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?
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.
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.
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.
Tags: Bernie Dyme, business, Chicago, EAP, employee assistance, Employee Assistance Program, Employee Assistance Programs, employee engagement, employees, HR, human resources, organizational development, Perspectives, Perspectives Ltd, productivity, recognition, Stress, Terry Cahill, workplace
Tis the season! Have you begun making your organization’s wish list? Although this list should be constantly running, the end of the year is a great time to look back and evaluate the good, the bad, and the needs. What were your three most successful accomplishments? What are three things you would like to have done differently? How can you use this information to develop a plan moving forward? After you’ve answered these questions, you can start your wish list.
1. Your wish list can be large or small scale. It can be relating to the organization as a whole, a department or team, or even to your individual contributions.
2. Your wish list does not need to cost money. It can simply be a set of goals you establish, new ideas you bring to the table, or re-visiting long term goals and evaluating your progress.
3. Share your wish list with others. Get input about what would be good for the organization and create an atmosphere of shared interest and collaboration.
4. Don’t limit yourself by not including things you do not think are realistic – at least not initially. You can always cut out items later, but if you discount things based on not believing they are possible you are stopping the creative thinking process. List everything in the beginning.
5. Fine tune your list. After you have listed everything you and your organization want, go back through and re-evaluate the list. Have a conversation with others. Through discussion and brainstorming, you may be able to find ways to get the things you did not think were feasible.
This is the season for giving! Don’t leave out your organization. Developing goals and a plan to achieve them is a great gift for your employees and business.
Written by Amy Kline, Organizational Consultant
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Tags: Bernie Dyme, business, Chicago, EAP, employee assistance, Employee Assistance Program, Employee Assistance Programs, employee engagement, employees, HR, human resources, Leadership, organizational development, Perspectives, Perspectives Ltd, productivity, Terry Cahill, workplace
We hear the term “work-life balance” quite often, but how are we encouraging employees to maintain this balance? With the holidays quickly approaching, people are not only thinking about the upcoming deadlines for the projects they are working on. The additional deadlines of holiday cards, parties, gifts, and family obligations will also begin to move to the forefront of people’s minds. Consider the following when working with employees during the holiday season.
1. If an employee is thinking about something they must do outside of work, they are not thinking about their work. Having a working relationship with employees and/or encouraging managers to have relationships with those they supervise will allow those who may be acting out of character to be noticed. A simple check-in can help catch distractions early and allow for collaborative problem solving between employee and manager to find ways to focus while at work.
2. Understand the holidays can be emotional times for some. Preparing for family, cleaning the house, buying gifts, and other holiday preparations are no small task when added to already busy schedules. Being mindful of this will help when communicating with employees on a day to day basis.
3. Employees appreciate sensitivity to their needs. This is not to say all work responsibilities go out the window, but if someone requests a day off for holiday preparation and it is within your organization’s means to approve it, do it! Employees will return feeling better about having checked off items on their to-do list, allowing them to be more productive at work.
4. Celebrate with employees. Holiday parties are a great way to bring those in an organization together to celebrate the previous year and rejuvenate for the next. Find ways to celebrate which align with your organization’s culture and are appealing to your employees. Find a time that is convenient for as many people to attend as possible. Holiday cards, gifts, or e-mails are also a nice way to say thank-you to employees for all their work throughout the year.
The holiday season can be an exciting time for organizations and employees. Accomplishments can be recognized and motivation to have an even better year can be sparked. Open communication, mindfulness, collaboration, and celebration can help alleviate some of the holiday stress and lead to a positive and productive working environment.
Written by Amy Kline, Organizational Consultant
Few issues in the domain of business are thornier, more complex, and emotion-packed than that of how much money to pay someone for the work they do. Employee compensation thrusts its tendrils into considerations no less substantial than motivation, employment law, labor unions, production, and the very profitability of the enterprise. Oh, yeah. That.
Corresponding almost exactly with the arc of the Great Recession, we’ve been blinded of late by arguments put forth, like shiny objects, suggesting that the paper stuff that goes in your pocket (cash compensation) isn’t as important as the cornucopia of less extrinsic factors that have entered the deal in the workplace… things like concierge-type services, telecommuting, or participating in Habitat for Humanity builds alongside your co-workers.
Whoa, full flaps, brakes, stop! To be sure, there is considerable attraction and motivational impact in achieving a state of camaraderie, and in job-related perks that are special. Indeed, one of us helped launch FedEx, and for a while when the business was running on fumes, it certainly helped to be working alongside a charismatic CEO with a warrior spirit, to be a participant in reshaping commerce, and for every employee to have the opportunity to ride free on company planes, because the mixture of cold, hard cash was pretty lean.
But at the end of the day, people, nearly all of us are motivated, at some level and to a significant degree, by money. We are. Aren’t you? Sure, it’s not everything, but it’s definitely in the mix. And it’s more in the mix of late for two reasons:
1. Due to a still struggling economy and a slack labor market, real hourly earnings are mired US$0.24 below the December 2008 high.
2. Employee engagement levels are abysmally low, to wit the deal in the workplace tends to be more transactional, where cash is the coin of the realm.
So chewy and multidimensional is the comp issue that an entire professional association, WorldAtWork (formerly known as the American Compensation Association), exists to help employers figure it all out.
Credible studies abound, suggesting that higher compensation won’t necessarily buy you a better performing organization. In chapter 5 of our latest book, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk, we illustrate that with some NFL stats showing that many of the highest paid football teams in the US consistently turn in some pretty middling results.
Still, most of us don’t lead entire organizations; we lead individuals. And taken one person at a time, let’s be clear. Sometimes it IS about the money.
It’s sometimes about the money, because people who are struggling to make ends meet, or who believe they can earn substantially more somewhere else, or who feel taken for granted spend more time thinking about their comp-related woes than they do thinking about their work, their customers, and your business. When that happens, they can’t possibly be as engaged as you need them to be.
It’s sometimes about the money because, let’s face it: right or wrong, in our society, money sends a message. A message about a person’s worth. One’s composite view of his or her “deal” at work consists of at least these four factors:
- Leadership: How do I feel about the person I report to, and the big guns who run the place?
- Meaningful work: Is what I do valuable and important to others, and do I get frequent reminders of that? Expressed appreciation is a HUGE part of this one.
- Lifestyle fit: Does this job support and promote the kind of life I want to live? Schedule, benefits, amenities, time demands, etc.
- Compensation “Worth-its”: Am I satisfied with the money I earn?
You’ll notice that the above list is heavily weighted in favor of intangibles. Only one factor – the last one – is tangible. Most of us would like to maximize the mix of these elements, but they don’t all have to be perfect. If I really like my boss, and the work provides a real sense of meaning to me, I may be willing to work long and inconvenient hours for less than optimal pay. But if I have to work for a jerk doing stuff that doesn’t provide much emotional satisfaction, you’d better be prepared to fork over the big bucks, or I’m outta here. Mentally if not physically.
Think about your competition for talent. Someone else can always outbid you on the tangible; not necessarily on the intangibles.
Here’s our position, and some tips to go along with it:
- You should never pay anyone more than you can afford, or more than they’ve earned. And not substantially more than the market dictates.
- Without violating anything in the above bullet point, make your very best offer to attract and retain the best people for your organization, and keep them interested.
- The question of whether or not you can afford a certain amount for a certain person must be balanced with the question, “Can we afford not to pay that certain amount?” Consider the cost both if the person were to leave, and if they were to power back. If you really are underpaying someone, do you really expect to get their best work?
- Stay educated on what the market demands. Take advantage of current salary survey data for your industry. Your professional association probably has some. Be sure to filter for geography, profession, education and most of all, demonstrated capability.
- You can offset the desire for more monetary compensation – to a fairly substantial degree – by paying lots of attention to the intangibles mentioned above. Especially appreciation. Simply saying “thank you” – and meaning it – can go a long, long way. It’s worth real money. But be careful about using these intangibles to justify paying less than you can, and less than you should.
- Apart from paying “stay bonuses” or step increases, never increase anyone’s base compensation simply for hanging around another year. If given a choice, your compensation dollars would be much better spent as merit-based differentiation than endurance pay.
- Paying people by the hour is intellectually bankrupt. Find a way to correlate people’s pay with the income or value they provide to the organization.
- Give everyone as much information and control as possible over how much they earn. Here’s a conversation we love to hear (and have): “You want to make more money? Let me show you how.”
Until next payday, wishing you the best!
Blog from: Contented Cow Partners
An organizational culture that fosters employee engagement attracts talented employees, empowers them to do their best and creates an environment where they are less inclined to leave. The engaged employee exudes a strong desire to be a part of the value created by the organization and will consistently choose to exert extra discretionary effort focused on creating better outcomes for the clients/customers and ultimately the organization.
Research shows engaged employees are:
- 10 times more likely to feel good work is recognized.
- 10 times more likely to feel Senior Management is concerned about the employees.
- 8 times more likely to feel their supervisor encourages their growth.
- 7 times more likely to feel they receive regular performance feedback.
- 4 times more likely to be satisfied with their job.
- 4 times less likely to think about leaving the organization
A recent Blessing White Employee Engagement Report - which surveyed nearly 11,000 individuals globally – revealed engagement levels have increased world-wide since the global financial crisis. However, less than one third of employees are actually engaged and more are currently looking for new opportunities - suggesting that the existing personnel strategies are not hitting the mark.
“People are certainly looking to move more than ever given the increasing stability in the current market,” says Carlyle Perring, senior consultant Belinda Fisher. “The main reasons they’re proffering to move are first and foremost to progress their career and challenge themselves. The second and third reasons are mentoring and remuneration. The three things that employees seem to want are mastery, autonomy and purpose.”
According to Blessing White’s Employee Engagement Report:
- Leaders should focus more on their relationship building, rather than their actual skills or actions.
- “Employees’ knowledge of their managers as ‘people’ behind their title appears to impact engagement levels more than manager actions,” the report states.
- Executives continue to struggle in their renewed efforts to engage with their employees.
- “Executives appear to struggle with key leadership behaviors correlated to engagement, yet findings suggest executive behaviors can have a greater potential impact on engagement than manager actions.”
- “Executives aren’t getting the basics of performance right” and a lot of this is because organizations do not take the time to truly understand their people and what drives them.
According to Fisher, despite increased efforts, organizations could do more to address employee engagement and retention, particularly with respect to career progression and ownership of work. “… firms need to show their staff that they trust them to do their job by allowing them to take ownership of their work,” Fisher advises.
Fisher adds that managers should help their people to develop their skills for the next stage of their career. “A lack of ‘attention’ can cause bright and ambitious team members to feel unfulfilled for a lack of professional challenges,” she says.
To consistently elicit extra discretionary effort from their people, organizations must truly treat their people as the assets that they are.
What does your organization do to make you feel valued?
~Witten by Jonathan Eisler, Director of Perspectives Organizational Consulting Group, sourced in part from Lawyers Weekly. While much of the initial research for this article was in relation to employee engagement within law firms, many of the concepts and findings contained herein are applicable across industries.
by Avatar Solutions
Tags: employee engagement
So what keeps HR professionals up at night? A lot of things, all of which I hear about every day when speaking with my HR colleagues. Although I’m sure the list below will not surprise you, the topics might be helpful to know so that you don’t think you’re crazy. Here they are in no particular order.
- The rising cost of healthcare
- A redefinition of the employer-employee relationship (i.e., telecommuting, telework, flexible workplaces, etc)
- The economy
- Dealing with a multi-generational workplace
- Worklife balance issues
- The government’s role in the employer — employee relationship
- Globalization and outsourcing
- Recruiting and networking online
- Technology’s impact on HR
- Employee training and development
If you as an HR person aren’t facing these issues, you will be losing sleep. And plenty of it. The workplace is much more complex than it has been in the past. For organizations to continue to compete, they are going to have to address some or all of the issues listed. The solutions are not simple but there will be no solution without facing the issues and beginning discussions about how to effectively deal with them.
Unfortunately there are no magic pills available to make this easier, only a prescription for long-term therapy.
So here we go again. Another debt ceiling crisis in our government. I’ve spoken about this in past blog posts and I certainly don’t want to be redundant but, after all this is a redundant problem. I don’t want to sound corny and quote the band Smash Mouth “why can’t we be friends” but this crisis certainly does beg that question.
We all know how important it is in business and our personal lives to have the ability to get along as our main goal. But those folks in Washington just don’t get it, do they? It seems to them that there is an “I” in team or maybe a better point is that there just ain’t no team.
I have spent a great deal of my career helping organizations to function more productively and efficiently. There is no magic in this. Success is all about working together as a cohesive unit where everyone pulls in the same direction. To do this effectively, you have to do a few things.
- Making sure all parties agree with and at the very least, accept the objectives and goals set by leadership
- Insure the freedom and safety for everyone to offer ideas including competing ideas in a respectful manner
- Having a mindset that is about alignment wherein all participants in the process want the same thing; a successful outcome.
This doesn’t seem to be what regularly occurs in our government however. Quite the contrary all of the parties seem to feel that only their agenda and ideology is the answer. I once heard it said that successful outcomes occur when all parties feel like they have lost something. That runs counter to our current governmental situation where each party feels that only 100% victory should be the outcome.
Like any other workplace, compromise and the desire to serve the needs of the customer should be the primary objective. Too bad we can’t put all of these government officials on a “performance improvement plan”.
Author: Bernie Dyme
As I was preparing to write this article, I was interrupted by having to make arrangements for our 3rd Critical Incident Response (CIR) that week (this was the 4 day work week after Labor Day!). We have responded to 8 worksite incidents in the past month and I have yet to total the number of CIR’s we had in 2013.
This has caused me to reflect on how this has changed within the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) field and how prevalent and valued CIR’s have become among the companies served by Perspectives and other EAP service providers.
As you read this, we will have just passed the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and we are reminded of the experience we received in responding onsite to workplaces following tragic events. As EA Professionals, we have since been increasingly called upon to assist employers who have experienced stressful events ranging from layoffs and downsizing to shootings and other violent acts to domestic terrorist attacks. We have learned from experience and research that there is not one approach or method that is the correct way to respond to these events. We must first consult and learn the needs of that specific organization related to the particular incident they have experienced and then tailor an appropriate response.
At our annual NIEAPA Conference this June, Bob Vandepol and Jeff Gorter gave an excellent presentation on “The Evolution of Critical Incident Response for the Workplace”, that included the current best practices that have been developed based upon the experiences and research over the past decade and advanced by their company, Crisis Care Network. They summarized the history as follows:
The Evolution of Critical Incident Response for the Workplace
- Hippocrates (400BC) – “The minds of mortals… often in sleep will do and dare the same…”
- American Civil War – “Soldier’s Heart”, “Railroad Spine”, unique vulnerability
- WW I (Early 1900’s) – “Shell Shocked”
- WWII (1940’s) – Applying the Tools of Newly Emerging Field of Psychiatry (P-I-E)
- Viet Nam (1960’s) – Diagnosis of PTSD Comes to National Awareness
- First Responders (1980’s) – Recognition of Need, Development of Models
- September 11, 2001- Widest Application of CIRS to General Population
- 2002 to 2005 – Early Research, Evaluation, Validation of Best Practices
- 2005 to Present - PFA, Resilience emphasis, Meaning Attribution
- And Beyond! – Skills for Psychological Recovery, Psychological Body Armor, virtual response delivery
The consultative phase of the response should be done within the following framework:
- Evidence-informed best practices (R2P)
- Support for psychological first aid
- Continuum of care: multi-component and phase-sensitive
- Selectively drawing from existent models and approaches
- Continued valuing of group interventions
- Minimizing risk of harm. Assessment of who benefits and who might be at risk.
- Recognizes the role Meaning Attribution plays in recovery trajectory
- Interventions specifically designed for the work setting
The onsite services would be done according to the Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide and would include:
Core Activities of PFA
- Contact and Engagement of those in need of assistance
- Comfort and Safety for those affected
- Stabilization of situations and reactions
- Information Gathering to assess impact
- Practical Assistance
- Connection with Social Supports
- Information about Coping
- Linkage with Collaborative Services
This is a snapshot of their presentation and the slides of the entire presentation are available on the NIEAPA website; http://www.nieapa.org/
While EAP’s provide many important services to assist employee’s, most of these are done in private, confidential settings and are only known to the employer through anonymous, anecdotal stories. Employers most often remember how you responded when called upon to help during a time of crisis. Knowing the best way to meet their need will long be remembered and valued.
By Rick D. Kronberg, LCSW | Director of Clinical Services