With one in five US adults experiencing mental illnesses annually, employer flexibility can help employees get effective treatments and maintain their productivity and wellness in the workplace, according to three experts in mental health and the workplace who presented at impactHR’s impactBreakfast event last month.
impactHR’s Kelly Mitchell joined with Kerry Graves, Executive Director, NAMI Metropolitan Baltimore; Karen Falkler, Founder, Falkler Wellness & Advisory; and Laura Rubenstein, Partner, RKW Law Group, LLC in an executive roundtable discussion on practical strategies to promote good mental health and wellness in the workplace.
Graves, Falkler and Rubenstein discussed a number of ways employers can help their team members who may be experiencing mental health challenges seek needed services combined with flexible workplace policies to help restore balance in their work and personal lives.
In her remarks, Kerry Graves focused on how employers can work to build stigma-free workplaces for employees who may be dealing with mental health issues. Eighty percent of employees with a mental health condition, Graves noted, report shame and stigma at work that keeps them from seeking treatment.
For these situations, Graves recommended employers utilize employee assistance programs (EAPs); reasonable accommodations with work duties and locations; and targeted insurance benefits to help cover employee mental health treatment.
Karen Falkler, in her presentation, recommended employers assess barriers to individual employee wellness, including providing more time off and flexibility from work for those who may be suffering from mental health conditions. She also advised that employers provide on-going training for managers to assist with employee well-being through enhanced and continuous communication, engagement and support.
Falkler added an individual employee with a mental health condition should remember they’re not alone – and should not delay seeking help via therapy, coaching, plus with friends and family.
Laura Rubenstein, an attorney with expertise in labor and employment law, discussed ways employers can accommodate (within the framework of HR-related regulations) mental health and wellness in the workplace.
Rubenstein cited a range of common accommodations employers can consider for employees, such as time off for medical or therapy appointments; breaks (medications, rest, naps); flex schedules (start/stop times); and medical leaves (hospitalization). She also suggested implementing workplace accommodations that may decrease distraction for employees with mental health conditions, including remote work and noise control via headphones, private offices, and higher cubicle walls.
impactAction: If you have questions about addressing employee mental health challenges in your workplace, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-741-3900.
DC Expands Anti-Discrimination Employment Protections
The District of Columbia last month enacted a set of amendments to its Human Rights Act, effective this past October 1, that expands the types of workers protected under the Act, plus codifies workplace harassment as an unlawful discriminatory practice.
As part of this newly amended law, DC now includes homeless status as a protected characteristic under its human rights law, alongside other protected characteristics such as sex, race and national origin. This means employers should not inquire about an applicant or employee’s living situation or use that information when making employment decisions.
In addition, the amendment bolsters protections against workplace harassment by codifying that workplace harassment is an unlawful discriminatory practice. The amendment defines harassment as “conduct, whether direct or indirect, verbal or nonverbal, that unreasonably alters an individual’s terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”
The new amendment also states these anti-discrimination protections now apply to those “working or seeking work as an independent contractor” and unpaid interns.
impactAction: If you’re a DC-based employer and have questions about compliance with these new policies, contact us at email@example.com or 443-741-3900.
US ICE Extends I-9 Flexible Compliance Through July 31, 2023
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced an extension through July 31, 2023 of its rule that employers – with employees working remotely – will not be required to review new employees’ identity and employment authorization documents in their employees’ physical presence.
ICE’s flexible I-9 policy only applies to employers and workplaces with remote operations. ICE states: “If there are employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions are being implemented at this time for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.” Read more.
In a related development, the current Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification technically expired this past October 31 as noted on the form itself. US Citizenship and Immigration Services, however, says employers should continue using the current Form I-9 after this expiration date because a new form hasn’t been released yet. (We’ll monitor and report any new development on an updated Form I-9.)
impactAction: If you need assistance complying with I-9 verification, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-741-3900.
5 Ways to Develop an Effective Employee Coaching Program
It goes without saying well-crafted new employee orientation programs and job-specific training serve critical purposes for organization success. Employee coaching, however, is another important and valuable initiative that tends to be overlooked in the daily life of an organization.
Employers, indeed, may consider employee coaching as too difficult or time-consuming to undertake. Ultimately, an executive’s leadership, experience and lessons-learned (i.e., coaching) can go a long way to help create a great team of inspired, productive and loyal employees.
Employee coaching typically involves managers meeting regularly with employees to discuss and explore each employee’s career goals and development.
Here are five steps illustrating how to coach your employees to grow into better performing and happier employees:
Discuss the employee’s expectations of the job. When an employee is hired or when an employee’s job functions change, address job and company-related questions or concerns the individual may have. To help confirm or clarify the employee’s perspective of expectations, review together a copy of the job description, plus department and company goals.
Understand the employee’s expectations of the manager. While different employees have different communication styles, learn about what each employee expects from their manager and come to a reasonable working agreement.
Learn about the employee’s expectations for professional growth. Recognizing and gathering relevant resources to help support and build a plan for each individual’s interests can help strengthen employee loyalty and retention.
Give consistent and constructive feedback about the employee’s performance. Plus, get feedback about your performance as the manager. You, as a manager, are a member of a team as well. How well you respond to feedback from your teammates will influence your team’s synergy and success.
Each employee should come out of every coaching meeting with a better picture of the specific performance goals to achieve and how his or her contributions impact positively the department and the company as a whole.
impactAction: If you have questions about employee coaching, contact us at email@example.com or 443-741-3900.
EEOC Releases Updated “Know Your Rights!” Poster for Employers
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued a public notice that employers should download and post a new version of the “Know Your Rights: Workplace Discrimination is Illegal” poster – replacing and superseding a version uploaded last October 19, 2022.
The new (correct) version to post in your workplace is marked “(Revised 10/20/2022).”
These posters should be placed in a conspicuous location in the workplace where notices to applicants and employees are customarily posted.
In addition to physical posting, employers are encouraged to post the notice digitally on their web sites in a conspicuous location. Read more.
impactAction: If you have questions about the new “Know Your Rights: Workplace Discrimination is Illegal” poster, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-741-3900.
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