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78: How Resilience became toxic, with Bruce Daisley

In this episode we’re joined by Bruce Daisley, a leading voice on work culture who challenges the conventional wisdom around resilience.

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In this episode we’re joined by Bruce Daisley, a leading voice on work culture who challenges the conventional wisdom around resilience.

He argues that the current emphasis on individual resilience in the workplace amounts to victim-blaming and overlooks systemic issues that create stress and burnout.

Join the conversation as we explore the limitations of resilience training, the collective nature of true resilience and the role of socialisation in fostering a resilient culture. We also discuss the critical importance of managerial training in addressing workplace challenges.

Bruce’s insights are not just theoretical; they are grounded in practical examples, including the transformative impact of seemingly small actions like a receptionist’s initiative in a corporate setting. This episode invites listeners to rethink resilience, emphasising community, connection, and systemic change as keys to a healthier work environment.

Connect with Bruce:

General Support with Mental Health and Well-being

If you have been affected by any of the themes in this episode, or are currently struggling with your mental health, the following resources may be useful.

 Mind website:

If you are feeling in distress or despair, including feelings of suicide, please do consider calling the Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK) or email (Rest of World)

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The Transcript

⚠️ NOTE: This is an automated transcript, so it might not always be 100% accurate!

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Join 112,000 listeners every month who get expert insights on building amazing workplace cultures!


[00:00:00] Bruce Daisley: The issue around here isn’t that we’re not resilient enough. The issue is that we’re in a toxic culture and what you’ve attempted to do there, you’ve attempted to, to, I guess, to appropriate a term from, from dating, you’ve attempted to gaslight the people there. You’ve attempted to tell them that something that.

[00:00:20] Bruce Daisley: He’s right in front of their eyes. It isn’t actually happening.

[00:00:27] Leanne Elliott: Hello and welcome to the Truth Lies and Workplace Culture Podcast, brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. My name is Leanne. I’m a business psychologist.

[00:00:38] Al Elliott: My name is Al. I’m a business owner.

[00:00:40] Leanne Elliott: We are here to help you simplify the science of people and create amazing workplace cultures.

[00:00:44] Al Elliott: We are. We are also here to feel very sorry for ourselves. Um, you might notice this pod is a little bit late. Um, it’s because we both came out down with something last week, and we think it was COVID. We’ve been, what?

[00:00:58] Leanne Elliott: We’ve been clean for four years. We’ve never had it.

[00:01:02] Al Elliott: We’ve never had it. Um, and, uh, and it finally caught up with us, and it is a bastard, isn’t it?

[00:01:08] Al Elliott: It really is. I’m sure if you’re listening to this, you’ve probably have had it multiple times. You’re going, shut up, Alan Leanne, get on with it. But no, it just knocked us on our collective arses. But like a decent pint of Guinness, all good things come to those who wait. Today we have an amazing guest who’s also a personal hero of both of ours.

[00:01:26] Leanne Elliott: Yes, we have got the incredible, the amazing Bruce Daisley on the podcast. Very, very excited. Bruce. Now, if you haven’t heard of Bruce, Bruce is one of the UK’s most influential voices on fixing work. He has been published in the Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian.

[00:01:48] Leanne Elliott: His first book, The Joy of Work, was a Sunday Times number one bestseller and is now translated into 18. International Editions. His second book Fortitude was described as the best business book of 2022 by the Financial Times. As impressively, previously Bruce spent over a decade running Twitter and YouTube for Europe, leaving Twitter as its most senior leader outside of the US.

[00:02:18] Al Elliott: Yes, Leanne interviewed Bruce a couple of weeks ago, and the original interview was almost an hour long, so it’s been kind of tough to cut it down and fit it to this episode, but Leanne and Bruce talked about resilience and how, as a concept, we might be getting quite a bit of it wrong. Now, rather than the answer to well being at work, being resilient, Bruce and Leanne discuss how the emphasis on building individual resilience could be considered as gaslighting.

[00:02:43] Al Elliott: They also talked about how the changes in the workplace have highlighted the importance of resilience, why we’re happier when we’re in teams, whether we should be laughing at work, and why a receptionist dressed as a Pringle tube saved a company’s culture.

[00:02:56] Leanne Elliott: Yes, we will. Yes, we will. Well, that’s not true.

[00:02:59] Leanne Elliott: Yes, we did. And you’ll also learn what the world’s leading culture doctor does when she is called into companies like Uber to fix their workplace culture. Shall we go and meet our guest?

[00:03:10] Bruce Daisley: Hi, I’m Bruce Daisley. For a long time, I did Technology jobs. I worked at companies like Google at Twitter when it was Twitter.

[00:03:19] Bruce Daisley: And, uh, I worked a place like that along the way. I developed a fascination with how teams work and, and just how to have fun at work, how, how to create good cultures. And I started doing the podcasts on those things that has led to me publishing a couple of books that have become bestsellers. One called the joy of work and one called fortitude.

[00:03:41] Bruce Daisley: And so now I spend my time helping companies think about themes of workplace culture and how to make work more enjoyable.

[00:03:49] Leanne Elliott: Bruce and I spoke at length about resilience, a word we hear a lot, a lot about, especially in relation to workplace culture and wellbeing. In fact, maybe it’s being used a little bit too frequently.

[00:04:01] Leanne Elliott: So let’s start at the beginning with a definition. The American Psychological Association defines resilience. as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress.

[00:04:18] Al Elliott: Well, it all sounds a lot science y to me. Um, can you tell me what you actually mean?

[00:04:23] Leanne Elliott: Yes. In the words, you know, I’ll put it in terms you’ll understand really, really well, Al. Chumbawumba. Oh, yeah. In the words of Chumbawumba, I get knocked down, but I go up again. You ain’t ever going to keep me down.

[00:04:34] Al Elliott: Give me a lager drink. Give me a whiskey drink. Give me a cider drink. There’s going to be a whole generation of people listening to this who go, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

[00:04:43] Al Elliott: What is a chumbawumba? Google it. It sounds rude, actually. I gave her a chumbawumba.

[00:04:50] Leanne Elliott: Not sure you can do that in this day and age. She’ll get cancelled. But yes, the resilience, it’s, it’s our ability to bounce back when things go wrong. There’s loads of research, psychological research that suggests. That the resource and skills associated with resilience can be cultivated and practiced.

[00:05:07] Leanne Elliott: Think back to episodes with Dr. Audrey and Sean Tolrim on managing stress. But the issue is in terms of workplace psychology, resilience has firmly been deemed a responsible. of the individual. If work is tough, toughen up. The tougher you are, the more successful you are. Right? Well, Bruce wasn’t so sure and his book Fortitude is all about dispelling the myths around resiliency and revealing the truth about building inner strength.

[00:05:36] Al Elliott: And this is where the conversation started, because we asked Bruce, what’s your beef with resilience?

[00:05:42] Bruce Daisley: I’ve got huge issues with it, and for a number of reasons, really. Firstly, I think at its heart, the idea of resilience is superficially really appealing, but the expectation of it is actually something close to victim blaming.

[00:05:57] Bruce Daisley: And so, the expectation of resilience. And, you know, you witness this all the time you witness. My friend works in a hospital in North London. She said in the middle of the pandemic, you know, overwhelming. We stood and cheered for these people and then denied them a pay increase. But the, um, the, these people were working relentless hours and someone pinned a notice for it.

[00:06:20] Bruce Daisley: But, uh, on the notice board saying resilience webinar on Thursday, and she was like, the issue around here isn’t that we’re not resilient enough. The issue is that we’re in a toxic culture and what you’ve attempted to do there. You’ve attempted to, to I guess to appropriate a term from, from dating, you’ve attempted to gaslight the people there.

[00:06:42] Bruce Daisley: You’ve attempted to tell them that something that is right in front of their eyes isn’t actually happening. And so, you know, the concept of resilience is already a cautious one. So when firms say, you know, when they say we need to introduce some resilience training, the first thing you might wonder is.

[00:06:59] Bruce Daisley: Why do you need resilience training? What have you overseen? Why is your culture so toxic that you’ve got people who need resilience training? Okay. Questionable. Second thing is, um, resilience is a bit like sort of, um, anti aging creams in the sense that the demand for anti aging creams is limitless and yet there’s no single cream that ever stopped people aging.

[00:07:23] Bruce Daisley: there isn’t one. There isn’t a single cream where people don’t look a year older or they don’t look a little bit older. Um, but there’s no shortage of them. You know, you find yourself wandering around beauticians or, you know, the parts of stores that sell these things. There’s no shortage of them.

[00:07:40] Bruce Daisley: Resilience is a bit like that. There’s no shortage of people who will sell your resilience courses. Look, the fascinating thing about that is that Okay, let’s see if they work because, you know, the biggest customer of resilience courses in the world is the US army. It spent somewhere close to a billion dollars training combat soldiers to be resilient.

[00:07:57] Bruce Daisley: The great thing about something like that, when you spent that amount of money, is that other people come along and say, Oh, like, well, if you’ve done all the work and you’ve done all the in a sort of investment. Let’s implement that. Let’s let’s measure that. And they’ve come along and said, Oh, that resilience course at the U.

[00:08:15] Bruce Daisley: S. Military spent a million, a billion dollars implementing has had zero impact. Soldiers are not any more resilient, right? Okay. So you’ve got this interesting thing. The very idea of it is to some extent, victim blaming, but Look, it’s desirable. The ability to bounce back to re energize is desirable. We all want to do it, but you know, question the expectation of it.

[00:08:38] Al Elliott: So what we’re saying is that resilience training is just a complete waste of time.

[00:08:42] Bruce Daisley: We look for resilience in the wrong place. We’ve looked for resilience. It’s this individual trait, this almost like this switch that some of us have or some of us don’t have. Some of this, um, a capacity that we’ve got to, to re energize on demand.

[00:08:57] Bruce Daisley: And in truth, when we witness resilience, it actually has the characteristics of something collective rather than individual. You know, I mentioned combat soldiers and these are real conundrum at the heart of the situation of combat soldiers in the sense that combat soldiers who are in service often report feeling supported, emboldened, strengthened by the people around them.

[00:09:21] Bruce Daisley: And actually, the thing that really decimates their, their well being is the fact that they’re separated from their tribe. Resilience is the strength we draw from each other. What you, what you witness, combat soldiers are a perfect example of it. Combat soldiers often describe it’s the moment where they don’t have people who understand them.

[00:09:40] Bruce Daisley: They don’t have people who have gone through the same. When, when they find themselves trying to relate to people who’ve never had to witness the things that they’ve witnessed, that’s when they’re. Resilience suffers, you know, so I think whether we witness situation like Ukraine, where people have demonstrated this incredible capacity to deal with just horrible hardship, um, resilience is the strength we draw from each other.

[00:10:09] Bruce Daisley: You don’t see examples where some people in Ukraine say I can’t cope with this. And others say, Oh, yeah, I’m living my best life. Actually, it’s the capacity for us to draw strength from the community around us. That seems to be the defining aspect of resilience. And I think, you know, for me, that’s the most intriguing enigma about the whole thing that we It’s, it’s so heavily desired, but we often look for it in the wrong place.

[00:10:36] Leanne Elliott: The key difference between the workplace in 2024 and the workplace say in 1984 is that we’re much more likely to be connected to work outside of working hours. It is difficult to ignore an email from from an important client outside of work hour is when a notification pops up on your phone, managers can and do abuse the always on messaging platforms like Slack to get instant answers, whereas 20 years ago, they’d have to wait until Monday.

[00:11:04] Leanne Elliott: The opportunity to rest and recover from work is a really important factor in building resilience. And this might be one of the reasons why resilience. is at an all time low and burnout is at an all time high. As Bruce explains, it’s not as easy as saying, Oh, the kids just can’t cope these days.

[00:11:24] Bruce Daisley: Anyone who can’t recognize that the world of work has fundamentally changed in the last 20 years, then there’s some really stark data to prove that the average working day has gone up by more than two hours a day in the last 15 years.

[00:11:36] Bruce Daisley: In fact, the evidence suggests that, um, that the, the availability we give to our job, the sort of the cognitive availability we give to our job has gone up to around 65 70 hours a week in most jobs, which just means that we’re thinking about work where we’re effectively in a work mindset for far more than we ever were before.

[00:11:56] Bruce Daisley: It’s no wonder then that yes, if we compare, there didn’t used to be a resilience training courses. Well, of course, there didn’t used to be the system systematic burnout that we’re witnessing now that we were witnessing. three out of every four people in the UK save that say they’ve experienced the episode of burnout in the last 12 months.

[00:12:14] Bruce Daisley: Now, if we were to rewind the clock, maybe to the millennium or whenever this, uh, glory era of work was, uh, almost certainly people didn’t have the demands of work that we’re witnessing now. So of course, no doubt. Um, these, uh, been a massive increase in the amount of resilience training and the amount of demand for these things, a massive increase in the amount of burnout that we’re witnessing, but the world is fundamentally a different place now than it was 20, 30, 40 years ago.

[00:12:43] Al Elliott: A lot of senior leaders we’re talking to seem to think that if we could only get back to how things were pre pandemic. Everything is going to be okay, which is probably the drive to bring people back to the office to get things back to normality. But Bruce points out that this is not actually the case and it won’t work.

[00:13:00] Bruce Daisley: Sometimes that we find ourselves in a situation where people think, well, we need to get back to when work was. functioning again. There was a survey that came out in October this year by KPMG that said that two thirds of chief execs believe that by 2028 we’ll be back at a five day office, that we’ll be working in the office five days a week.

[00:13:18] Bruce Daisley: Two thirds of chief execs believe that. Why? Because they believe in that version that the time before the pandemic was when work was working. Well, I guarantee if you and I were sitting down and having this discussion in 2019, we were talking about burnout. We were talking about how people were overloaded, how people couldn’t cope with work.

[00:13:35] Bruce Daisley: So you know, the idea that we get, we, we rose tint what 2019, 2018 looked like is an unfortunate consequence of where we’re in right now, where people end up thinking about the good old days and we, we all do it in all manner of our life. Um, I think the, the most critical thing. is that it’s with those discussions about resilience.

[00:13:58] Bruce Daisley: Why can’t the kids cope in my day? We could cope, of course, comparing two different scenarios, especially the moment of work we’re in right now. We’ve got this interesting conundrum where you need to believe two things at once. You can, you need to recognize that 90 percent of people Believe that flexible working is a good thing and they don’t want to go back to the way they were working before.

[00:14:19] Bruce Daisley: And that two thirds of chief execs believe that we should be back in the office. All right. Okay. Two things at once. So you’ve got these bosses wanting people together and, you know, I guess to some extent, part of the finding of the book is the resilience and strength is collective. And so from that, you might say, Well, okay, yeah, that’s it.

[00:14:36] Bruce Daisley: That’s the mandate to get back to the office. But I think, you know, you need to bear in mind that that desire to preserve the benefits of now. So I think the lesson from leaders is thinking, How do I create a sense of cohesion, a sense of strength that will be the basis of our team resilience? How do I create that?

[00:14:55] Bruce Daisley: in a different way. And so, you know, I’ve seen really lovely things from people saying the job of leaders right now is to be entrepreneurial about building connection, about trying to make a way for for teams to feel connected to each other. And that’s the job of a leader right now. And I think it’s a really interesting challenge.

[00:15:14] Bruce Daisley: And I think really at the heart of it, even though the books about resilience, really, it’s it speaks to you. Team dynamics and and groups and making us all feel more connected.

[00:15:24] Leanne Elliott: And as Bruce alluded to earlier in the NHS, there’s a massive problem with the label resilient. If the general public think of a group of people as resilient, it almost gives them permission to not have to be concerned about them.

[00:15:39] Leanne Elliott: Kind of like that Happy, chirpy fellow at work. You know, he takes everything in his stride, right? Nobody worries about that guy when he takes a week off. They’ll assume he’s resilient. He’s cool. He’s fine. They don’t think to check up on him, but the stats show that this is exactly the kind of person we should be most worried about.

[00:15:56] Bruce Daisley: My partner’s Lebanese and they, um, I adore. Lebanon. I adore the Lebanese people, really lovely people. And, uh, but you know, the one thing that’s often directed at them is that they have a lot of bad luck, a lot of misfortune. And, you know, I was in Beirut where there was this, it was this almighty explosion.

[00:16:18] Bruce Daisley: Biggest explosion in peacetime in any city in the world. If anyone sort of, if you ever put it into YouTube, uh, Beirut, I think the first thing that comes up as autocorrect is explosion. And it’s mamma mia, it’s like a sight to behold the whole city’s enveloped in this sort of, um, this fast expanding mushroom cloud.

[00:16:37] Bruce Daisley: It’s, uh, it’s terrifying to look at. And, but when we were there, all the new news coverage, when the explosion happened was, well, you know, the Lebanese people will be right because they’re really resilient. That, well, if we know anything, Lebanese people are resilient. Let me tell you, on the ground, they weren’t thinking that, that they were seeing resilient as this label that other people were giving them, kind of, so they didn’t have to help.

[00:17:02] Bruce Daisley: You know, it was, it was a bit like, well, you’re resilient. You’ll pick yourself up. I’ll see you later. Good luck with that. I saw a tweet and someone said, Resilience. The word resilience is a demand for silence, right? That’s really interesting, right? Because what you’re saying is be resilient. Like, it’s a bit like there, there, there, you’ll be all right.

[00:17:24] Bruce Daisley: And effectively, you’re telling someone to demonstrate that they can bounce back from something rather than reaching out and offering them support, you know, rather than sort of trying to share their discomfort from them. So I found it really interesting more than anything, you know, the sort of what you might consider then a distraction of the criticism of the word.

[00:17:45] Bruce Daisley: I felt it was a bit overused. We were using it for everything. You know, if you put on the morning radio, if you listen to news radio, you’ll hear resilience. Four times every hour. And so I was just intrigued because I was like, okay, so you’ve got all these people doing resilience courses. Schools around the world do resilience programs.

[00:18:04] Bruce Daisley: And the really interesting thing about that is it’s based really on the same psychology as the army stuff. And when people have said, Oh, These resilience programs we’re putting kids through, are they working? Uh, no, they have no impact whatsoever. So we’ve got this really interesting thing. We’re spending loads of time trying to train this really desirable trait, this really desirable property.

[00:18:25] Bruce Daisley: It’s not working. I was like, okay, well, let’s go back to first principles. Is there anything that we can do that? Really tries to understand our capacity to bounce back. And is there any way that we can achieve that?

[00:18:36] Leanne Elliott: Listen to any commentator speaking on any sport, and you’ll likely hear the word resilience every 10 minutes.

[00:18:44] Leanne Elliott: And the temptation is to think of this resilience as a kind of muscle that we’ve trained. But Bruce’s research uncovered that this is more likely to be a scar tissue than muscle.

[00:18:55] Bruce Daisley: When there are big, resilient stories, we often reach for sports stars or famous people because they’re just the people whose story, the people whose biography we get to hear.

[00:19:05] Bruce Daisley: And sports stars, their stories are replete with examples of people who overcome adversity. And it often goes to serve resilient narratives. So, you know, Mo Farah might spring to mind right now, you know, One, the double double, he won two gold medals at two successive Olympic games. And you know, what you might say is, Oh wow, look at Mo Farah’s story.

[00:19:27] Bruce Daisley: He actually was a refugee. In fact, you know what we discovered that, uh, Mo Farah was actually a victim of human trafficking. So, uh, his story has this trauma at the heart of it. And I became fixated with that because what you discover is that, um, actually it’s a, it’s characteristic. A lot of Olympians have got, um, a history of trauma.

[00:19:48] Bruce Daisley: And what you discover is that it serves sort of via, um, but via destroying their own identity. Really, the way that we experience trauma is we experience it as shame quite often, which is heartbreaking because, you know, something bad has happened to you. And the way that we internalize it is we often feel like it’s about us.

[00:20:11] Bruce Daisley: It’s about we’ve got a sort of a, um, a sort of damaged identity from it. It’s heartbreaking, but that’s the way that broadly trauma is experienced. Anyway, one of the things that I was really interested to discover is that not only is there a high instance of trauma amongst athletes and what you often discover is they effectively trauma is normally correlated with addiction and with, um, self adapted behavior.

[00:20:40] Bruce Daisley: So it’s more likely to be associated with drinking. It’s more likely to be associated with drug taking. Um, you know, you’re four times more likely to, uh, to have alcohol and addiction problems. If you’ve experienced high levels of trauma, um, almost without exception, uh, addiction is, has an episode of trauma that has, has spawned it.

[00:21:03] Bruce Daisley: But what I was really struck by was the. I chatted to someone who looked at performance enhancing drugs. So people who took performance enhancing drugs and he said to me, um, people who take performance enhancing drugs have got, um, if they’ve got about a nine times higher Likelihood to take performance enhancing drugs if they’ve been, um, if they’ve had episode of sexual abuse and if they’ve had physical abuse, it’s about, uh, it’s about eight times higher, but those are multiplicative, um, meaning that if you’ve had both, then you multiply that likelihood anyway.

[00:21:43] Bruce Daisley: So you end up with these situations where I think sometimes we can find ourselves when we hear the story of a shamed athlete thinking, why would anyone take performance enhancing drugs? And what you often discover is right at the heart of it is an episode of, of someone destroying their sense of identity.

[00:22:01] Bruce Daisley: Someone, someone who is broken and their sporting performance was, is their redemption arc. So look, you know, I’ve, I called the sack of taking on there, but I was really blown away by that. The, the guy who told me that I was like, um, like, wow, for the first time you could understand that when you see these people who’ve done these.

[00:22:25] Bruce Daisley: episodes of cheating. They’ve done it from a perspective that they have a really so low self worth. They broken people, really. And for the first time you actually can empathize. Lance Armstrong, famous cyclist, had episodes of, uh, of abuse in his childhood. Um, I think episodes of shame. Um, there was also, uh, there was also another Tour de France cyclist who was abused as a child.

[00:22:53] Bruce Daisley: There’s, there’s lots of these biographies that it’s only in hindsight you can see, wow, this is why they did these things.

[00:23:00] Al Elliott: So this brings back the age old question, without adversity, do we see greatness? Most super entrepreneurs have had traumatic childhoods. Most super musicians have had horrible experiences.

[00:23:12] Al Elliott: And as Bruce discovered, most high performing sports people have built their resilience because they had trauma.

[00:23:17] Leanne Elliott: And there is a psychological principle called Post traumatic growth. It was researched by a psychologist called Ritual Tedeschi. The basic premise is that negative experiences can spur positive change, including personal strengths, improved relationships, or a greater appreciation for life.

[00:23:35] Leanne Elliott: It is a cliche anecdote, but you know, it’s true that we hear people who have experienced a near death experience or even a job loss will often cite this trauma as the turning point of a transformation in their lives. The trouble is this view can romanticize trauma, especially when we start to view trauma through the lens of these super performers or super elite athletes.

[00:23:57] Leanne Elliott: This isn’t the norm. This super performance, these super athletes are. Outliers and by only acknowledging post traumatic growth, we’re not acknowledging the adverse effects of trauma that even these people can experience. It can include things like enormous, enormous personal sacrifices to live that life and to, to have that success.

[00:24:20] Leanne Elliott: Pathological need to win and huge challenges with their identity on retirement, we’ve spoken before about the significant mental health challenges that people in the sports industry can experience when their sporting career ends. This narrow and hugely simplified viewpoint also excludes the experiences.

[00:24:39] Leanne Elliott: Of the majority, trauma is much more likely to result in maladaptive coping mechanisms. There is a mountain of research that links traumatic experience in childhood with addictive behaviors in adulthood. As Bruce explains in his book, trauma and simple triggers for achievement. Now, I’ll, I know what your next question is going to be.

[00:25:00] Leanne Elliott: What’s the differentiating factor? What turns trauma into success rather than addiction? Well, the answer isn’t simple. I’m sorry. I know it’s that psychologist answer, but it really does depend. It depends on the nature and prevalence of the trauma. It depends on the age at which the person was when they.

[00:25:17] Leanne Elliott: Transcripts provided by Transcription Outsourcing, LLC. it can depend on the communities we belong to.

[00:25:40] Bruce Daisley: The notion that we draw strength from groups is, you know, even though it’s really well known, um, we don’t really explore for it. And, you know, in the medical community, for example, if you’re hospitalized for anything from depression to heart illness to whatever it is, The best predictor of how you will be in two years and five years is how many social groups you report feeling part of.

[00:26:05] Bruce Daisley: Why on earth is that relevant? Well, from doctors and physicians point of view, it’s, it’s kind of not. So they don’t ask about it. They don’t say, are you part of a social group? Do you do any group activities? Do you have any activities you feel part of? They don’t ask it. And yet it’s far more predictive of how you be, you’ll be then if you drink, if you exercise, if you smoke.

[00:26:27] Bruce Daisley: In fact, you know, if you, if you have friends that you see every day, it on average increases your lifespan by 15 years. It’s like this remarkable, extraordinary impact on longevity. Um, and so I guess, you know, at the heart of it, we, we kind of overlooked these things and they, they really go to the heart of strong organizations as well.

[00:26:47] Bruce Daisley: You know, just normally, I heard this brilliant thing. I attended a session where different companies are talking about culture. And a big retail store that, you know, probably one of the most famous retail stores in the UK and somebody who worked there, she said, we did some analysis and we found an interesting correlation.

[00:27:05] Bruce Daisley: The, the stores that used all of their, their staff entertaining budgets had much better culture than the ones who didn’t. I mean, it’s like such a silly self evident thing, but the ones who arranged, um, staff baseball and softball in the park, or the, the ones who arranged a sort of a staff quiz night or the ones who, the ones who did those things had much better culture than the ones who didn’t.

[00:27:31] Bruce Daisley: And what you broadly discover is that good culture generally has socialization, it generally has social connection at the heart of it. Now, the interesting lesson for all of us right now is that, you know, the world has changed a bit. A lot of people have since COVID have gotten much longer commutes.

[00:27:47] Bruce Daisley: They’ve moved out. They staying on a, going to the pub after work, you know, actually typically only half of the office have ever enjoyed that. And they kind of didn’t go, but we didn’t notice them. Everyone else who was having so much fun, they didn’t notice that, you know, the ones with care responsibilities weren’t there.

[00:28:04] Bruce Daisley: The ones with long commute to the ones who didn’t drink weren’t there. Um, so, so I guess the challenge increasingly for leaders is, is recognizing socialization plays a big part of stronger culture, stronger culture generally translates into better results, better performance. But we maybe don’t want to do all of those things in.

[00:28:25] Bruce Daisley: Outside of work hours. And so the interesting challenge for leaders is, okay, how do we create social connection inside work hours? Now that might be team lunches. It might be, you know, team bake sales where everyone brings something in, costs zero money. People bring things in, you’ll sit and eat something together.

[00:28:42] Bruce Daisley: Or I’ve seen companies that do team food, um, world food events and everyone from different countries brings the food their grandmother used to make them, or everyone brings, you know, the food that they, they most love cooking at home. And so you’ve got like this Polish food, you’ve got this Indian food, you’ve got these, these like Nigerian dishes, like, and you’ve just got this incredible collection of, of people doing things.

[00:29:04] Al Elliott: Does this mean you have to spend all your time with your colleagues? Or does it mean that face to face in office, working with it is the secret to resilience? Of course not. In fact, Bruce has found there’s a specific percentage of time with colleagues that is actually the sweet spot.

[00:29:19] Bruce Daisley: The one thing we know is that there’s huge communities that never meet each other online, whether they are music fandoms or fandoms of TV shows or, you know, huge communities that never meet each other, or they might meet each other once every two years at a gig.

[00:29:34] Bruce Daisley: or a comic conference. And, and so, you know, we don’t need to be with each other every day to, to forge connection. I think the, um, the thing that we might think though, is we might think. How do we sustain those things? People who have looked into this have said in terms of the office spending between 25 percent and 50 percent of our time together seems to have an impact on making culture more cohesive.

[00:30:02] Bruce Daisley: So, you know, any more than that, it doesn’t necessarily have a huge impact. The other thing that’s of interest as well is that what you often find is that people get really frustrated if they’ve made a journey in. I was with one organization a couple of months ago and they said the average commute in our team is two hours each way.

[00:30:23] Bruce Daisley: People have moved to Southampton, they’ve moved to York, they’ve moved to, you know, they’re commuting into London and they’ll do it one day a week happily, two days a week fine. But you know, it’s a longer commute. They don’t want to be doing that every day. Now you can force them in, but if they come all the way in.

[00:30:40] Bruce Daisley: And they spend the day on zoom calls. They will not forgive you. If they come in and they spend all day on teams with people who are at home, they’ll think, what was the point of that? You know, like I’m being, I’ve chatted to someone yesterday and he said a member of his team, 23 year old, he’s average commute when he comes in, he’s 75 pounds.

[00:31:00] Bruce Daisley: And he’s, he’s peak time commute. He’s 75 pounds. He’s off peak commute. He’s 22 or something. So he’s like, I love coming in. I love being in the office. If there’s any chance I can do it off peak, it makes my life. Just so much less impoverished, you know, like if I’m getting 75 train, I’ve got to feel like that extra hour in the office was worth it.

[00:31:26] Bruce Daisley: And you know, actually, if you’re getting in and people are just chatting, having a coffee, it’s like, please don’t punish me for being late when it’s got a 50 difference to me. And I think, you know, understanding those things are really critical for where we are in work right now.

[00:31:40] Al Elliott: And the second part of work socialization is to have fun.

[00:31:43] Al Elliott: Bruce has a great story about a receptionist who had enough of the culture and did something about it.

[00:31:49] Bruce Daisley: I’ve always been relatively fortunate that most of the jobs I had, I enjoyed. Um, and so, you know, I would always. to myself, it had been a good day if I’d laughed 10 times that day and, you know, it’d been a, and so that’s it.

[00:32:04] Bruce Daisley: If I went home that day and I was like, man, that was a funny day. That was, that was the defining thing. If I was like getting on the public transport home saying to myself, that was a funny day today, that was, that was all that mattered to me. Really interesting. That was like. Does that correlate with good culture, though?

[00:32:21] Bruce Daisley: He’s like, you know, to some extent I had one someone once tell me, um, don’t be seen laughing around here. You know, we weren’t doing very well as a business. If the big boss walks past, don’t be seen laughing. Like, really? You know, it’s a laugh when things are bad. It’s interesting because if you chat to people who do really bad jobs, like firefighters or soldiers, they laugh all the time.

[00:32:44] Bruce Daisley: But, um, the, you know, it’s like, okay, so like, this is really interesting that people will help diagnose what good culture looks like. Anyway, I was just really intrigued with that. What does good culture look like? If people laugh more, is that better for culture? Will we get better results if people laugh more or is my own instinct a bad one?

[00:33:03] Bruce Daisley: And I just became obsessed with that. And, you know, actually I tell you, I don’t know, uh, the sort of jobs you’ve done, but I’ve done a lot of bar jobs and restaurant jobs. And there’s, there’s something when you start a new shift at a bar and you get a bit of a vibe when you turn up and you ask if they’ve got any jobs and then you find out.

[00:33:19] Bruce Daisley: And you start there. When you start a new shift at a job, a job, you know, within the first shift, whether this is going to be a horrible place to work or whether this, and you’re still looking, you’re going to carry on looking, or whether this might be a good place. Okay, you go home at the end of the first shift.

[00:33:34] Bruce Daisley: That was good. Actually, I like those people. Really intriguing. Well, obviously that has got to have an impact on customer service. If everyone in a place hates each other or hates the boss, of course, you know, it’s going to have an impact on whether you’re. Good to customers. And so, you know, for me, I was just like, it really interested in those dynamics in interested in the dynamics of whether, uh, how those things work together.

[00:34:00] Bruce Daisley: So, yeah, I’ve always just had a, as a participant in teams, I’ve just always had a curiosity of how we can make teams better. I spoke to one organization. They said the receptionist changed the culture here. I was like, okay, I’m intrigued. Tell me more. They said the receptionist was a, one of those actors who sort of worked for a bit, then came back and then did some acting, then came back, did a season of pantomime, came back.

[00:34:25] Bruce Daisley: And she said, this is the worst place I’ve ever worked. It’s like, I guess you can say that when you’re the temp and, uh, and she said no one talks to each other. There’s no connection. No one even seems to like each other really. Anyway, she took it into her own hand. She went out, she bought some bags of kettle chips and Pringles.

[00:34:42] Bruce Daisley: She laid them all out on paper plates. And she said, back to the point I made before, she said, uh, ladies and gentlemen, it’s the best time of the week. 4 30 on Thursday. It’s crisp Thursday. And you know, people came up and they had like a little stack of Pringles and they stood around going, what’s this?

[00:34:59] Bruce Daisley: Next week she did it again. Next week she did it again. She was dressed up on the third week, she was dressed up as a Pringles tube. And uh, anyway, it became like a little ritual. People would say. Let’s not have a meeting. Are you going to be at Crisp Thursday? I’ve just got two things to ask you. You know, Oh, occasionally someone turned up with cake.

[00:35:17] Bruce Daisley: Someone turned up with Prosecco. Anyway, it became the in work moment where they all stopped doing stuff for 15 minutes to connect for half an hour to connect with each other. And. I guess the spirit of that, the spirit of that crisp Thursday is how leaders need to be a bit more entrepreneurial with connection.

[00:35:37] Bruce Daisley: It’s realizing that generally, you know, we’re engaged with our job when we’ve got a friend at work. And it’s one of the fundamental details about work culture that we often forget. So the more that we can make. build connections, we make people feel like we’re all in it together, that, you know, we can draw strength from each other.

[00:35:56] Bruce Daisley: All of these things seem to be in service of better culture really.

[00:35:59] Leanne Elliott: They say that laughter is the best medicine. Bruce has experienced first hand that laughing, joking and banter in the workplace is good for culture, so long as you’re not laughing at somebody else’s expense.

[00:36:11] Bruce Daisley: If the sort of gags you are making are at the expense of someone’s identity, I suspect it was never as funny as you thought it was in the first place.

[00:36:20] Bruce Daisley: You know, if you would need to challenge who someone is and what they’re about to get a laugh, I don’t think that was probably ever as funny as you think it was. Um, and aside from that, I think there’s a billion things that we can laugh about and joke about. So, you know. But to my mind, if someone’s gender or ethnicity or sexuality is the thing that you thought was banter, you know, probably time has, has moved on for that.

[00:36:55] Bruce Daisley: But apart from that, still a billion things you can laugh about. The great thing is, there’s a wonderful book I’d recommend by, uh, two women. Uh, who teach at Stanford a book called humor seriously. And, and one of the things they wrote was like, you know, we much prefer managers who laugh, we much prefer being in environment was filled with laughter.

[00:37:13] Bruce Daisley: And here’s how you laugh more. You try and laugh more. You find moments in meetings where there’s five minutes, the end of a meeting where you make it, you know, you share funny things that have happened this week, you share funny things that have happened and, and you just set yourself up for.

[00:37:30] Bruce Daisley: opportunities to laugh more. In fact, you know, the one thing’s the only thing I’ll say is that my only strength in life is that I’m quite generous with my laughter. I love laughing at stuff. Um, and what you find is that when you laugh at stuff, other people also enjoy laughing, you know, generally we only laugh with people we like, which is the interesting element of psychology.

[00:37:51] Bruce Daisley: So I wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t say if you’re open hearted, I wouldn’t say that there’s any reason to believe that there’s less opportunity for laughter. What we’ll say is we do laugh less on Zoom. And so, you know, we’ve got to rebuild the times that we are around each other, rebuild those relationships, make sure we spend our face to face time laughing.

[00:38:12] Al Elliott: So, we’ve covered so much more than resilience here. We’ve talked about how resilience can often be a way to move blame from bad management, how groups of people are more resilient than individuals, how the changing workplace is massively affecting resilience.

[00:38:27] Leanne Elliott: Yeah, we’ve talked about how socialization at work is a good thing and how creating connections and having fun is one of the fundamentals of resilience and great cultures, but I asked Bruce if there is just one thing that company should be doing, what might it be?

[00:38:43] Leanne Elliott: He describes a woman called Frances, who’s a person companies call when they have a culture problem and what she does when she first walks through the door.

[00:38:52] Bruce Daisley: And she goes into. Those companies, when you hear like Uber’s got a culture problem, or WeWork’s got a culture problem, or, um, there’s another one called Riot Games that had a really bad sort of sexism and bullying.

[00:39:04] Bruce Daisley: And she was, she’s the person they call. So I was like, man, what do you do? You walk in. They’ve called you, you know, wouldn’t like the fear be running through you? It’s like, Oh my God, what am I going to do? Cause they’re going to, they want answers here. They can’t not do anything. And so I’ve chatted to her twice and I’m always like, what do you do?

[00:39:26] Bruce Daisley: What’s the first thing you do? Number one thing she does train managers. That’s what she does. She trains managers. That’s really interesting. Like, you know, of course there’s quick fixes, you know, change that policy. We’ll change that. That’s maybe not well advised. Then she trains managers. Wow. Okay. That’s so interesting.

[00:39:45] Leanne Elliott: If you do one thing, I know I’ve said it before, but how cool is it to hear somebody who’s probably got a lot more credibility than me say it? It’s good, isn’t it?

[00:39:53] Al Elliott: Yeah. Sorry. You’re talking to me. I thought you were talking to the audience.

[00:39:56] Leanne Elliott: I’m talking to them too. Yes, it is. Yeah. I mean, honestly, when this penny drops out, we’re going to be millionaires.

[00:40:01] Leanne Elliott: Our manager training sales are going to go through the roof, through the roof.

[00:40:06] Al Elliott: I’m clearly not, I’m not prepared for this back and forth. I’ve got a mouthful of water. Yes, we will be millionaires. Yes, you are right. You’re always right. All hail, all hail great Leanne. Carry on.

[00:40:15] Leanne Elliott: No, all joking aside, it is, it is really important.

[00:40:18] Leanne Elliott: Great management links to organisational life, including resilience. Bruce’s book shows that resilience or rather the fortitude is built by. Feeling in close synchrony to those around us, the sense of community is extraordinarily influential for how well we can recover from challenges and setbacks. And who has the biggest impact on this sense of community in the workplace?

[00:40:42] Leanne Elliott: The manager. You know, um, you know, my big fat Greek wedding where the dad goes, give me a word, any word. And I will show the, the origin of that word is Greek will give me an organizational problem, any, any organizational problem. And I will show you that the origin of that problem is the manager.

[00:40:59] Al Elliott: Yep, I believe that.

[00:41:01] Leanne Elliott: I do believe that. It’s quite simple. Train your managers, grow your business, save the world.

[00:41:05] Al Elliott: Oh, fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. I love that. So if you want to find out a bit more about Bruce, here’s where you can go.

[00:41:13] Bruce Daisley: I’ve got a website, brucedaisley. com or eatsleepworkrepeat. com. It’s got a lot of the stuff for the podcast on it and you can take a look.

[00:41:20] Bruce Daisley: My newsletter and everything is on there.

[00:41:21] Al Elliott: So Bruce has well and truly schooled us on the idea of resilience. It’s not some fluffy buzzword and neither is it just a half day course on the training calendar.

[00:41:31] Leanne Elliott: Exactly. Bruce explained that leaders fall in the trap sometimes of thinking resilience is down to the individual and therefore They are the ones to blame, but in actual fact, by creating meaningful work, allowing for flexible working and encouraging collaboration and socialization will enable you to build the foundations of an organization where resilience levels are increasing.

[00:41:55] Al Elliott: And like Leanne always says, when people have a very clear reason for why they’re doing their job, a clear idea of what their exact role is in the organization and the resources they need to do it, you’re most of the way there. When you add on some great relationships, like Bruce has been talking about, and frequent recognition of your efforts, you’ve absolutely nailed it.

[00:42:15] Al Elliott: Incidentally, and there’s a reason why I put the emphasis on all those, all those words beginning with R, this is the main part of our proprietary modern model called the RX7, which is the seven foundations of an amazing workplace culture. And they all start with the letter R, hence R times seven RX7. Do you get it?

[00:42:31] Al Elliott: Maybe not. I get it. You can find out more about the RX7 in the show notes. As we’ve said a few times, it is currently in private, uh, for private clients only, but if you qualify, then we’d be very happy to talk to you about using it. So before we do say goodbye, let’s just find out a bit more about Bruce’s amazing podcast, Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat, and why you should be adding it to your queue today.

[00:42:55] Bruce Daisley: The podcast was formed by my own desire to make work better. It was, you know, um, I mentioned I worked at Twitter and, uh, tech firm culture isn’t always the best. And there was certainly a time we’d been forced to do a round of job cuts. Uh, we, I think we’d done another round of job cuts and the, the culture which had been this magical thing, it really sort of had been adored by the people there.

[00:43:18] Bruce Daisley: Um, people said, you know, this is the best place I’ve ever worked. And then the culture just didn’t bounce back. And so I, I was like, okay, well, what can I do to fix this? And just, I started doing a podcast, which was kind of my own self education. It was like, it was like, I’d see a fascinating article. I’d contact the person who wrote it.

[00:43:36] Bruce Daisley: I’d interview them. Um, about six years ago now. So like sort of pre any sort of booming podcasts along the way, it became number one business podcast. So it way exceeded my expectations. And as a result of that, it sort of allowed me to go on and do a couple of books and I do a newsletter about workplace culture that’s that came from it.

[00:43:58] Bruce Daisley: Yeah. So it’s, it’s really. For anyone who is ignited with the question of how do I make work better? And, you know, that might be for their team. It might be for their whole organization. It might be just, you know, a really, for their department, whatever it is, someone who’s thinking, how can I use the research that’s out there to make the job of me and my team better.

[00:44:24] Leanne Elliott: Thank you to Bruce for being an incredible guest. It really was one of my most favorite conversations. Definitely pick up his book Fortitude. We will leave a link in the show notes. I actually listened to the audio book version because I love Bruce’s voice in his podcast, um, and it’s brilliant. So yeah, if you’re, if you’re looking for another medium to.

[00:44:44] Leanne Elliott: To consume your content, highly recommend, um, the audio book of fortitude. It’s very, very good.

[00:44:50] Al Elliott: Yep. All the links are in the show notes. Definitely go and go and tell Bruce that you enjoyed listening to him on our pod, because I think it’ll make his day. He’s such a down to earth and really, really nice guy.

[00:44:59] Al Elliott: Um, so. Look out for the next couple of weeks. We’ve got, well, we’ve got amazing guests for the rest of the year and the rest of time, obviously. The rest of time.

[00:45:07] Al Elliott: We have got some amazing people coming up. I think last week I mucked up because I said it was going to be, uh, Dr. Claire Hughes from Mind this week when actual fact it was Bruce.

[00:45:16] Al Elliott: So it’s going to be Dr. Claire Hughes from Mind next week. And then I think we have, uh, John Amici, Rory Sutherland. We’ve got Isabel Berwick. Uh, we’ve got, uh, the angry professor. He’s going to be amazing.

[00:45:28] Leanne Elliott: The anger professor. Anger professor. Very different, very different meaning.

[00:45:33] Al Elliott: Different people with a very different outlook on life and work.

[00:45:37] Al Elliott: Um, and so many other guests coming up for you. So if you haven’t clicked that subscribe button, then smash that subscribe button. That’s what they say. Don’t they? All these kids online smash this. No, I don’t know what they say. Ring that bell. We’re going to go now. Bye. Bye bye.

[00:45:59] Leanne Elliott: If you do one thing, if you do one thing, if you do one thing, at this point I’m like, I know.

[00:46:11] Leanne Elliott: I asked my mother, what would I be? Was it that one then?

[00:46:14] Al Elliott: Will I be resilient? This is what Bruce said to me.

[00:46:21] Leanne Elliott: Que cera cera. You have a beautiful voice. That’s not what you said in preview. I didn’t call him musically challenged the last time you heard me singing.

[00:46:31] Al Elliott: To be fair, you have a very unique tone.

[00:46:33] Leanne Elliott: Okay, just rewind that bit. Get it? Will kids get that

[00:46:45] Leanne Elliott: joke?

[00:46:46] Al Elliott: Rewind. Probably not.

[00:46:50] Leanne Elliott: So redundant.

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