Insight From Equinix's Hannah Agee
Hannah Agee's life looks a lot different than it did a decade ago.
Sure, that's true for most of us, but it's especially true for Hannah. She went from obtaining her GED, a factory job, and an abusive situation to having two two-year degrees, a career she loves at a company that looks out for her (hi Equinix, we'll come back to you in a bit!), and enough resources to successfully single-parent her seven-year-old son.
We sat down with Hannah, who's currently a platform operations engineer at digital infrastructure company Equinix, to hear how she found her role—and a company that allows her to put her family first, what she's looking forward to in her career now that she's completely redesigned it, and what advice she has for other people looking to do the same.
Recognizing What She's Worth
In 2006, Hannah found herself unemployed from her job at a local factory when it closed. She saw how dangerous this type of job could be when an individual at a different location was seriously injured. "I still have pain in my fingers, wrists, and hands from the repetitive movements. It was hard work that came with no sense of personal accomplishment," remembers Hannah.
She wanted to try a new field—one where she would have the opportunity to solve problems and feel that sense of accomplishment. "I knew if I didn't take the opportunity in front of me to focus on myself I wouldn't do it," says Hannah. "I was 30 years old, and I had never taken the opportunity to go and do something for myself."
A local two-year degree program was the right mix of practical instruction and dedicated mentoring, with instructors who really cared about helping Hannah and other adult learners successfully transition into a new technical field. Later on she attempted to continue her education at a university, but didn't find it to be a nurturing environment that fostered learning.
"The instructors at the community college really wanted us to succeed. They were invested," says Hannah.
One of her professors in her networking and information systems security courses recommended Hannah for an IT internship in a local school system. She loved the work, but it was still a physically demanding job that required her to carry hardware and travel frequently.
She applied for a customer support role at a tech company—a role she never thought she'd land. She got it, though, and the first few years were wonderful. But when Hannah had a baby, and was trying to schedule in pump breaks alongside her work, she realized that while the demands on her physical health were less, the demands on her mental health had ballooned.
"It was disheartening to realize the company wasn't as accommodating as I expected," says Hannah. "It had gotten to the point where I was having anxiety around taking the time to both pump and be available for my child when they needed me. This should not be considered a normal experience. I should feel supported no matter if I'm dealing with postpartum depression, the stress of my child going to daycare for the first time, or needing any other type of support."
Holding Higher Standards
Hannah left that job for her mental health, but she didn't immediately find a better solution. She had trouble finding companies that provided work from home opportunities, and even came across a situation where a manager expressed that they expected her to have her camera on during any of the video meetings. She talked to HR, Hannah adds, but to her knowledge, they did not investigate the situation.
When the pandemic hit, Hannah went on FFCRA leave from that job in order to take care of her son, who has epilepsy and whose asthma put him at high risk for infection. When it came time to interview again, she found she had a new attitude: while she was nervous, and definitely wanted a job, she refused to work somewhere she felt unsafe.
Her first conversation with Equinix's hiring manager was a game changer.
"Sidney changed my world. She made me feel safe and like I had a say, even through the interviews," says Hannah. "She was super accommodating. My son was literally jumping on me through the interview because he was home and she said folks were impressed. 'You know, if you can answer the things you did with a kid jumping all over you…!' I felt empowered and supported."
It also helped that the role Hannah was interviewing for at Equinix offered a new kind of challenge. After years and years in technical support, she realized she wanted to be less customer-facing. Now, as a platform engineer, she troubleshoots hardware, assists with site turn ups, and at times works with less time-sensitive issues.
"If I'm working on a problem or task I can still go prepare and have dinner with my child," says Hannah, who appreciates the community she's found not just with her manager and direct team but also with other Equinix employees.
"It feels too good to be true. I found a company that is supportive, and I don't have to worry about things I've had to worry about before," she says. "I couldn't imagine being able to spend the amount of quality time with my son now possible because of the support that Equinix provides. I'm grateful every day."
"Equinix stands behind their employees and truly exhibits what it means to be family friendly and employee centric," she adds.
How to Advocate for Yourself & What You Deserve at Work
Having successfully navigated a way out of jobs and relationships—personal and professional—that weren't working for her, Hannah has some hard-earned advice to pass on to anyone else looking to change their situation:
- A four-year degree isn't the only option. "I've been in this field for 12 years now. People should not be afraid to go to a technical or community college. You can get a great job with a two year degree."
- "You are the only person that can change your situation. You can't change other people. But just because something has been done a certain way forever doesn't mean it can't change. If you have something you need and you have an idea to make it happen, take it to the right people and say, 'Hey, here's an idea that would solve my problem.'" (For example, Hannah asked a previous employer if she could work from home half the day after picking up her son. No formal work-from-home program existed, but she was able to get approval.)
- Your job can be a means to an end. "There's nothing wrong with going to a successful company that you may not see yourself retiring from, but does get you the network and gets you a paycheck. Don't feel stuck there. You don't have to feel as though, 'Well, I should be grateful to be here.' You can stay and get the experience, the connections, and then move on when you're ready."
- Catch burnout early. "Life is too short to be stuck in a place that you're not happy at. Now I know what to look for in regards to burnout. If you're dreading work, literally in the pit of your stomach, every day, it's time to find something else."
- Meditate. Hannah swears by Transcendental Meditation. "TM helps me relax and feel more positive. I've been meditating for almost 12 years. The timing was perfect because shortly after I learned in 2010 I relocated away from my hometown and family which could have been very stressful. While I paid for the instruction initially I can meditate every day for the rest of my life and receive support whenever I need it."
- Don't sell yourself short. "There's always going to be somebody who knows more about the subject matter than you. That does not mean you are unqualified for the position. Take the chance and when you run across those folks with whom you can learn from, take that opportunity to grow your knowledge."
💎 How to build trust in your team? Watch the video to the end to find out!
📼 How should you work to build trust in your team? Play this video to get three top tips that will help you. You'll hear from Veronica Setzke, Senior Director of People Ops at Pax8, who shares tips and tricks she learned through years of coaching.
📼 How to build trust with peers in your team? Tip #1: Relationships. There's no better way to start forming relationships than having regular one-on-ones. It doesn't have to just be with your supervisor. It can be with your coworkers. It can be with those people that you collaborate regularly with. And it's really important in these one-on-ones that we're spending time listening. Take the time to be present and listen. Also, spend time together not working. Have lunch together. Go for coffee. Take a five-minute walk around the building and just have a conversation. Relations are a key element to trust!
📼 How to build trust? Open yourself in your team Tip #2: Vulnerability. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Ask for feedback, whether it's feedback about a project, a process, or even maybe a leadership behavior that you're trying to master. This allows those on your team and those around you to see you as willing to be vulnerable. Trust and vulnerability go hand in hand. It doesn't mean that you’re weak, but rather that you’re open. It allows your team to understand that it's a safe place for them to also be vulnerable.
How To Share To Build Trust In Your Team - Tip #3: Clear Is Kind
Keep the team informed and say as much as you can about what you know. There are times that we hold information that could be shared. We could share that information that impacts others' work and have them have the opportunity to use that to do better. If you've learned something that could help your colleague make a better decision, share that! Try to ensure that your communication with others is clear. When you make the effort to be clear about your intentions, your work, and your roadblocks, it opens others up to do the same.
📨 Are you interested in joining Pax8? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Veronica Setzke
She works as a People professional because she sincerely believes that people want to be excellent, and it is her role to help move the obstacles to their achieving success. She believes the employees deserve a culture that values their work and will respond to such a culture by creating amazing results. If you are interested in a career at Pax8, you can connect with Veronica on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Pax8
The company simplifies the way organizations buy, sell, and manage cloud solutions, empowering its partners to achieve more with cloud technology. At Pax8, they know that they are only as great as their people. They realize that every individual has unique personal and professional aspirations, which is why they strive to offer a complete and competitive Total Rewards offering for their members and family.
💎Want to implement change in your team or organization? Watch the video to the end to do it successfully.
📼 To implement change you need to follow certain steps. Play this video to get three top tips on how to do it the best possible way. You'll hear from Kyle Lisboa, Support Operations Manager at Esri, who shares her experience with you!
📼Why implement change? Tip #1: Identify the reason. Think about the business reason for the change. If you understand why change is needed, it helps you explain it to others. Avoid making change for change's sake and implement solutions that solve problems.
📼Plan to implement change! Tip #2: Develop a plan. Create a detailed plan to help implement the change. If you create steps and timelines, this will guide the process. It also helps others understand how you are progressing towards the implementation and what the next steps are.
To Implement Change You Need Others - Tip #3: Seek Feedback
Gather feedback from those affected before, during, and after any changes are implemented. Allowing others to provide their feedback helps to create an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels part of the solution.
📨 Are you interested in joining Esri? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Kyle Lisboa
Kyle is an experienced Strategic Operations Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry. She’s skilled in Arcgis Products, Databases, Management, Geography, and Cartography. If you are interested in a career at Esri, you can connect with her on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Esri
At Esri, they build cutting-edge geographic information system (GIS) technology that customers use to solve the world’s most complex challenges: slowing climate change, stamping out disease, designing a better city, fighting crime, and much more. Their ArcGIS software is helping communities around the globe respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by monitoring the surge, managing testing sites, aiding essential workers in finding childcare, mapping food and essentials, and keeping residents informed and safe.
Nearly 80% of workers want to work for a company that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, per a CNBC survey.
But how do prospective employees — and, for that matter, current ones — know whether an organization takes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) seriously?
Metrics can help.
What are DEI metrics?
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging metrics are measurements of how a company is doing against its stated DEIB goals. They help track progress, light up problems, synthesize momentum over time, prioritize investment, and allow a company and its employees to have accountability over DEIB intentions.
How can DEI metrics help my overall DEI strategy?
Creating a DEIB strategy is the first step in making your workplace more equitable. But having DEI metrics is a vital second step in ensuring that progress happens.
DEI metrics help a company actualize their strategy, live out their values, meet employee expectations, and make the workplace more fair for all employees.
10 examples of DEI metrics
1. Hiring: the diversity of your candidate pipeline.
How diverse is your applicant pool? Have your candidates self-identify and track what representation looks like in your candidate system.
2. Representation: the demographics of your current employees.
Many companies put pressure on their new hires to make up for gaps in their existing employee population — so make sure you’re benchmarking against data on what your current workforce is made up of.
3. Representation: the demographics of your leadership team.
People need to see that there is a path for success for people who look like them at your organization. What does the makeup of your board look like? Your directors? Your managers? And what does the promotion pipeline look like into those roles?
4. Representation: the demographics of your suppliers.
The money that you spend can significantly impact communities around you — so you should be measuring whether you’re doing that in a way that challenges bias and champions equitable treatment.
5. HR systems: pay equity.
Do all employees, regardless of gender or race, make the same amount of money if they’re doing the same job? If not, what’s your gender / race pay gap and how quickly are you closing it?
6. Employee experience: HR issues.
It’s important to track wins when it comes to DEIB, but it’s also vital to track times when your organization falls short. How many HR / People issues related to DEIB, including allegations of unfair treatment or bias, has your organization dealt with in the past year? What was the result of them? How quickly did issues get resolved? These metrics are key to know.
7. Employee experience: satisfaction with DEI progress.
When you send out employee satisfaction surveys, make sure you include questions on how employees perceive your current progress on DEI goals. They’re the ones most impacted by your strategy — and their opinion matters.
8. Employee engagement: participation in communication platforms.
How often do employees participate in Slack? What about by-channel participation? Looking at data on who talks to who and when can help highlight issues with inclusion or culture. Some companies are using AI-enabled text analysis tools to look for signs of frustration or for problematic language.
9. Employee participation: ERG membership.
Employee resource groups can be hugely helpful in creating community around different identities, interests, and demographics. They can also provide guidance on how to actualize your organization’s DEIB goals. (Which is part of the reason you should pay ERG leaders for their efforts, but that’s a topic for a different blog.)
10. Brand reputation: customer perception.
We’ve talked about key groups for whom DEIB metrics matter — prospective employees, current employees, leadership — but they matter to your customers, too. Whether you add a DEIB component to your existing NPS process, conduct 1:1 customer interviews, or get feedback some other way, it’s important to see whether your customer base is seeing progress on your DEIB goals, too.
Have you ever been so exhausted that you quit your job?
You may have been experiencing burnout.
Burnout is characterized by overwhelming exhaustion, detachment from your work, and a sense of ineffectiveness.
And while anyone can experience burnout, if you have ADHD, you may be more susceptible to it.
Before you get to the point where quitting feels like your only option, there are steps you can take to set healthy boundaries and start feeling more like yourself again. Read on to learn how you can recognize burnout in yourself, and what to do if you’re experiencing it!
How Does ADHD Burnout Feel?
There are some clear signs that you’re burning out, but ADHD can make the descent to burnout harder to detect. These warning signs include:
- Lack of motivation - not wanting to do the things you need to do or the things you love.
- Exhaustion - feeling overly tired both mentally and physically.
- Irritability and mental fatigue - feeling short-tempered, mean, or like you snap easily.
- Physical discomfort - body aches, low energy levels, and general pain.
- Negative outlook - the tendency to find something wrong with nearly everything.
- Emotional dysregulation - feeling weepy, sad, or unable to smile or connect with others.
Generally, burnout starts with taking on too much. Exhaustion creeps in, and you feel like every day is working against you because you are constantly overwhelmed. You may start to feel like the entire world is spinning out of control, or like no matter what you do you can’t keep up (or catch up).
If this resonates with you, you might be on the road to ADHD burnout.
Why People with ADHD Can Be More Susceptible to Burnout
So why does ADHD make some folks more susceptible to burnout? There are a few common ADHD traits that often result in behaviors correlated with burnout (taking on too much, working too long, etc.):
- Hyperfocus - ADHD is not exclusively about attention deficits. In fact, hyperfocus is the opposite – a deep, intense concentration to the point of being oblivious to your surroundings. Per WebMD, hyperfocus is a state of highly-focused attention that lasts for an extended period of time. You concentrate on something so hard that you lose track of everything else going on around you. When hyperfocus sets in at work, it can be hard to unplug or be aware of the people and environment around you.
- Time Tracking - Losing track of time is one thing, but if you find yourself losing track of hours without realizing it, that could be related to burnout. People with ADHD perceive time not as a sequence of events the way others usually do, but as a diffuse collection of events viscerally connected to the people, activities, and emotions that fill them.
- Difficulty Prioritizing - Do you take on too much and then struggle to prioritize it? When someone asks for help, does everything often go to the wayside so you can jump in? Or maybe the daunting anticipation of the tasks ahead prevents you from starting. Per ADDitude, ADHD impacts your temporal processing abilities, which can affect executive functioning.
Combating ADHD Burnout
If you think you may be suffering from ADHD burnout, there are a few ways to take back control. Here are three tips for combating ADHD burnout:
Reserve Your Yeses - Pump the brakes when you recognize the early signs of ADHD burnout. Start reserving your yeses right away. Say no, and practice not apologizing. It is okay to say, "I have a lot on my plate right now and cannot take that on. Thanks for thinking of me." Saying no is nothing to apologize for, and it should be celebrated! You are working to protect your energy above all else.
Practice Over-Estimating - If you think you could knock something out in a day, give yourself a week. Overestimate on time and allow yourself the grace to have a little more time than usual to complete projects. Slowing down when starting a new job or role will help you produce high-quality work and prevent ADHD burnout.
Drop the Mask - Be honest with your employer and friends. Let them know that although you seem to keep up internally, you struggle. Identifying ADHD burnout from the outside can be extremely difficult. Your honesty and transparency will position you to determine if your environment is supportive and inclusive.
How to Support Colleagues Dealing with ADHD Burnout
The experiences above may not resonate with you personally, but perhaps you’ve noticed other people you work with describe or experience them.
If you’re a manager, there are several ways you can support colleagues with ADHD (as well as neurodivergent employees more generally) to help prevent burnout. Ask for clarity on when they have felt the most supported at work. Discovery questions like, “how did you feel at that time?” or “how was the pace of that project?” can help you to understand their actual capacity.Download this free guide if you’re looking for more ways to support your neurodivergent coworkers. Work with your DEIB and HR team to develop new neurodivergent inclusivity standards to help you stay ahead of the ADHD burnout cycle.