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November 27, 2010

Why work doesn't happen at work

Have you ever thought about the parallels between sleep and work? Jason Fried has, and in his recent 15-minute TED talk, he makes the case for why the workplace keeps getting in the way of worker productivity. He offers three concrete suggestions for shaking things up.

Fried is the co-founder and president of 37signals , a Chicago-based company that builds web-based productivity and collaborative tools, which are well worth exploring.

November 22, 2010

Caregiver Resources

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, more than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one. That means that about one in every 3 or 4 of your employees has caregiving responsibilities, a significant work-life issue. If you have a good EAP, your employees should be able to access resources and help - along with help for the stress that caregiving adds to their lives. To commemorate National Family Caregivers Month, we are sharing some resources that we've found helpful and encourage you to share these with your employees.

ShirleyBoard is a free resource that gives you the tools to create your ow online community and to link all the people in your network and all those caring for a loved one. You can centrally store all important caregiving information, such as a patient journal, a list of medications, a directory of doctors, and a calendar. It allows you to give access to friends, family and healthcare professionals – and to establish permissions for what information they can and can't see. It allows you to keep an ongoing record, to access resources and tips, and to network with other caregivers.

BenefitsCheckUp - A service from the National Council on Aging. Many older people need help paying for prescription drugs, health care, utilities and other basic needs. Many are eligible for but not receiving benefits from existing federal, state and local programs. There are many public programs available to seniors in need ranging from heating and energy assistance to prescription savings programs to income supplements. BenefitsCheckUp includes more than 2,000 public and private benefits programs from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is centered around the belief that it is better for the well-being of seniors with chronic care needs and their families to be served in the community whenever possible. PACE serves individuals who are age 55 or older, certified by their state to need nursing home care, are able to live safely in the community at the time of enrollment, and live in a PACE service area. Delivering all needed medical and supportive services, the program is able to provide the entire continuum of care and services to seniors with chronic care needs while maintaining their independence in their homes for as long as possible. Care and services include:

  • Adult day care that offers nursing; physical, occupational and recreational therapies; meals; nutritional counseling; social work and personal care
  • Medical care provided by a PACE physician familiar with the history, needs and preferences of each participant
  • Home health care and personal care
  • All necessary prescription drugs
  • Social services
  • Medical specialists such as audiology, dentistry, optometry, podiatry, and speech therapy
  • Respite care
  • Hospital and nursing home care when necessary

Aging Pro - bills itself as the best one-stop destination for a comprehensive set of caregiving tools, resources, community support information and access to professionals in aging on the Web. It is a resource for caregivers, professionals, and people planning their future.

Family Caregiver Alliance - Founded in 1977, FCA was the first community-based nonprofit organization in the country to address the needs of families and friends providing long-term care at home. Long recognized as a pioneer in health services, FCA now offers programs at national, state and local levels to support and sustain caregivers, including the Family Care Navigator with state-by-state help and the National Center on Caregiving, the policy and research center of FCA.

EEOC: Unlawful Disparate Treatment of Workers With Caregiving Responsibilities and Employer Best Practices for Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities

Additional resources:
National Family Caregivers Association
National Association for Homecare and Hospice
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease: Your easy to use guide from the National Institute on Aging
Coping with cancer: For caregivers, family & friends
Miles Away: The Metlife Study of Long-Distance Caregiving
Caregiver depression - symptoms and hope

Prior posts:
Resources for elder caregivers
Employer best practices for caregivers in the workplace
The high cost of caregiving
Caregiver employees are at heightened risk: how employers can help

November 20, 2010

Thinking differently - why the world needs visual thinkers

Temple Grandin is a remarkable person. Perhaps the world's most well-known adult with autism, she was recently named to the 2010 TIME 100, the magazine's annual list of the world's most influential. Grandin was diagnosed with autism as a child and her parents were told that she should be institutionalized. Fortunately, her parents did not listen because today, Grandin she is an American doctor of animal science, a consultant on animal behavior, an animal rights activist, a professor at Colorado State University, a bestselling author, and a noted speaker and author on the topic of autism.

This past year, she was a featured speaker at TED, presenting about how the world needs different kinds of minds. In her engaging presentation, she makes the case that "... the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids." It's elucidating both from the vantage of enlarging our understanding of autism specifically, and more generally, understanding how to motivate and work with different types of thinking.

More on Temple Grandin
Temple Grandin's Official Autism Website
Temple Grandin - Wikipedia
Dr. Temple Grandin's Livestock Behavior page
How does visual thinking work in the mind of a person with autism? A personal account
TIME: Temple Grandin on Temple Grandin

November 14, 2010

News briefs: GINA regulations, Facebook filing, Google raises & more

GINA roundup - Daniel Schwartz of the Connecticut Employment Law Blog tells us that Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued final regulations for the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), which goes into effect in January 2011. He notes that CT employers should exercise caution because the state has its own regulation. In his second post on GINA, he offers more resources and talks about how employers should engage in "Safe Harbor" provisions. Manpower Employment Blog's Mark Toth also has GINA in his sights. He offers a helpful summary of GINA regulations, along with a handy GINA Cheat Sheet.

The Facebook filing buzz - Is criticizing your boss on Facebook protected activity? Several law blogs are weighing in on the matter about this important case that is scheduled to be heard in January and is expected to have implications for the future direction of corporate social media policies. Chris McKinney of HR Laywer's Blog looks at the upcoming case filed under the National Labor Relations Act alleging that an employee was illegally terminated for badmouthing her supervisor on Facebook. In Minding the Workplace, David Yamada looks at how the NLRB’s Facebook firing complaint might relate to the struggle against workplace bullying. And John Hyman of Ohio Employer's Law Blog offers a huge and helpful roundup of links to legal opinions, blog posts and news articles on the Facebook firing.

Google's misplaced incentive? - Back in 2007, we posted about Google as being one of the best places to work. In 2010, the challenges are very different. Competition from emerging tech giants and a difficult economy have posed new challenges. Last week, the tech behemoth announced that it would give a 10% raise to all 23,000 employees in an effort to lift staff morale and to retain talent. Sounds great? Evil HR Lady Suzanne Lucas doesn't think so. She explans why the move may send a wrong signal, one that says we don't care about our employees.

Straight talk from the judge - HR Daily Advisor offers a pair of posts with advice from the bench. Denny Chin, former U.S. District Court Judge, now Court of Appeals judge talks about exposure you may have even when you feel certain the law is on your side. In a follow-on post, he offers HR managers tips for staying out of his court.

Union update - Micahel Vandervort of The Human Race Horses offers a guide to the changing face of leadership in organized labor. One significant change: many of the top new labor union leaders are women.

Dos and don'ts of firing - Susan M. Heathfield of About.com's Human Resources Blog talks about firing employees with civility, including her list of the top 10 don'ts.

November 4, 2010

What motivates us?

Author Daniel Pink explores how motivation functions at home and at work. Last June, we ran an RSA animation on the topic which we repeat here. It runs just under 11 minutes. The second clip, which we recently discovered, is a video of the 40 minute talk that inspired the animation.

We also found a 2009 Ted Talk by Pink on "the suprising science of motivation. The blurb about the talk says "Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories -- and maybe, a way forward." It's about an 18 minute talk and it generated quite a bit of discussion - 272 comments, many thought provoking. (These can be found under the video)

November 1, 2010

Civility and politics in the workplace

Over the weekend, a few hundred thousand people turned out at a Washington DC rally to affirm the message that we can disagree without being disagreeable and that our opponents should not be demonized. They came armed with a sense of humor to send the serious message of a need for civility in our public discourse. It's a shame that this message has to be delivered by comedians rather than our leaders, but maybe the message of civility will be contagious. Civility and good humor are certainly a good themes for us all on election day eve, the culmination of a difficult political season. Campaigns have been highly charged and acrimonious and there are a lot of volatile issues at play: the economy, immigration, gay rights, and religion. For many, these are important and personal issues, so it's all too easy for discussions with opponents to escalate into anger and emotion.

Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal talks about ups and downs of politics in the workplace in her column and also posts about ways the employers can help to keep the peace in pre-election politics on her blog.

A 2008 American Management Association survey on Political Discussion in the Workplace Survey revealed attitudes about politics as a topic of discussion:

"35 percent of respondents were uncomfortable talking politics with co-workers, while 19 percent were okay. And about 39 percent were not comfortable discussing their political views with their supervisor, while about 40 percent were. When it came to having written policies regarding prohibiting the distribution or posting of party of candidate material, about 39 percent said their company did, about 30 percent said their company didn’t and 31 percent didn’t know."
It's unrealistic to think that people won't bring issues that are important to them into workplace discussions. It's important for managers and supervisors to establish and enforce an overall climate of respect on this and any other topics. Remind people to be gracious, whether their candidates win or lose.

It's helpful to remember that this is not new territory. In the 2008 election, things were pretty heated as can be heard in NPR's segment with Amy Dickinson where callers discuss their experiences with politics on the job. In that election, we also posted about managing politics at work. And the roots of acrimony go back much further than 2008. While that is not a good defense, it's comforting to know that despite our differences and the heat of our rhetoric, we manage to move on and progress as a nation.

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