« September 2008 | Main | November 2008 »

October 31, 2008

No tricks, just treats

We've been saving up a few items from the lighter side for a Friday, and what better Friday than Halloween?

Looking for ways to inspire your work force? Here's a bit of a cynical twist on those ubiquitous motivational posters.

Communicate effectively. It's not only important to communicate clearly but also to ensure that the message is actually heard. Otherwise, work projects can run amuck.

Keep day-to-day conflicts down. If you don't already have one, here's a good template for an office refrigerator policy. But if conflicts do occur, remember to consult your EAP. This short video clip illustrates the importance of properly mediating work conflicts.

Look for problem-solving employees who will take the initiative when faced with unusual work challenges.

Raises might be difficult to come by this year with the tough economic climate. Maybe in lieu of a raise, you could negotiate with your boss for some office perks to make your day a little easier ... such as a new ergonomic work chair.

October 30, 2008

What scares people the most?

According to an August online survey of 2,424 American adults, when asked about what they fear the most, here are some of the responses:

  • 16% - being in a plane crash
  • 13% - snake bites
  • 5% - being hit by lightning
  • 5% - getting a disease
  • 4% - a shark attack

The survey was conducted by the American Diabetes Association to drive home the point that our fears are often disconnected from the real threats in our lives. Last year, 491 deaths related to commercial aviation accidents occurred, while diabetes contributed to 233,619 deaths in 2005.

November is American Diabetes Month, an event that is worth noting in every corporate wellness program throughout the nation. More than 24 million Americans or 7.8% of the population suffer from diabetes, and it is estimated that another 5.7 million are simply undiagnosed. Since 1987 the death rate due to diabetes has increased by 45%, while the death rates due to heart disease, stroke, and cancer have declined.

For those with diabetes, the American Diabetes Association suggests that keeping blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol in control can make a difference in reducing risk for heart attack or stroke and annual dilated eye exams; routine foot exams and blood pressure checks can prevent blindness, amputations, heart disease, kidney disease, and strokes.

For more information and resources:
American Diabetes Association, or call 1-800-DIABETES (342-2383)
Diabetes Cost Calculator
Diabetes at Work
Find local activities related to Diabetes Month
Study links work stress and burnout to an increase in type 2 diabetes
Obesity prevalence and costs on the rise

October 25, 2008

How not to make a PowerPoint presentation

October 20, 2008

Step up your EAP communications in light of high financial stress

The troubled economy and the volatile stock market have many people worried - not just about their 401k, but about what a prolonged economic downturn will mean to everyday concerns. Many are struggling to make ends meet. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, in June of this year, more than 4 million Americans were at least one month behind on their mortgages and a record 500,000 had entered the foreclosure process.

A recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association reveals that 8 out of 10 Americans report economy-related stress. Money and the economy jumped to the top concern cited by respondents, with economic anxiety jumping from 66% to 80% since the last survey six months ago. Of those responding, 60 percent reported feelings of anger and irritability, 53 percent reported fatigue, and 52 percent said they lie awake at night.

In addition to sleep disruption, stress and anxiety can also lead to unhealthy coping behaviors such as overeating, drinking, and gambling. It can also have more serious consequences. Many counselors are reporting that they are seeing more people crushed by economic stress - and some reports point to an increase in suicides and violence: "The Samaritans of New York have seen calls rise more than 16 percent in the past year, many of them money-related. The Switchboard of Miami has recorded more than 500 foreclosure-related calls this year."

Communicate with your employees
When employees are hurting, productivity suffers too. And in a difficult economy, employers need to be at the top of their game. Wise employers will utilize their EAPs preemptively to help mitigate potential deleterious effects of financial stress in the work force. Alert your managers to watch for heightened signs of depression, stress or related problems among the employees they supervise. Remind managers of your EAP as a resource and review referral procedures.

Check with your EAP to get a refresher on services that might be helpful for dealing with stress - many EAPs offer financial and debt counseling, stress reduction, help hotlines, family counseling, and other resources. Ask about any communication resources your EAP may be able to provide - such as articles on debt or stress that could be included in company-sponsored newsletters or intranets; brochures on service availability that could be distributed with paychecks; or seminars on stress reduction or violence prevention. Your EAP should be willing to work with your organization in risk management planning to help your employees get through troubled times.

October 14, 2008

Top small workplaces and the practices that make them great

What makes a workplace outstanding? What are the characteristics of a company that motivates, retains, and energizes its workers? For the second year in a row, Winning Workplaces and The Wall Street Journal examine that issue as they name the winners in the 2008 Top Small Workplaces competition. You can read about each of the top 15 companies and view a brief video and slide show to learn about the characteristics and practices that led to their selection. The winning companies were selected from more than 400 entries. Eligible companies included North American firms with less than $200 million in annual revenue, with less than 500 employees, and at least five year track record in business. Companies were scored on such factors as growth in revenue and numbers of employees; the rate of employee tenure and turnover; investment in employees in areas of benefits, training and leadership development; the stability of the work culture as characterized by employee engagement, commitment and innovation; and the level of employee participation in business decisions and in the rewards of financial success.

While the individual profiles are instructive, we call your attention to the collective profile of the companies and the report on benchmarking and best practices that helped to earn the companies a spot on this list. The article is an excellent primer for how to become an outstanding workplace and might serve as a good platform for discussion at your next management meeting. Here's a brief summary of some of the shared characteristics of the winning companies:

  • They take a long view of their business
  • It's not just about profits…these firms intend to change society
  • Open communication helps weather the good times and the bad
  • Teamwork — it's how the work gets done
  • Employee development assures quality execution
  • Workspace matters
  • Employees share in the risks and rewards
  • A focus on well-being, prevention and health builds endurance
  • Through their employees, these firms compete on quality and service

If after reading the article, you think your company has what it takes to be a winner, you can submit a nomination for 2009.

October 6, 2008

October is Disability Awareness Month; ADA Amendments Act

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month and this year, many have a reason to celebrate with the recent passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act of 2008, which was signed into law on September 25, 2008 and becomes effective January 1, 2009. This law extends workplace protections for the disabled. This change will require employers to address and revise their policies and procedures. We've compiled some resources to help:

EEOC: specific changes to the ADA made by the ADA Amendments Act.

BLR: Americans With Disabilities Act Information Center - what employers need to know about the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA)

The Gavel: House Passes Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments

George's Employment Blawg has a three-part series on this legislation: Part 1: House Widely Approves ADA Amendments, But What Difference Will They Make If They Become Law?; Part 2; and Part 3

ADA.gov - information and technical assistance on the Americans With Disabilities Act

Office of Disability Employment Policy - part of the U.S. Department of Labor

DisabilityInfo.gov - a comprehensive online resource designed to provide people with disabilities with quick and easy access to the information they need.

Veterans With Service-Connected Disabilities and the ADA - A guide for employers from EEOC

Questions and Answers About Cancer in the Workplace and the ADA - from EEOC

Job Accommodation Network

5 Things Every Company Needs to Know About People With Disabilities

eXTReMe Tracker