On October 10, World Mental Health Day, sf.citi and Pinterest hosted an important conversation about workplace mental health at “Burnout: How to Survive (and Thrive) in the Always On Culture.” Over 130 guests gathered at Pinterest headquarters in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood to discuss and learn about burnout from four experts on the subject.
A founding member of sf.citi’s One City Forum, Pinterest has demonstrated leadership in addressing mental health on both its platform and in its workplace. Charlie Hale, Head of Public Policy and Social Impact for Pinterest, told attendees about Pinterest’s recently launched Compassionate Search. Developed in partnership with the Stanford Lab for Mental Health Innovation, Vibrant Emotional Health, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Compassionate Search is a collection of emotional well-being resources and activities people can access through the Pinterest app. He also described how the company supports its employees, notably by offering Pinterest employees 12 free sessions with a licensed psychologist.
Our entire mission to give people inspiration; to create a life they love … Recently, people come to Pinterest for inspiration to get through tough challenges in their life.
— Charlie Hale, Head of Public Policy and Social Impact, Pinterest
Before starting off the speaking portion of the evening, Dr. Clare Purvis, Director of Behavioral Science for mindfulness app Headspace, set the mood by leading attendees in a guided meditation. Shorter than the mindfulness exercises typically offered through Headspace, the three-minute meditation served as an example of how we can practice mindfulness on a regular basis. “We don’t necessarily need to meditate for an hour if the goal is to engage in self-care,” explained Dr. Purvis in a one-on-one conversation with sf.citi Executive Director Jennifer Stojkovic.
MENTAL HEALTH LEADERS DISCUSS BURNOUT
Our conversation continued with three more mental health leaders. The evening’s moderator, Bob Boorstin, has spent much of his career in the wonderful, yet stressful, worlds of government and tech. Now the Senior Vice President of consulting firm Albright Stonebridge Group, Boorstin previously worked as a speechwriter under the Clinton administration, as well as the Director of Public Policy for Google. During our discussion, Boorstin revealed that he was diagnosed with manic depression in 1987. Not only has he learned how to handle stress, but Boorstin has also become something of a coach and mentor to many people trying to navigate mental health in high-pressure work environments.
You have to carve out time for yourself every day to do that one thing that you know you really need to do.
— Bob Boorstin, Senior Vice President, Albright Stonebridge Group
We also heard from Dr. Christina Maslach, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the namesake behind the Maslach Burnout Inventory, or the first widely used tool to measure burnout. While burnout is not a new phenomenon, Dr. Maslach told us that the term “burnout shop”—referring to a model of work that requires years of self-sacrifice—originated in Silicon Valley in the sixties and seventies. She also shared six predictors of burnout at work:
- Amount of autonomy
- Rewards and recognition
- Workplace community
- Values and meaning
Finally, we were joined by Kelly Greenwood, Founder and CEO of Mind Share Partners, a nonprofit committed to driving culture change around workplace mental health. Offering corporate training and advising services to all kinds of businesses and organizations, Greenwood said companies, especially those competing for talent in the Bay Area, are well aware that they need to create a positive work culture. Mind Share Partners helps make that happen.
The prevalence of mental health conditions is the same all the way from the C-suite to the frontlines.
— Kelly Greenwood, Founder and CEO, Mind Share Partners
MESSAGE TO MANAGERS ON PREVENTING BURNOUT
After sharing insights into the causes of and remedies for burnout, our speakers answered audience questions, the first of which asked about tips for managers to better support employees dealing with mental health challenges. Here were our panelists’ rapid-fire responses:
- Show your own vulnerability (Kelly Greenwood)
- Listen (Dr. Christina Maslach)
- Change the way human resources reviews the work process (Bob Boorstin)
- Model taking good care of yourself (Dr. Clare Purvis)
MORE PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS
All photos courtesy of Daniel Bahmani.