coding to mean ‘good’ or ‘bad’ evokes racist ideologies. Even though it’s being used to describe things, rather than people, it’s still pulling from those ideas. So the word is problematic, regardless of the intent of the speaker or the ubiquity of the term. But it’s easily replaced by other terminology, like permit list.
8. Insane → just don’t
Mental illness has long been fraught with stigma, and this term perpetuates the negative stereotypes associated with those who have mental illnesses. That’s a huge part of the problem when it comes to the treatment of mental illness itself, making it harder for people to seek help. A phrase that isn’t steeped in stigma, like person with a mental illness, is a better option.
9. Manhours → person hours, engineering hours
It may be easy to overlook this term because it’s use is so widespread. But here are two reasons to cut this from your vocabulary: First, the term assumes that it is men who are doing the work, which excludes anyone who does not identify as a man. Second, it supports the gender binary by setting up a this-or-that classification. So it’s best to use a less exclusionary (and more descriptive!) term like person hours or work hours.
10. Alcoholic → person with a substance abuse disorder
As with the word addict, this word takes a person and makes them synonymous with their disease. This tethers them to all the negative ideas connected to that disease.
For those who have alcoholism, this can make it harder to feel as though they’re making progress. A better option would be to say, person who has a substance abuse disorder.
Changing the way we use language can be difficult, but inclusive language really can create a more inclusive workplace. As you make changes, the most important part is to remember to ask, rather than assume, when it comes to talking about minority groups.
“If you’re unsure of what terms to use, ask your sources. When you can’t ask sources, seek out guidance from community leaders and respected organizations,” says Kanigel. “It can be difficult to ask about gender and racial identity, but the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll get asking questions.”
According to the American Psychological Association, the country is facing a mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come.
This was brought on by the stress created by the pandemic, leaving many people to feel anxiety and worry more. With that in mind, it’s crucial that people prioritize relaxing and reducing stress in order to protect their mental health. The good news is there are numerous things they can do to help them achieve that goal.
“Being busy became such a trend, as though busy equated success – now freedom and flexibility are the symbols of success,” explains Katie Sandler, personal development and career coach. “It’s hard for people to chill out when their systems are programmed to be going nonstop and working nonstop. It takes a minute to down regulate the system in order to actually reduce stress and chill out.”
In a Pew Research Center survey, at least 60% of the adults reported that they sometimes feel too busy to enjoy life, with 12% of them saying they felt that way all of the time. Living like this is one sure way to increase stress and anxiety levels. Having long term stress can lead to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, and depression, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
While many people want to reduce the stress in their lives, they are not always sure how to go about doing so. Here are 5 ways to chill out in a hectic life:
Mindfulness. Keeping yourself in the present moment can go a long way toward helping you lower stress, anxiety, and even depression as well as help you get better sleep and establish a better sense of well-being. Mindfulness is something that everyone can learn and practice anywhere at anytime.
Connect with people. Getting together with people we enjoy being around helps us laugh, feel connected, and make us happier. Those populations who are the healthiest in the world, such as the Blue Zones, tend to get together for social interaction regularly. Join a group or find some friends you like to be around and meet up on a regular basis. If you don’t feel comfortable being in person – create zoom social events; something is better than nothing.
Be in nature. There are many health benefits from spending time in nature. Even a view of nature helps us feel better and can improve our mood. Be sure to get outdoor time, taking walks, biking, gardening, or doing something else you enjoy. Nature-deficit disorder is real. Whatever you choose, just be sure to spend time outside and in nature.
Schedule free time. With the busy lives that people live today it may be necessary to put free time on the schedule. This way it will be a part of your plan and you will have to give it your attention. Don’t let other things crowd out your scheduled free time.
Set the intention. The first part of making your life less hectic is to set the intention that you are going to chill out. Setting the intention will get you to formulate your thoughts, plans, and goals. Determine what you want, what you will do to make it happen, and what you want the outcome to be.
“You can’t continue to put off reducing your hectic and stressful lifestyle,” added Sandler. “Having a more relaxing life with less stress takes being proactive and making some changes. You have to put work into it, some of it may seem counterintuitive, but what you get back is beyond rewarding.”
Sandler has worked with many people to help them identify a plan for personal achievement, take steps to reach goals, and identify areas that need to be worked on. She provides people with meaningful tools that they can use to help bring calm and insight into their life. In addition to working with individuals, she offers luxury impact retreats.
Sandler has a bachelor’s degree in psychology anda master’s degree in mental health counseling, has a strong foundation in mindfulness-based stress reduction, and has worked in hospitals and private practice. She previously spent time as a research assistant while at Johns Hopkins, focusing on purpose in life. To learn more about Katie Sandler and her services, or to see the retreat schedule, visit the site: https://katiesandler.com/.
About Katie Sandler
Katie Sandler is a popular impact coach and provides health and wealth coaching and personal and professional development. She offers retreats around the world, as well as private coaching and corporate impact coaching opportunities. She focuses on helping people become more successful so they can live with purpose and make an impact in our world. To learn more about Katie or her services, visit the site: https://katiesandler.com/.
The United States started a Paralympic gold-medal streak in women’s sitting volleyball on the final day of the Tokyo Games, successfully defending its gold medal from Rio five years ago.
The Americans solidified themselves as the sport’s new powerhouse, taking down China in four sets at one of the last competitions in Tokyo.
Including wins from the indoor volleyball team and beach volleyball duo of April Ross and Alix Klineman, the U.S. has now achieved a Tokyo triple of all Olympic and Paralympic women’s volleyball gold medals, which has never before been done.
“Women can do anything they put their mind to, and USA Volleyball has the strongest women in the world,” Katie Holloway said on the NBCSN broadcast. “It is incredible to be in that place. We are so grateful to be among the most powerful women in the world in volleyball.”
Women’s sitting volleyball was added to the Paralympic Games in 2004. China had won the first three gold medals awarded – plus the 2010 and 2014 World titles – until the U.S. ended that streak in 2016, topping the three-time defending champion after settling for silver in both 2008 and 2012.
The U.S. faced its rival for the gold on Sunday morning and was led in scoring by three of its veterans – four-time Paralympians Heather Erickson (21 points) and Holloway (20) and three-time Paralympian Monique Matthews (19). The team included eight veterans who now have a combined 27 Paralympic Games between them, plus four newcomers.
Lora Webster – who has competed at all five Paralympics – contributed six points, playing while pregnant. Her fourth child is due in early 2022.
The U.S. was off to a stellar start in the final, closing the first set in just 18 minutes at 25-12.
China showed up in the second, which the U.S. still took 25-20, then really came back with a vengeance in the third to win 25-22. Xu Yixiao was China’s top scorer of the game with 20 points, including five in that set.
Xu added another seven in the fourth set, but the Americans were relentless and wrapped it 25-19 to secure the gold.
The U.S. went undefeated in 2019, winning 25 matches, and entered Tokyo as the favorite, but was upset early on, dropping its second game to China, 3-0.
Click here to read the full article on NBC Sports.
During nearly five decades in showbiz, Sandra Bernhard has racked up title after title – comedian, actor, singer, author, radio host – and a reputation for controversy. She has worked with a long list of superstars, from Richard Pryor and Robin Williams to Robert De Niro and Cyndi Lauper. But she has never been overshadowed; her force of personality has guaranteed that. Even 30 years ago, the Los Angeles Times was paying homage to her “acid-tongued, antagonistic persona”.
But there are no cutting remarks today. On this sunny morning in LA, she appears relaxed, in a pink-striped shirt and trousers, reminiscent of the early 80s outfits she wore for her many appearances on Late Night With David Letterman.
It is almost a year since she finished filming the final series of Pose, the much-praised TV drama exploring the ball scene in 80s New York and the gay and transgender artists who built it. Bernhard plays Judy Kubrak, a nurse caring for people dying with Aids. Judy has an activist streak, bringing other characters into the fight against neglectful politicians and cruel pharmaceutical companies.
It feels like the perfect role for Bernhard, who has always laced her shows with political commentary, has been open about her own bisexuality and was embedded in New York’s cultural underground during the ball era. She remembers that time fondly: “There were events and art openings, fashion shows and parties. For sure, there was a gay scene, but everything sort of melded together.”
It was there she met her longtime musical director, Mitch Kaplan, and the conceptual artist John Boskovich. Together, they developed her breakthrough one-woman show, Without You I’m Nothing, With You, I’m Not Much Better, which she performed off-Broadway in 1988. “Almost every night, we went out afterwards, dancing, or hung out on Second Avenue. There were a lot more people on the street. It was just a more accessible, affordable situation back then.”
Yet the era was tinged with tragedy as Aids took hold. “I lost many, many good friends. We were all terrified and sad,” Bernhard says. It was particularly tough for trans people. “Back then, if you were trans, chances are you lived on the street, you hustled and you probably contracted Aids,” she says. “Nobody took trans people seriously. The underlying theme of Pose was to really honour that community’s work and artistry.
“When I got the role on Pose, it was kind of full circle. I had been part of it, seen my friends in hospital and known what people went through: the degradation, loneliness and alienation. There was a lot to inform my performance.”
One relationship from this time still trails Bernhard from interview to interview: her friendship with Madonna. “We’d met many times, but she didn’t seem that interested in being friends until she came to see my show in New York,” she says. “We kind of clicked then.”
The pair began hanging out, going to parties and plays. In July 1988, Bernhard was on Letterman again and brought a surprise: Madonna. The pair, dressed in matching denim shorts, white T-shirts and ankle socks, wrested control from the helpless host.
Rumours of an affair followed them. “Two women hanging out? Of course it’s going to be sexual,” Bernhard says with perfect sarcasm. “I mean, we kind of flirted with that purposefully. We left it ambiguous and crazy; it was almost like an ongoing performance piece.”
Bernhard, 66, has never made a secret of her bisexuality. She has been with her partner, Sara Switzer, formerly an editor at Harper’s Bazaar, for more than two decades. They met in the late 90s, not long after Bernhard gave birth to her daughter Cicely, whom they raised in New York. She has never named Cicely’s father.
Click here to read the full article on the Guardian.
Model Ariel Nicholson has made history as the first transgender person to be featured on the cover of U.S. Vogue.
The LGBTQ rights advocate is one of eight models gracing the cover of the fashion magazine’s “Generation America”-themed September issue, which celebrates models that challenge industry norms. Nicholson, 20, shared the cover alongside models Anok Yai, Bella Hadid, Lola Leon, Sherry Shi, Yumi Nu, Kaia Gerber and Precious Lee.
Nicholson shared her excitement in an Instagram post last week.
“To have the opportunity to participate in the shifting landscape of fashion is a dream come true,” she wrote in the caption.
The New Jersey native has been no stranger to the spotlight. At 13, she was featured in the PBS documentary “Growing Up Trans,” which shared the personal journeys of eight transgender youths. Nicholson then went on to sign with a modeling agency while in high school, and in 2018, she became the first trans woman to walk in a Calvin Klein runway show.
Nicholson told Vogue that when she went into modeling, she took on the role as a “standard-bearer,” as she was and still is passionate about transgender rights and trans visibility. She was also blunt about the limits to “what ‘representation’ can do.”
“Obviously it’s a big deal being the first trans woman on the cover of Vogue,” she told the fashion magazine, “but it’s also hard to say exactly what kind of big deal it is when the effects are so intangible.”
She also shared the double-edged sword of being “a first”: “I’ve been put in this box — trans model. Which is what I am — but that’s not all I am,” she said.
It’s confirmed: USA Basketball Women’s National Team is one of the greatest sports dynasties of all time.
The team sealed the deal on Sunday when they claimed their seventh consecutive gold medal in a 90-75 win against host country Japan at the Tokyo Olympics. It was their 55th consecutive Olympic victory since the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Today, Nike is celebrating their success in a new film titled “Dynasties,” which stars current players and Nike athletes A’ja Wilson, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Sylvia Fowles, Brittany Griner, Jewell Loyd, and Napheesa Collier, as well as former USAB players Dawn Staley, Lisa Leslie, Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Elena Delle Donne, Tamika Catchings and Sheryl Swoopes.
With this campaign, Nike is making a declarative statement that the USA Women’s Basketball team is the greatest sports team of all time. Plus, such spotlight is part of the brand’s commitment helping foster the growth of women’s sports and establishing the WNBA.
In the film, a young student is giving a presentation on dynasties, however, it’s not about ancient history. Instead, it is one she actually looks up to: “An all-women dynasty. Women of color. Gay women. Women who fight for social justice. A dynasty that makes your favorite men’s basketball, football and baseball teams look like amateurs,” she says in the clip.
For over 25 years, these female basketball stars have made their mark on and off the court. Swoopes, for instance, was the first woman to have a Nike basketball signature shoe, dubbed the Air Swoopes, which arrived in 1996. Then there is Wilson, who was not only the WNBA 2020 league MVP, but also a key player in the WNBA’s push for social justice through the Black Lives Matter movement.
The USA Women’s Basketball team has not lost at the Olympic Games since 1992 in Barcelona where they won the silver medal.
Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Life.
Naomi Osaka discovered what it’s like to be at the sharp end of a sporting governing body’s regulations this summer.
The four-time grand slam singles champion declined to attend press conferences as she began her French Open campaign in June — citing the importance of protecting her mental health and addressing the toll that media interviews had previously taken on her.
The French Open organizers responded by fining the world No. 2 an amount of $15,000 and threatening to expel her from future grand slams, after they deemed her withdrawal from press conferences as a failure on her part to meet “contractual media obligations.”
Osaka made the decision to withdraw from Roland Garros altogether, then skipped Wimbledon, before returning to play at the Tokyo Olympics.
What’s happened to Osaka over the last few months has left many critical of her sport’s handling of the situation, and wishing those who govern her sport had adopted a more empathetic and sensitive approach given she was dealing with mental health issues.
In fact, just after Osaka said she would be opting out of speaking to the press at the tournament, the French Open official Twitter account posted a since-deleted tweet that included photos of four other players engaging in media duties — Coco Gauff, Kei Nishikori, Aryna Sablenka and Rafael Nadal — which carried the caption: “They understood the assignment.”
The tweet appeared to be directed at Osaka and her decision to withdraw from media obligations. It was considered by several former tennis players and pundits as insensitive, and former doubles champion Rennae Stubbs said that the post could make Osaka “feel guilty” and described it as “humiliating” for her.
And while the rule itself — in which players are required to engage in press conferences throughout the tournament — may not be a racist or misogynistic one, the context in which Osaka found herself punished and seemingly mocked by officials is part of a pattern in which Black women in elite sports are subject to harsh scrutiny.
The rigidity with which Roland Garros responded to Osaka’s decision is reminiscent of the scrutiny that tennis governing bodies have previously bestowed upon other prominent players, including Serena Williams.
Osaka is a young, Black and Japanese athlete whose decision at the French Open is considered outside of the box by many. Her refusal to play by the traditional rules has seen her face backlash across the board in a particular right-wing media landscape that doesn’t look too fondly on Black women that diverge from the expected path.
And tennis has a history in the way it has dealt with Black women who do things differently.
Dolly Parton’s 1973 song “I Will Always Love You” found a new generation of fans when Whitney Houston took on the song for her 1992 movie “The Bodyguard.”
Houston’s version became one of the best-selling singles of all time and led to Parton pocketing $10 million through the 1990s in royalties, according to Forbes. Those earnings have only grown through the decades, especially following Houston’s death in 2012 when the song re-entered the charts.
So how has Parton spent that money? According to the country music legend, she used it to help a Black community in Nashville.
“I bought my big office complex down in Nashville,” she told Andy Cohen on Thursday’s episode of “Watch What Happens Live” (via Yahoo). “So I thought, ‘well this is a wonderful place to be.'”
“I bought a property down in what was the Black area of town, and it was mostly just Black families and people that lived around there,” she continued. “And it was off the beaten path from 16th avenue and I thought, ‘Well I am going to buy this place, the whole strip mall.’ And thought, ‘This is the perfect place for me to be,’ considering it was Whitney.”
“So I just thought this was great, I’m just gonna be down here with her people, who are my people as well,” Parton said. “And so I just love the fact that I spent that money on a complex. And I think, ‘This is the house that Whitney built.'”
In a November appearance on Apple TV+’s “The Oprah Conversation,” Parton recalled what it was like to hear Houston’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You” for the first time. She explained that she unexpectedly heard the song on the radio when she was driving and didn’t immediately realize it was her song.
“I was shot so full of adrenaline and energy, I had to pull off, because I was afraid that I would wreck, so I pulled over quick as I could to listen to that whole song,” Parton told Winfrey, according to Yahoo. “I could not believe how she did that. I mean, how beautiful it was that my little song had turned into that, so that was a major, major thing.”
By Susan Au Allen: National President & CEO, US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation (USPAACC)
The vaccines are here. This marks a critical turning point — a year into the pandemic — in the fight against a virulent disease that has wreaked months-long havoc to lives and livelihood.
Millions of Americans have already been vaccinated from COVID-19; millions more are awaiting their turn. This is welcome news that brings renewed optimism.
Our collective jubilation, however, is tempered by caveats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Experts estimate that the United States is still months away from reaching the threshold of herd immunity.
To cut the chain of transmission, at least 70% of the U.S. population — or over 200 million people — would have to recover from the illness and achieve natural immunity or undergo vaccinations. According to CDC, only 7.9% of the U.S. population — or just over 26 million people — have been given the recommended two doses.
This sobering reality is compounded by the arrival of highly contagious variants — increasing exponentially — which could spark new outbreaks and undermine vaccination progress. This does not augur well for the public sentiment that has been aching to return to a semblance of normalcy.
First the Fear, Now the Fatigue
In the early days of the pandemic, as the infection spiked, fear was foremost in everyone’s mind. Few questioned government-imposed lockdowns, restrictions of unfettered movements, enforced social distancing and other health protocols. Public compliance was high.
Today, more than a year later, the public attitude has changed: fear has been supplanted by fatigue. People have become more relaxed due to collective boredom, exhaustion, impatience or a sense of apathy — a phenomenon experts refer to as “pandemic fatigue.”
Uncertainty, a sense of lack of control and limited options fuel anxiety. This leads to profound shifts in social and work behaviors, as well as consumer preferences. Humans — social animals who are naturally in need of constant contact with each other — will keep on seeking out one another.
Signs are everywhere: recent outbreaks have been traced to bars, restaurants and air travel. An exhausted public has begun to disregard health protocols. This trend will continue.
What likely emerges next is a vicious cycle. When the public lets its guard down, health protocols will be broken. This will then trigger more infections. Eventually, this will lead to more restrictions — and pandemic fatigue will worsen.
The Business of Coping
There simply is no available playbook in corporate America and government today that offers guidance on how to effectively handle pandemic fatigue. Psychologists counsel that the art of mitigating pandemic-related fatigue begins with accepting the current reality.
It is also important to accept that the adaptations in how people work these days could become protracted or even permanent. With workflow significantly disrupted, output and morale are at their nadir. Employees have hit the motivational wall. Social calendars are wiped clean. Small talk among office colleagues — including spontaneous gossip sessions next to the water cooler — is replaced by seemingly interminable, back-to-back video calls that ironically lead many to feel more disconnected than ever.
Since the work-from-home set-up began, employees have also noticed that their working hours have been stretched. They struggle to follow a structured work schedule. It is difficult to set and adhere to work-related parameters at home, in part because they worry that they will lose their job or be seen as weak contributors to the team effort. These amorphous work boundaries, plus the associated stress, contribute to the energy drain among the workforce.
In response, companies of every size are bringing out myriad new initiatives from their arsenal to support their employees. A host of activities are offered that focus on connection, care and the well-being of staff — often ranging from tailored wellness programs to virtual happy hours. Managers are clearing their calendars to make themselves available for informal, agenda-free connections. Others are allowing employees to take more time off.
But more needs to be done. Organizations must empower teams, simplify unnecessary bureaucracy and enable a faster decision-making process. Conduct listening tours to take the pulse of employees and assess their needs. Apply innovative, best-practice work-from-home models. Help prioritize available work, put a pause on the introduction of new projects, limit work in progress and allow for respite and recovery.
Individually, employees must slow down. Keep a sense of calm and focus. Stave off ennui by virtually reaching out to a community with shared interests, such as gardening, painting and other hobbies. Take periodic breaks to replenish energy. Try breathing exercises and meditation, go for a stroll, read a book, engage in online shopping or “retail therapy,” etc. Channel fatigue into meaningful and creative endeavors.
Further, limit access to social media and avoid tuning in to negative stories on television that raise stress and anxiety levels. Do not let negativity foster.
The Untrodden Path to the ‘Next Normal’
A sense of loss is at the heart of pandemic fatigue — the loss of control in our daily life, work, business, finances, travel, important events, opportunities and more. On a personal level, it is the loss of connection to our family, friends, peers and community.
Understandably, stress levels remain high and taking their toll. According to Nielsen data, alcohol sales in the U.S. are up 23 percent.
As the U.S. crosses yet another grim milestone with over half a million deaths from COVID-19, the country’s policymakers have the daunting task of trying to deflate the rate of infection. They face a tenuous balancing act: enforcing a range of restrictions while weighing public health-related and economic repercussions.
Compliance wanes as pandemic fatigue spreads. Worse, as more people get vaccinated, many become more complacent and tempted to disregard precautions. Some take their cues from several state leaders who have announced the easing of restrictions, including the lifting of mask mandates and allowing businesses to open at full capacity.
The vaccines are no panacea for this contagion. If the public fails to adhere to minimum public health standards, it will only aggravate the current situation. To avoid reaching the tipping point of yet another coronavirus surge, safety measures must remain and be heeded. It is up to a conscientious public to do its share to ensure that our collective journey through this untrodden path to the “next normal” will be smooth, safe and healthy.
Susan Au Allen came to the United States from Hong Kong on an invitation from the White House in recognition of her volunteer work for people with disabilities. She received her Juris Doctor from the Antioch School of Law and LL.M. in International Law from Georgetown University. During her 17 years with Paul Shearman Allen & Associates of Washington, D.C. and Hong Kong, she became nationally recognized for her work on immigration, international trade and investment. Once an immigrant, she knows the obstacles that one must be overcome to achieve the American Dream, and she has dedicated her life to help entrepreneurs to pursue their Dream — develop, grow and build a successful business.