How are moms coping during the pandemic? Parenting Panel – Part II

For working parents, especially moms, COVID has been the great disrupter. Smriti Rao, Red Hat, and Jessie Wei, EY, join Win(e)d Down Wednesday hosts Jeffery Tobias Halter and Amanda Hammett for a candid conversation about their experiences at work and at home. In this episode we delve into pandemic parenting, returning to the office, and what working parents want their managers and senior leaders to know. Settle into your chair, pour your favorite beverage and join the conversation. You won’t want to miss a moment of these insights.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Parenting Panel - Part II

Jeffery Tobias Halter: Amanda, I want to serve up to your wheelhousethis new normal, and, you know, millennials tend to be the parents right now, even though, you know, we all have children and obviously Zs are coming up, but you know, what are you hearing from your clients and colleagues about millennials and the new normal?

Amanda Hammett: Yes. So millennials and the new normal. Unfortunately I hear that term used in a very negative “oh those millennials” way. And I'd like to just put some things out there that I've noticed. It's not just millennials who are now really in a desirable position of workingfrom home. I have seen multiple senior leaders in the past month that have told me, you know, what, if I have to go back into the office, if it is mandatory, I'm either taking a retirement package or I'm going to go somewhere elseAnd these are senior leaders that are doing this. These are not necessarily millennials.So I think that we need to make sure that we're not placing negative blame on one group of people.This is the entire workforce.We need to be flexible for the entire workforce. What is going to work for each individual team? Like Jessie was saying. I think that's the ideal situation, but what I'm seeing is a lot of companies and what works at the top levelare trying to mandate from the top down may not work at the frontline level. And so there needs to be some flexibility. Now on the other side of that, I can see also I have concerns about my younger employees, that those early in careers, if they switch over to a fully hybrid model, I have some concerns about their development.Um, just because there are these micro coaching and training moments that happen, you know, at the water cooler, so to speak or as a, you know, more, you know, someone who's further along in their profession might walk by and hear you talking to a client over the phone and hey just next time, try this, or try that. Those little micro coaching moments can be pivotal in someone's career, and we're going to miss out on those. So we need to find a way to capture those moments. I don't know how it is or how it's done, but we do need to figure that out. So those are my two conflicting concerns on both sides.

Jeffery Tobias Halter: Yeah, I love that

Smriti Rao: I was just going to piggyback off of what you said, Amanda, which is those micro coaching moments and there's just being able to be in an environment where you can develop freely, especially if you're early in career. But I think also for someone, you know, it's like a mid-career professional like myself, um, I think what the office provides or what being around people provides is just a sense of camaraderie that it's hard to get that over the zoom calls or over WebEx calls only because it's so scheduled and then people want to get to work and they want to finish.Whereas, and, and you're only dealing with your team. If you're working in a cross-functional environment, you're dealing with themin a very professional cross-functional environment. There's really no safe space to make friendships or vent, or, maybe ask for advice in a way that is kind of beneficial to you professionally.I think the office provides those moments, which, I mean, I am a hundred percent work from home.I love it. Like, I just, I'm fine not going back to the office, but those are the thingsthat I personally miss.It's just those micro moments of just hanging out with people that, you know and you like.


I could not agree with that more.

Jeffery Tobias Halter: And the point I want to bring to this is back to our ongoing dialogue around diversity equity and intersectionality, and everyone is having a different experience. And I think that's the really key point for companies is there is no one new normal, and what I'm seeing is you've got one shot at this and you really need to get it right.And the sense of urgency needs to be there.There's 11 million open jobs. The economy is coming back.I loved Amanda's point, not just millennials, but Boomers, everyone is exercising their options to say, if this isn't going to work for me, I’m going to go somewhere else. There's 2 million job openings right now on LinkedIn.And so this is where this
conversation needs to shift from from company policy to culture, right?Cause you know, Jessie I loved your EY example and they are a trailblazer in DEI. There's other companies that have stated policies, but the culture's not there and it boils down to the individual manager.Right? So we have a formal flex policy.Everybody can abide by this.Oh, but if that individual manager is not allowing that to happen, people are going to opt out.People are just going to choose not to come back to the company. So we're getting onto about our last 10 minutes.We want to kind of segue into really hearing more about maybe people in your lives, the great experiences.I think it's interesting you had to solve the childcare issue and you were lucky enough to have mothers come in. So Jessie, I'm curious as a single parent going through the pandemic and building these infrastructures, you know, what would you say to other single parents to help them cope, to get through one more day or one piece of advice you would have for them.

Jessie Wei: That's a really great question. Jeffery is this challenging to be a single parent, working and having young kids or kids of all ages is a huge challenge.I personally, when I was a parent that was married or a single parent, now Icontinue to struggle with, which is one thing is gosh, asking for help.It takes a village to raise your kids.And culturally, I am Asian descent, Chinese born and raised. I migrated to the US so culturally it is very different. We don't ask for help.We only kind of try to reach out to families, but through this process, working together, joined a Facebook group of single parents and having other parents to help.We arrange, ask your neighbors for help.Ask your family to help.You cannot do this alone.I am very fortunate that I have a really great co-parenting relationship with the boys’ dad, he's in IT.So he doesn't have so many calls during the day as I have in my role at work. So if I have a very important meeting or a very busy day, sometimes I'll call him and see Whether I can drop the boys off at his house so that they can be there and he can take a few hours with them and we just swap.I think we have to remain flexible and not be afraid to ask for help. I've had friends that are also single parents, very close friends, and I have offered to help.Hey, why don't you bring your kids over?And we'll have all the kids have a little playdate and they'll keep each other busy.I am not bothered by the noise in my house. So if you have some errands to run, right, you gotta get a doctor, you got to take care of certain things or you have to go into work for whatever. I'm happy to look after your kids.And I think it’s asking for help.And also if you see your friends needing help, it's offering that help.

Amanda Hammett: Yes, offering that help. That is something that I've seen that we need to do as a community of parents. We need to be more willing to not judge, but just go in and Hey, how can I help you? What do you need? What can I do for you right now? So, yeah. Great point.

Jeffery Tobias Halter:I wanna build on that just for a second. There's some recent McKinsey research that came outthat just said, women areburnt out women. You know what? It's been over a year and they're tired and they're opting out and they don't feelthey're fulfilling themselves at work. They're not a great boss. They're not a great parent. What advice would you give women?and parents in general, just to get through one or two more days and, and stay engaged. And Smirti I'll go over to you.

Smriti Rao: Oh my God. I think the only thing that I would tell other womenis just give yourself a break.You don't have to be perfect.You don't have to have perfect children.Your children don't need to get likeperfect grades, be great at piano, violin. Just give yourself a break.If they're, especially if they're younger children.I do think that the pressure that we have culturally and just societally, it's like all my children are great.They're doing well in this pandemic.I would say focus on making sure that your children feel okay. mentally, like that's the only thing that I would sort of tell moms and dads.For child fine mentally, find those avenues for them to sort of let loose play if you're okayhanging out with other children, let them do that. But I think focusing onthings like even though it's virtual, you must get perfect grades.And even though we haven't done practice, you must be really good at this. Those kinds of things really burn you out.It's unnecessary stress on yourself, on yourparenting relationship as well.Because you and your spouse may not have the same parenting styles. So that's what I would say is just give yourself a break.This is just hopefully a blip in our lives and that is what children need to see.You thriving as a parent, you being okay mentally as a parent, it's only then that they will, they feel confident, less anxious.So, like they say to fill your own cup before you can go to the others to fill their buckets or cups or whatever. So that would be my one piece of advice is you don't have to be perfect.Just get stuff done.

Jeffery Tobias Halter:That's awesome. anything to add?

Jessie Wei: Yeah, I think that's great. And it's about perception, and I'm working with a coach now and she asked me a question and I was like, that was a great question.She asked me how often during a day, do you tell yourself that you are doing a great job or you’re beautiful oryou're killing it? And I was like, I don't.She was like, well then how often do you actually do that?I don't remember the last time I did that.I tell my children, Hey, great job.Thank you for picking up.I think you did well here.I just want you to try or I tell my team, Hey, thank you.I think this, it looks great.But I forgot to give myself a pat on the back. You did great too.You made it through today.That's all that counts.You know, everyone survived.And I think we just need to, you know, like Smirti said, let it go, a knowledge that we're doing really well, and it's all about perception. I remember one of my bossesshared this with me, and I never forgot how he observed this.I was going through my divorce. And I told him, I don't think I'm doing so well. I don't think I'm getting things done.And he said, that is your perception because we did not notice a difference. So you need to take more time for yourself and don't kill yourself to get to the 110%.You know, when you can give us 80, we'll take 80. When you give us 110, we'll take 110, but not to be afraid to take more time for yourself and take care of what you need to take care of. It's your perception that you're not doing well from where I sit, you're don't well,you're still like killing it. And that I remember very clearly from him. And that was a huge compliment. And you know, also a confidence booster. So I would say, give yourself a pat on the back. You're doing great. Trust me, nobody notices something's not working. It's only you. So you're doing great. Keep going.

Jeffery Tobias Halter: That's awesome, Amanda,

Amanda Hammett: You know, for me, I actually started being very vigilant on two things. I've had an off and on relationship with meditating.I'm a 5 a.m. riser, which Jeff just cringes when I say that.So I get up and I meditate and then I go work out.But I'm off and on, but I noticed I was feeling very burned out during the early days of the pandemic.I was stressed, you know, I have employees to think about, I have their families to think about and I was feeling it.And so I started getting back into meditation and then I started noticing that. All of my meetings were zoom or WebEx or Microsoft teams or Skype. Well, not anymore, but anyway, it was just, it seemed more exhausting to me because I feed off of the energy in the room of other people and I wasn't getting the same.So I was more exhausted by the time five o'clock came around. I just wanted to just pass out.So I recognized that I needed to start taking 30 minutes at five o'clock or whenever my last call wrapped up and just shut my door and my bedroom and read, and it can't be a business book. It can't be anything that's going to make my brain start spinning. It has to be, you know, something where I really don't have to think, but I just need to go into my room and I just need to do this. It just needs to shut my mind off.And once I started doing that, I recognized that not only was I a better leader, I was also a better parentand I was also a better partner in all things.And so I was just taking those 30 minute net nuggets of time for myself, saved me really through this pandemic.

Jeffery Tobias Halter:That's awesome. That's awesome. So as we start to wrap up, I want to close out with really moving to action. And what do we do about this? And so, you know, this is for all of you. What is one thing companies need to stop doing tomorrow? And what is one thing companies need to either start or double down on and do more of. So who'd like to start?

Amanda Hammett: Well, I will go first. So I think that the thing, what I'm seeing across the board with all of the companies that I work with and all the companies that I'm researching currently isthey need to stop with the top-down decision-makingfor how we're going to manage this coming back to the office. That needs to stop. The policy really needs to be, everybody makes their own decisions, team to team. The other thing that I would like to see more of, and I think Jessie touched on this earlier is I would like for us to continue the focus on burnout, mental health how can we support employees holistically versus production, Numbers Because I think we've learned that the whole employee is all we care aboutis better than what you're going to get out as a burned out employee.Yeah.That's okay. So Jessie, Smriti?


So go ahead.


Smriti Rao: Yeah. I was just gonna say, I agree with the top-down policy that companies are just not in a position right now to issue those mandates, asking their workforces to return to work.So I think a top down policy, it may not be that beneficial on andon the, on the other side of it, I think companies need to take a more proactive approach to providing support to working parents, whether that is either tying up with daycares or children care center to provide thosebackup care options for children or even for adults that may need extra help.They need to take a more proactive approach toward that because how are you going to keep women engaged?And in the workforce, if working mothers don't have the support that they need from, you know, from where they're spending the most time of the day, like I spent like almost eight or 10 hours a day at work.And if I don't get support from my work to carry outmy work, like, why would I, why would I be a hundred percent productive? Right. So that's something that companies need to think of no top-down policies or be very mindful of that.And the second thing is having those parental programs to support working parents, especially working mothers.Jessie.

Jessie Wei: My stop doing is stop thinking going back to the old way. That is gone, that ship has sailed.I think everyone, personally or companies, really have to stop thinking that things would go back to where they were. It's just never going to happen.Whether it's work, whether it's how to interact with their own customers and stakeholders.I would suggest all companies and everyone, including me, to start havingmore conversations, to continue having those conversations about what works and what doesn't work and really understand from all levels, all areas.Also cultural differences, right?People from a different region, if you were working for a global company, we experience very differently than people in the US where we're sitting today.So I think it's appreciating, acknowledging and really learning how to make it work and continue to grow and start bringing everyone like Amanda said, bringing your whole self to work.How can we enable and champion our employees to bring their whole self to work.And that includes the families,who have been our co-workers for the past year and a half or so. Continue to let them come into work.Right.Appreciate.And I wanted parents to feel okay, your kids are your coworkers, and they should see what you do, because that's what they will be doing when they grow up. I love that.

Jeffery Tobias Halter: They're your coworkers.And I'm going to chime in on this one.I think companies need to just stop using the word working mother. There's a lot of research around the negative connotations, you know, it's rarethat someone says, well, you know, he's a working dad and all the connotations, like, you know, I love Smirti the way you were always using working parent.And so if we can just shift this dynamic and pick that word and all thenegativity that corporations see and working mom and shift that to working parents, I think that could be huge.I think they need to start new employee resource groups around young parents. There are so many challenges and where are you going to build this village?And, you know, we, we know there's the traditional ERGs that are in most companies,very few companies have a new parent ERG.And I think that could be one thing that we could start with.So as we start to wrap up, I want to share a quick story that you may find humorous. And this was pre-pandemic and I was invited to a women's conference. I was one of the speakers, but Brene Brown was the keynote. Everybody knows Berne, and she's an amazing keynote. And the room was, picture 500 C-level, high level women, and Brene’s talking about, So as you got ready to come to the meeting today, did you put little post-it notes on your admin’s office wall.And did you call your admin on the way to the airplane? Did you call your adminas soon as you landed to check up on them?And of course the women said, no, we've got great staff. We trust them. And then Brene said, how many of you have done this with your husband or your significant other?Where you leave notes for them, you make sure thatthere's food in the refrigerator and that the laundry is done and you call them nine times while they're traveling. And of course, all of the women laughed and said they are all guilty of this.And I'll tell you, as I heard this story, what went through my mind as a man was, oh my God. The last thing I want to do when you call to check-in is I have to utter the words I've killed the children. I forgot to feed them.Oh my God. You know, Jenny went to work in and to play in a dirty soccer uniform and she died.Men don't want to kill your children.Right?But you've got to stop coddling us.We're going to feed them.They're going to get their homework done.They're going to go to school.And as we return to a new normal and people are getting on airplanes,again, just stop coddling, but also realize we might do things a little differently than you do.And pizza is actually a pretty good meal, three days in a row for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.Okay.So with that, this has been an absolute pleasure.This is a topic we're going to continue to revisit as we go into, I'm not even gonna use the word anymore,Amanda, you did with the new normal, we're going to call it work today.So, I just want to close by thanking you all andone last word, if you could give one last word to help people get through this and see the light on the other end, what would that be? So, Jessie, you're shaking your head. What would that be?

Jessie Wei: Take care of yourself. Take a five-word answer. Absolutely.

Smriti Rao: I would say done is better than perfect. Love that.

Jeffery Tobias Halter: So Amanda, bring us home.

Amanda Hammett: Well, just gratitude. I'm thankful for everybody in my life that has made it possible to get through this pandemic.possible to get through this pandemic. So I'm incredibly grateful to everyone. And I'm grateful to all of you on the screen with me today, this has been a really fantastic conversation and I have truly, truly enjoyed it. And I want to thank Jeff for being the guide through this one.

Jeffery Tobias Halter:Thank you for that. You know, it is interesting having two millennial children. uh, two millennial children.Yes. And watching the struggles that they have, this topic is actually very near and dear to my heart. But I'm seeing firsthand the day-to-day decisionsthat they've got to make andI'm doing everything in my power to talk to corporations and senior leaders. Amanda, I know you are, and I know, you know, Jessie and Smirti, you are too. So, thank you for your time and thank you for coming on. I know how busy you are. And so we're going to let you get back to your days. So thank you all for joining us for Wine Down Wednesday.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.