Rick Kronberg on April 16th, 2014

medical marijuana lawWritten by Rick D. Kronberg, LCSW, CSADC, Clinical Director at Perspectives Ltd

“Do I have to let my employees smoke marijuana, if they have a prescription?”

Illinois is the 20th state to pass a medical marijuana law. The bill went into effect January 1, 2014 but it will take several months to sort out what this means for employers before the dispensaries begin to open.

Highlights of the Act:

  • No more than 60 licensed dispensaries
  • 22 cultivation sites, one in each state police district
  • Dozens of medical conditions eligible, although the Department of Public Health can add ailments as it sees fit.
  • Patients can buy up to 2.5 ounces every two weeks.
  • Registered Qualifying Patients (RQPs) are only those patients who have certain specified debilitating medical conditions and obtain state registration cards.
  • The Department of Public Health will issue identification cards to all registered users.
  • RQPs will not be allowed to grow marijuana.
  • RQPs will not be allowed to possess marijuana in vehicles, on school grounds, or in public places.

The answer to the title question, as with many employment law issues, is “it depends”. According to one article, “Because the Medical Marijuana Law is new to the State of Illinois, there is no case precedence in Illinois for employers or employees to rely on to resolve issues that the Law does not provide clear guidance”. There are a few areas that are clear, regarding the Act. In general, the Act will not prohibit employers from adopting and implementing a drug-free workplace, drug testing, or zero tolerance provided the policy is applied in a nondiscriminatory manner. The legislation also states that employers are not prohibited from “disciplining a registered qualifying patient for violating a workplace drug policy.” In addition, federal restrictions such as the USDOT regulation 49 CFR 40.151 supercedes the Illinois Act. It is also clear that employers may not penalize a person solely for his or her status as an RQP.

So, RQP employees are subject to the same rules as all employees regarding the use and possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia on work premises and subject to the same rules about being under the influence or intoxicated during work hours.

To get more information regarding this, or you have any questions regarding WorkLife Services, please go here.

 

Sara DePasquale on April 15th, 2014

perspectives ltdWe made the list…again! Recently, we were informed that The “Best Places to Work in Illinois” chose us, Perspectives Ltd, to be awarded as part of the Best Places to Work in Illinois list. This award is dedicated to identifying and recognizing Illinois’s best employers.

This statewide program is managed by Best Companies Group and this year, hosted by the Daily Herald Business Ledger with co-hosts, B. Gunther & Co., Northern Illinois University Graduate School of Business and Porte Brown Certified Public Accountants.

The rankings of each company awarded will be revealed at the Recognition Event, which will be held on Monday May 12, 2014 at the Marriott Chicago Oak Brook Hotel. The event will start at 5:30pm opening with a reception and networking, then an Awards Presentation and ending around 8:30pm with dessert & more networking.

Since 2009, Perspectives Ltd has taken home this award four times! If you want to learn more about this project, please visit http://www.bestplacestoworkil.com/, or to stay up to date on our services and blog posts, don’t forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter here: https://www.perspectivesltd.com/newslettersignup.aspx.

ckunze on April 9th, 2014

FMLA COBRAWritten by Chris Kunze

Several years ago our account mangers brought to my attention that a number of customers were raising concerns about the length of time the administration of Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) employee absences were taking from their staff’s working day. As we looked further into the issue we recognized there are two primary parties involved in a FMLA event, the employee and the employers Human Resource team. Each has specific needs that we could address and provide resources to assist in resolving or mitigating the issue.

Employees that are requesting FMLA are doing so as a result of issues such as parental care, childcare, personal medical issues etc. who by their nature, were creating a Worklife event. To address this issue we now emphasize at employee orientations the connection between the EAP and FMLA and the role the EAP can play in helping the employee ease the stress during a FMLA event. We also work with the HR team to highlight this role at internal events such as benefit enrollment periods, benefit fairs, health fairs, visibility tables, etc. Employee feedback on the EAP/FMLA connection has been positive and we have many success stories to share.

To assist the HR Team with the administration burden, we deliver and manage a software package that specializes in FMLA leave administration, and is able to provide a seamless online entry and tracking system for the employer’s staff tasked with FMLA administration. As a result, those customers who take advantage of this solution have eliminated much of the overhead associated with their manual systems and their staff has been able to shift the time to providing higher value adding tasks. In addition to the basic FMLA orientation, we have also developed online training programs for Managers and Supervisors that inform and train them on the correct procedures when presented with a FMLA leave request. These training’s help mitigate potential liability if an employee feels that their leave request was not handled in an appropriate manner.

Overall the addition of the FMLA administration service has been seen as a solid value for the employee and the employer. To get more information on FMLA, visit https://www.perspectivesltd.com/employers/services/fmlacobra.aspx.

 

 

 

Bernie Dyme on April 2nd, 2014

 coachingWritten by: Maureen Dorgan-Clemens

Recently, I came across an old New Yorker article from a couple of years ago written by surgeon and author, Dr. Atule Gawande on the importance of having a coach. His premise was that no matter what your profession or what your level of accomplishment is; we can only see things from our own vantage point, our experience. He tells the story of the great virtuoso Itzhak Perlman who received training by a coach and teacher at Julliard. It was thought that when you left Julliard, you had reached your professional peak. But Perlman thought that he continued to need a coach, just like professional athletes to provide him with an “outside ear”.

Coaches have provided that “outside ear” in many ways. Coaches are not teachers, but they do expand your sense of possibility. They help you try new and difficult things, to trust your own innate abilities. Coaching can help one to reach peak performance through encouragement and accountability.

Coaching Process

• Identify what is going on now, the current state.

• Goals. The identification of goals and what the attainment of those goals looks like.

• Imagine all possibilities. A coach will guide the discussion to consider many options without evaluation or judgment.

• Action steps. These steps are outlined to help one meet their goals. Resources and additional help are also identified.

• Evaluation of outcomes. Identification of what was successful and what still needs improvement.

Coaching has been found to improve work performance, business management, self-confidence, communication skills and more. It helps identify the blind spots that hinder success. A coach provides those outside “eyes and ears” to help one become aware of what can’t be seen, and then helps to take the steps necessary to achieve the most important goals.

To get more information on Coaching or other services that the Perspectives Organizational Consulting Group offers, please go here.

Bernie Dyme on March 26th, 2014

EAPWritten by: Bernie Dyme 

My company and I have been providing Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) services to companies since the mid-80s, and a main issue we have always had to deal with is getting people to use the services. This can be challenging as many people still see EAP’s as a place to go when they have emotional or psychological problems, and let’s face it, most of us don’t want to admit when we have problems. A larger problem is that most companies are scared to deal with employees who may be experiencing personal problems. The irony is that most performance problems are rooted in personal problems outside of the workplace. This can be hard for people to keep their personal problems from coming to work with them. Left untreated, this can cost a lot both financially and from a morale standpoint.

At Perspectives we have dealt with this issue by doing a couple of things that have allowed us to get utilization rates across our companies in excess of 25%, whereas traditional utilization rates are in the 5 to 10% range.

Tips on managing your EAP vendor:

 
1. Brand the EAP as a resource for dealing with issues of daily living. This will help employees see the EAP as a positive resource for all people not just those in dire need. By offering childcare, elder care, concierge and educational services, people will feel more comfortable using the service.

2. Have leadership and management support the EAP to make sure that they know how and when to use it. Your EAP vendor should be able to help you with a promotional plan. Most importantly though is that the people at the top fully endorse and integrate the program into the culture of the organization.

3. Help employees to see the EAP as a career development tool via using online skill builders and coaching for improvement.

4. Constantly promote the program. There is no magic to this. People will use what they know about and without constant promotion, people will forget about EAP as a resource.

5. Insure confidentiality. The fear of losing anonymity or not having a confidential program is probably the biggest deterrent to use. The solution here is to constantly reiterate that the program is confidential. More importantly though, the program must be confidential. Employees must be reassured that no one will know about their use of EAP unless they let them know. Even in the case of supervisory or management referrals, there must be a signed release of information and the information to be released should only be related to performance improvement.

In this day and age, there really is no reason why an EAP should not get at least 20 to 25% utilization. With a true partnership between the company and the EAP vendor along with a quality EAP vendor dedicated to providing EAP services (not one who throws EAP into some other service line like insurance), this goal is possible.

Want more info on our EAP services? Learn more about them, here.

 

Sara DePasquale on March 19th, 2014

ma_logoFY12On April 11, 2014 Perspectives Ltd will join the Management Association at their Organizational Wellness Initiatives Expo (OWIE). This expo will be in Downers Grove, IL from 8am-10:30am and will give you and your HR team the chance to meet reliable wellness providers that have programs designed to engage employees in wellness initiatives.

The Management Association is a not-for-profit employers’ association serving more than 1,000 companies and organizations and provides services regarding human resources, compensation, legal, and training and employee benefits.

Perspectives Ltd will be there to interact and inform you about our services including; Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), Managed Behavioral Healthcare, WorkLife Services, Organizational Development and Wellness. Come by our booth and check us out!

The expo will kick off the morning with a healthy breakfast, meetings throughout the day and the ability to interact with program providers on how to get the wellness conversation started in the workplace. Some of the exhibiting sponsors (besides us!) will include Daily Herald, West Suburban Wellness, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment, Digital Benefit Advisors, Health Maintenance Institute, PUSH Wellness, DuPage Health & Wellness, OEC Business Interiors / Steelcase Inc. and The FruitGuys.

Need directions? Don’t worry—we got you covered!

Participation is FREE, but requires registration, so don’t forget to register! Visit the Management Association to register and for more details.

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Jonathan Eisler on March 12th, 2014

perspectives ltdWritten by Jonathan Eisler, Director of Perspectives Organizational Consulting Group

“Why do businesses exist?”

When asked this question, typically the response received is “to make money!” While this is the desired ‘result’ of doing business, ‘making money’ should not be the sole focus that guides business decisions as it overlooks the elements required to bring money in.

Unfortunately, too often organizations and their people make decisions based strictly on the short-term focus of how it will impact their bottom line. When this type of culture is prominent, it can be said that the company has an Operations mentality and it is all too obvious to the employees and customers.

At Perspectives, we believe that the function and drive of every business should be “the acquisition and maintenance of customers.” When this type of culture is adhered to, then the ‘result’ of making money is much more realistic, as now an externally focused Marketing Culture influences the decisions and actions that are made from the top down.

From the customer’s perspective, this is the difference between your organization worrying about your own policies and procedures (operating as an internally focused machine) and focusing on their needs as customers (operating as externally focused humans). Take a look at a couple examples below.

Managing Performance

1. Operations Culture: What are your people doing? (internal focus)

a. i.e. “How many customers did you see today?”

2. Marketing Culture: What are the outcomes of your people’s actions? (external focus)

a. i.e. “How were your interactions with customers today?”

Serving Customers

1. Operations Mentality: If my goal is strictly to make $, then my job is to minimize loss and increase revenue so all actions/decisions I make will be determined by whether or not I think my decision will make money. Notice that the “how I am going to accomplish this?” is missing in this type of reasoning.

a. i.e. “I am sorry but it is in our company policy (a HUGE warning sign about their focus being internal) that we cannot accept checks!” “Why?” “Because 2-5% of checks we received have been bad.” (Focused on revenue…inherent flaw alert: what about the 95-98% that were good checks and the revenue obtained?) Again, the rep’s focus is internal. If the company wishes to get money from a potential customer, shouldn’t they be focused on the customer’s needs, rather than their own?

2. Marketing Mentality: Since my focus is to acquire and maintain customers, my job is to provide excellent customer service and when done effectively my company’s goal of making money becomes reality!

a. i.e. “Typically we do not accept checks, but if that is more convenient for you, we would be happy to accommodate!”= focused on the customer (note: While we encourage never saying “no” to a customer, it is imperative to ensure transparency regarding any additional costs that may be needed to meet their demand)

3. Let’s put it another way: “I know you said you really wanted a Barbie for your 6th birthday, but I was at Men’s Wearhouse so I got you a tie!” (is service about you or them?)

How an organization treats their employees is how the employees will treat their customers. Therefore, if you want your people to effectively focus on your current and prospective customers, then your people need to feel/see/believe that you are truly focused on them and their success.

In summary, if your people feel that the function of your business and the reasoning behind your decisions is to build and maintain relationships (internally and externally), then your customers will be wowed with the attention your people give them. When this occurs, the ‘service-focused’ reputation of your organization will grow exponentially! The people-focused organization is the one that meets and exceeds their goals because the marketing mentality permeates all interactions…and people WILL notice!

 

 

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Bernie Dyme on March 5th, 2014

Written by Bernie Dyme

Awhile back, two articles crossed my interest. The first was about how Kitsap County approved a .1% sales tax that was to be dedicated for mental health services in the county. This money was to be used by a citizen’s advisory committee to address mental health and chemical dependency programs.

The second article appeared in Bloomberg/BNA News. This article addressed the challenges faced by employers in helping employees get mental health assistance. It talked about the stigma that prevents people from seeking out and finding help for mental health issues. It also talked about how beneficial EAPs are, when they are promoted and used. One of the solutions that they mentioned is that EAPs now offer services to help folks deal with issues of daily living, in addition to, the traditional mental health offerings. These include legal, financial, child and elder care services.

I must admit that I found this refreshing because EAPs have traditionally been a benefit that operates in the background.  However, it is a very valuable service that helps keep employees engaged and healthy. If you think about it, any wellness initiatives must include, at their core, a behavioral health component. EAP comes in handy when behavior change occurs as people face those things that keep us from succeeding. EAP use also increases when people feel safe and comfortable enough to admit that they need help and break through the shame that inhibits them. This is where an organizations’ leadership can really make a significant impact when it helps destigmatize mental health.  After all, at any given time, 25% of the total population is dealing with a mental health issue.

So, how about it leaders? It doesn’t take much to assist employees to feel comfortable enough to get help. It is the right thing to do, will save you money in your health care spend, and will also enable your employees to be more engaged and productive. Need we say more?

 

Jonathan Eisler on January 27th, 2014

bigstock_I_Love_My_Job_1086960811

Recently we discussed 5 things that organizations can do to increase the love employees have for their job. This week, we have a few more to add that also include some individual behaviors that leaders and managers should continually focus on as well.

1.     Provide recognition. It’s not all about bonuses, a parking spot or plaques on the wall these days. Just make sure your people know that you can see how productive they are and that you and the company appreciate their efforts.

a.       Check out this  8-part blog series about recognition by NY Times bestselling author on Employee Engagement, Kevin Sheridan.

2.       Give feedback. Performance reviews and ongoing feedback foster accountability and employees are able to perform better when they know their responsibilities and how they are doing.

3.       Offer development opportunities. As much as possible, give all of your employees various ways to develop both personally and professionally.

4.       Welcome mistakes (with a caveat). Handle mistakes calmly and make sure they are used as learning opportunities. Otherwise, employees won’t take chances and when they do mess up, they will probably try to hide it. However, be sure to keep record of these as repeat offenses must be dealt with appropriately.

5.       Stay customer focused. Focusing on your customer’s needs is much more inspiring than simply  focusing on increasing revenue…and the bottom line results will be better too! Why your customers need you should be the focus of everyone’s actions  and decisions that are made at your company.

a.       As stated in our last post, the ‘why’ behind your business is much more inspiring than the ‘what’….so make sure your ‘why’ aligns with a compelling vision (bullet #1 from last week’s post).

We’d love to hear about what types of things you have experienced that made you love your job so please leave a comment below.

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~Written by Jonathan Eisler, Director of Perspectives Organizational Consulting Group. 

 

Jonathan Eisler on January 13th, 2014

stock-footage-portrait-of-a-large-group-of-happy-and-diverse-business-people-who-are-standing-together-isolated[1]5 Things That Make Employees Love Their Job

As I was with friends and family over the holidays and relaxing after one of the many feasts we enjoyed, the conversation turned to professional careers and employers. As we all described where we worked, who we worked with and what our bosses were like, I observed themes evident in both what people loved and hated about their employers. When reflecting on these observations, I realized they pointed to 10 actionable steps that seemed to impact how much we all loved our jobs. Below I have listed the first 5 with a few personal examples. Next week, we will discuss the rest.

1.       Ensure a compelling vision. Just as customers connect more with the ‘why’ than the ‘what’ in regards to your organization’s output, employees too are motivated by a vision that includes elements of the leader’s passion.

a.       I can get excited about the organizational/workforce development services and employee assistance programs (EAPs) that Perspectives provides to our clients, but our overreaching mantra, “Our business is to keep your employees engaged in your business!” is something that I can put my heart and soul into.

2.       Promote teamwork. Goal consistency across departments fosters a feeling of cohesion, camaraderie and group effort.  Of course, how those goals will be met will vary by department, but cross-departmental teams who are focused on the same objective will foster innovation and teamwork.

3.       Hire the right people. Take the extra time to find employees who contribute positively to your culture and reflect your organization’s values. Good coworkers make employees happy.

a.       At Perspectives it can takes us a little longer to hire someone due to our policy of having each person on the leadership team interview each candidate and often interviewees have multiple interviews with the same interviewer. However, our average employee tenure of 15+ years reiterates the value of taking the extra time to ensure fit….and I love my coworkers!

4.       Innovate.  Unless you have robots working for you, your people want to work on things they find interesting. Capitalize on your employee’s creativity and you may identify and pursue exciting new opportunities.

5.       Be transparent. Be honest with your employees about the good, the bad and the ugly. When trusted with the facts, employees will know where they stand and fear of the unknown will be reduced.

a.       Before the impacts of the impending Affordable Care Act (ACA) on our employee benefits were ultimately known, our CEO had 2 ACA experts come in and speak at our recent townhall meeting to address employee concerns related to the potential impacts that were coming.  While I wasn’t excited about the possible coming changes to my benefits, it certainly alleviated much of the uncertainty I felt while we waited for the plan changes to finally be announced.

We’d love to hear about experiences you have had, or heard of, that relate to the above 5 points, so please leave your comments below.

Stay Tuned: Next week we will discuss the remaining 5 things I observed that organizations and managers can do that help people love their jobs.

Written by Jonathan Eisler, Director of Perspectives Organizational Consulting Group.


 

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