The Affordable Care Act – Did you know?

single-ribbon-pink-1121367-mOctober is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know that the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, covers mammograms for women over age 40? Under the health care reform law, certain preventive services must be covered without cost-sharing, including mammograms. This benefit applies to both fully insured and self-funded plans that are non-grandfathered plans. While grandfathered plans are not required to implement these changes, some grandfathered plans have chosen to offer preventive care services, such as mammograms, at no cost-share.

Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point. The good news is that many women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early. A mammogram – the screening test for breast cancer – can help find breast cancer early when it’s easier to treat.

The American Cancer Society is actively fighting breast cancer by helping women get tested to find breast cancer earlier, and helping them understand their treatment options and cope with the physical and emotional side effects. The American Cancer Society has played a role in nearly every breast cancer breakthrough in recent history. Their staff, of full-time researchers, produces detailed analyses of breast cancer trends and investigates the links between lifestyle and breast cancer. They also fund external researchers dedicated to finding better ways to prevent, detect, and treat the disease, and improve the quality of life of breast cancer patients and survivors.

HR Strategies is proud to be able to support the American Cancer Society, through our participation in the Gwinnett Relay for Life every May. Relay for Life events comprise the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Every year, the Relay for Life movement raises more than $400 million worldwide.

We encourage all of you to support the American Cancer Society and to get your mammograms!

What is Diversity?

October is Diversity Awareness Month, but what exactly is Diversity in regards to the workplace?

Closeup of business people standing with hands togetherAccording to the DOL, “Although the term is often used to refer to differences among individuals such as ethnicity, gender, age and religion, diversity actually encompasses the infinite range of individuals’ unique attributes and experiences.” Dimensions of diversity can also include physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, military experience, parental status, work experience, job classification, and so much more.

Many of the attributes that make a workforce diverse are covered by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in regards to fair employment practices and procedures. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older) disability or genetic information. Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by the EEOC laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). The laws apply to all types of work situations including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.

While equal opportunity employment focuses on employment practices, the concept of diversity in the work place is much broader and extends to the work environment. In the context of the workplace, valuing diversity means creating a workplace that respects and includes differences, recognizing the unique contributions that individuals make. Workplace diversity values everyone’s differences. It is about learning from each other regardless of our cultural background, and bringing those differences and experiences to broaden our knowledge. Managing diversity focuses on maximizing the ability of all employees to contribute to organizational goals. Affirmative action focuses on specific groups because of historical discrimination, such as people of color and women. Affirmative action emphasizes legal necessity and social responsibility; managing diversity emphasizes business necessity. In short, while managing diversity is also concerned with underrepresentation of women and people of color in the workforce, it is much more inclusive and acknowledges that diversity must work for everyone.

Do you believe in the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated? This assumes that how you want to be treated is how others want to be treated. But what if we consider the diversity in different cultures, etc.? What does respect look like? It may not be the same for everyone. While making eye contact may be the respectful thing to do in one culture, it may be a sign of disrespect in another.

Maybe instead of using the golden rule, we should use the platinum rule which states: “treat others as they want to be treated.” But how do we know what different groups or individuals need? Having a workplace culture of inclusivity allows for those questions to be asked and answered in a respectful atmosphere.

Many people think that “fairness” means “treating everyone the same.” How well does treating everyone the same work for a diverse staff? For example, when employees have limited English language skills or reading proficiency, even though that limit might not affect their ability to do their jobs, transmitting important information through complicated memos might not be an effective way of communicating with them. While distributing such memos to all staff is “treating everyone the same,” this approach may not communicate essential information to everyone. A staff member who missed out on essential information might feel that the communication process was “unfair.” A process that takes account of the diverse levels of English language and reading proficiency among the staff might include taking extra time to be sure that information in an important memorandum is understood. Such efforts on the part of supervisors and managers should be supported and rewarded as good management practices for working with a diverse staff. (University of California at Berkeley)

As this suggests, workplace diversity can provide tremendous benefits in terms of improved morale, outside-the-box thinking, greater teamwork, and an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect.

How Well Do You Manage Diversity?

  • Do you test your assumptions before acting on them?
  • Do you believe there is only one right way of doing things, or that there are a number of valid ways that accomplish the same goal? Do you convey that to staff?
  • Do you have honest relationships with each staff member you supervise? Are you comfortable with each of them? Do you know what motivates them, what their goals are, how they like to be recognized?
  • Are you able to give negative feedback to someone who is culturally different from you?
  • When you hire a new employee, do you not only explain job responsibilities and expectations clearly, but orient the person to the department culture and unwritten rules?
  • Do you rigorously examine your existing policies, practices, and procedures to ensure that they do not differentially impact different groups? When they do, do you change them?
  • Are you willing to listen to constructive feedback from your staff about ways to improve the work environment? Do you implement staff suggestions and acknowledge their contribution?
  • Do you take immediate action with people you supervise when they behave in ways that show disrespect for others in the workplace, such as inappropriate jokes and offensive terms?
  • Do you have a good understanding of isms such as racism and sexism and how they manifest themselves in the workplace?
  • Do you ensure that assignments and opportunities for advancement are accessible to everyone?

If you were able to answer yes to more than half the questions, you are on the right track to managing diversity well. (University of California, San Francisco)

If you have questions or concerns regarding either Diversity or the laws and regulations in regards to affirmative action or the EEOC, please contact our HR/Client Service Reps at 770-339-0000.

Did you know that it is National Disability Employment Awareness Month?

New-ODEP-Logo-Vector-Cropped2National Disability Employment Awareness Month is an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October. The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“We all have a role to play in — and benefit to gain from — increasing opportunities for meaningful employment for people with disabilities. This year’s theme encapsulates this in three powerful words. It conveys that advancing disability employment is about much more than just hiring. It’s about creating a continuum of inclusion. And the first step on this continuum is expectation,” said Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for disability employment policy when announcing this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme, which is “Expect. Employ. Empower.”

Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting the ODEP website at www.dol.gov/odep/.

If you have specific questions regarding Employment Laws and Regulations regarding Disabilities in the work place our HR/Client Services Department is here to assist you.

Clients call us today at 770-339-0000.

Today is World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is observed on October 10th every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.

Studies show that 20% of employees have mental health or substance abuse problems at any given time. Troubled employees are absent 2 to 4 times more, and are at least 20% less productive than the average worker. In fact, a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that the cost of lost productivity to only one disorder, major depression, is over $31 billion annually.

EAPs, through prevention and early intervention services, are a proven, cost effective solution to many of the problems.

HR Strategies is proud to offer the Employee Assistance Programs of EAP Consultants for free to all of our Client Employee’s and their immediate family members.EAP Logo

In regards to mental health, EAP Consultants, LLC offers in-person and telephone assessment, counseling, referral, monitoring, and follow-up in our private offices.

Assistance is available for a wide range of personal issues including:

  • Stress
  • Marital & Family Problems
  • Work Related Difficulties
  • Emotional Problems
  • Substance Abuse
  • Psychiatric Disorders
  • Relationship Difficulties
  • Eating Disorders
  • Medical Problems
  • Life Transitions
  • Crisis
  • Grief and Loss

EAP Consultants, LLC network of clinicians includes:

  • Licensed Psychologists
  • Licensed Professional Counselors
  • Licensed Marriage & Family Counselors
  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers
  • Certified Addiction Counselors
  • Certified Employee Assistance Professionals

Clinician Qualifications

EAP Consultants, LLC carefully selects, screens and oversees a network of clinicians to ensure the highest level of service. Their clinicians are licensed/certified, have a masters or doctorate in the mental health field, and at least three years of post-graduate practice, including EAP experience. Many have specialized expertise and training allowing them to better serve participants. The network clinicians are consistently rated as good to excellent on our participant surveys.

To find out more contact our benefits department at 770-339-0000; or visit EAP Consultants on the web at http://www.eapconsultants.com

Bullying: When Your Office is the Playground and What to Do about It

Today is National Stop Bullying Day, and while many of us relate bullying to children and playgrounds, it goes well beyond that into our workplaces. Bullying has become a major concern for parents of children, but we must also be aware of how it affects us as employees and employers.

More than a quarter of Americans say they are being and/or have been bullied at work (27% according to a recent survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute). Bullying is four times more prevalent than illegal discrimination; yet there are no formal laws against bullying specifically, at this time. In an article written for Time magazine, by Martha C. White (3/10/14), it is estimated that “Men make up about 2/3 of bullies, and their targets are women 57% of the time. Although women make up only 31% of bullies, their targets are overwhelmingly – more than 2/3 of the time – other women. With bullying by a boss being the most common kind of workplace bullying, making up more than half of all instances.” More than 68% of bullies hold managerial or supervisory positions, and high stress professions like health care, law, and commissioned sales work are more susceptible to bullying.

So what constitutes workplace bullying?

  • Verbal abuse oral or written – yelling at, using foul language directed at, insulting or putting someone down.
  • Offensive behaviors which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating.
  • Work interference or sabotage that prevents work from getting done.
  • Consistently talking over a particular person at meetings.
  • Falsely accusing someone of errors that a person didn’t actually make, stealing credit for their work, or blaming others for their own shortcomings.
  • Hostile staring or nonverbal intimidation.
  • Unjustly discounting a person’s thoughts or feelings in front of others.
  • Using the “silent” treatment, or purposely failing to follow up with a specific person.
  • Making up rules for specific people; making unreasonable work demands.
  • Disregarding and discrediting satisfactory work despite evidence or constantly picking out their mistakes and bringing them up to others.
  • Harshly and constantly criticizing a person.
  • Starting, or failing to stop, a destructive rumor, gossip, or lies about a person.
  • Encouraging people to turn against a person being tormented.
  • Singling out and isolating one person from other co-workers, either socially or physically.
  • Publicly directing gross and undignified behavior at the victim, or playing mean pranks.
  • Yelling, screaming, or throwing tantrums in front of others to humiliate someone.

In essence, workplace bullying is more than mere incivility or rudeness, it is the repeated health-harming mistreatment of a co-worker or employee which is severe enough to compromise the victim’s health, jeopardize his job, and strain his relationships with others. Bullying can trigger many stress related health problems including hypertension, auto-immune disorders, depression, anxiety, migraines, and post-traumatic stress disorder for the individual. For a company it can mean decreased morale and trust in management, and increased employee absenteeism and turnover.

Bullying doesn’t usually involve physical violence; however, researchers are starting to draw correlations between targets of bullying and incidents of workplace violence. When the bully is fed up and may not be able to take anymore, there is a higher likelihood of retaliation through violence. An estimated 1.7 million employees are injured each year because of workplace assaults, with 28% of all violent crime in the US occurring in the workplace (these are not all the result of bullying).

Currently there are no workplace anti-bullying laws in the United States; however, more than 25 states have proposed variations of the Healthy Workplace Bill, prohibiting workplace harassment not based on a protected class. Many times employers react to laws with internal policies, and that is just what they should do as an employer – before a law even needs be passed. Fifty six percent of companies, according to SHRM, already have an anti-bullying policy as part of their employee handbook, with the responses to bullying including termination, suspension, or anger-management training. An anti-bullying policy needs to:

  • Define bullying
  • Provide a statement as to the purpose of the policy
  • Provide examples of such behavior
  • Have a reporting procedure for victims
  • Define actions/consequences for bullying

If you find yourself regularly feeling intimidated and dread going to work, you may be the victim of workplace bullying. When you find yourself the victim of bullying:

  • Document the date, time and details of the incident
  • Note if another employee witnessed the incident
  • Seek help from Management and/or Human Resources
  • If applicable, document the bully’s impact on business results and success
  • If in an email, maintain a hard copy of the trail of emails

As a client of HR Strategies, we are here to aid you in the creation of all policies, including Anti-Harassment or Bullying, and answer any questions or concerns you or your worksite employees may have.

Contact Us Today or Give us a Call at 770-339-0000

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