5 attributes for employee assistance program

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a program that an organization implements to ease some of the personal problems faced by its employees. An employee assistance program is largely voluntary, in that it is not mandatory either for organizations to implement it, or for very employee to avail it.

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According to the Employee Assistance Professionals Association, here’s what to look for:

  1. 24/7 phone response. Seek out providers that have trained counselors on duty answering a toll-free phone line at all times. Avoid EAPs that require users to navigate an elaborate phone tree before reaching a counselor.
  2. Confidential services. Licensed, professional counselors should deliver assessments and face-to-face counseling sessions in safe, private and confidential offices. Make sure there are enough counselors in your area to deliver timely services in both urgent and nonurgent cases.
  3. Referral support and follow-up. The EAP should assist employees by providing referrals for long-term or specialized care based on assessed needs, recommended treatment and employees’ financial resources. The EAP should provide follow-up and ongoing support for employees.
  4. Crisis intervention. Will EAP counselors come to your facility if there’s an emergency, such as an incident of workplace violence? Good EAPs can provide counseling for traumatized employees. They can also help management coordinate emergency-response plans.
  5. Substance abuse expertise. Given their disproportionately great impact on the workplace, drug and alcohol abuse problems often represent the bulk of EAP cases.

Broad provisions of the National Labor Relations Act

One of the landmark legislations pertaining to labor relations in US history; the National Labor Relations Act was passed by the American Congress as far back as in 1935. It was one of the most prominent Acts passed during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency.  Since it was New York senator Robert Wagner who was instrumental in formulating and promulgating this piece of legislation, it is sometimes also referred eponymously as the Wagner Act.

The highpoints

The outstanding features of this statute are: it

a)     gives private sector employees to organize themselves into trade unions;

b)     gives them the right to engage in collective bargaining to secure better working conditions and other employment terms;

c)      guarantees improved conditions at work, and

d)     gives them the right to take some forms of collective action, which can include the right to strike work if they think it as being necessary.

 

While these points form the nucleus of this statute; the National Labor Relations Act also made way for the creation of the National Labor Relations Board. This board is given oversight of conduct of elections to unions and other employee-oriented bodies.

When members are voted to important positions of this board; the National Labor Relations Act hands labor unions the status of sole representatives of workers. This is the only legal representation of workers, and is the only body with which the employer has to engage on matters concerning collective bargaining.

Who are exempt?

While National Labor Relations Act brings under its panoply virtually all kinds of employees and workers in the private sector; there are some types of employees who are exempt from its provisions. These include:

a)     employees who come under the Railway Labor Act;

b)     those who do domestic work; those engaged in agriculture (those who work for agriculturists);

c)      independent contractors;

d)     those who work for the government at any level –local, State or federal, and

e)     some kinds of close relatives of employees.

References:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/national_labor_relations_act_nlra

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Labor_Relations_Act

 

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Mental disorders and the workplace

Mental disorders are varied and complex. Symptoms of several kinds of mental disorder don’t usually show up easily. Many others are more overt. A person with a mental disorder may have the care and affection of the family; but when it comes to the workplace, it is a difficult luxury to get, because the workplace is not the family! It has invested on that person to get tangible and definite results from him. To discover that the person they found was perfect at the time of the interview and the selection process has a mental disorder can be galling for everyone.

Finger usually points to HR

The HR of the organization would feel doubly embarrassed, because it is the one that is the prime mover of the selection process. It is one thing for a person to develop a mental condition after taking up a job and being in it for many years. This means that at least at the time of the selection, he was fine. Now that the mental disorder would have developed due to some situations at work or at home; it is some kind of consolation for HR. But what kind of consolation is this! Irrespective of the time at which the mental disorder set in; the person needs attending to, and this is one of the prime responsibilities an organization’s HR needs to discharge.

They need support, not sympathy

While this is true largely, we don’t have to worry too much about fixing the blame. A mental disorder can be something that the person hides at the time of the selection process. This being the case; it is difficult to say whether it is HR or other managers that need to be blamed for selecting such a person. First of all, we need to understand that people having mental disorders are not scary. Most of them are people like you and me, it is just that there are a few who get disturbed and behave irrationally or erratically during times. People with this condition need support, and everyone in the organization has a role in making a person come to grips with his condition.

What is the result of having people with mental disorders?

First, let us get an understanding of what can happen at the workplace that has people with mental disorder.

There are many kinds of mental disorders that people suffer from. Many have conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and the like. It is highly unlikely that a person could have more than one of these at the same time.

One of the most common behaviors of these people is that they find it difficult to concentrate at work for long hours; they are restless, nervous or irritable; they can sometimes be short tempered or eccentric. Some people have sleeping difficulties, because of which they find it difficult to concentrate at work. These result in loss of productivity.

Behaviors are different at different times

People with such conditions and disorders behave differently at home and at the workplace. They are usually subdued at the workplace, but are more vocal and sometimes aggressive at home and other places other than the workplace. Many people with mental disorders would be under treatment at the time of taking up their jobs. When they come out openly about their illness at the time of selection; it becomes easier for HR to deal with the problem. But most people hold this information back; for fear that it could come in the way of their selection, or the fear that they could lose their jobs once they are diagnosed with it after taking up their jobs.

How are people with mental disorders identified?

Every person has symptoms that are strongly rooted and displayed in people with mental disorders. How many of us do not exhibit traits like restlessness, shouting out loudly at colleagues, feeling listless and down, and restless and hyperactive? The difference though, is that people with mental disorders do this very often during their working time, and many times are obsessed with this kind of behavior.

Ways of dealing with them

HR has a very important role to play in dealing with people with mental disorders. It is true that everyone, especially teammates, have to help in identifying the problem, but it is HR that plays the role of facilitator in resolving the issue.

The simplest and most effective of remedies HR can bring about is to seek medical attention for the employee with a mental disorder. If the employee has been showing signs for the first time; he needs to be counseled to seek medical advice.

Take colleagues into confidence

Once the problem has been diagnosed, HR has to take such an employee’s colleagues into confidence and apprise them of the situation. It should ideally speak to the doctor and get tips on how to educate colleagues who work with that employee about ways of dealing with such a person. It should first of all make sure that colleagues cooperate with such an employee and not deride or stigmatize him.

Mental disorders are neither wished for, nor do they appear in people who will it. A mental disorder is a complex phenomenon that happens due to factors that science is yet to fully understand. HR has to approach it in a sensible and sane manner, without hurting the diagnosed employee further. It should make sure it handles these cases with utmost dedication, just as if it were a caregiver. If it could help put the person back on track; it is some kind of justified triumph for those in HR.

References:

http://www.reintegration.com/reint/employment/workplace.asp

http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/mental-illness-in-the-workplace/#.URsImme2pDI

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/2010/February/mental-health-problems-in-the-workplace

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Understand the Gen X employee to manage her

Managing Gen X could be the next big challenge for organizations. It is estimated that by around 2019; Gen X will be in charge of the workplace. What does managing Gen X entail? What is the generation like? Will managements be stretched to their limits in managing Gen X? Will they earn the same loyalty and respect they got from this generation that they got from the previous one/s?

What is Gen X?

After the baby boom generation, which relates roughly to those born in the post war period; the stage is set for the advent of the generation after that, or what is called Gen X, meaning those born from about the late 1970’s to the early 1990’s. Employment analysts surmise that these people will start to attain their highest productivity in around 2019, when they take up their professions or will be some years into it.

Why is managing Gen X considered challenging?

Managing Gen X is challenging for a simple reason: this is the first generation born after the Net took over our lives, so to speak. This generation is the first to be in this position, and sets the trend for being the generation that relies almost entirely on IT for almost anything it does.

In is out, out is in

Since gadgets are here to stay; we can expect that managing Gen X will be akin to managing these gadgets: here today, gone tomorrow. What implications does this trend have for the future of organizations? Employers will now have to come round to the fact that employees are no longer here to stay in the long run. This is the first principle governing the rules of managing Gen X.

Give up micromanaging

It is highly unlikely that Gen X will tolerate any bossing around or micromanaging from its employers. This is a generation that has grown up more independently than perhaps any previous one; so, for people of this generation, the most irritating trait is likely to be micromanaging from employers. They like to be left to themselves, because there are those many more opportunities for them to experiment with anything, be it gadgetry, work, or life itself. The best method in managing Gen X is to give them as much creativity and scope for improvement and experimentation as possible.

Forget loyalty

Another very important element of managing Gen X will be their tendency for job-hopping. It is next to impossible to expect this sprightly generation to stick around for years in the same organization or even in the same profession. For it, it is growth and job satisfaction that comes above everything else, including loyalty. Given that they form the typical global employee gang and the fact of being of very high ethnic diffusion; it is next to impossible to expect them to stay around.

References:

http://blog.dalecarnegie.com/leadership/talent-management-4-ways-to-motivate-gen-x-employees/

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1898024_1898023_1898086,00.html

 

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Fringe benefits are an important factor in employee productivity

In organizations of varying sizes and kinds, there has been a trend of increased importance of fringe benefits. This is nothing recent or event-driven, but is important nevertheless, because organizations need to make all efforts to keep good employees, who are easily their biggest asset. A fringe benefit may be understood as some kind of extra benefit offered to the employees, which is usually in addition to the pay. This is not always linked to performance, which is what makes it different from other perks.

Why would employees welcome fringe benefits from the organization?

What makes fringe benefits important is the fact that they are generally not taxable. More importantly, they target certain needs of the employees to whom they are paid, and help them address some important expenses. For instance, let us say an organization has an annual holiday for the family for meeting set targets.

Any employee would be motivated to push herself into achieving these targets for the reward of enjoying that much needed quality time with the family, away from the bustle of work and the pressures going with it. This is an example of why organizations are attaching increased importance of fringe benefits.

Why do companies need to understand the increased importance of fringe benefits?

Fringe benefits are generally, but not necessarily affordable for bigger companies. When organizations have greater number of employees, the economies of scale weigh in their favor. They can afford special benefits to employees on a larger scale, which makes it affordable and is usually very rewarding, too.

If the organization can take of say, the children’s education or health insurance, it is taking the load off the employee’s shoulder for a major expense. This is the kind of benefit that will make the employee happy and satisfied, a direct result of which is increased productivity at work. It is well known that happy employees are the more productive ones. This realization on the part of employers has resulted in increased importance of fringe benefits.

The other side…

Conversely, when smaller organizations are unable to pay fringe benefits in some or another form to their employees, they end up hiring mediocre or inexperienced workers. This has a spiral effect, because they find it difficult to hire and keep good talent, and to keep them, they have to spend on expenses that they cannot afford because of their size. Having a good fringe benefits program will result in improved fortunes for the company. This explains why there is increased importance of fringe benefits.

References:

http://www.uww.edu/Documents/colleges/cobe/economics/wpapers/08_03_Artz.pdf

http://www.bizfilings.com/toolkit/sbg/office-hr/managing-the-workplace/fringe-benefits-can-increase-employee-satisfaction.aspx

https://www.boundless.com/management/human-resource-management–2/current-topics-in-human-resource-management/increased-importance-of-fringe-benefits/

 

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Retaining your best employees

Make no mistake: how to retain your best employees is one of the toughest challenges for any organization. If finding the best people is one big challenge; keeping them is a bigger one. But when the organization does not know how to retain its best employees, it is certainly a reflection of its weakness.

Key factors

HR or management has to understand key factors that make employees remain with the organization for which they work. Pay is a factor, but certainly not the most important one. With most good employees, the most important reason for working for a company is the recognition, appreciation and freedom associated with their position. HR and management have to find out the reasons for which the best employees work in the organization: what they value in the organization, what they don’t like, what they expect and so on. How to retain the best employees is often a function of these factors.

Understand their needs

First and foremost, HR and management need to understand and create the right environment for helping employees to grow in the organization. The best employees are usually fired by challenge. They want to experiment with new things and try out lots of ideas. If they find that the organization is not providing them, it is certain that the organization will have lost an important factor in how to retain the best employees.

What is freedom?

HR has to understand that freedom means different things to different people. For some, it is about being given the opportunity to fly high. For others, it could be being allowed to work from home. For some others, freedom could consist of being asked to work in flexible working hours.

Of course, giving unbridled freedom has its flip side; too, since fueling an overambitious employee’s challenging nature can sometimes be expensive. It has to be pragmatic and judicious in selecting person for the right challenging assignments if it has to understand how to retain its best employees.

Create the right environment

Many a time, good people leave organizations for the bad work environment. Some people don’t like the politics at office; others may not like being bossed, and yet others may be averse to domineering from above. HR plays a vital role in how to retain the best employees if it goes to the root of the matter. It has to create the right, positive environment at work, something that will take effort and time.

References:

http://www.adeccousa.com/articles/Want-to-retain-your-best-employees.html?id=21&url=/knowledgecenter/employer-articles/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspx&templateurl=/Employers/resource-center/Pages/read-article.aspx

http://www.tlnt.com/2013/03/18/4-things-you-can-do-right-now-to-help-keep-your-best-employees/

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4305-why-retaining-your-best-workers-is-a-challenge.html

http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/06/15/2958498/want-to-retain-your-best-employees.html

http://www.roberthalf.com.au/EMEA/Australia/Channel%20Descriptors/rh-au%28en%29/PDFs/How_to_keep_your_best_people_lowres.pdf

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Give respect, earn respect

The wise say that life is like entering a room that echoes. Once inside the room, shout a bad word; it repeats after you. If you shout a sweet word; it throws back the same at you! The same holds for respect. The more you respect someone, the more you get back of the same thing. So, how to demonstrate respect at work is dependent on what you want to expect from people in return.

Respect is reflective

It is a simple, but important fact of life that the more one respects others, the more she gets of the same in return. It is always true that a courteous and polite person is more likely to be respected at work than one who is foul-mouthing others and is abusive and loud. There are some ways by which one can show how to demonstrate respect at work.

Respect for a manager

A manager can show how to demonstrate respect at work by being understanding and supportive of her team. A manager who knows her team’s strengths and works in collaboration with them facilitates a conducive and amiable environment. This is a natural prescription for earning respect. Respect is never demanded or commanded; it is always earned. It goes without saying that a manager who earns the respect of her team is the manager of a very productive team.

Respect for the employee

If this is one of the ways of how to demonstrate respect at work; the employees who report to the manager have ways of showing it, too. They can be polite, punctual, professional and efficient. When do people demonstrate all these qualities? Only when they are respected; which is when they too respect their manager, in turn. Earning and giving respect is thus never one-sided. It is mutual, reciprocal and complimentary.

One may invent false ways of how to demonstrate respect at work; but this is never going to work in the long run. True and sincere respect from peers at work is always done out of one’s own volition, and is what may be termed as something that comes from the heart. It is only when this happens that there will be true meaning in how to demonstrate respect at work.

References:

http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/blog/2010/03/16/to-earn-respect-you-must-show-respect/#comments

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/demonstrating-courtesy-respect-workplace-34529.html

http://www.richmondhill.ca/documents/cc_enews_06_04.pdf

 

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