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#50 Understanding Employee Burnout

on Tue May 25 2021 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)

with Darren W Pulsipher, Uzair Hussain,

Keywords: #employeeburnout #remotelearning #remoteworker #people #process #compute

Darren Pulsipher, Chief Solution Architect, Intel, talks with Uzair Hussain, CEO of District Zero, about how the company’s app that supports K-12 student mental wellness can apply to preventing employee burnout.

Uzair’s professional background began in sales, point of sale consumer experience, and evolved into product development. For ten years, he worked on an alarm clock app that worked in different personalized ways to help people wake up motivated and focused. Although that project ultimately failed, Uzair learned a lot about human motivation. A few years ago, when he was working with students in middle and high school, he noticed a great lack of motivation and focus in the first period of the day, which seemed to be getting progressively worse. Due to his professional experience and his own wellness growth, he saw an opportunity to have an impact by creating the District Zero app.

K-12 Student Wellness

District Zero’s mission is to equip K-12 students with whole learner capabilities. This means helping students manage difficult emotions to recoup their focus and motivation.

The app uses Agile technology and the power of natural language processing sentiment analysis to work at scale to catch triggers and anxiety via a survey. Once a student completes the survey, the app can suggest content and resources such as a video or game to help with the specific issues. It also has a reporting system for teachers and administrators.

Currently, teachers and administrators carry a heavy load trying to help their students with wellness, especially in the COVID environment. They might have a Google Form hooked up to Google Sheets and then use control F to search for negative words and key phrases. The app reduces this load, and avoids the by-product of teacher and administrator negativity. The system uncovers the students’ blockers and pain points and helps resolve them through quick remedies and resources. If students need more support, the system triages them to the correct individual such as a counselor and keeps the teacher informed.

Traditionally, when a student shows anxiety or frustration, for example, they are taken directly to a counselor or social worker when the problem becomes unmanageable. But the student doesn’t need to go from zero to one hundred; there is a middle ground where the problem can be addressed before it comes to fight or flight. The app can help a problem from escalating and help catch issues before it’s too late.

The timing of the app pilot in Chicago area schools came last August during COVID, so it was particularly suited to help students who had lost that in-person connection with their teachers and struggled with social and emotional learning. A key element for success in social and emotional learning is that everyone in the community needs to be involved and empathetic: teachers, administrators, superintendents, parents, and tax payers; the empathy and connections can’t just happen at school.

Employee Burnout

During COVID, workers showed an increase in productivity, but there is now the risk of employee burnout. Whether it is the stress of being a healthcare worker or a remote worker lacking work/home balance, a multitude of issues makes this a top issue for businesses. The principles of the District Zero K-12 app can be applied to workers to help alleviate burnout.

District Zero began experimenting with the app in their own workplace. and it led to hard conversations about priorities and understanding of what employees’ real needs are. Similar to the K-12 application, the system can identify day-to-day employee struggles and fill in the middle ground by giving support before problems escalate.

District Zero hopes to grow their technology to be beneficial to many different sectors: businesses, corporate healthcare, and even government agencies, for use in areas such as veterans affairs suicide prevention.

This new tool and insight into supporting student and employee wellness is timely as COVID escalated stress and burnout and we begin a new phase of re-opening and adjustment.

Podcast Transcript