Download the PowerPoint Presentation Here
Watch John’s full 5-star Keynote from The 2020 HR Technology Conference & Exposition here

About this Video


John Sumser discusses what new disability and safety issues will emerge from the coronavirus pandemic in your workforce. This is an excerpt of John Sumser’s popular keynote presentation at The HR Tech Conference & Exposition in the Fall of 2020.



I’d love to hear your thoughts about the discussion we had in the interview. Post your comments on or my YouTube Channel »




Important: Our transcripts at HRExaminer are AI-powered (and fairly accurate) but there are still instances where the robots get confused (or extremely confused) and make errors. Please expect some inaccuracies as you read through the text of this conversation and let us know if you find something wrong and we’ll get it fixed right away. Thank you for your understanding.


JS – John Sumser, Principal Analyst, HRExaminer


[00:04:23] This is one of my favorite memes. It’s the woman who is texting in the sports car, just as the truck with the porta-potties is about to go under a bridge that’s too short.

[00:00:18] You can see that disaster coming our way. Engagement scores are up, but suicides are up 30%. The predictable crash is coming, even though there’s revenue and margin success, anit-depressant scales have doubled or tripled. We’ve lost all sense of proper boundaries between life and work.

[00:00:43] And maybe that’s something that we’re going to give up, but it’s gone and we need to figure out what to do with it. And I want to tell you that where we are now is neither new, nor normal, nor sustainable. It’s a heroic response to sustained trauma.

[00:01:01] You can count on new disabilities and safety issues. As I was getting ready to record this session, I just read about COVID Fog, which is in long-term COVID survivors the problem with being able to clear your brain.

[00:01:19] We’re going to see because of the way that work is being siloed right now, repetitive mental stress disorders. 60%. 60% of COVID survivors have heart issues. There’s heavy lung compromise in many and COVID has that impact on judgment that I was talking about with the brain fog, increased anti-depressant consumption, alcohol and drugs, complex sustained trauma syndromes, risk aversion.

[00:01:47] These are all coming to the workplace and HR is going to figure out how to handle them and not all of them are going to be something that you can turn over to somebody else. This is going to be the nature of our workplace. Lots more difficulty with things that look like mental illness.

[00:02:05] In order to navigate the future of our workplaces we’re going to have to learn how to talk about mental illness. Our people are depressed, our people are having massive doses of anxiety. They are having lethargy. They are having a hard time thinking. There are all of these signs of stress-related / stress-aggravated mental illness, and we have to be able to talk about them without making fun of the people who have them, because what’s happened is our vulnerabilities have been exposed to the sustained trauma.

[00:02:43] And we’re showing the signs of it everywhere you look, you see people showing the signs of it.



Watch more of John’s talks on his YouTube Channel »

Tagged with:  
Read previous post:
Pandemic Workforce: The Demise and Rise of the HR Safety Department

John Sumser walks through the historical demise of the HR Safety Department and its subsequent rise during the pandemic when...