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Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Occasionally, we have the pleasure of hosting guest bloggers on this site which is what you will find here today. The following was written by Tina Martin of Ideaspired.com. Coincidentally, I happen to be facilitating a webinar around this topic later in the month. The topic is Encouraging & Maintaining Remote Employee Engagement. Click here to check it out and sign up!
Image via Pixabay
One of the biggest hurdles that businesses face is reaching their customer base. If you want to maximize profits, you need the right talent and tools. If your business has moved to remote work, it is important you understand how to set up a skilled remote team. Here guide that explains how you can put one together, courtesy of Rogers HR Consulting.
Imagine Your Team's Structure
Vet Your Candidates
Glassdoor explains that vetting employees saves you time because you are more likely to hire the right person for the job. A human resources team (even a team from a one-stop HR department like Rogers HR Consulting) can help you evaluate and hire potential employees. Evaluate all of your candidates closely so that you do not hire an unqualified employee or someone who is unfit for your work culture and goals.
If you are looking for a freelance e-mail marketing specialist, for example, read some reviews and check references before hiring. Also, make sure that the freelancer can deliver based on your deadlines and does not cost your company too much to hire.
Encourage Engagement and Communication
Teams reach their goals at a higher rate when there is clear communication between team members and team leaders. Every person should know their role on the team and feel free to ask questions in times of uncertainty. When teams communicate, they ensure all of the work is divided fairly. Also, if one person cannot meet a deadline, they can come up with a solution.
Encourage your team to engage with one another and to form healthy, positive work relationships. Communicative teammates are more likely to trust one another. They can assign tasks to each other based on the strengths and tendencies each person has. Also, positive communication tends to make the job more fulfilling for everyone.
Remote teams present more of a challenge when it comes to communication. You have to be creative with the different avenues that they can communicate. You should have a variety of communication methods that encourage group conversation and individual conversations. For those in different time zones, asynchronous communication may work in some situations. Teams may use messaging apps to add to conversations at their discretion.
With synchronous communication, every person agrees to be online at the same time to have a conversation. Group video calls, phone calls, or live chat platforms are best for this type of communication. Calendars and task managers can also be beneficial for group projects.
Since remote teams do not have a physical water cooler to gather around, create a Facebook or other social media group for the team members. Allowing for conversation and pleasant interactions can create a close-knit group.
You do not have to have your team on-site for them to do their best work. As long as you select the best candidates for the job and encourage communication, your team can do its best work from anywhere in the world.
Rogers HR Consulting serves as a one-stop HR department for small businesses and a helping hand for larger businesses. Contact us today to see how we can help!
Thursday, March 11, 2021
Let’s talk about substituting holistic solutions for traditional EAPs
By Amy DenneyThere’s a tragedy in Employee Assistance Programs currently: they are underutilized AND they rarely even do what they promise.
This wellness model is intended to give employees access to needed support in the midst of personal life issues and crises. The EAP is often the system of choice for many employers, who struggle because it’s both underutilized and under appreciated by employees.
A 2016 study by Chestnut Global Partners found anywhere from 1.8 percent to 6.9 percent of employees utilize the EAP at all.
It could be because employees are calling the hotline and failing to get support or because many models contract with therapists who aren’t even accepting new patients, according to a Jan. 19, 2021 Forbes article entitled, “Is it Finally Time to Reconsider Employee Assistance Programs?”
Thankfully many employers are seeking out other solutions in addition to their EAP, in part due to the pandemic, though the Forbes article suggests it is simply time to ditch the EAP altogether.
What are the other solutions that are trending? What could take the place of the EAP and provide the needed help in times of crisis?
Anything that emphasizes the mind-body connection is bound to be more effective than simple “talk therapy.” While therapy has its place, in situations of trauma (which can include chronic stress), effective solutions have a physical component.
Holistic approaches to mental health are rooted in science, and addressing both the body and mind in a healthy environment for employees can have a positive ripple effect across the workplace.
Many trauma-informed experts agree that bottom-up approaches (training the body before or alongside the brain) more effectively retrain thought patterns, and can have tremendous impact on the quality of life (and work!) for your employees.
Bottom-up approaches involve a physical element such as movement (yoga/stretching), breathing or meditation. Its impact on the nervous system is tremendous. The heart rate lowers and the body and brain respond with calm and balance. Art, pet therapy and theater can all generate a similar response. These ideas are considered in trauma expert Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk’s bestselling book, “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma.”
It’s pretty darn hard to talk the brain out of ingrained anxiety patterns. But the body can be more easily and gently coaxed.
Another option is science of photobiomodulation (PBM) that impacts the parasympathetic nervous system by releasing nitric oxide, a messenger molecule that promotes vasodilation of blood vessels and mediates communication between nervous system cells. PBM improves the body’s resilience to stress while at the same time elevating focus, improving sleep and giving energy levels a boost.
This is pretty exciting when we also consider stress is at the heart of 80 percent plus of all disease and illness. For employers, it impacts productivity in the workplace, sick days and staff turnover. Consider these statistics from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and business.com:
- 40 % of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful.
- 100 million workdays are lost due to stress
- 75% of employees believe that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago
- Job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems
It’s worth pointing out that pain is another workplace problem. An American Osteopathic Association survey found that more than one-quarter of office workers lose two or more hours a month on work-related tasks because of pain. Overall, according to the Institute of Medicine, the annual cost of lost workplace productivity due to pain is over $297 billion. Opioid use and addiction is another layer of concern that can enter the workforce, both rooted in pain. Getting ahead of addiction is in everyone’s best interests.
Amy Denney is owner of Shine Light Therapy and a certified Holy Yoga and trauma-sensitive Holy Yoga instructor. She has published a white paper on five uses of light therapy in the workplace that can be found at www.shinelighttherapy.com.
Thursday, December 3, 2020
When a survey reports 83% of employees have been talking politics at work, you must be relieved that now some work can get done. So, what should be top of mind for employers to get employees back to work after a pandemic practically lifted life out of employers and employees alike. And, it is not over yet.
The priority is to evaluate how you have done as an employer adapting to the COVID-19 situation and comparing that to what employees think.
According, to almost 20k local government employees only 75% of essential workers and 89% of remote workers think you’ve done a good job. A good 1/3 or so think the job has increased after COVID-19. Both situations do not bode well for employee morale and job satisfaction and can lead to increased turnover and low employee engagement. Currently, 51% of employees are looking to leave jobs which increases the stress on HR and hiring managers. Do not forget they can burnout too!
In my experience democratic administrations issue more workplace rules and regulations to follow which in some cases require training, administration and documentation. President-elect Joe Biden vowed to issue mandatory safety rules in all workplaces which will be one of the first things to watch for in 2021. So far, depending on the governor, states have been free to manage COVID-19 the way they saw fit. While most follow CDC workplace guidelines, they are not necessarily required to do so. It is likely that OSHA will be put in charge for ensuring employers follow the laws.
While OSHA is primarily focused on the private industry, the Illinois Workplace laws require every employer to follow OSHA requirements, local government included. While this might seem like a minimal requirement to follow it has major impact when not followed and employees report the organization. The maximum penalty is $134,937 or $13,494 per infraction.
Ensure your management team understands how to administer the Victims Economic Security and Safety Act Leave. Why, because this not as popular of leave as FMLA, PTO, etc. and the usage has been increasing due to the pandemic. Domestic violence incidents are increasing, and some have the possibility of doubling up as FMLA leave in addition to VESSA. Knowing the details and how to address issues in the workplace will give employers a leg up on those that are now being fined or facing lawsuits for not administering correctly.
Stop saying “sorry” all the time.
Just because you must implement a policy, conduct a required training, or require managers to document performance discussions that employees of all levels don’t necessary like doesn’t mean you should be sorry your doing it. Are you sorry? No, most likely you are just doing your job. Does your accounting department say they are sorry every time they ask for a receipt to pay an expense? Does IT say sorry every time they shut down the computer to install a new spyware software to protect the employer’s computer systems? No they do not. So stop saying “sorry”. Perhaps, I understand, or I feel your pain but do not apologize for doing your job.
Finally, as we watch the COVID-19 case numbers likely increase due to Thanksgiving gatherings, take this opportunity to suggest alternative Christmas and New Years celebrations that will minimize the risk in early 2021. Take time to thank your management team and staff especially those that have been on the front lines. While they are your rock stars they too are vulnerable, stressed to the max and may entertain an invitation to move to a position where they can have a better mental and physical outcome. Retention should be key in this environment and doing what we learned in kindergarten such as saying please and thank you is the easiest thing you can do to help this very volatile workplace situation we are in.
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Why, because it would be considered discussion around the topic of sex or sexual nature and can possibly substantially interfere with an individuals work performance or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
This is just one example of a topic discussed in the State of Illinois Sexual Harassment Prevention Training now required by all employers with one (1) or more employees. The fine for not training is $500 for employers with 1-3 employees and $1000 for employers with four or more employees. With tomorrow being the first day of Q4 we have three months left to get into compliance yet some are still kicking and screaming that this is required!
With the IL Workplace Transparency Act training deadline at the end of this last quarter of 2020 employers are asking for an easy way out. Some of the out’s I have seen are employers registering their employees and allowing them to leave or pop in and out of the training for a few minutes but not enough to absorb the information or earn the certificate of completion that is required for employer documentation purposes. Others are asking if they can hand the slide deck out and let the employees read it and sign off on their own certificate of completion. Reading is not the same thing as training. The last thing I hear regularly is that business owners are not employees and therefore not required to take the training. While that has yet to be clarified by lawmakers, it would be very important for them to take the training to understand what their responsibilities are as the employee’s supervisors. More importantly, the law specifically outlines that employers are required to report and provide an independent review of allegations of sexual harassment made against the employer. Business owners would surely want to prevent being personally named by being in the know of what is contained in this training.
Remember, this is both a federal and state liability that every employer is responsible to both prevent and handle should it occur in your workplace. Honestly, the best easy way out is to just do the training. If the $500 or $1000 fine for not training employees in the workplace is not enough to incentivize employers, the risk of a minimum average $75-$125k claim settled out of court should be. Ultimately, it is just the right thing to do to let your employees know you care about their well-being and safety which leads to retention and minimizes recruiting costs. It is an investment in a positive and healthy workplace culture. The reason there is a fine range depends on number of employees. Businesses with one to three employees will be charge $500 fine for not training their employees. Those business who do not train employees and have four or more employees (no top end limit) can receive a $1000 fine.
In a February blog post I covered the details of the requirements. However, that was prior to the late April release of the sample presentation which is available 24/7 on the IDHR site. Many had hoped there would be an easier way of handling both the training and documentation than was released. As we all know, the pandemic hit just before that release and the state had more critical things to be worried about. The main point is to train your employees by year end then annually thereafter. If new employees are hired in between the annual training, they must be trained within 90 days of their hire date.
My advice is to maintain an overall roster of who was trained to use as an audit document against your payroll list. That way you can schedule a small group or one-on-one training for anyone who missed the annual training. According to the FAQ IDHR site: “Employers are required to keep a record of all trainings. Such records must be made available for IDHR inspection upon request. This record may be a certificate or a signed employee acknowledgement or course sign-in worksheet. The records may be paper or electronic.” The slide deck developed by IDHR contains a sample certificate of completion on the very last page. That can be the “certificate” mentioned above.
Keep in mind a sexual harassment hotline has been set up for employees in Illinois since 2018 and has been widely publicized. If an employee learns of this training requirement they can anonymously report the employer for non-compliance.
Friday, August 7, 2020
Announcing the 2021 ATHENA Nominees
2020 is a different year from our usual normal, but for some this frame has not permitted them to be anything less than great! Below is a list of women who have not allowed our current state to allow them to be less to their peers, coworkers and community. We will be highlighting each of these nominees in our newsletters to come! So please be sure to stay tuned! Our 2021 ATHENA Awards are scheduled for July 15th, 2021!
The IWIL ATHENA Committee is proud to announce the 2021 Nominees:
- Amy Beadle, Springfield Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
- Karen Davis, LISC Central Illinois
- Lisa Hammons, Springfield Electric
- Dr. Diane Hillard-Simbell, MD; Springfield Clinic
- Dr. Susan Hingle, MD; Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
- Tiffany Mathis; Boys and Girls Club of Central Illinois
- Dr. Dora Ramos, MD; Central Counties Health Centers
- Donna Rogers Skowronski; Rogers HR Consulting
- Debbie Thompson; Horace Mann Educators Corp
- Val Yazell; City of Springfield