Fostering Mental Wellness in the Workplace with Calm’s Scott Domann

Scott Domann, an advocate for mental health and wellness in the workplace, shares his insights on fostering a culture that prioritizes employee well-being. In this enlightening interview, Domann discusses the significance of mental health in professional settings and the responsibility of leaders to create a supportive environment. He emphasizes the need for proactive approaches to mental health and the importance of open communication and empathy within teams.

Domann’s expertise lies in implementing strategies that support mental wellness at work. By sharing his personal experiences and professional insights, he offers valuable guidance for leaders seeking to enhance their team’s mental health. Domann highlights the impact of simple yet meaningful conversations and the role of self-care in maintaining mental well-being. His approach underscores the importance of acknowledging and addressing mental health challenges in the workplace, ultimately leading to a more inclusive and supportive work environment.

This interview serves as a compelling exploration of the critical role of mental health in the workplace, shedding light on the importance of leadership in promoting a culture of understanding and support. Domann’s thoughtful perspectives inspire leaders to prioritize mental wellness in their organizations, fostering a healthier and more productive work environment for all.

Notable quotes

“For me, it’s really being able to look at mental health and wellness at work and being able to make a difference in the lives of people at Calm.” – Scott Domann

“You have to be selfish with your mental health and wellness, you have to listen to your body, you have to listen to the people around you.” – Scott Domann

“I always go to the simplicity of asking the question, ‘How are you doing? No, really, how are you doing?’” – Scott Domann

Useful links

Reach Scott at:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scott-domann-67514b/

Website: https://business.calm.com/

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Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Let’s do it! Scott, what is your personal why?

Scott Domann: For me, it’s really being able to look at mental health and wellness at work and being able to say, like, where can I actually not just in my job with my title, but truly be able to make a difference in the lives of people at Calm? And then for everything that Calm does to be able to make a difference in the lives of those people at other organizations. I get excited thinking about…

not just impacting my own sphere, but looking at the importance of things like mental health and wellness and saying, you know what, in every career and every opportunity I’ve ever had, mental health and wellness has been key to me and whether it’s burnout, stress, anxiety, or supporting those with that as part of their day to day and being able to create the best environment I possibly can.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So do you have mental health and wellness? You personally? Yeah.

Scott Domann: Personally, absolutely. I mean, I will take every opportunity to I look at this as oftentimes people will talk about the downsides of being selfish. And I think you have to be selfish with your mental health and wellness, you have to listen to your body, you have to listen to the people around you, especially when you’re feeling like you’re not having your best day and someone says, you know, right, you know, and then you realize you like

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm

Scott Domann: Perhaps I wasn’t listening to myself. So for myself, I have a couple of things that I do on a daily basis if possible, just to make sure that I focus on me and so that I can truly be the best me I can to show up for the way that I think people really need me on a day-to-day basis.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Okay, so that’s interesting because sometimes I don’t give people the benefit of the doubt in that way and I see someone showing up and I think, man, that guy is such a jerk, you know? And it doesn’t even occur to me that they might be going through something. And I think this is one of the larger issues in the workplace is that people don’t understand what brain health is, mental wellness, what is that? How do I know what we’re talking about if I’m a leader in business?

Scott Domann: Yeah, I mean, one of the things I’ll just call out what you just mentioned in terms of leaders. I truly believe that people managers, people leaders are a single point of success and failure. And when I think about that, taking it another step, not every people leader, no matter how senior you are, knows how to look for the cues as it relates to someone’s mental health and wellness, or even knows what to do about it, should they be able to identify those cues.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Scott Domann: Um, so for myself, I always go to the simplicity of asking the question, how are you doing? No, really, how are you doing? Um, because it’s easy if I were to say, Jessica, great to see you. How are you doing? You’re big. Fine. No matter what’s going on. I’m like, no, really it’s been a couple of weeks. How are you really doing? And then that opens the door in terms of me being able to engage you and meet you where you are, and even if you’re like, I’m actually fine.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Scott Domann: To know that like, gosh, this is someone who cares enough to follow up with me and say, no, really, I wanna know how you’re doing. So that at that point when you would say, actually, I’m not doing so good today, that you know that it’s like, you know, that one time when Scott or this other leader asked me, no, really, I think you can go to that person and tell them, I’m not okay today. And whether it be related to things in your personal life, whether it be…related to things that work, just stress, anxiety, burnout, overwork, things like that, of being able to, as a leader, create that environment that you can facilitate mental health and wellness, you can facilitate people’s success by virtue of focusing on mental health and wellness, and ultimately then achieve those outcomes that you’re looking for as a business just with those simple questions. And a lot of leaders just have never been taught how to do that.

And I think it’s super important to recognize that because none of us were born with the innate skills of leading or knowing how to Ask these kinds of questions and what to do with it

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So let’s make sure the listeners understood that because I think this is such a simple but important point. It’s that as a leader, if the only thing you did was ask the question and then maybe another follow-up question or two, and then you walked away from that conversation and didn’t offer any resources and never even gave any advice, that would have made a big impact.

Because what you’re allowing that employee to do is to, sometimes they’re not even aware of it themselves. You’re allowing them to become self-aware by giving them the space to answer a question that they’re just going through the motions and you’ve just stopped the motion and said, wait, can we check in? And it allows them to check in with themselves too, right? So that alone is a huge step. That’s enough. I mean, we could end the podcast right there and that would have been a great tip. There’s more.

Scott Domann: Great. You and I get time back, we can go to the gym. I totally agree with you. It’s in the simplicity of being able to take that beat and be able to say, really, how are you doing? That is something all of us can do at every level in the organization, whether it be a people leader, a peer, et cetera. But it’s particularly important for people managers because people stay with companies for their people manager.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Ha ha!

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Scott Domann: That leave companies because of their people manager, they’re inspired or not by their people manager and the environment you create now really helps to facilitate the things that can happen in the course of business and your own personal life as you work together and as you build those longer term relationships.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, so one of our very first podcast guests is a master of this. His name is Ryan Leake. And I talked to him this morning and he asked me that question. He said, how are you doing? No, really, how are you doing? And then I said, well, I’m stressed out but I’m in the safety zone of stressed out. I have not yet reached the danger zone of stressed out. And he said, well, how would you know if you reached the danger zone?

And then I said, well, I start eating a bunch of Oreos and I watch a lot more TV and I guess I start doing dissociative stuff. And he’s like, interesting. That was the whole conversation. And I had this big revelation, wait, I actually should be a little bit proactive about self care because I can see myself getting there. He didn’t do anything. He just asked the question. And so that’s why it’s so important. You don’t even have to just be a people manager. I mean, I could do it to you after this call, right? We could just…

Scott Domann: Great question.

Scott Domann: That’s right. That’s right.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: We could do it to anyone. You could do it to the guy on the street that you buy your hoagie from, right?

Scott Domann: That’s exactly right. I mean, and you think about the number of people that you interact with and connect with on a day to day basis, even if you don’t know them and just the simplicity of being able to say, hello, give someone a smile at the checkout counter like, how’s your day going? You know, just those kinds of engagements can mean a lot. And then particularly we think about mental health and wellness, we think about our multiple working scenarios, the loneliness.

The stress, the things that can happen depending on like how we work and where we operate in our own personal lives. It is in that simple day to day that we can stop and really, really make a difference. And I think about that a lot. Not just because I’m at home, but just because I think, you know, Hey, everyone deals with things that we have no idea about in the simplicity of being able to see someone for who they are, meet them where they are and just be able to say, well, one person stopped during the day and just asked me really how I’m doing. That meant a lot to me.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Scott Domann: That we can make a big difference.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah. Okay, so, but let’s not stop there. That was awesome, but let’s keep going. So now I’m a people manager listening and I’ve asked the question and someone responds with, they’re really, I’m struggling, right? Now what? So now I’ve been given this information, I don’t know anything about mental health. I’m a developer, I’m certainly not a mental health expert. What is my next step as a manager? If I’m a huge part of the solution, what do I solve for?

Scott Domann: It’s a great question. I mean, this is something that I would tell all managers, which is you don’t want to be on either extreme. You don’t want to, to your point, like I’m a developer, I don’t know, you don’t want to ignore it. You don’t want to just say, okay, that’s yours to solve and move on. You also, on the other extreme, don’t want to be the armchair psychologist trying to do things that you yourself are most likely not equipped to handle. So that’s where you know you. Correct.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Like diagnosing your employees. You know, I think you might have PTSD. Let’s get you checked out.

Scott Domann: Exactly, exactly. And then that comes to, you know, a people leader like myself, and I’m like, oh, yeah, don’t do that. You know, it really, it really, and I know, again, it sounds simple, but it’s in the simplicity of a lot of these things that people leaders who are listening can go, oh, you know, I can do that. I’m not going to ignore, and I’m not going to try and solve. But what I am going to do is seek to understand. I’m going to ask a couple of questions and say, okay, well, thank you for sharing that with me.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: No, no. Ha ha ha.

Scott Domann: Tell me more about how you’re doing. Tell me more about what it’s related to. And let’s say by virtue of that seek to understand, you can find out that, oh wow, we have two people on leave on the team and yes, you’ve picked up the work. Wow, I didn’t realize the burden that was causing on you. We actually need to get additional resources in here. Let’s see what we can do. So that’s something within your own span of control.

You could realize also that someone has something significant going on personally and that the combo of work and personal, you’re saying, wow, you know what? We here at the company do have resources that we can support you with. Here’s the link to our EAP. Here’s, you know, did you know that we give you calm? And then, you know, on the outside of that also being going to say, Hey, our people partners or our total rewards team is really here to help guide you through some of these more complex items and point you towards the resources that we have.

Let me put you in contact with someone who at the company who can really walk you through these things to make sure that you get connected with the support that’s required. So as a people leader, again, from a simplicity standpoint, all of us can do this and all of us just need to realize that don’t want to be those extremes. A couple of seek to understand follow up questions and being able to make those connections on the things that both you can control. Like I use the example of the overloaded with work or the things that you’re saying, hey, I need to phone a friend.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Scott Domann: And being able to connect with the resources that are within your company who can provide those solutions in Wix.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Now, when I’ve had conversations with other leaders about this, there is the scenario that often gets brought up, which is, I don’t have resources to supplement the team’s workload so that I can give relief to this employee. I don’t have benefits at my company that will allow them to get help through calling the people benefits folks. There’s scenarios where we don’t have that, right? And the question becomes,

What then do I do? If we don’t have calm, if we don’t have any AP, if we don’t have resources to hire more, how do I deal with the drive for performance and someone struggling on the team?

Scott Domann: Right, well, I’ll start with the benefits piece. And let’s say you’re a smaller organization where you’re providing benefits, but you’re not really sure what you’re providing, or you don’t have a people leader, a total rewards leader that you can call on. Most companies that even regardless of size will have some level of benefits support that usually exists on an internet page. And most of the time, it just takes a little bit of searching to be able to you as a people leader, find those things, or even let’s say, there’s just so small, there’s no benefits provided.

To be able to see what the state that you’re in provides so that you can actually have state supported leave of absence and things like that. That while your company may not have a detailed website or detailed benefits, there are things that are provided state to state and country to country that you could actually be able to tap into. And again, that may take more work for a manager than you are accustomed to, but if those things do exist that you…

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Scott Domann: We’ll have to just do a little more research on and look into. I would say as it relates to, let’s just take the scenario of let’s say you have no budget, um, my gosh, got two people on leave. You do have to do three people’s work and I have a budget for additional resources. This is where as a leader, you can really go back to the, okay, ours are goals for the company and your team be able to go through a battery of like, let’s go through exactly what you’re working on. Let’s prioritize those things.

Let’s look at near medium long term in terms of, hey, that thing you’re spending, you know, 10 hours a week on, that’s actually something for, you know, Q4. I think we can hold on that until, you know, Q3 when this person comes back, you’ll pick that up. Yes, we’ll compress the timeline, but you don’t have to do it now. So as a leader, you have to get really precise with this and really detailed and go through those step by step with the company, your department and team.

Prioritization, what you can actually, from a time-bound standpoint, be able to control, and then help redirect an employee. Because a lot of times, many of us just get into and we’ve all seen this in our careers, you’re doing because you’ve done because you’ve always done that. And sometimes you just need someone to stop you and say, let’s go through all of these things and see where it applies. Because oftentimes, I find there are things in there that you can punt, or that you can say, wow, I didn’t realize you were still doing that.

It’s actually something we’re no longer doing. So there are those solutions that will, again, whether it’s the benefit side or the work side, take a little extra time, but as a people leader, it’s worth the time and investment to not ignore it and just say, oh gosh, we’ll just keep doing what you’ve been doing or find your own help. It’s worth it to stop and pause and really dig in and see where you can provide that.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Okay, I love this, because we’re giving people real tools here. So first tool, check in with people, ask how they are, know really how are you, and then seek to understand, right? That’s the first level. Next level, provide benefits and also point them to things that they can lean into to help themselves that you are aware of as a pupil manager, and then also give them some help with prioritization. If they’re obviously struggling, maybe give them some help.

With budgeting and getting help on the team like another resource. Okay, this is great. So let’s zoom out if you don’t mind and look at the organizational level. So I’m the CEO. We have a lot of CEOs that listen to this podcast. I’m interested in making some decisions for the organization as a whole that will help everyone’s mental health and wellness. What can I do that you’re seeing really makes a difference and moves the needle?

Scott Domann: Yeah, true.

Scott Domann: Yeah. There’s a couple of things here. So I would start sort of, you know, highest level of an organization. If you’re a CEO being able to check in with yourself and say, like, have I been precise about the goals and deliverables and the measurement that the, that we’re expecting from the entire organization? Have I taken that down into the departments and teams and made my direct reports and their teams accountable for those things? Because oftentimes if you’re in a job and let’s say you’re a people manager or an individual contributor, you may be spending a lot of time guessing and saying like, gosh, I don’t know if my energy and efforts are going towards something when in reality, it’s like, well, it hasn’t been clearly defined by the company.

So the CEO being able to, and again, the simplicity wise of being able to say, have I clearly outlined and communicated the expectations deliverables and measurement that we’re driving this company towards. And if you haven’t, again, something very straightforward that you can put into place and say, you know, I as CEO need to do a better job of that.

I would also say as CEO.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Wait, and before you go on, we did research on this last year. The number one indicator of whether or not you’ll be able to achieve your key results is if there is clarity on those results within your organization. So totally accurate, right? I mean, not only is that good for mental health because it provides clarity, but it’s actually gonna be better for your business. So it’s win-win. We look for the win-wins.

Scott Domann: No, exactly. Exactly, and I think every CEO is looking for, how does this actually drive top line growth? How does this drive my expense lines? How does this drive all my revenue targets? Being clear on those things, again, it’s in the simplicity and detail that oftentimes I find sometimes, just by virtue of how fast everyone moves, we miss things. And it’s really important to say, what can I control? Did I do that? Oh gosh, I do need to be clear.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm

Scott Domann: On the measurement so that everyone in the organization understands and by virtue of that can direct their efforts in the right way and by virtue of that be able to have the mental health and wellness that they need so that they’re not guessing all the time. I’d say that like going into the next of the CEO, there’s important in being able to tell your own story. Have you talked about your story as it relates to mental health and wellness in the sense of if you as the CEO are talking about it, you’ve automatically made it okay.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Scott Domann: For everyone to say, you know what? It’s important for me to focus on this as well. It’s important for me to raise these issues. And when I talk about this from a CEO level, I wanna be clear with everyone who’s listening. Oftentimes it becomes the issue of vulnerability, of saying like, CEO, you must be vulnerable. And that actually I find is good in concept, but oftentimes fails in practice because no one truly understands or really sometimes wants to be vulnerable in the classic definition of that.

So I actually look at this as what we talk about a lot at home. The universal unifier and entry point is sleep. If you ask everyone as a CEO, like who’s mentally healthy today, you’re probably going to have the little slow hand raise if at all. If you say, you know what, who could have slept better this week, you’re probably gonna have a lot of people raise their hand and you yourself can say, you know what, I didn’t sleep that well this week because I’ve got a board meeting on Friday. But here’s what I’m doing to make sure that

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Scott Domann: I get enough sleep tonight because that’s going to materially impact how I feel, how I approach the work and then the outcome of that board meeting. So you find those entry points that you as a CEO and leader are comfortable talking about so that you can make it okay for everyone else in the organization. Then I go down to sort of those, let’s call it day in and day out practices that you can have, you know, here at Calm, we’re really lucky that every day on our calendar from 10 to 1015 Pacific.

Um, we have the opportunity for you to join the daily call where you can go do a meditation on zoom with the entire company. So providing those, that level of practice, that level of like, you know, I need a center for my day. You can do that. You can also, if you don’t have time to do that, you can put these levels of like meditation, mindfulness, just moments of Zen where you breathing together at the top of all hands, town halls, big company meetings, team meetings, departments.

Whatever it is that you’re saying, like these are moments where we as a company need to check in on ourselves. CEOs, head of people can really implement those things that work for their business and their culture. A couple of other things and again, I always caveat this with some of what I recommend you have to put through the lens of what works for your business. Don’t just do it blindly because you may say, oh gosh, this doesn’t serve us and then you create another issue. We have Zoom free days. So last Friday of every month is a Zoom free day for everyone,

You can call, text, it’s a work day, but you just clear your calendars of Zoom so you can actually get work done. And then if you need someone, of course, we’re all able to hop on things, but we’re not back to back the way we are on a regular day in and day out basis. I would also say that if you’re looking at what you’re providing in terms of mental health days for the entire company, make sure it’s the entire company taking it at the same time. Looking at your pay time off practices and being able to say, hey, it’s easy to say, especially in tech.

We have unlimited time off that then when we ask like, does anyone take their time off? You’re like, nope. You know, reframing it as, you know, take time off as you need it. Because you could say today, I actually need time off for any variety of reasons in creating the communication and mechanisms within your organization to support that. I’d also say as we go back to the people manager piece, what is it that you do to, as we call it calm, create the mindful manager?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: He-

Scott Domann: That the manager that’s truly focused on not just getting the work done because that is of primary importance, but they’re also focusing on the environment they create and how they get the work done. So that you have managers who are focused on the what and the how so that a day in and day out, regardless of these other items that a company may provide, your managers are constantly mindful. And they’re mindful because, for instance, the CEO and the leadership team have said, it’s important to us.

That not only what you do, but how you do it and the environment you create are critical to success at this company. So I’ll pause there, just a couple of examples of that.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Well, I want to dig into a couple of the things that you just talked about. One is the Zoom free days and Zoom generally. I want to hear about technology and how it’s contributing to burnout, because I’ve got to say, I am over it with the Zoom. I’ve just I’ve hit a wall where and I’m never going back into the office. So don’t try and force me back into the office. I’ll quit that day. But I can’t handle Zooms right now either. So I have started texting everyone that I have a Zoom call with. If it’s more if it’s if it’s not.

Scott Domann: Oh yes.

Scott Domann: Yes.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: More than two people. Okay, let me rephrase that. If the Zoom is just me and one other person, I make it a call. I’m just not doing one-on-one Zooms anymore. I can’t, I need to be able to walk around the house to look at the ceiling and not at my screen. It seems to be helping me. So I’m experiencing a bit of mental fatigue with the Zoom thing. Are you seeing that with your clients or in research that you’ve done?

Scott Domann: Absolutely. Well, I’ll say that, you know, if you do go back into the office, you know, we’re zoom, we’re remote first year at calm. So please come to call. We would gladly have you here. But exactly, exactly. So you know, hey, you gotta review always be recruiting, you know, I adore you. So you’re so smart. Come here to calm. But you know, exactly. So I do think that

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Okay!

Do you need a chief scientist? Yeah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Well, thank you. I got a backup plan.

Scott Domann: You know, it is definitely one of those things that, you know, we just released a workplace trends report and the stress that’s caused by technology is one of those trends. And we’ll talk, I know we’ll talk a lot about that later, but you hit on something that is absolutely critical. And I think what you also hit on is the intentionality around how you can get away from the technology when it actually serves you and the other people on the call. So exactly what you were talking about.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Scott Domann: I had dinner with one of my direct reports last night and we were talking about this that he like you like me, like walking meetings, you know, we get off zoom, if it’s just the two of us, because we said, you know what, the stuff we have to look at, I’m pretty sure I can look at it later. And it’s like, you know, you’re right, unless we have a deck that we’re absolutely going through and correcting, we’re not going to do zoom, we’re going to intentionally make it calls. And it’s the intentionality around that and implementing it that actually makes a difference, because it’s easy when you just let your calendar.

To you, zooms back to back, everything back to back, and you’re like, gosh, it’d be nice to get up and walk around, but you haven’t intentionally done something about it, so it’s really important to do that. I also, again, to the notion of being selfish about my own time, I need time to stand up, walk around the house, walk around the neighborhood, just not stare at the screen. I block my certain times in my calendar so that I can just have those moments, you know, the Daily Show moment of the moment of Zen, where it’s just like I step away, I do something

And it’s just the fact that I’m able to context switch in a healthy way, that I’m not focused on Slack, on Zoom, on email, on et cetera, that I can just do that. One of the things I’ve done for myself, and again, we talked about this at dinner last night, was I’ve turned off all notifications on my phone. Because I found that like, anytime I felt a buzz, I saw a flash on the screen, I was just turning it over. And I’ve habituated myself to that.

So I turned off all of my notifications and like everything else, it took me a couple of weeks to form the habit, but it’s really freeing.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Wait, did you get the thing where you felt a buzz and then it wasn’t actually buzzing, phantom buzzing? Yeah, I’ve had that too.

Scott Domann: 100% phantom buzzing 100% I think I must have heard or felt it

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: No, it’s your brain wanting the notes, creating it for you. I think our producer, Noah, has notification silence 24 seven, and it drives me insane because every time I send him a text, it’s like, he’s got notification silence. I’m like, it’s noon. How does he have notification silence? And yet he still gets back to me very quickly. So I think that that’s actually a tool that a lot of people are picking up on. You’re seeing it sometimes in the form of switching to flip phones, right? People are just like trying to disconnect any way that they can.

Scott Domann: Oh.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: You haven’t heard about the flip phones? Oh yeah, there was a great New York, no, there was a great New York, the New York Times had a great article about a journalist who switched to a flip phone for 30 days and what her experience was about it. And I wanted to do it for a minute, but then I realized then you gotta do that T9 texting where you’re like TTTBBBAA. Do you remember that from the old school flip phone?

Scott Domann: No, I haven’t. I’m not that cool, so, you know, maybe I…

Scott Domann: Don’t know if I would be able to do that. I definitely, yes, I remember those days where it just took you forever to type hello. Ha ha ha.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: No, I do too. Yeah, so that’s not the solution, but maybe there is, I mean, because I do think that social media, technology, phone notifications, all of that stuff is creating now a war for our attention. There’s the attention that we can put on ourselves, the attention we can put on our families, the attention we can put on the sunset, the attention we can put on technology and…it seems like technology is winning every single time. I mean, it is a powerful force and our brains are struggling to keep up with that shift.

Scott Domann: I agree. I agree.

Scott Domann: I agree, I agree. And it’s really thinking about the number of inputs we can actually take and the notion of not just, you know, the onslaught of updates of doom scrolling and things like that, but truly like the context switch and everything. The simplification of being able to turn off the notifications to be able to focus in to me being present is really important, particularly again, going back to mental health. If you’re like, how you doing? How you really doing? I got a million things to do.

You actually do yourself an even further disservice in that person of further disservice because you’re not engaged in a full and authentic way. Like you have to be present in order to make sure that the engagement that you have and the interactions that you have are fulfilling for both parties and you meet people where they are. And if you’ve got a million things going on as you know, my husband will tell me all the time, I’ve got a million things going on sometimes in half listening. He’s right. And you know, the impact of that.

When you’re only half listening or you’re only half paying attention. And truly, if you engage someone because you’re caring about like how they’re doing and really how you’re doing and then you half listen, you actually like do a disservice to everyone and probably put you even further back and that person even further back than they already were.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Totally. Last night I was in my daughter’s room and she was saying something to me and I was looking at my phone and I said, uh-huh. And she said it again, louder. And that was her way of being like, mom, I know you’re not listening. And I just felt, I feel terrible when I do that. I gotta have a basket for the phones after 5 p.m. Cause I really don’t need it after 5 p.m. Okay.

Scott Domann: Yeah, we’ve committed to doing something similar here at home where it’s just like, even if we’re watching, you know, we, you and I talked about it, like a lot of, you know, reality television, even if we’re watching something there, turn the phone over and put it off to the side of the couch so we can actually just enjoy not looking at the phone because ultimately, if it’s that important, we’ll find out in about an hour and it’s okay.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Well, I think especially with reality television, you’re gonna wanna put your phone away because there is nothing better than talking incessantly about the insanity that you’re watching on reality TV with your partner. That is like literally my favorite thing to do. More than the prestige, literally the favorite thing to do is watch Love Island and just be like, oh my goodness, can you believe she said that with my boyfriend?

Scott Domann: This is literally my favorite thing to do too. Yes.

Scott Domann: Salt Lake City Housewives, the Traders, like we are just like, I love a brain candy where I can just be like, I’m enjoying myself and to enjoy myself, my phone must go away.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Ah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I finally got into The Real Housewives. I’ve never watched it in my life. And just last month I started Salt Lake City and it’s just the best thing that ever happened to me. Ha ha ha.

Scott Domann: Got a lot of stories for you. I can’t, if you just got into it, I can’t ruin it. So when, after you get through it, let’s have a separate call and walk around and talk about it.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Okay. I’m very excited. Okay, so other than watching reality TV, what I’m interested in, I was talking to the Wall Street Journal the other day about a story on this, and they wanted to know what people are doing that’s really cutting edge on helping employees with mental health. And I think that we’ve cut the edge. I mean, I couldn’t think of anything that I’ve seen recently. I think…

Having a benefit like Calm for your employees was cutting edge a lot of years ago. Now, if you aren’t doing that, you’re behind the times, right? So what is the next frontier for helping your employees with mental health and wellness?

Scott Domann: Yeah, I

Scott Domann: But also if your employees are sleeping better, they’re more engaged, they’re more productive, they’re more of everything you as an organization need them to be, so don’t get away from focusing on that, even though maybe you’ve never done it or you’ve done it for a couple of years and you’re wondering if it’s still valuable because it is. I would say that where Calm is going as well is really amping our notion of mental health and wellness from the Calm app into what we call Calm Health, which is really getting into more

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm.

Scott Domann: Healthcare oriented aspects of being able to have people assess where they are, being directed towards content that will support them, being directed towards their EAP or benefits providers that ultimately gets that much further into active mental health support so that you as an organization can see a reduced cost in your benefits. You as an organization can see those reduced costs in terms of absenteeism.

Filling people who have left because of stress and anxiety. And for employees, that feeling of you being able to recognize where you are, find the support and help that you need, and being able to access it from your phone, from your desktop at the time in which you need it most. So those are the things that, for myself, I see calm evolving into. And then also, I would say to anyone who’s listening,

Make sure that like we’re talking about people leaders, we’re talking about the day-to-day experience of people at work, the cutting edges and doing those things you may have assumed are already in place and fine. So being able as an organization to say, our people leaders truly are a single point of success and failure, what are we doing about it? And what have we refreshed over time that

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Scott Domann: Fits into all the things we’ve already done and that people are accustomed to, or maybe if they even haven’t experienced it before, saying, we have to do this. But it is in those things that, you know, the simplicity of, if it’s new to you, it’s new, you know, if you’re refreshing your manager, education and enablement, it’s new to those managers. It’ll be new to those employees. And also, I would say for an organization, be open and deliberate about what you’re doing.

You may come up with a world-class extraordinary wellness program that lives on your internet that you assume everyone is seeing. That assumption is probably incorrect. No one is going to their internet every day. Put it in front of people. Think about your employee types where we talk a lot about this with our customers where we don’t want to default that everyone is at a computer, whether they be in the office or remote or hybrid or has a smartphone.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Scott Domann: Or is all of those things. So saying like, hey, you’ve got on your feet hourly workforces, meet them where they are and make sure you have things in break rooms or in mailers. If you have workforces that whether or not they’re trying to disconnect from smartphones and going to flip phones, or they’re of a generation that isn’t as comfortable with smartphones, make sure you’re conscious of that so that you’re again meeting people where they are with the resourcing that you have and then the way that they need it.

So again, it may not sound cutting edge in terms of, wow, that’s the newest AI technology out there. It’s in pausing to really assess what you’re doing and what you need to refresh because the newness of that and the ability for employees and managers to absorb that as something that they can do and that they will engage with is more important than something that maybe has never been done before. Um, so I always think of, you know, just stop and review what you’re doing.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Scott Domann: And where you can enhance, add, or level up so that it actually becomes a differentiator for your business.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: And let me add a suggestion onto that because we’ve done a lot of research on change management and what actually works rather than creating some kind of communication plan around trying to convince everyone that these new resources will be great. Identify the early adopters that are super eager to pilot these new tools that are all in without having to even explain it to them who are willing to help troubleshoot challenges in the rollout.

Get them to then tell their story of success, how they use the tools, what it helped them with, why they suggest it. And that becomes then the rallying cry rather than some corporate communication about, here’s a new thing that could be great. It’s here’s Scott talking about his experience with, he couldn’t go to sleep, he started listening to this sleep meditation and now he sleeps eight hours every night and it’s totally transformed his work.

Scott Domann: That’s right.

Scott Domann: That’s right.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Output, you know, something like that will be way more effective because it’s real. Yeah.

Scott Domann: Yeah, I totally agree. Yeah, it’s and this is something that we focused on here at Colm as well, which is the power of storytelling and being able to tell those stories individually or as a collective from a company or a team. So to build on your point, you know, for people who are listening, look at your ERGs. Do you have neurodiverse ERGs, black ERGs, LGBTQ? Think about the things you’re already supporting. So we’re in the middle of Black History Month.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Scott Domann: What are you doing to support black mental health? So if you’re doing something very specific, as we are with Dr. Rita Walker, I just wanna point everyone to her content because it’s phenomenal. Being able to say, what are we doing during a specific time that we can say to employees, we’re focused on black mental health year round, but particularly during Black History Month, we want to reveal something new to you. How did that help you? And how can we learn from that for the rest of the organization? So I think that, to your earlier point about, a lot of companies don’t…things in place and what do you do about it. I encourage listeners to look at what you do have in place that you can leverage to your exact point of those champions are there and those champions are in your organization tap into them whether they be individuals ERG’s or teams and be able to tell those stories to the whole organization because it’s going to mean more coming from people like you in the company than it is perceived from a corporate inbox.

That says, oh, that’s what goes into my junk folder that I never see anyway.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, okay, so let’s dig into that. You mentioned Black History Month and just marginalized groups in general and how their mental health challenges are unique as compared to the majority, what specific tools you have for them or also what people who are not in the minority can do to support those who may be struggling in that way.

Scott Domann: That’s right.

Scott Domann: Such that you can say, generically speaking, Gen Z may need a different level of engagement and has an expectation about how you talk about mental health than Gen Xers or Boomers, but you don’t want to be so generic as to peanut butter and say, all Gen Zs need this. You want to be really thoughtful about that and how you approach it, but be conscious of the multiple generations in your workforce.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Right.

Scott Domann: You want to be able to look at those marginalized communities and be able to say, you know, mental health is health, but mental health within the black community may be different than mental health in my LGBTQ plus community. And then intersectionality of black LGBTQ plus employees will be even different still. So being able to, as a people leader and a people manager recognize those differences again, for the notion of seeking to understand those things and educating yourself.

Will make you more effective at being able to proactively provide the resources that speak to that community and to your exact point of being able to have stories that are told from those communities to those communities is even more authentic and meaningful than just having a generic, hey, here’s what we’re doing for Black History Month, for Pride Month, for Indigenous Peoples Month. You want to be able to be really thoughtful and targeted such that these things are evergreens and always-ons. And you recognize the intersectionality that exists across many of us at multiple times.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, so tell me then what you think the biggest risk is as we move forward into the next decade, let’s say, across the board for mental health and wellness generally.

Scott Domann: Yeah, I would say that it is assuming that, you know, it’s sort of job done, that I have provided a resource or we’re talking about mental health, everything is fine. I would say that what I do see is also what I get concerned about, whether it be mental wellness, DEIB programs, things like that, that as the economy has its ebbs and flows that you choose to invest and engage or choose to pull back on.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Scott Domann: Those things that are truly, to me, ever present. Mental health is health and mental health is always around, the same as however you identify is always there and always around and has nothing to do with the ebb and flow of the economy. So as the economy ebbs and flows, I encourage organizations not just to pull back on those things that they deem as, well, it’s fine now because the economy is fine. It’s not fine now because we don’t have the money to focus on these things.

Deemed as ancillary. Truly look at those things that, you know, represent people in an everyday notion and mental health and wellness is that thing that I worry that the more it’s talked about, that people go, check it’s done, and you forget that you’ve made just to touch on the surface, but substantively, you’re not actually providing things that focus on your employees’ mental health and wellness in the everyday. So I encourage everyone who’s listening to really deep dive into your own.

Corporate practices, your leadership, and yourself to say, are we truly delivering something substantive or have we checked the box and been performative?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm. So it’s interesting because as the economy ebbs and flows, so too does our mental health. Finances is one of the biggest stressors for people, right? So when things get rough for business, it’s getting rough for people too. And that is not when you want to divest. We actually just did research this quarter. It will have been released by the time this goes live that says that benefits and compensation is the

Scott Domann: Absolutely.

Scott Domann: Yeah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: One of the best things about culture and also one of the worst things about culture. Because there’s still a lot of inequity about benefits and compensation and people’s perceived fairness and also actual ability to afford their life given the changing nature of the economy and inflation, et cetera. So how do we deal with that? I mean, it’s an election year right now. Things are gonna get tense after the election. Who knows what’s gonna happen? People are gonna be challenged.

Financially over the next two years is my belief. What can we do specifically about that? It feels like a circumstantial issue and not like a, I need more sleep issue, right?

Scott Domann: Yeah, I mean, well, but much like more sleep, like, you know, financial wellness and financial strain is a number one contributor to mental health and wellness. So those things will always be there, whether it’s the economy, whether it’s you perceive that your compensation, your annual compensation increase isn’t sufficient to keep up with inflation or costs of goods and services. You’ve bought a house and you’re stressed about like, gosh, how am I going to pay for this? It’s so different to me. You know, those are the kinds of things that

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Scott Domann: It’s really important to recognize those external factors that are going on. And again, being able to offer these tools and services that then speak to things that are always there, regardless of those external factors being, you know, an election year, uh, the economy ebb and flow, those kinds of things. That people’s stress and anxiety around like, for instance, financial wellness is always there. Um, regardless of.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Scott Domann: Who you are for the majority of people. We know there’s a small percentage of people that that’s not as big a concern, but for the majority of people, financial health and wellness is a primary contributor to their mental health and wellness.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: No, it’s interesting because I remember early in my career, I thought as soon as I start making $100,000 a year, I’m gonna be good. I’ll be comfortable. I won’t worry about money anymore. And then I did. And then I said, okay, as soon as I have X number in my savings, I’ll be good. And then I did. And it never went away. It went away actually when I got sober. When I started working the steps, then I got a serenity that really had nothing to do with my financial situation. The financial situation went up and down,

That wasn’t the thing that was causing the stress necessarily. Now I’m not discounting the poverty that people experience and that it is real, but for some, it’s not real. For me, it wasn’t real. For me, it was just a fear that was manifesting into anxiety on a daily basis about something that may or may not happen. So, okay.

Scott Domann: It’s very real to you. I mean, thank you for sharing about your sobriety journey for sure. I mean, but it is in terms of all of these things are real if it’s real to you. And that’s where it’s like, I make sure that, you know, when we talk to people leaders about it, like, don’t discount something that you yourself may not have experienced or understood. You know,

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, that’s interesting. Well, I have that theory about placebo, right? Well, placebo works. I mean, a placebo pill, if it works, it worked. It was fully effective, right? Okay, I don’t wanna hog you all to myself, although I kind of do, but I won’t. We have a caller that I think has called in, so let’s take their question and see what we hear.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Thanks, Juan. Great question.

Scott Domann: Fantastic. Thank you, Juan. Yeah, it’s a great question. I mean, and this is where I always look at middle management is probably the hardest job because you have perhaps been one of the best individual contributors who is elevated into managing teams. You’re joined a company because this was your time to step into that manager, senior manager role that it is really difficult when you’re looking at I’m senior but I’m not on the executive team.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Scott Domann: And I’m not the most junior person, but I still remember what it was like to be the most junior person because it wasn’t that long ago.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: How dare you, Noah? Ha ha ha. Okay, you can start over that answer when he comes back.

Scott Domann: That’s great. Cool.

Noah Scott: Yeah, okay. Let’s try that now. Let me disappear as well.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Ready?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Okay, let’s just pretend that he just said, thanks guys, and we’re just gonna re-answer the question. That is a great question. What do you think Scott?

Scott Domann: Well, thank you, Wong, for that question. I definitely believe that being a middle manager at an organization is the hardest job at the organization. Because let’s say you’re a manager, senior manager, who was elevated from an IC recently to manager former peers. You’re someone who was brought in from outside the organization because you were someone who, this is your opportunity to step into a people manager job. You were so close to remembering what it was like to be in IC.

And you’re so far from your own perception around being a member of the executive team where real change actually lives. So this is where I would say to organizations is talk to those people managers. Ask them, do you feel empowered? How can we make you feel empowered? What tools and resources and enablement do you need in order to bring all of that empowerment and the change to life? Oftentimes an organization will sit back and say, I know what our managers need, and particularly with the middle managers, I know what they need right now. It’s skill building and to be able to manage the P&L. Well, that may be part of it, but you’re actually assuming what people need versus really digging in and asking those managers what they need. Being able to deliver that is incredibly important. Being able to, at the outside from what Juan’s question was on the accountability, being able to tell managers as a people leader here,

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Scott Domann: By virtue of codifying it, is what you’re responsible for as a manager. Here’s what we’re both enabling you by virtue of tools, but here’s how we’re actually measuring your success as a people leader so that those middle managers don’t have to guess. Um, because by virtue of creating culture or by virtue of taking on a lot of these things, they may assume this thing that I find to be important is the thing the company needs and they very likely could be wrong. So as a company.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Scott Domann: Your responsibility is to say, this is what is expected, how it’s measured, and then how it’s rewarded. And the reward comes in multiple forms. Many companies will tie, let’s just say, DEIB hiring metrics to an annual bonus. Um, you could recognize through virtue of performance reviews and multipliers on people’s bonuses or their opportunity for promotion to be able to say, Hey, as a people leader, you met and exceeded all of our expectations by these measures.

Here’s how we’re going to reward you. So the clarity on expectation and measurement, the empowerment in asking questions, and then the reward mechanisms all have to work together and be in place for you to truly engage, not just any level of the organization, but particularly those middle managers who may not have had the direct experience, and this is their opportunity to learn, to implement, and for you to actually build the leaders of the future.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah. Okay. So what is your, you personally, your greatest challenge as the chief people officer at COM? What is the number one thing that’s keeping you up at night interrupting your sleep?

Scott Domann: Yeah, I mean, I think a lot about our people and like the volume of work that they that they manage, and particularly the volume of work that they manage in a remote environment relative to communication and loneliness. Because the communication aspects in a remote environment, you know, you look at Slack, you look at email, you think about the phone call. All great. Everyone has a different level of engagement with them and what’s actually meaningful.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Scott Domann: Do you have the information to do your job? So I always try and be thorough and direct and clear with all of my communication so that information is not power. It is just information. Here you go. And then I think about the loneliness of working remotely where, you know, I’m lucky, my husband’s home all day long as well working remotely, so we can chat throughout the day. But I think about people in major cities where maybe they’re living alone, maybe they’re living with a roommate.

Maybe they’re just whatever their living scenario, they’re just constantly staring at their screen, then they’re not engaging with other people. And I think about that in terms of how in a remote environment we can create those levels of connection to combat the loneliness and be able to thoroughly communicate with people and give them the information they need to empower and enable them to do their job successfully.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Oh, can I tell a story that just occurred to me? It’s such a beautiful way to end this podcast. What didn’t even occur to me to tell this story until now. So in the program that I’m in, the 12-Step Program, there’s certain pages in our book that you’re supposed to read in the morning and it gives you a guide on how to start your day in the sort of.

Scott Domann: These do.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Perfect way, right? Not perfect way, but a progressive way. So in this book, one of the lines says, “‘When circumstances warrant, “‘invite your spouse or friends “‘to join you in a morning meditation.’” And so I had been in the program for a couple years and I had read these chapters and I still hadn’t done that. And I thought, okay, I’ve gotta do this. So I reached out to a girl I knew that was also in the program. We were friendly, we weren’t really close friends yet. And I said,

Circumstances are warranting. Shall we do a morning meditation and we’ll check in with each other after we’ve done that morning meditation and talk about what it was like for us? She said, yes, we both got calm. We both would pick a morning meditation that we would do or we would do series, right? And then we would call each other as soon as the meditation was over. And we would talk about what we experienced and what we learned.

That became a daily habit that then, even maybe six months later, we didn’t even keep doing the meditation, but the calls kept happening. And now I have a morning routine with this woman where every morning we call each other and talk for 45 minutes about our day. And she’s my best friend in the world. And it was all because we shared this meditation every morning and just talked about what it was like. Isn’t that beautiful? Yeah, I mean.

Scott Domann: What’s that? That’s really beautiful. Thank you for sharing that journey. I mean, that is so important. And that’s something like, when you go to thinking about whether or not someone’s part of the program or just in their day to day, that connection is something all of us need and all of us can do. I think it’s really wonderful.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Totally. Well, thank you, because it was because of your company that this happened, that we got to connect and create this beautiful friendship.

Scott Domann: I appreciate that. Thank you for sharing that. I mean, thank you. These stories are so powerful and thank you for, you know, being such an advocate for mental health and wellness and all the work you do. It’s really phenomenal.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Oh, absolutely. There’s nothing more important. I mean, I know what it’s like to have mental non-wellness. Let’s just put it that way. Alcoholism is a disease, right? I mean, it is a disease of the mind. And so it’s quite miserable and you can often feel misunderstood. You definitely feel isolated and it takes a lot of work to get out of it. But when you do, there’s a lot of gratitude for being on the other side of it. And meditation was a huge part of it, is a huge part of it. Okay. I have… I…

Scott Domann: Absolutely.

Scott Domann: That’s amazing. Well, I’m proud of you for recognizing those things. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that story. I want all your listeners to know how important that is.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, shout out to Joanne. Love you, Joanne. I’m sure she’s listening. Okay, so let me ask you my favorite and last question for this episode, which is what is a question that you don’t get asked on these interviews that you do that you wish you were asked more often?

Scott Domann: That is a great question. Sometimes I don’t get asked how I’m doing. You know, it’s the, you know, we spend a lot of time talking about everyone else. And oftentimes I’m, I like you, I’m a very transparent person. And if I’m not having a good day, I am more than happy to answer that question because I think particularly as people leaders, and I say that to all your people leaders who are listening, I know how lonely this job can be. I know how oftentimes you don’t have someone to…

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm.

Scott Domann: Be able to reach out to and be able to say like, I’m not having the best day. Um, I invite, you know, everyone who wants to, again, ask people like, how are you doing? No, really, how are you doing? Make sure you’re doing that with everyone in your day to day. Um, and make sure that it’s just something that you just have as an always on for everyone you encounter.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Well, thank you so much for all of the tools that you’ve shared today. I’m sure that the listeners got a lot of value and they’re now empowered with some real actions that they can take starting tomorrow to help improve the mental health and wellness of their team. And that is, I mean, what are we here for if not for that? This is the whole thing we’re on the planet for is helping lift each other up.

Scott Domann: Exactly.

Scott Domann: I completely agree. It’s wonderful to work at a company where I can not only build a business thinking about mental health and wellness, but I can spend my day talking about it, trying to refine it and doing our best to bring mental health and wellness to people around the world. It’s just, I feel very lucky and grateful to be able to do that.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: It’s so beautiful. Okay, and so if people wanna learn more, where can they hear more about you or about COM? What resources can you point them to?

Scott Domann: Yeah, if you want to learn more about Calm and me, you can look me up on LinkedIn and connect with me, Scott Doman, I’m the only one on there. You know, you can go to Calm.com and learn more. You can go to Calm Business and learn more about bringing Calm into your organization. And you can download the Calm app from the App Store. I encourage everyone to do that and be able to partake in those things that are most meaningful to you from sleep to meditation to content for your kids.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah

Scott Domann: Anything you’re looking for that will truly be able to make a difference in your day to day. And if you need anything else, I’m gonna give my LinkedIn out to drop me a message. I’m always happy to connect with everyone and help direct you to resources that I can help.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Awesome. Thank you so much, Scott.

Scott Domann: Thank you for having me, really, really appreciate it. It’s always a pleasure to see you.

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