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Pumpkin Harvest, Workplace Bullying and Preventing Burnout: What We’re Reading This Week

Nov. 10, 2023
A look at some safety-related news in the spotlight.

I want to start by thanking all current and former members of the military for their service. I cannot even pretend to understand the things you have witnessed, experienced or done in order to protect our democracy, but I am grateful for your efforts.

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I’m making an effort to pause and count my blessings, including the gorgeous red tree that still has all its leaves in my neighbor’s yard. I find myself looking at it every hour to marvel at the color and remind myself that I am but one living thing on this great planet.

I’m also thankful for the gourmet belated birthday feast I will enjoy tomorrow. Had I known how much a 5-ounce filet cost, I wouldn’t have asked for a steak dinner, so the next best thing I can do is savor each and every bite.

But most of all, I want to thank all of you. Without you, we wouldn’t have a publication. I also wouldn’t have the chance to meet or get to know some of you. I thank you for all the work you do to keep so many people safe.

I realize the three articles I’m sharing sound a bit doom and gloom, but I like that they address something I hadn’t known or considered before. And while they are about serious topics, there are actions you can take to make a difference, either in your own life or for someone else. I hope you feel inspired to make some changes and be an ally as a result of reading this roundup.

Until next time, stay safe and take care!

Extreme Weather Affects Pumpkin Harvest

Pumpkins are synonymous with fall. Unfortunately, these beloved gourds took a hit this year thanks to extreme weather. This could spell trouble in the future, especially now that everything is pumpkin flavored.

This year was a reminder of the water challenges facing farmers in states like Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. Some farmers lost one-fifth or more of their predicted yields, others left land empty and still others lost crops due to extreme growing conditions.

“This year’s gourds are a symbol of the reality that farmers who rely on irrigation must continue to face season after season: They have to make choices, based on water allotments and the cost of electricity to pump it out of the ground, about which acres to plant and which crops they can gamble on to make it through hotter and drier summers,” write Melina Walling and Brittany Peterson.

It’s just one of many issues farmers are grappling with now, but it’s one that can resonate with many Americans who enjoy carving pumpkins for Halloween and baking pie for Thanksgiving.

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

Recognizing Bullying in the Workplace

Growing up, you knew when you were being bullied: maybe your hair was being pulled or you had to give up your lunch (or lunch money). But now that we’ve graduated from the playground, do you know if you’re being bullied?

It’s an evocative, if not troubling thought. Risha Grant explains that workplace aggressions, such as being routinely left off meeting invites and not receiving the same information as your co-workers are signs of being bullied at work.

It’s a big problem, though it’s not often visible or discussed. An estimated 48.6 million Americans are being bullied, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute. One reason bullying persists is because it can be subtle or difficult to prove. The effect, though, is a toxic work environment where people don’t feel they can do their best work or be their authentic selves.

The first step is recognizing signs of bullying. The next step is addressing it. This article offers both, and I encourage you to read it.

Read the full story from Quartz.

Helping Your Burned Out Colleagues

I dislike many of the conversations about burnout. Usually, these frame burnout as a personal problem, but really, it’s the result of institutional decisions inflicted on a person. The Mayo Clinic defines job burnout as “a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.”

Although I believe change has to come from the top, such as hiring more staff so employees aren’t working doubles or overtime, individuals can review and assess their situation. Even better, someone else can help them.

If you sense a colleague (or anyone else) is struggling, psychologist Art Markman suggests three things to do: validate, support and plan.

Markman explains the situation better than I can, so I recommend you read his advice for ways to broach the subject. The only other thing I’ll say is this: We often talk about listening and engaging with others as a way to foster psychological safety. By telling someone it’s OK to feel their emotions and share them with others, you’re also giving them the power to change their viewpoint.

Read the full story from Fast Company.

About the Author

Nicole Stempak

Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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