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December 31, 2012

2012 "Best Of" Retrospective - Plus, a Peek Ahead

Best Books of 2012, According to Business Leaders

Best Leadership Books of 2012

100 Most Creative People in Business 2012

The Worst CEOs of 2012

The 20 Most Inspiring Companies Of 2012

Oops! The Seven Worst Predictions About 2012

The Globe and Mail - The Lunch, replated: The best business interviews of 2012

25 Best Small Business Apps for 2012

Biggest Social Media Moments of 2012: Infographic

Google Zeitgeist 2012 - What people searched for

Human Resource Executive's Winners and Losers, 2012 Edition

The Top 10 HR stories of 2012

The Best of the Compensation Café 2012

Top 10: HR Daily Advisor Year in Review

EBN's Top Stories in 2012

Minding the Workplace: Popular Posts from 2012

Ohio Employer's Law Blog - Best of of 2012 #10 and #9
#8 and #7; #6 and #5; #4 and #3; #2 and #1

Most popular "Ask a Manager" posts, 2012

Top 10 Recruiter Blog Posts of 2012

The Top 7 Recruiting Fails For 2012

Obamacare to flesh-eating bacteria: Top 2012 healthcare stories

Advances In Cancer 2012

The Crystal Ball
Omega HR Predictions for 2013

Top 10 Predictions for HR Technology in 2013

The Top 10 Workplace Trends for 2013

Top Skills for the Most In-Demand Jobs in 2013

Top 5 Trends in Workplace Safety Management for 2013

9 insurance resolutions to ring in the New Year

December 28, 2012

First Responders – Stress & Grief in the Aftermath of Crises

The holiday season always presents special challenges for first responders but this December has been particularly difficult: first, the devastating horror and grief of responding to the Sandy Hook Elementary School followed by the senseless gunning down of firefighters responding to a blaze in Webster, New York resulting in the deaths of two firefighters and another two being wounded. Firefighters are certainly no strangers to Line of Duty deaths, giving their lives to save others – but being led into a violent ambush is indeed an uncommon and tragic occurrence.

Colleagues, communities, and surviving family members struggle to cope with the aftermath of these sad and tragic events. We've compiled support resources specifically aimed at first responders and their families:

Supporting Survivors During Line-of-Duty Deaths / Injuries

Rescuing the Rescuer: Critical Incident Stress Management

Remember to save yourself: The importance of managing critical incident stress (PDF)

Debriefing the Trauma Team: Taking Care of Your Own

Critical Incident Stress Management

Dealing with Workplace Violence: A Guide for Agency Planners

Rescue Workers – Psychological Aftermath of Disaster Rescue and Response

Dealing with the Death of a Co-Worker

Recovering from the Death of a Co-Worker

Grief in the workplace: Tips for supervisors

Complicated Grief

Sandy Hook Elementary School: Trauma Response Resources - Help for Parents, Teachers & the Community

National Center for PTSD
-- Common Reactions After Trauma
-- Acts of Violence, Terrorism, or War: Triggers for Veterans
-- Mobile APP: PTSD Coach

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Two Years Later: The Prolonged Traumatic Impact of a Fire Disaster

When Serving Becomes Surviving: PTSD and Suicide in the Fire Service

Support Networks
National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
-- Resources for Newly Bereaved Families of Fallen Firefighters
-- Fire Service Survivors Network

IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Family Support after Line-of-Duty Deaths Guidelines

First Responder Support Network (FRSN)

Green Cross – Academy of Traumatology

Survivors of Homicide

International Critical Incident Stress Foundation

The American Psychological Association offers the following tips for managing distress in the aftermath of a shooting.

You may be struggling to understand how a shooting could occur and why such a terrible thing would happen. There may never be satisfactory answers to these questions.

We do know, though, that it is typical for people to experience a variety of emotions following such a traumatic event. These feelings can include shock, sorrow, numbness, fear, anger, disillusionment, grief and others. You may find that you have trouble sleeping, concentrating, eating or remembering even simple tasks. This is common and should pass after a while. Over time, the caring support of family and friends can help to lessen the emotional impact and ultimately make the changes brought about by the tragedy more manageable. You may feel that the world is a more dangerous place today than you did yesterday. It will take some time to recover your sense of equilibrium.

Meanwhile, you may wonder how to go on living your daily life. You can strengthen your resilience — the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity — in the days and weeks ahead.

Talk about it. Ask for support from people who care about you and who will listen to your concerns. Receiving support and care can be comforting and reassuring. It often helps to speak with others who have shared your experience so you do not feel so different or alone.

Strive for balance. When a tragedy occurs, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and have a negative or pessimistic outlook. Balance that viewpoint by reminding yourself of people and events which are meaningful and comforting, even encouraging. Striving for balance empowers you and allows for a healthier perspective on yourself and the world around you.

Turn it off and take a break. You may want to keep informed, but try to limit the amount of news you take in whether it’s from the Internet, television, newspapers or magazines. While getting the news informs you, being overexposed to it can actually increase your stress. The images can be very powerful in reawakening your feeling of distress. Also, schedule some breaks to distract yourself from thinking about the incident and focus instead on something you enjoy. Try to do something that will lift your spirits.

Honor your feelings. Remember that it is common to have a range of emotions after a traumatic incident. You may experience intense stress similar to the effects of a physical injury. For example, you may feel exhausted, sore or off balance.

Take care of yourself. Engage in healthy behaviors to enhance your ability to cope with excessive stress. Eat well-balanced meals, get plenty of rest and build physical activity into your day. Avoid alcohol and drugs because they can suppress your feelings rather than help you to manage and lessen your distress. In addition, alcohol and drugs may intensify your emotional or physical pain. Establish or re-establish routines such as eating meals at regular times and following an exercise program. If you are having trouble sleeping, try some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga.

Help others or do something productive. Locate resources in your community on ways that you can help people who have been affected by this incident, or have other needs. Helping someone else often has the benefit of making you feel better, too.

If you have recently lost friends or family in this or other tragedies. Remember that grief is a long process. Give yourself time to experience your feelings and to recover. For some, this might involve staying at home; for others it may mean getting back to your daily routine. Dealing with the shock and trauma of such an event will take time. It is typical to expect many ups and downs, including "survivor guilt" — feeling bad that you escaped the tragedy while others did not.

For many people, using the tips and strategies mentioned above may be sufficient to get through the current crisis. At times, however an individual can get stuck or have difficulty managing intense reactions. A licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist can assist you in developing an appropriate strategy for moving forward. It is important to get professional help if you feel like you are unable to function or perform basic activities of daily living.

Recovering from such a tragic event may seem difficult to imagine. Persevere and trust in your ability to get through the challenging days ahead. Taking the steps in this guide can help you cope at this very difficult time.

This tip sheet was made possible with help from the following APA members: Dewey Cornell, PhD, Richard A. Heaps, PhD, Jana Martin, PhD, H. Katherine O’Neill, PhD, Karen Settle, PhD, Peter Sheras, PhD, Phyllis Koch-Sheras, PhD, and members of Division 17.

December 16, 2012

Fred Rogers talks about Tragic Events in the News

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."

If you are trying to explain the terrible events of this past week to children, we've included several resources in the post below. But who better than beloved children's expert, Mr. Rogers? See more advice here: Fred Rogers talks about Tragic Events in the News

December 14, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary School: Trauma Response Resources

Help for Parents, Teachers & the Community

Our hearts go out to the people of Newtown who suffered such a horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The violence of events is terrible and made more so by the fact that most of the victims were children. Human-triggered disasters are particularly difficult to cope with and recover from.

While everyone is disturbed by such a sudden and terrible set of events, some may feel and react to the news more intensely than others. Reactions may be exacerbated as stories emerge about the horrific attacks and we learn more about the details of the violence and the personal stories of victims and their families. As memorials occur, we are exposed to the grief and raw reactions of survivors and grieving families. Events become more personal. Some of the people for whom this might trigger a heightened level of grief, stress, or anxiety include:

  • People who were involved in the event – Students, teachers, school staff, parents and relatives of those directly involved. That would, of course, encompass those who suffered the death of a loved one in the event. Children and classmates are also of particular concern.
  • People with a direct connection to the events – This would encompass townspeople and neighbors, and could also extend to any who have some personal association with Newtown, such as people with friends or relatives who live there or former students of the school.
  • People who have been a victim of violence themselves - This might encompass people who were prior victims of violence or assault, people who were held hostage, people who have been part of random shootings, or people who lost loved ones to random violence. The events might rekindle memories, grief, loss, fear and heightened anxiety.
  • People who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - This might include victims of 9/11, survivors of other shootings, veterans, or many others who experienced trauma and are not able to get beyond it. The events might trigger heightened memories, fear, anxiety, anger, stress, or disruption of eating or sleeping habits, among other things.
  • Children and young people. Violent events can be particularly frightening to children, and this event even more so because it included the specific targeting of children. The sudden and random nature of events may be terribly upsetting and threaten to a child's sense of security. Some children may be intensely fearful of their own safety or the safety of loved ones.

Responding to events

  • Be sensitive to others and how they experience events. People handle stress and grief differently, and we don't always know what experiences others have had that might intensify a reaction. While some may hear such news and move on, others need time to process and react. Don't assume everyone feels things the same way that you do - be sensitive to those around you and let them express their feelings.
  • Limit exposure to gruesome details in the news. The 24-hour nature of the Internet and cable news mean that we can be bombarded with nonstop news and images of a disastrous event. This continual exposure can exacerbate anxiety and fear, particularly for children.
  • Take positive action. When violent events occur, it can shake our faith and trust in our fellow man. Counter these feeling by spending time with family and friends. It can also help to do something to reduce the feelings of helplessness that many experience in the face of such events: Help others. Give blood. Organize of take part in a memorial activity. Write letters. Make a donation. Volunteer.
  • Consider counseling. If you or somebody else is having a particularly hard time coping with these events, counseling with a professional may be in order. Signs that you or a loved one may need help getting past this might include sleeplessness, heightened anxiety or phobias, and preoccupation with details of events.

Dealing with Children's Grief and Fear

In addition to the children who were directly affected by events, news of this frightening tragedy will be difficult for all kids to understand. The following resources offer some guidance.

Helping kids deal with the aftermath of difficult events

  • Limit your child's exposure to the news. Make sure that news about violent events is not playing over and over in the background on radios or TV. Watch news with your kids and discuss events and their feelings about things.

  • When frightening events occur, watch your own reaction when children are nearby. When adults react dramatically, emotionally or fearfully, it can be very unsettling for children, who take cues from adults. While you should be truthful in your feelings, be careful not to let your behavior shatter their sense of safety and security.

  • Give comfort and reassurance. Allow children to express fear and sadness, don't dismiss bad feelings. Encourage questions so you can understand their fears. They may be feeling vulnerable themselves, or they may fear losing parents or siblings that they depend on and love.

  • Emphasize safety. Let children know that while sad and bad things do indeed happen, they are rare events. Most people are good. Reassure them that you will take care of them and keep them safe, and that police and teachers will help to look out for their safety, too. Use this as a time to reinforce safety rules.

  • Channel things in a positive direction whenever possible. Point out good things, such as the heroism and bravery of police and doctors and the kindness of the people in the community. Use bad events as a springboard to reinforce gratitude and appreciation for life; the importance of kindness and empathy, the importance of helping others.

  • Take positive action. We all feel helpless in the face of terrible events, children even more so. Encourage your child to take an action, such as making a donation, writing a letter, going to a church service, or leaving flowers or mementos at a memorial.

  • Ensure that your communications are age appropriate. Young children don't have a clear understanding of death, even if they say the words, so events may not affect them much; teens might suppress reaction entirely in a misguided attempt to appear cool or jaded. See links below for more on age-related reactions and communications.

  • Keep an eye on things to ensure that they adjust. Watch for regression, clinging, hyperactivity in young children; at any age, kids who are anxious could exhibit sleep or eating disturbances. Teens or young adults may be obsessed with details of events, Watch how your kids play, how they talk about things to peers. If signs of disturbance persist, they may need the help of a professional so they don't stay "stuck" in anxieties or fear.

Dealing with Trauma

Grief in the workplace: Tips for supervisors
As an EAP, one of the most common situations we deal with is grief and loss. Everyone suffers death and loss at some point and everyone deals with grief differently. Grief can be all-consuming, an issue that spills over into the workplace long after the precipitating event has passed, particularly if the loss was of a child or a spouse. Supervisors and managers are often uncomfortable in dealing with an employee's grief and finding the right balance between being compassionate and maintaining work productivity.

Managers can play a key role in helping a person to heal. Resuming the normal routine of work is part of the healthy recovery process. Knowing something about the various stages or behaviors that are common in the grief process can be helpful in understanding how to support grieving workers. Here are some supervisor tips for dealing with grief in the workplace:

  • Make contact with your bereaved employee as soon as possible after you learn of their loss. Offer your condolences. Listen and respect confidentiality. Expect sadness and tears.
  • Be prepared. Know your organization's policy on bereavement and personal time and be ready to explain the policy to the employee.
  • Be as flexible and negotiable as possible in allowing your employee to have the time and space to deal with their loss.
  • Arrange for back-ups and replacements necessary to cover the person’s work during their absence. Ensure that phone calls and e-mail messages are re-directed. Get information on services, funerals and memorials to the person’s colleagues in a timely fashion.
  • If appropriate, help to organize some form of group acknowledgment to support the employee, such as issuing a card or flowers, or planning group attendance at a memorial ceremony.
  • Ensure that support continues when the person returns to work. The first few days may be particularly difficult adjustment.
  • Have back-ups or a buddy system in place when the employee returns to work to provide support and check in with the employee periodically to see how he or she is doing.
  • Consider adjusting the workload. Expect productivity, but be patient and reasonable in your expectations.
  • Be sensitive to the cycle of upcoming holidays or trigger points that might be difficult for the employee.
  • Recognize that other cultures may have customs, rituals or ways of dealing with loss that differ from those to which we are accustomed.
  • Watch for warning signs of prolonged grief and ongoing performance issues, such as poor grooming, severe withdrawal, substance abuse, or other uncharacteristic behaviors might be warning signs.
  • Offer resources for professional help. As a manager, you are in a unique position to observe a need for help and to recommend assistance through a referral to your EAP or appropriate community resources.

December 9, 2012

Surviving the holidays: Practical tips for work and home

Here's our holiday survival guide to help you and your employees deal with various stressors and special situations over the holidays.

At the Workplace
Seven Dos and Don’ts for the Holiday Season - from employment attorney Jonathan Segal

Top 10 Holiday Aggravations at Work - what not to do

Tis the Season - to be extra careful about holiday legal issues

14 Ways to Stay Focused at Work Through the Holidays

Avoiding stress & problems
9 Holiday Depression Busters

Coping with SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder

Ease Holiday Stress, boost work life balance

Holiday Health & Safety Tips - Centers for Disease Control

Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping - from the Mayo Clinic

Eating & Drinking in the Holidays
Healthy Eating and Holiday Meal Planning from the American Diabetes Association

Healthy Eating Tips and Light Party Recipes for the Holidays

Top 10 Holiday Diet Tips - WebMD

The Holidays: Challenges and Survival Guide for Sober Alcoholics

Al-Anon helping families through alcoholism during holidays

How to Cope with Family Holiday Events... Without Alcohol!

Family Matters
7 Holiday Stress Busters for Kids

10 Tips to Help Seniors Enjoy the Holidays

Children of Divorce List Holiday Dos and Don'ts

2012 Dangerous Toys report

Special situations

Military Holiday Center , including 5 Tips Managing Deployment Stress During the Holidays

Dealing with grief or loss over the holidays

Helping Children Cope with Holidays After a Disaster (PDF)

Top Ten Ways to Survive the Holidays During and After Divorce

Handling Holidays After Divorce

Multicultural Familia - Holidays

How to Cope with Spending the Holidays Away From Home

Money and finance
Manage Your Holiday Spending (PDF) - tips from The American Financial Services Association Education Foundation (AFSAEF)

Avoiding competitive shopping for fun & profit - minimizing financial stress

Mastering Your Holiday Season Budget

Making the holidays less materialistic for your kids - from KidsHealth

Financial stress is a big issue at this time of year. The following resources are not specific to the holidays, but helpful in addressing the financial stress that can accompany the holidays.

Coping in Hard Times: Fact Sheet for Parents (PDF)

Dollars and sense: Talking to your children about the economy

Guide to Meaningful & Charitable Gift-Giving
American Red Cross - Gift Giving Catalog


Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance

Charity Navigator

Avoid Charity Fraud


esi.JPGWhen Holiday stress gets to be too much, an EAO can be a lifesaver. Learn how ESI Employee Assistance Program can help address your employees' wellbeing issues - from a wellness benefits and help for everyday work-life matters to comprehensive assistance for a wide array of potentially disruptive issues and problems. To learn more about how ESI EAP can help, give us a call: 800-535-4841.

December 8, 2012

Bad hires can be costly - do you check references?

According to a recent CareerBuilder survey on reference checking, 80% of employers said that they don't check references for new hires. That's too bad, because of those that do, nearly 3 in 10 have found a fake reference on a job application.

Bad hires are more than just a drain on productivity and morale - there are very real costs associated. One study shows that they suck up at least one day a week of a manager's time. The wrong hire can rack up a high price tag in a variety of ways - they may expose you to higher legal risks or they may turn into a malevolent disgruntled employee, exposing you to security risks.

Another survey shows that bad hires come with a steep price tag: Forty-one percent of companies estimate that a bad hire costs more than $25,000, and one in four said it costs more than $50,000.

Jay Goltz talked about the hidden costs of a bad hire in an article in The New York Times last year. He discussed some of the reasons why that bad hire can be so costly.

There is the cost of hiring and training and the hit to your unemployment tax rate (the rules vary by state, but business owners should know that when the state pays out claims to a company’s former employees, that company’s unemployment tax rate goes up). The problem is that you are not going to get a bill for your hiring mistakes that would help you reflect on the true costs. Instead, the costs will be hidden in an unemployment rate that goes up for the next three years, in wasted time that could have gone into more productive things, and in customers who get bad product or service during this period. You have hit the trifecta of wasted money.
What could it all add up to? It could easily be $40,000. The extra unemployment insurance by itself could be that much. It could easily be $200,000 if the person costs you a customer or two. Think about it: one call to a reference might have saved you $100,000."

All reference checks aren't created equally

Even those employers who do their due diligence in checking new hires sometimes make a bad job of things. Today, many rely too heavily on checking candidates out via social media, which can have its own pitfalls, or they fail to ask meaningful questions of references that will give them useful information about a potential candidate. Here are a few tools to help you in your screening process.

Reference Checking: Ask Better Questions, Get Better Data

Top 10 Guidelines for Social Media Background Checks = from employment law attorney Michael Nader

Social Media: Your "Keep Out of Court" Kit for the Hiring Process

Checking References: Top 10 Questions to Ask

Ten Critical Questions To Ask When Checking References

Guide to Reference Checking (PDF) - from the personnel Commission of the Los Angeles Community College District

ESI-Logo.jpg Employers: ESI EAP offers discounted background checks and pre-employment screening to member employers. And if you suspect a problem with a potentially disgruntled worker, a referral to your EAP can help to defuse a potential problem. Don't have an EAP? Call 800-535-4841.

December 2, 2012

A Hidden Talent Pool: Employees with Autism

About a year go, we featured a fascinating video presentation of Temple Grandon, one of the world's most well-known adults with autism. If you missed it last time around, we can't recommend it highly enough - it's an excellent 20 minute overview that aims to make you think differently about people with autism. She makes the case for employers, particularity in the tech industry, to think about hiring people with autism. She says that "... the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids."

As an employer, there are at least two good reasons why autism should be on your radar. First, it is an issue that concerns you as an employer and your obligations under the ADA. Second, autism is a significant issue that faces many of your caregiving employees who have a son or daughter with autism.

During the next decade, more than a half million young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will turn 18 -- and many will be looking for work. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is illegal to discriminate against qualified job applicants because they have autism. As with many disabilities, autism is much misunderstood but some employers who take the time to enlarge their understanding of ASD are finding a rich pool of talent. USA Today recently featured an article about Aspiritech, an Illinois start-up company that has found a successful niche in hiring autistic adults as software testers, harnessing excellent attention to detail.

This success would be of little surprise to Specialisterne, a Danish company that employs 35 high-functioning autistic workers who are hired out as consultants to the tech industry throughout Denmark. This remarkeble company is profiled in the excellent New York Times article The Autism Advantage, which notes that, "Specialisterne has inspired start-ups and has five of its own, around the world. In the next few months, Sonne plans to move with his family to the United States, where the number of autistic adults — roughly 50,000 turn 18 every year — as well as a large technology sector suggests a good market for expansion."

Thinking differently starts with greater understanding
Steve Silberman is an investigative reporter for Wired and other national magazines. Autism is a theme that he writes about often. During last April's autism awareness month, he authored the excellent Autism Awareness is Not Enough: Here’s How to Change the World. He notes that while, "the lion’s share of the money raised by star-studded “awareness” campaigns goes into researching potential genetic and environmental risk factors — not to improving the quality of life for the millions of autistic adults who are already here, struggling to get by. At the extreme end of the risks they face daily is bullying, abuse, and violence, even in their own homes."

Silberman talks to ASD self-advocates, parents, and teachers, including "Nick Walker, an autistic aikido master who founded his own dojo in Berkeley; the first openly autistic White House appointee, Ari Ne’eman; Emily Willingham, one of the sharpest science writers in the blogosphere; Lydia Brown, a prolifically articulate and thoughtful 18-year-old self-advocate at Georgetown University; Todd Drezner, director of Loving Lampposts, a groundbreaking documentary on autism and neurodiversity from a father’s perspective; and the editors of Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism."

They offer ideas ranging from, "outlines for education and public-policy reform, to calls for more 24-hour businesses and innovative assistive technology, to persuasive arguments from the trenches for transformations of attitude — are a road map to a more equitable neurodiverse society that will help all 88 out of 88 kids to maximize their creative potential."

This roundup of interviews is thought provoking and continues along the Temple Grandin mission to "think differently" about people with autism.

Don't Get Locked Into Labels - by Temple Grandin.

Employment Opportunities for Individuals with Autism

ASCEND (Autism Asperper Syndrome Coalition for Education, Networking and Development)

Young Adults With Autism Seek Out White-Collar Careers For First Time

The Autism Project - a multi-media effort by Toronto Star reporters, photographers and videographers - in print, online and social media - to document autistic lives in all their many stages.

The Autism Society - Employment


esi.JPG Learn how ESI Employee Assistance Program can help address your employees' wellbeing issues - from a wellness benefits and help for everyday work-life matters to comprehensive assistance for a wide array of potentially disruptive issues and problems.

December 1, 2012

"Riveting talks by remarkable people"

TED is a nonprofit devoted to "Ideas Worth Spreading." It started in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Over the years, it has broadened its scope considerably. We've featured some great talks here on the blog, and will no doubt feature more. Recently, we discovered a new feature that allows for some fun browsing through the extensive collection of videos: curated playlists - selections either on a given theme or favorites selected by various thought leaders.

There are many to choose from, but here are a few playlists of interest:

Bill Gates: My 13 favorite talks

Steve Case: 10 unforgettable talks

Barbra Streisand: 8 must-see talks for women

Re-imagining school (11 talks)

The future of medicine (8 talks)

Making sense of too much data (9 talks)

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