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.

employee assistance program - TrainHR

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.

Preventing employees from leaving your organization

Employee poaching is a major challenge for employers who have great employees. Such employees are always a soft target for competitors who want to do better (which competitor doesn’t want to?). If the organization has talented employees, it is extremely important to keep him or her, because such an employee’s departure can hurt more than the arrival of a replacement.

Look at yourself first

The most important step an organization needs to take to keep good employees is to look at the mirror. The process of keeping good employees starts with a deep sense of introspection. If an organization is faced with a situation where it keeps losing employees like ninepins, it is time to look inwards. It has to very objectively assess why employees are leaving. If there is a systemic problem in the organization in that it has a problem of keeping talented employees, it had better correct the flaw, because it will continue to lose great employees every few months.

Be open to employee suggestions

For this to happen; the organization should be like an open door rather than like a closed window. It should not only be critical of itself; it should be very open to criticism (of the right kind, of course) from others. It should ideally consult its own employees and ask them to come out with suggestions that they think will help the organization keep its employees. This way, it not only understands employee feelings towards it; it also enhances its standing with its own employees by being consultative and transparent. A very important element it has to keep in mind is implementing the suggestions it gets from its employees. Not all suggestions can be implemented, but surely, the ones that make the most sense have to be. The organization should not forget to reward the employee who gives the best suggestion about keeping employees. It should acknowledge that the employee who gave the best suggestion is a valuable resource. The organization should make it known that it is this employee who has made the best contribution in helping it improve its bottom line by keeping its best resources.

Find that bad apple

The reason many good employees could be leaving can sometimes be because of one rotten apple. A particular manager’s team members may be leaving more frequently than others. Although most managements ensure that there is a certain level of homogeneity in going about achieving its goals; each manager is different. Each person brings in his own traits and management styles. There are the consultative managers; the authoritative ones; the team person and so on. Finally, there is the odd manager who is despised by the team members. The top management has to keep a watch on this manager and see if he is the one that needs to be shown the door, because throwing such an obstacle out could mean keeping good employees for longer durations.

Management should be very decisive when it comes to packing such a manager off. It should not be bound by emotions or feel embarrassed in taking decision of this magnitude. It should think of it as a means of helping the organization grow better by getting rid of one stumbling block.

Identify the employees

Sometimes, a few talented employees are habitual hoppers. Even if the organization does take great care of them; they are always jumpy and like to keep looking for opportunities. If the management notices that there is a steep decline in the quality of work in an otherwise high-performing employee; it has to put the scanners on. It has to start zooming in on that talented employee during such phases and understand if it is just a passing stage or a genuine desire to leave the organization that is making him perform below his best. If the likeliness of leaving is the reason; it has to sit and talk the issue clearly with such an employee. The management should try its best to see what it is that is making the talented employee think of this taking this step and address his grievances and areas of concern. If this is not done; it stands a risk of losing a good employee.

Make sure the stayers are rewarded

Most organizations do a great job at analyzing and resolving the problem, but are poor at follow ups. A very important follow up an organization that is keen to retain its workforce has to make is to ensure that the ones who stay back are happy and contented. It needs to demonstrate that the employees who remain will be valued. It can make simple but profound gestures like offering an unexpected pay raise or a reward in the form of an outing. It should start working more freely with the existing employees and create conditions by which they will find it difficult to leave.

Reference:

http://tribehr.com/blog/prevent-employee-poaching-by-becoming-a-top-employer/

 

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Workplace negativity has to be negated

In any workplace, it is natural for negativity of one or another kind to creep in. This could be because of the work environment, the nature of work, the way colleagues interact, or due to the way an employee is treated in the organization. Whatever the reason for it, HR has to ensure that it works towards minimizing workplace negativity, because if this goes unchecked, its results will be negative, too: poor productivity, employees that suffer low morale, poor teamwork and coordination and the like.

Ways of minimizing workplace negativity

If an organization has to work towards minimizing workplace negativity; it has to ensure a positive working environment. An environment where there are tiffs over trivial issues, politics at the workplace, favoritism, gossip, backstabbing and such other negativities is the ideal breeding ground for negativity. One of the most important tasks for HR is to take care of these elements if it has to work at minimizing workplace negativity.

Team should be helpful

A colleague who is beset by personal problems can also be a negative influence in the organization. Although it is true that employees need to behave like mature adults and not bring their personal grievances into the workplace; it is human nature after all, to have the need for being comforted. An understanding team that is responsive to the problems of a team member will be a factor in minimizing workplace negativity.

The boss has an important role

There are some important factors that can contribute towards minimizing workplace negativity. The manager and the team have to be transparent in their dealings with each other. The superior should lead by example and should be a role model, instead of being someone who keeps his team members apart from each other by politicking. It is often remarked that one of the prime reasons for which employees leave organizations is their boss. It is the boss who is primarily responsible for negativity in the team. One who sets the example is a great factor at minimizing workplace negativity.

HR should stop nitpicking

When HR is entrusted with the task of minimizing workplace negativity; it should start by avoiding nitpicking. A work environment in which people enjoy freedom is a positive one. On the other hand, if HR fastidiously keeps raising silly issues; it will be seen as meddling and irksome and contributing to negativity.

References:

http://humanresource-tips.blogspot.in/2012/01/how-to-reduce-workplace-negativity.html

http://toostep.com/idea/how-can-workplace-negativity-be-minimized-in-an-organisation

http://www.acloche.com/blog/positives-of-a-positive-work-environment-tips-for-minimizing-negativity-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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Identifying employees that have leadership mettle

Identifying people with leadership skills is perhaps the most important task for an organization that has its eyes on the future. Every organization has employees from across the rank and file with leadership capabilities that can take the organization forward. It is just that many of them never get to the limelight, as a result of which they leave out of frustration. In many organizations, even after such employees have left; the impact is never realized fully, because the reason for which they left was something the organization created in the first place.

Put a system in place

To avoid such a situation, the organization has to have an efficient system of identifying leadership skills in an employee. There are various ways by which this is done. The nearest and easiest person to identify a tyro with leadership potential is the manager to whom he reports. He is the most vital source for spotting and nurturing leadership skills. Rookies who have just begun their career will report to a manager who has no idea at the beginning about the new recruit’s potential.

The manager is the ideal person

This manager should be the first contact through whom the leadership skill is recognized and given shape to. With no prejudice towards that employee, the manager should make an objective assessment of such skills. The manager should try out by giving assignments and challenges in a graded manner. Since the novice is at the manager’s total disposal; he can try out various combinations and permutations of identifying skills.

Test the beginner in a variety of ways

He can start by allotting simple tasks. If the new recruit achieves the task with ease, he can be tried for greater roles, all of which demand good leadership skills. A good candidate is one who takes every task as a challenge and gets fuelled by greater complexity levels. Doing this consistently should be easy for the manager to locate and then if need be, refine these skills.

There are a few drawbacks

Often, the flip side of this exercise is that the manager could end up overrating an employee in whom he subconsciously sees a reflection of his own management style, which may be far from perfect. Spotting leadership mettle can suffer other drawbacks, too. There are innumerable instances in which a manager’s blue-eyed body is the one who is most favored for promotions.

Dealing with experienced employees

If this is the case of handling rookies, there are other occasions on which people with leadership potential are gifted to an organization on a platter. When employees are consistently denied leadership growth, one organization’s loss is another’s gain. All that an organization needs to do is to recruit the frustrated employee. Once he has been recruited, a simple thing the new organization can do is to give him opportunities of the kind he was missing earlier on. This will bring about many benefits by bringing the best out of him.

It will motivate the employee highly, because he is freshly out of the old organization. He will show the enthusiasm of a proselyte and work in the new organization till he drops dead. The other major benefit is that such an employee will be easy to retain.

Manager is important here too

Here too, the manager is the most important person in identifying leadership potential. Of course, since this kind of employee is not raw and carries some experience; it calls for different dynamics. The experienced employee may have ego issues with the new manager. Or he could have other issues like reluctance to carry out instructions. These factors have to be taken into account in such situations. It calls for handling such persons with suave. They would not like to be shouted at, which is a small luxury for a manager dealing with a greenhorn.

HR can help

For these bottlenecks to be overcome, HR has to step in. It can, in fact, initiate the entire process. To make sure that spotting leadership in the organization is a collective process and one that is free of errors of the type we saw; irrespective of the experience of the employee that joins the organization, HR can start identifying leadership potential from day one of the employee’s tenure.

It can interact with the manager on a regular basis and keep itself updated on the progress the employee that the manager has identified as one with leadership potential, is making. It could keep a close watch on this employee’s attitude towards work and life. It could be a good point of contact between this employee’s manager and the top management.

Ensure objectivity

Another important way by which HR can play an active role in the process is by placing or being a filter in the selection of the employee with leadership potential. We saw that there are a few drawbacks in the method of identifying leadership skills. HR is the best suited department to ensure that the manager does not show favoritism or is not erring in his judgment. It can use its own assessment skills to cross check and reinforce the manager’s choice. This will ensure that the organization reaps the best out of the employee with leadership potential.

There is one point that HR needs to address when it is doing this. HR itself has to be completely free of prejudice. If it is assigned the task of verifying the manager’s choice and carries a bad memory of the manager, it is likely to mar a bright prospect.

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Dealing with rumor and gossip in the workplace

Rumor and gossip are two very common occurrences in any workplace. There is perhaps no workplace that is exempt from gossips and rumors. Before going on to understand how to deal with these two; a word about what these mean:

Rumor is some information that someone in an organization spreads about a person. This may or not be true, but will sometimes needs verification. Of course, saying something like “John is wearing black dress today” could be a fact whose veracity can be checked easily by seeing whether John is actually wearing black dress. But saying something like “John is coming straight from a funeral” could be a rumor because it needs to be verified. The thin edge between truth and untruth and the scope for personal and subjective interpretation is what makes rumor what it is, and is perhaps what makes it spread so fast in many areas of life, not excluding the workplace.

Gossip, on the other hand, is talking behind a person’s back about something that may or not be right. To stretch the first example, whether some employees disapprove or have reservations about John coming to office from the funeral is a matter of one’s opinion. But when employees other than John talk about his coming from a funeral without consulting him or asking him whether it is true or not, it is gossip. Since John has not been asked; each person is free to understand and interpret the rumor according to one’s wish.

Gossip and rumor are almost certain in any workplace. In fact, so strong is the influence that gossip and rumor wield that they have been major contributors to stunting and even ending many careers. So long as gossip or rumors are innocuous; they seem fine enough to live with. But when they become instruments with which many people ruin other people’s reputation or lives, there is need for some serious rethink on how to deal with it.

These are some of the ways by which rumor and gossip can be contained in the workplace:

Manager should facilitate open and frank communication

Much of the responsibility for containing rumor and gossip at the workplace lies with the manager. The manager, whenever he hears about a rumor or gossip, must first size up what it means to the organization. If the gossip or rumor is innocent and is not likely to harm the organization to a great extent; this can be somewhat manageable. But if it is of such gravity that it could bring harm to a person’s reputation or mean something of importance for the organization; this kind of rumor or gossip has to be counted.

Call the employee and talk

The manager has to first decide what to do with such an employee. Is the employee in the habit of telling lies, as a result of which this rumor has spread? Or is it just a prank? Either case requires some serious handling, because spreading rumors deliberately is bad enough; but doing it for fun is dangerous. It can have deleterious effects on the morale of the team. The management, along with HR, should discuss this threadbare. The management should quell the rumor by clarifying on it. It should sort matters out by going to the root of the problem. If the rumor is concerning something as major as a company policy; it has to be discussed and laid out in detail.

Clarify matters

Gossips and rumors are all the more common during economic downturns, when employee downsizing is the order of the day. Rumors and gossips spread faster than in normal times during such situations. Someone could have just ignited the rumor that the company is going to be overtaken soon. All these have to be clarified in front of the entire team. The person who spread the rumor should be identified and probed about where he got the wind of that rumor. If it becomes known that a competitor has spread the rumor; it has to be handled sternly.

Deal with patience

It is important for HR and for management to have patience in dealing with rumors and gossip at the workplace. If something that is plain nonsensical is being spread, it has to take actions that neutralize these. It has to understand why these rumors are spreading. Normally, rumors and gossips take place when there is a communication gap or when there is ambiguity in the management’s important decisions. Gossips and rumors also spread when the management is seen as being too aloof and reticent about company matters.

Management cannot always take every employee into confidence and sort out matters because there are more important things to do. However, it has to do some plain talking when the situation demands it. If it discovers that some rumors doing the rounds are plausible, it has to put things in perspective. For example, if there is a buzz going round the workplace of a major event that could impact everyone and management is also a little uncertain about the impending action or result, it has to take people into confidence and explain things patiently.

Doing so will ensure that it employees get the feeling that they are taken into confidence and are updated about important events. Secondly, it will also mean that                                                                                                                                                      the scope for such rumors and gossip are considerably cut. Losing patience and reacting aggressively is sure to exacerbate matters. It is for this reason that a cool approach is needed.

Reference:

http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-gossip-and-rumor/

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/deal-rumors-workplace-10064.html

 

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Finding employees find ways of dealing with burnout

Burnout is a fairly common problem at the workplace. Burnout can be described as a state of mind an employee is in due to extreme pressure at work which makes him very exhausted and drained of motivation. The result of this state of mind is low productivity, difficulty in handling situations, inability to concentrate on work, loss of quality in work, irritability and in some cases, extreme mental fatigue that needs medical attention.

Why is burnout caused?

In order to deal with burnout, we first need to understand what causes it. We can identify three scenarios in which people face burnout:

Extremely high pressure at work is the primary reason for which people face burnout. This axiom has many aspects to it. Many people are motivated so strongly that they work for years on end on their area of liking and stay refreshed, energized and motivated. For instance, we have politicians, administrators, sportspersons and people in other high pressure jobs sleeping for no more than five hours a day on average and still showing no signs of being drained. So, what is the underlying cause of burnout? It will be safer to assume that pressure at work, rather than plain hard work that means many extended hours, should be the culprit.

It is the individual

Secondly, to a large extent, burnout is dependent on the individual’s ability to handle it. In this aspect, it is a lot like pain. Many people undergo the highest pain and still endure it. There are numerous examples of how patients have remained bedridden for years and have tolerated it, while others cannot withstand a pin prick. Management needs to understand how much ability an employee has for taking on workload without being a victim of burnout.

No work is as dangerous as excessive work

Contrary to what the common association with the term is; it is not just heavy and long hours at work that causes burnout. Although this is the prime condition for burnout; it can also be caused by the opposite extreme, when employees are so fed up of their work’s monotony that they get bored and reach breaking point because their creative abilities get suppressed by lack of outlet. Not everyone would perhaps like to associate this with burnout, but the problem of exhaustion caused by extreme ennui has to be acknowledged.

Ways of handling burnout

Since burnout is a real problem at the workplace in that it causes problems of lowered productivity and a host of other issues; it needs to be tackled in a two-pronged strategy: one, preventing it, and then, remedying it when it happens.

It is said that prevention is better than cure. Burnout is one of the areas in which this is perfectly appropriate. Burnout is not a cramp or a cough that catches immediately in response to a stimulus. It is more like hypertension or hearing loss, taking a long time to build up. Many times, it takes years to reach its full stage. During the buildup time, the person displays a few traits that could be signs that burnout is imminent.

Getting agitated easily, losing temper for no real reason, shouting at colleagues for silly reasons, trying to find an excuse to get a diversion from work –these are some of the early signs of burnout. This is not to suggest that management has to keep getting suspicious every time the employee wants to take his family to a movie. Everyone loves an odd day off work. But how frequently and how intensely an employee is exhibiting for these should be the indicator of judging if the breaking point is nearing.

Keep a watch on the employee with the tendency for burnout

Each human being responds to situations differently. Management has to understand which particular stimulus is triggering anxiety or stress in an employee. Is it more work? Is it the deadline? Is it lack of cooperation from colleagues? Or is it frustration of being denied time with the family? Is it the breathing-down-the-neck manager? The reason needs to be discovered and worked on. The person showing signs of buckling when there is a looming deadline should be given tasks with a generous deadline and so on. Management needs to understand the trigger in each employee prone to burnout. This will go a long way in addressing the root cause.

Symptomatic remedies

There are other remedies like getting the burned out employee to take a vacation or spend time with the family or go to a yoga camp. These are all quite effective, but are more of symptomatic redresses. They help a person get refreshed and come back, often to the same situation with the same problems. If the root problems lie unaddressed; it is a matter of time till the employee gets back into burnout mode.

The nub of the situation is about understanding the cause of burnout and taking care of it, and giving him the work he loves most. When we are engaged in work we love doing, there are very few chances of burnout. We do get exhausted, but this will be for the short term. People handle pressure well when they are doing what they like doing. Haven’t we heard the wise saying, something to the effect that hard work is doing something in which you are not interested? When overwork is caused by occasional exertion when the root cause is intact, temporary remedies such as the ones suggested above work.

References:

http://www.lmnblog.com/lmn/2010/cooling-the-heat-how-to-prevent-employee-burnout/

http://www.andrewjensen.net/tips-to-prevent-employee-burnout/

http://www.openforum.com/articles/6-simple-ways-to-prevent-employee-burnout/

http://www.smbworldasia.com/en/content/how-prevent-employee-burnout

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