Peckham, Inc., based in Lansing, Michigan, is a true innovator in assistive technology products for people with disabilities. (Watch for an article on Peckham in the September 2011 Job Training & Placement Report.) You may also visit Peckham’s website – www.peckham.org.
Independence Day is just around the corner. Will your thoughts focus entirely on grilling out hamburgers and hot dogs, perhaps watching a parade, and then having your eyes fixated on a dazzling fireworks display at night? These are all good things, certainly, but it’s also worth spending some time reflecting on the sacrifices our soldiers make overseas – to ensure our freedom here at home…. freedom that, I think most of us, including myself, tend to take for granted.
Sometimes it takes a personal experience to drive home this point. My wife and I attended the graduation party for an 18-year-0ld – let’s call him “Guy” – in 2009. Just scant months later – he turned 19 and was deployed to Afghanistan. He was overseas for only 30 days when “Guy” was killed in a bomb blast. So, like so many young men, a 19-year-old who should have had the rest of his life to look forward to….. and who was barely out of high school…… was gone………. and all because he enthusiastically enlisted in the Army to safeguard our freedom. Surely many of you reading this have a personal experience to reflect upon as well. So, have a burger, watch some fireworks, and have some fun on the 4th – but let’s all take a moment to remember our soldiers, too.
Speaking of dates to remember – September 11, 2001 – commonly known as 9/11 – is nearing its 10th anniversary, believe it or not. The 3rd quarter issue of the Journal of Employee Assistance (JEA) – which mails in July – has a number of articles pertaining to employee assistance experiences learned from this tragedy. Like soldiers killed overseas, we can’t bring these Americans back either – but we CAN remember them …. and ….. there are always things to be learned the next time a crisis response is needed.
Members of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) automatically get a copy of the JEA as one of their core benefits. To find out more, visit www.eapassn.org Have a happy and safe 4th!
By Norm Spitzig
What exactly makes a workplace “great”? What are the specific characteristics common to those very special workplaces that are universally recognized as the indisputable signs of a superior operation? I believe there are seven such hallmarks. I listed three of them in a separate post that appears elsewhere on this blog. The remainder appear here:
* Reasonable, understandable, and uniformly enforced work rules. Great workplaces have rules and policies that have each of these traits. For instance, if smoking is prohibited in the work environment, NO ONE smokes; not the president, and not the new dishwasher. The rules and policies at great workplaces are not written in language so arcane that no one but a senior tax attorney can understand them. Ideally, they are not written to prevent employees FROM doing something, but rather to set appropriate standards whereby all employees are assured the opportunity to maximize their potential.
* An appropriate blending of tradition and innovation. While great workplaces are environments where employees devote a significant amount of time to improving current products and services as well as creating new ones, they are also places where tradition and continuity are highly valued. Long-standing products and services are not whimsically eliminated to the detriment of loyal customers; rather, they are improved as circumstances dictate.
* Open communication among all vested parties. Great workplaces have regular, honest communication. Staff and customers are given adequate opportunity to convey their ideas and suggestions to company leadership. Managers at great workplaces understand the practice of, “management by walking around,” because they know that this time-tested practice promotes open communication and minimizes potential problems.
* Fiscal responsibility. Last, but certainly not least, great workplaces are fiscally prudent in the manner in which they operate. They have detailed, multi-year business plans that feature (among other areas) realistic cash flow projections. Great businesses rigorously monitor and adjust their financial plans on a regular basis and as circumstances dictate. They understand how much money will be required to provide the products and services their customers want as well as the costs associated with them. The long-term financial well-being of the workplace remains a high priority.
Summary – A great workplace employs happy, productive, and talented people who perform meaningful work compaible with the mission, values, and financial goals of the company. It takes constant effort and vigilance to be a truly great workplace, but the end result is worth it.
Norm Spitzig, Principal at Master Club Advisors, is internationally recognized as a visionary speaker and industry expert. For more information, visit www.masterclubadvisors.com
By Jodie Carter
We cannot pretend to predict the technological breakthroughs of the next decade, as they no doubt will involve many concepts that we are not fully aware of today. However, some trends to watch in the next year include:
* Expect to see an increasing use of semantic web technology in which machines interpret data more intelligently in order to better perform various tasks on our behalf. (For example, increasing the usability of the search function.)
* Look for more mobile applications for personal health management, including apps that use social connections to help people challenge and motivate each other.
* Keep your eye on health gaming, which continues to show promise in improving everything from diet and exercise to medication compliance and smoking cessation. The basic idea is that while reading text or watching a video is relatively passive, playing a computer game is an active and immersible experience that demands complete concentration. While the mind is completely absorbed in playing a game, there is an “open channel” to the brain. Gamers have begun to use this channel to educate, and sometimes distract, as a means to achieve behavior change.
* Watch for new programs that wirelessly leverage personal data (physiological and emotional metrics sent from Bluetooth or ANT devices) for insights that can warn of and avoid problems, such as relapse, before they happen – and to be used to track “what happened” to avoid future mishaps.
With clearly defined goals and measurable outcomes, an EAP practitioner can successfully implement the best of this brave new world of health care technology in a workplace to provide accessible, effective, and affordable solutions.
Jodie Carter is the electronic product manager with Hazelden – www.hazelden.org. Another excellent source of information about online counseling and how technology is affecting EAP practitioners is the Online Therapy Institute – www.onlinetherapyinstitute.com. Watch for an online chat for EA professionals in the near future.
I’d like to thank the participants in Monday’s online chat, “Chat on All Things Supported Employment!” They were: James Emmett, a noted disability consultant; and Margaret Lahey and Barbara Irwin with Booz Allen Hamilton, which is turning out some great advocacy and outreach work in support of the Ticket to Work program. James offered his expertise in working with employers in developing disability and diversity initiatives. They would welcome your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org respectively.
It has long been a goal of mine to make Job Training and Placement Report (and for APSE members, too for that matter) better able to share interactive insights in order to promote employment outcomes for persons with disabilities. I’d have to say that, step one, at least was a success! – although it only works if people take the time to log on. So, thanks again James, Margaret and Barbara!
The next step will be to schedule future online chats – for not only supported employment professionals – but employee assistance professionals as well. In either case, we’ll try to give you as much “heads-up” about the chats as possible. Of course, if you subscribe – for free – to our blog, you’ll receive an email about each new post, and you’ll be sure not to miss out.
In the future, I hope to be able to share insights via a Facebook account as well. But, first things first – getting on board with technology takes time for “fifty-somethings” like me! Some of these things might be elementary to some of you – and that’s great – but it takes time to accomplish for not-so-tech-savvy folks like me! But I’m not complaining! Quite the opposite – I’m thrilled at being able to serve readers even better!
By Deb Kosmer
People say that grief is hard work, and it’s true. Trying to deal with the death of loved ones – day after day, week after week, month after month – is exhausting. The tears, anger, confusion, disbelief, guilt, and emptiness “drain” us, meaning that the littlest things can wear us out.
Counselors, including EAP practitioners, need to be very careful about what they say and tread softly with grieving employees. The grieving are not looking to a counselor for advice, but rather for validation of their feelings, and their right to those feelings. The following are somme key points:
* Grieving people are broken-hearted, not broke.
* They need to be comforted, not fixed.
* They need to be heard, not talked to.
* They need understanding, not unrealistic expectations.
* They need to be allowed the time they need, not hurried along.
* They need validation, not judgment.
* They need to be be able to tell their story as many times as it takes.
* They need to know it’s OK to cry – and not to cry.
Deb Kosmer, MSW, CSW, CT, is a bereavement support coordinator. (This article is a condensed version of an article that appeared in the June 2011 issue of Employee Assistance Report. For more information, visit www.impact-publications.com and then the “EARN” link – and/or email email@example.com for more information.
By Norm Spitzig
What exactly makes a workplace “great?” What are the specific characteristics common to those very special workplaces that are universally recognized as the indisputable signs of a superior operation?
I believe there are seven such hallmarks. I will list three of them in this article. The remainder will appear as a new post. (For more on great places to work, see the next post.)
* A clear mission & purpose. The best workplaces in the world know who they are and what their core purpose is. They have a straightforward, concise mission statement that is readily understandable and enthusiastically embraced by employees.
Great workplaces have carefully identified those factors critical to their long-term success. Great workplaces develop action plans and accompanying areas of responsibility to ensure that their vision for the future is more than some pie-in-the-sky dream; it is concrete, measurable, and it’s achievable.
* Forward thinking, creative senior management and a caring, well-trained staff. No workplace can remain superior over any meaningful period of time without quality leadership at the top as well as a caring, well-trained staff.
At great workplaces, everyone from the CEO to a recent hire are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure the company’s ongoing success. Equally as important, great workplaces attract people from diverse backgrounds and with various skills. At a great workplace, individuality is valued, but teamwork remains first.
* Meaningful work. A great workplace encourages its employees to do what they deem meaningful. Of course, this term means different things to different people.
Having said that, for most people, work is meaningful when it has a direct relationship between the effort invested (i.e., “time on the job”) and the accompanying return (i.e., “compensation”).
Great workplaces offer the opportunity for employees, irrespective of their education, talents, and experiences, to consistently do what they perceive as genuinely meaningful [work].
Norm Spitzig, Principal at Master Club Advisors, is internationally recognized as a visionary speaker and industry expert. His groundbreaking book, Perspectives on Club Management, continues to inspire and challenge business leaders worldwide. For more information, visit www.masterclubadvisors.com.