April 13, 2014

News Briefs: Companies saying "no" to HR; Scarcity of good managers; Open offices & more

We are so pleased that our own ESI EAP's Maureen Negron, is featured in the Olean Times Herald's Leadership Reflections. Maureen is SPHR-vice president of client services at ESI Employee Assistance Group. She's interviewed about her job and about her perspective on various leadership issues.

Companies Say No to Having an HR Department
"Companies seeking flat management structures and more accountability for employees are frequently taking aim at human resources. Executives say the traditional HR department—which claims dominion over everything from hiring and firing to maintaining workplace diversity—stifles innovation and bogs down businesses with inefficient policies and processes. At the same time, a booming HR software industry has made it easier than ever to automate or outsource personnel-related functions such as payroll and benefits administration."

Why Good Managers Are So Rare
Randall Beck and James Harter note that, "Gallup has discovered links between employee engagement at the business-unit level and vital performance indicators, including customer metrics; higher profitability, productivity, and quality (fewer defects); lower turnover; less absenteeism and shrinkage (i.e., theft); and fewer safety incidents. When a company raises employee engagement levels consistently across every business unit, everything gets better." The problem is in finding the good managers. This article points to a set of traits that are found in the best managers.
But not so fast - In his Leadership & Learning blog, Kevin Eikenberry disputes some of the findings of the Gallup research; See Gallup is Wrong, and You Should be Happy

Toxic workplaces override wellness efforts: Stanford professor
Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University’s graduate school of business, says that “Many of the individual behaviors you are focusing on in your health and wellness programs [such as] stop smoking, eat better, exercise more, are in fact the consequences of the environments in which they [employees] are working,” Pfeffer says. “If you work people to death, of course they are going to smoke more, drink more and eat worse.” Pfeffer outlined his concept of “social sustainability,” where companies invest more in making their human capital sustainable.

Seven Things Great Employers Do (that Others Don’t)
Peter Flade, James Harter and Jim Asplund studied 32 exemplary companies (collectively employing 600,000 people) across seven industries including hospitality, banking, manufacturing, and hospitals over 5 years. They found seven elements in place at the companies with spirited employees which are notably lacking in the others.

Open-Office Backlash: Seeking Productivity in a Noisy World
Given economies of scale, the open office is probably here to stay. This article offers some tips and ideas for minimizing the downside and maximizing the strengths.

Americans only take half of their paid vacation
"Employees only use 51% of their eligible paid vacation time and paid time off, according to a survey of 2,300 workers who receive paid vacation. The survey was carried out by research firm Harris Interactive for the careers website Glassdoor. What’s more, 61% of Americans work while they’re on vacation, despite complaints from family members; one-in-four report being contacted by a colleague about a work-related matter while taking time off, while one-in-five have been contacted by their boss. "

Short Takes:

Looking for the most comprehensive and effective wellness program for your employees? ESI TotalCare Wellness pairs Behavioral Health Clinicians with certified Wellness Coaches to provide employees and their families with the help, motivation, tools and support to make changes and improve their lives. Call 800-535-4841 for more information.

April 11, 2014

Boston Marathon Anniversary Resources

On April 15th, the city of Boston and the country at large will remember the tragic events that took place at the Boston Marathon one year ago. Events will offer tribute to the lives lost, those who were injured in the bombing and their families, the first responders and the witnesses. We will collectively mourn the loss and send our love and sympathy to Boston and everyone touched by the events of that day.

One week later, on April 21, the 2014 Boston Marathon will take place.

In a prior posts about 9/11 memorials, we talked about dealing with difficult anniversaries, noting that:

For many, public memorials and acknowledgments are therapeutic. They are a way to express and share grief in a communal way. They are intended to memorialize those who died and to offer support and comfort to those who survived.
But for some people, these collective outpourings can have unintended consequences. While the national mantra "never forget" may be intended to respect and memorialize the victims, it can also send an unintended message to survivors by trapping them in their grief. A goal of mourning should be for survivors deal with their loss and eventually move on with living productive lives. It is normal for survivors to come to grips with their loss and, at some point, to detach from the deceased without feeling disloyal or feeling that they are "forgetting" the decedent. It can be extremely difficult for survivors of very public tragedies to move on because they become inadvertent symbols of the event during anniversaries, whether they want to be or not. While offering support is important, we must allow people to mourn and memorialize in the way that works best for them.

Boston Marathon Anniversary Resources
The Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance, MOVA, is working with service providers throughout Massachusetts and the rest of the country to try to ensure that those who were affected by the bombings receive needed support and services on their paths to recovery and healing. To find out more about available services from MOVA, please call 617-586-1340, send an email to mova@state.ma.us, or visit www.mass.gov/mova/boston-marathon.

See the AEAP Fact Sheet January 2014 (PDF) for other resources.

Resiliency Forums - Starting in March 2014, MOVA will host “Resiliency Forums” for victims of the bombings and their families, caretakers, and significant others. These Resiliency Forums will provide victims with the opportunity to learn about the long term impact of grief, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), hearing loss, as well as long term strategies for resiliency and recovery. These forums will also serve as regular opportunities for victims to connect with one another and with providers to exchange ”best practices” regarding long term recovery and healing.

Resiliency Forums will only be open to victims and survivors and will be available via live secured streaming feed on the web. To receive further information about the upcoming Resiliency Forums, please contact Susan Vickers at 617-586-1352/617-549-9542 or via email at Susan.Vickers@state.ma.us

Marathon Recovery Resources

The One Fund

Post Traumatic Stress
Anniversaries of tragic or traumatic events can kick up memories, depression and stress for not only those who were involved in the events, it can also trigger reactions in anyone who has experienced violent or traumatic events.

The following are some of the symptoms of PTSD. If you or someone you know experiences several of these, it may indicate PTSD and professional help should be sought.

  • Recurring thoughts or nightmares about the event; "flashbacks," accompanied by painful emotions
  • Trouble sleeping because of nightmares
  • Anxiety and fear, especially when exposed to situations reminiscent of the trauma
  • Being on edge, being easily startled or overly alert
  • Feeling depressed, sad and having low energy
  • Feeling "scattered" and unable to focus on work or daily activities; difficulty making decisions
  • Feeling irritable, easily agitated or resentful
  • Feeling emotionally "numb," withdrawn or disconnected from others, and avoiding close emotional ties with family, friends and co-workers
  • Spontaneously crying, feeling a sense of despair and hopelessness
  • Feeling that danger is constantly near and being extremely protective of, or fearful for, the safety of loved ones

Prior related posts
Resources in the Aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing


ESI-Logo.jpg A good EAP is an important resource for helping people to deal with or cope in the aftermath of traumatic events, offering important support resources for your managers and help for troubled employees. In addition, ESI EAP offers trained response teams for on-site trauma intervention. If you want to learn more about how ESI can provide more employee EAP benefits and more employer services, call us at 800-535-4841.

April 6, 2014

Preparing for & conducting video job interviews: Tips & best practices

More and more companies are using video interviews in the hiring process. John Schoen of CNBC reports, "In a survey of more than 500 hiring managers at companies with more than 20 employees, OfficeTeam found that 63 percent said their company often uses videoconferencing for job interviews." His article talks about many of the reasons companies use this technology and what their experience has been, along with some tips for conducting successful interviews.

While undoubtedly convenient, fast and economical, not everyone is a fan of the video job interview. Last year, a study showed that video conferencing for job interviews disadvantages both employers and candidates. "In simulated job interviews, candidates who were interviewed by video-conferencing were rated lower by interviewers and were less likely to be recommended for hiring. On the other side of the webcam, candidates also rated their interviewers as less attractive, personable, trustworthy and competent." These researchers recommended using video conferencing as an initial screening but using face-to-face interviews for final selection. They offer 10 tips for using video conferencing effectively.

Last week, Reuben Yonatan of GetVOIP offered an article on Video Interview Tips From the HR Experts. In this posting, nine expert HR and recruitment specialists weigh in on 5 key questions:

  • What are your best tips for interviewers conducting a video interview?
  • What are your best tips for interviewees during a video interview?
  • What are some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages of video interviewing for employers?
  • What are some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages of video interviewing for the candidate?
  • Is there a specific video conferencing tool that you prefer or can recommend? ex: Google Hangouts, Skype, etc.

For additional perspective, Emily Bennington of Monster.com offers a video and transcript of tips on how to prepare for and conduct a video interview.

Prior related blog posts

Interview question-palooza

Social Media: Your "Keep Out of Court" Kit for the Hiring Process

Bad hires can be costly - do you check references?

In the "What were they thinking" department: Job interviews run amuck

Hiring Managers Share Tales of Memorable Resumes


esi.JPG Want to ensure a winning team in your organization? In addition to help for your employees, ESI EAP offers a full suite of tools for supervisors and managers, including our ESI Management Academy. Trainings cover compliance issues, management skills and more. If you want to learn more about how ESI can provide more employee EAP benefits and more employer services, call us at 800-535-4841.

April 5, 2014

New research suggests "7-A-Day" saves lives

For years, nutritionists and global health authorities have been conducting a "Five a Day" campaign to highlight the health benefits of eating 5 servings of fruit and vegetables every day. The 5 A DAY campaign is based on advice from the World Health Organization, which recommends eating a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables a day to lower the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

But some scientists are now questioning whether this recommendation goes far enough. Recent research from Great Britain shows that increasing the daily fresh fruit and vegetable intake to 7 portions a day may yield significantly more health benefits. University College London researchers analyzed the diets of 65,226 men and women based on data from the Health Survey for England from 2001-2008.

"The study looked at general mortality as well as death from cancer, heart disease and stroke, and found risk of premature death from any cause decreased as fruit and veg consumption increased.
Risk of death by any cause over the course of the study was reduced by 42% for seven or more (up to around 10 portions a day)
Fresh vegetables had the strongest protective effect, followed by salad and then fruit.
Fruit juice conferred no benefit, while canned fruit appeared to increase the risk of death - possibly because it is stored in sugary syrup, say the researchers."

Not all researchers agree or think that the current 5-A-DAY guideline should be changed. Some don't find the study conclusive; Others think that additional lifestyle factors were not weighted heavily enough. Some fear that the message of 7 portions a day might be daunting to the public. Despite any differences on these matters, one thing is clear: adding more fresh vegetables and fruits to the daily diet yields positive health benefits.


More on the research:

Seven-a-day: Michael Mosley's guide to reaching the target

Fruit and vegetable intake: five a day may not be enough, scientists say

Seven simple ways to get your seven-a-day

Looking for the most comprehensive and effective wellness program for your employees? ESI TotalCare Wellness pairs Behavioral Health Clinicians with certified Wellness Coaches to provide employees and their families with the help, motivation, tools and support to make changes and improve their lives. Call 800-535-4841 for more information.

March 30, 2014

HR from the Jury’s Perspective: Notes from an employment law attorney

Mary Wright is an employment law attorney with more 25 years' experience in helping employers -- and she's written a very helpful article that should be required reading for every HR practitioner and manager: HR from the Jury’s Perspective – What A Trial Lawyer Wants You to Know.

She offers bulleted lists of "Dos and Don'ts" and observations in several categories. We've excerpted a few as a sample.

Terminations: "Trying to explain to a jury why you didn’t do something is infinitely harder than explaining why you did; i.e., why you didn’t give notice, why you didn’t document the warnings, why you didn’t accommodate, etc."

Witnesses: "Truthfulness, likeability, documentation and consistency win lawsuits, in that order."

Documents: "All documentation must be direct, concise, easy to understand and truthful."; "Don’t lie in a document."

The jury's perspective: "A jury doesn’t care about the company’s rights. They want to hear how the company honored the employee’s rights."

Use your EAP
When it comes to performance issues or potential terminations, we'd urge you to involve your EAP whenever possible. When performance problems occur, particularly when there is a change or degradation in performance, there is often an underlying reason. It may be work-related or it may be personal - family stresses and problems, mental health issues, substance abuse, or any number of reasons.

It's not the job of a supervisor to diagnose but your EAP can be a good resource for addressing behavior or performance issues. At ESI EAP, we are often able to help resolve employee issues before disciplinary actions are required. Train managers how to use the EAP and how to be familiar and comfortable with making referrals.

Additional Resources

ESI-Logo.jpg When complex employee issues arise, ESI EAP offers member employers direct access to Certified Senior Professionals in Human Resources (SPHR) and senior clinical counselors. If you need an Employee Assistance Program give us a call: 800-535-4841.

March 29, 2014

Wellness Focus for April: Tools & Links for Your Communications

The following are health promotions for April that offer themes for your workplace wellness programs. Most of the linked sites offer tool-kits with posters, articles, and interactive features that can be shared with your employees.

Alcohol Awareness Month and from the NCADD: "Help for Today. Hope For Tomorrow"
In conjunction with this, April 10 is National Alcohol Screening Day.

National Minority Health Month
Theme: Prevention is Power: Taking Action for Health Equity.

National Autism Awareness Month

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month

Youth Sports Safety

STD Awareness Month

Weekly Observances

7-11: National Work Zone Awareness Week
Theme: "Work Zone Speeding: A Costly Mistake"

7 - 13: National Public Health Week

26-5/3: National Infant Immunization Week

Day Observances

7 - World Health Day
Theme: Preventing and controlling vector-borne disease

24 - World Malaria Day

28 - Workers' Memorial Day


ESI EAP offers 24-7 access to counselors and a wide variety of support resources for employees and family members who are facing difficult health challenges. We also offer wellness benefits and health risk assessments, including discounts for weight loss programs, exercise and nutrition programs, and stop smoking programs. If you want to learn more about how ESI can provide more employee EAP benefits and more employer services, call us at 800-535-4841.

March 28, 2014

Vintage motivational posters show changing HR styles

After enjoying success with a WW I poster campaign, the publishing house Mather & company began producing workplace motivational posters reflecting the management theories of the era. Slate magazine features a sampling of the posters and some background: The Colorful Posters That Motivated Jazz-Age Workers To Strive. The article points out that the posters responded to the issues of the day:

"The appeal to the individual, as Gray points out, was of particular interest to employers in the 1920s, who were emerging from a few decades of severe conflicts between labor and management. Catering to managers looking to avert further trouble from within, Mather posters tried to get individuals to think of their own interests rather than those of a union or ethnic group."

For another gallery of works by Mather & Co and by Parker-Holladay Company, along with a great essay on the values of the era, see Vintage Motivational Posters of the 1920s and 1930s in The Art of Manliness. Authors Brett & Kate McKay say:

"This new, entrepreneurial definition of manhood reached a peak in the decade before the Great Depression. It was a time of idealism and optimism, and people were bullish both about the future of the economy and people’s ability to change their behavior and develop their character. Pithy maxims were popular (for example, Henry Ford was fond of saying, “Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice”), and it was felt that constructive encouragement could helps folks from any walk of life improve themselves. During this time, businesses began hanging beautifully illustrated posters with the same slogans that authors like Orison Swett Marden shared with readers a decade earlier. There were even trading cards with similar “go get-em” language that were handed out to employees like baseball cards. Business owners hoped that these posters and cards would help boost productivity and morale and inculcate uneducated and immigrant workers with the virile values needed to thrive in the world of business."
We've included a sampling of posters below. In addition to the two articles above, you can find more vintage collector copies at the International Poster Gallery.





esi.JPG Want to ensure a winning team in your organization? In addition to help for your employees, ESI EAP offers a full suite of tools for supervisors and managers, including our ESI Management Academy. Trainings cover compliance issues, management skills and more. If you want to learn more about how ESI can provide more employee EAP benefits and more employer services, call us at 800-535-4841.

March 23, 2014

News Briefs: Chocolate is healthy; Brutal ageism; Religious accommodation tips & more

Good wellness news - Chocolate does indeed have health benefits. In the LA Times, Monte Morin reports on recent chemical research that confirms the long-held belief that dark chocolate has a positive effect on cardiovascular health: "...researchers at meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Dallas said they had solved the confection conundrum: Specific chocolate-loving microbes in the gut convert an otherwise indigestible portion of the candy into anti-inflammatory compounds, they said."
And here's more positive wellness news: A recent study in the UK demonstrates a correlation between happiness and productivity. We see some potential here: keeping employees happy, productive and healthy with occasional dark chocolate treats -- sounds like a plan.

Rewards and engagement - Mark Royal of the Hay Group says that, "a sense of balance between what employees contribute to an organization and what they get back in return is fundamental to sustaining the extra efforts that come with an engaged workforce." He posts about the role of rewards in building employee engagement. He discusses insights from a recent survey with reward professionals and offers recommendations for employers.

More on age discrimination - We recently posted 26 million more reasons to ensure your organization does not discriminate by age. It would seem this is a message that needs to be posted on billboards and PSAs in Silicon Valley based on the recent story by Noam Scheiber in New Republic, The Brutal Ageism of Tech: Years of experience, plenty of talent, completely obsolete. It's a shocking story of how 30- and 40-something managers in the tech industry are getting plastic surgery in an attempt to appear youthful -- and how the venture capitalists are aiding and abetting this hyper-youthful culture. Here's a brief excerpt:

"Silicon Valley has become one of the most ageist places in America. Tech luminaries who otherwise pride themselves on their dedication to meritocracy don’t think twice about deriding the not-actually-old. “Young people are just smarter,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told an audience at Stanford back in 2007. As I write, the website of ServiceNow, a large Santa Clara–based I.T. services company, features the following advisory in large letters atop its “careers” page: “We Want People Who Have Their Best Work Ahead of Them, Not Behind Them.”

Religious Accommodation - While on the topic of discrimination, attorney Chastity Bruno tells us that there's been a dramatic increase in EEOC complaints based on religious discrimination. "According to the EEOC, there were 1,709 complaints of religious discrimination in 1997 and 3,721 complaints in 2013." At Employment Law Matters, she offers 6 Tips for Employers When Faced with Religious Exemption Requests.

Get a Move On - If you are concerned about the reports that sitting is a lethal activity, you may find Lauren Weber's article/video in the Wall St. Journal's At Work Blog interesting: The Long-Run Benefits of Treadmill Desks. She discusses a recent yearlong study of finance workers at a company in St. Paul, Minn. that found while productivity dropped at first as users acclimated to the desks, "within four to six months, all three measures of performance—quality and quantity of work, and quality of interactions with colleagues—rose steadily, according to weekly surveys of participants." Related: See our prior post on exercise balls, standing desks and treadmill desks: Wellness and work environments: when gyms and offices collide

Brief Takes:
Monster Thinking: Should you disclose employee salaries? Eight founders weigh the pros and cons.

Fast Company: 50 Highest Rated CEOs in 2014

Jenna McGregor at the Washington Post: Why people really leave their jobs

Julie Beck, The Atlantic: The Optimal Office. How better design could fix your workday—and your life

Mike Haberman: Are Wearable Cameras at Work a “We vs Them” Situation?

Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady: How to stop bullying in the workplace

Peter Bregman. Harvard Business Review blogs: How to Have Friends at Work When You’re the Boss

Making the Grade: Employers make jobs conditional on physical fitness

Death on a Georgia Railroad Trestle Sparking Calls for Safety Reforms in Hollywood

8 ways to celebrate National Nutrition Month

Leadership is earned, not demanded

CT legislative committee approves PTSD proposal for Work Comp


esi.JPG Want to ensure a winning team in your organization? In addition to help for your employees, ESI EAP offers a full suite of tools for supervisors and managers, including our ESI Management Academy. Trainings cover compliance issues, management skills and more. If you want to learn more about how ESI can provide more employee EAP benefits and more employer services, call us at 800-535-4841.

March 21, 2014

How HR Uses Social Media: Infographic

Forbes has declared that 2014 is the year that social HR matters, citing a recent survey in which Millennials say that a prospective employer’s online reputation matters as much as the job it offers. Jeanne Meister writes about seven social media trends to watch over the course of the year, "as organizations leverage all forms of social collaboration to re-imagine how they source, develop and engage employees."

In another look at how HR is leveraging social media, we present an infographic based on an HR Trends survey conducted by BLR’s HR Daily Advisor and sponsored by SuccessFactors. In the survey, HR professionals also share information regarding their current practices for retention and engagement, formal programs for tracking and development, and HR metrics. Click here for a larger version and to access the survey.

BLR's 2013 Social Media Infographic

BLR's 2013 Social Media Infographic: By HR.BLR.com

ESI-Logo.jpg If recruiting and retaining employees is important to your organization, ESI EAP can help. Our Administrative Referral program can help in resolving employee issues that are impeding performance. And when complex employee issues arise, ESI EAP offers managers and supervisors direct access to Certified Senior Professionals in Human Resources (SPHR) and senior clinical counselors. No other employee assistance program offers more tools and resources for employers and more benefits for employees than ESI EAP. Call to learn how we can help your organization: 800-535-4841.

March 12, 2014

Social Media opens an array of employment law resources

Lately, we've been posting about compliance-related issues on the blog - a topic that is frequently on the minds of our employer clients. It crosses industry sectors and organizations of all sizes. While compliance with state and federal laws is a complex responsibility for HR managers, today the web makes a wide array of resources available at your fingertips - you simply have to ensure that you are getting information from credible sources. Many employment law attorneys actively and generously share their knowledge and expertise on blogs and on Twitter. In fact, there's a huge HR community on Twitter so even if you aren't interested in Tweeting yourself, it is worth your while to lurk. You can start by following us at @ESIEAP.

Some of our favorite blogs on compliance and employment law-related issues include:

Jon Hyman - Ohio's Employer Law Blog

Jeff Nowak FMLA Insights

Daniel Schwartz - Connecticut Employment Law Blog

Philip Miles Lawffice Space

Robin Shea Employment and Labor Insider

Michael Fox - Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Workers' Comp Insider

All the above also have Twitter accounts. You can also follow our Employment Law list of 70+ contacts on Twitter.

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