Ghost Writer / Blogger for Hire!

Boy, I’d sure like to write a blog, but I don’t have the time!

Are you a busy employee assistance or other workplace professional who has ever said something like that to yourself?

Did you know that a blog is one of the best ways to enhance awareness of your services? Did you also know that someone can write them for you anonymously? (Known in journalism circles as “ghost writers.”)

If you would like to start a blog to enhance awareness of your services but can’t find the time, email me at

madjac@tds.net.

 

B-eing a Type B is A-OK

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Travis Bradberry, an award-winning author, and co-founder of TalentSmart, had a very interesting post on LinkedIn recently about how people with Type B personalities can be overlooked in the working world. As someone who used to work with a LOT of Type As in the workplace, I wanted to present a few thoughts about some of the differences in our qualities.

Let me start by clarifying that I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a Type A. I think every organization needs a few Type As – they are outspoken in many cases, true; but they are also the go-getters that know how to do what needs to be done. Give them a job, they will get it done. They are clear about how to go about a given task, where others would likely be more indecisive. That’s the good part.

But I have also learned that if you put TOO MANY Type As in a particular work setting, the result is often managers and supervisors involved in heated battles because one of them wants to be IN CHARGE. Put another way, you may need a hard-driving Type A personality to take command in important situations… but MORE than one? Probably not a good idea – they will inevitably lock horns.

So long as we have the same destination plugged into our GPS, what difference does it make if you’re going 80 on the freeway, and I’m going 60 on an off-road (like the one in the picture above)?

Where does Type B fit in? People with Type B personalities like myself are often content in the background. But just because we tend to shun the spotlight doesn’t mean we don’t care – we’re just more laid back about it. Dr. Bradberry correctly points out that being laid-back is not the same thing as being disengaged or indifferent!

Reading Dr. Bradberry’s post was very enlightening. It made me feel much better about who I am, because for years, surrounded by Type As – who seemed to dominate the newsrooms I was employed in for years — I felt like a second-class citizen compared to these powerful personalities. It was as if I lacked ambition.

Bradberry has this to say about Type As: “We’re awed by your drive and by your breathtaking pace. we recognize the rewards that come your way, and we’re impressed. But we’re wise enough to know that we’re not wired that way.”

Indeed. It takes all types to make a workplace effective. We Type Bs are happy to stay in the slow lane and let you pass. So long as we have the same destination plugged into our GPS, what difference does it make if you’re going 80 on the freeway, and I’m going 60 on an off-road (like the one in this picture)?

 

 

Mark Your Calendar! Free Webinar on Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying is systematic psychological abuse aimed at degrading and humiliating others. Research from around the world indicates up to 50% of working adults report that they have been bullied.

Although OSHA and various state and federal regulations require that employers provide a safe and harassment-free work environment, it is an epidemic many employers are ill-equipped to deal with.

Employee Assistance Report and Civility Partners will present the free webinar, “How to Spot, Understand, and Solve Workplace Bullying” on Wednesday, July 20.

The presentation will be led by Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, internationally recognized expert on workplace bullying, and head of Civility Partners, and Mike Jacquart, BA, editor of the Employee Assistance Report monthly newsletter.

Join Catherine and Mike as they define workplace bullying and offer tips for helping targets and organizations solve the problem. All information is based on their own experiences and academic research.

For more info and to register visit

https://civilitypartners.lpages.co/eap-webinar-registration-page/

 

Stroll More Than Scroll: Pros & Cons of Technology

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This is the first in a series of posts about the pros and cons of today’s technologically driven age.

Technology can be a great thing in many ways. We can “google” something in the blink of an eye, and have access to information that would have taken minutes, even hours, to research in a library decades ago. I remember looking up books for college term papers, and it was not uncommon to scour through and check out multiple books just to piece together enough information for a single topic. Time consuming!

Technology also drives communication like never before. We can talk to, listen to, and even see people anytime, anywhere on our smart phones. It still blows my mind that someone could be in Boise and receive a text from a business colleague in Shanghai.

It’s ironic that in a day and age with more ‘communication’ than ever before, there is conversely less ‘interaction’ than ever.

Or what’s much more typical for me, you are multi-tasking at your desk when up pops a note from “Bob” reminding you about tomorrow’s 1 p.m. meeting about the new website. Better yet, the reminder could have come up on your smart phone while you were en route to a 30-minute meeting with a client – away from your desk, you might have easily forgotten about it!

These are among the significant advances to life in the 21st century and THEY ARE great developments in many ways!

But I think it’s also necessary to examine some of the drawbacks – first and foremost among them pertains to communication. It’s ironic that in a day and age with more “communication” than ever before, there is conversely less “interaction” than ever.

Consider: When you “press the flesh,” you get to meet a peer in your field, even get to actually “know” this person … especially over time when you see some of the same people at some of the same meetings and other events. You are able to build relationships by engaging in important face-to-face networking … as well as the professional development you’re able to gain by attending conferences and other trainings. But you can only do this in person, not online.

It’s disturbing to me that you can go to a conference in today’s day and age and find scores of people more interested in keeping their head down, scrolling through their screens, than they are in getting up, strolling around the premises, looking for potential opportunities for people to meet. What kind of interpersonal skills will tomorrow’s business leaders have? Or maybe NOT have.

I would rather stroll than scroll … but that’s me. What about you?

And what about that time-consuming research at the library? I am still trying to figure out how that was better than Google! Maybe in some cases, there really isn’t any drawback to a technological advancement. But my guess is, that is rare.

More on pros and cons of technology another time.

The Invisible Barrier

“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.” – Bill Clinton

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Many disabilities are readily apparent. There’s no question that an individual who is blind requires the use of a cane or service animal to get around or that a person unable to walk will need a wheelchair or motor scooter. However, other disabilities aren’t as obvious. Mental health impairments are among the most “invisible” and least understood disabilities, even though they are also among the most common.

People wouldn’t leave a broken arm or a sprained ankle unattended, so why do some folks feel (men especially) that mental health is something they can just ‘tough out’?!

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 58 million Americans, or one in four adults, experience a mental health impairment in a given year. NAMI defines a mental health impairment as, “a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning.”

I can count myself among these Americans. During a rough period in my life in which I was out of work for nearly a year, I was finally diagnosed with depression and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in spring 2002. I wish I had done so earlier, but then again who knew? For years I just thought that’s who I was and had to live with it… even though I grew increasingly envious of people who laughed and enjoyed life while I struggled to even smile. I knew being out of work was “part of it”, I mean, how many people are happy and bubbly when they’re unemployed? Still, who doesn’t have some peaks and valleys in their lives? And yet, most people seem to “bounce back” from problems quite well. Not me.

I began to realize there was more to what was going on than just being “out of work.” They say that most of us going through a major life issue grow “sick and tired, of being sick and tired,” and so I sought the assistance of my wife’s EAP, which eventually resulted in my diagnosis. What a revelation! It went a LONG way toward explaining why I was having so many work-related problems; issues that crossed over into my personal life as well. I’ll never forget how I felt when I started my medication…it was as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes. “So this is how I’m SUPPOSED to feel!” I thought. “No wonder other people are happier and enjoy life more!”

I encourage ANYONE who even suspects something might be amiss with themselves mentally (or someone they know for that matter)  to get checked out! It is a tremendous shame that bias and stigma remain barriers to mental health that need to be overcome – barriers that are at the heart of what Mental Health Month is all about. (This important observance is noted in the month of May.)

People wouldn’t leave a broken arm or a sprained ankle unattended, so why do some folks feel (men especially) that mental health is something they can just “tough out”?!  You can no more resolve depression or other disorders than you could that untreated arm or ankle! Mental health IS health!  And in this day and age, help is just a mouse click away.

Mental Health America (www.mentalhealthamerica.net) offers a tool-kit that includes fact sheets, a poster, calendar of mental health tips, materials to use with the media and on social media, and more.

Other resources include:

National Alliance on Mental Illnesshttp://www.nami.org

Carson J Spencer Foundationhttp://www.carsonjspencer.org

MentalHealth.gov –  http://www.mentalhealth.gov

Note: This article was originally posted in 2015 and is being re-posted due to it being Mental Health Awareness Month.

 

Great Things Come in Small Packages: 2017 Wisconsin EAPA Conference

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – It’s said that great things come in small packages, and that was definitely the case at the Greater Wisconsin EAPA Chapter’s 28th Annual Conference on Employee Assistance, held April 27-28 at the Best Western Airport Hotel & Convention Center in Milwaukee. There were more than 100 attendees (up from last year), but the keynotes and breakout sessions, in my opinion, were as good as larger conferences in the EA field.

Below are a few of the highlights:

DAY ONE – Sex, Drugs and Rock N’ Roll: The Biology of Addiction was the topic of the opening keynote, presented by David Mays, MD, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mays explained how human biology mediates our addictions and why addictive behavior is so puzzling and difficult to manage.

It All Starts with Food was led by Retired Col. Frank Alvarez, CEO of Frankly Nutritious. “If components are missing and/or of inferior quality, think the Three Little Pigs here, you will not reach your potential in all areas of your life,” said Alvarez. “The fix is simple and easy; nutrition.”

Stephanie Bellin, a wellness trainer with ThedaCare at Work, presented Reasonable Suspicion. “The training [also] gives you skills and tools needed to handle a situation in which an employee might be under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” she said.

Raising Awareness of Your EAP was presented by Michael Jacquart, editor, writer, and communications strategist. “What is an EAP? What does an EAP do? These questions are asked much too often, at least partly due to EAPs not doing enough to market themselves and their services,” he stated.

Legal Considerations for Employee Assistance Professionals was led by Carrie Joshi and Robin Sheridan, attorneys with the law firm Hall, Render, Kilian, Heath & Lyman, P.C. Areas they discussed included leaves of absence, accommodation obligations for disabled employees, acting as an employer consultant, confidentiality (including exceptions) and telehealth. “Second opinions are allowed under the FMLA, but employers should not be asking you for it,” Sheridan said.

DAY TWO – Leading an Intentional Culture was the topic of the keynote, presented by Lee Bouche, CEAP and president of Bouche Consulting, LLC. Workplace culture is more than a written statement of mission and values hung on the wall for employees to see, according to Bouche. “It is living and evolving within the organization and needs to be intentionally led to achieve desired organizational results.”

Michael Goldman, CEAP, Goldman Training and Consultation, led Helping EAPs Advocate for Employees who are on the Autism Spectrum Disorder. Among other areas, Goldman presented case studies, suggestions for supporting individuals with ASD, the EAP’s role to employers, and examples of organizations that embrace inclusion.

Many thanks for the great job by the conference committee: Chuck Austin, We Energies; Kelly Nies, ThedaCare at Work; Nancy Lynn Smith, Magellan Healthcare; and Lori Wessel, Holy Family Memorial EAP. ….. NOTE: The pictures in this post are NOT from this conference.

Time is Running Out!

As a busy employee assistance or other behavioral health specialist, you are well aware that each workday just goes by too fast! You know all too well that in today’s society in which there are so many things competing for our time and attention, that it’s important to elevate awareness of your EAP or other practice.

But you don’t have the time! What projects do you NOT get done due to lack of time? I can help! Maybe you’d like to increase your social media presence but can’t find the time to write a blog. I can ghostwrite one for you on a regular basis.

What about writing news releases that “should” go out a regular basis but end up being more like “once in a while” because you don’t have the time to keep up with them since you’re a “one-man band.”

Whatever it is, don’t keep putting off the projects that are hindering growth of your EAP.  You’ll be able to finally check some of those tasks off your hectic to-do list. Contact me: madjac@tds.net

 

Conferences: Worth the Expense

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For the second-straight year, I have the good fortune of attending this year’s Greater Wisconsin EAPA Chapter Conference in Milwaukee. Like a lot of professionals, I know there is a lot to be gained from attending such events – networking and meeting new contacts, reacquainting oneself with previous attendees, and yes, sometimes drumming up more business.

Unfortunately, many employers only see the latter point as a worthwhile reason for going. You can’t blame them to a certain extent. It’s true that most work organizations are operating “lean and mean” these days, and so conferences are all too often seen as an unnecessary expense. They see events like these only as opportunities to be “order takers” for their products or services – and if the “orders” don’t look like they will offset expenses, it’s off the table. You’re not going. End of story.

They don’t “get” that professional conferences offer tremendous opportunities for face-to-face networking that will end up paying for itself many times over. But the value is often more intrinsic than financial in the beginning, and many employers won’t take that risk.

One of the reasons I left my former employer is because of how poorly networked I was in the other fields that I covered and wrote about, compared to how WELL connected I was with professionals working in employee assistance. It made no sense to me that I could have so many people to turn to for articles, suggestions for topics, and others, in one profession, and so FEW people to contact in other fields. It was literally a “disconnect.”

Perhaps even more important are the friendships you start building when you attend events face to face. Even in today’s online day and age, there is still nothing quite like meeting people in person. I have written about the importance of face to face before on this blog and so I’ll stop there, but suffice it to say that there is a big difference between having people to talk to about a given topic, than it is to simply google it.

If you have a reluctant boss, explain that while the event might not bring in a lot of money immediately, over the long haul the additional contacts will drive more business. If that isn’t enough to get you on a plane to XYZ city, if your personal finances allow it, go to an important conference out of your own pocket – but with the stipulation that if the contacts you meet at the event ends up bringing in enough business to justify your expenses, your employer reimburses you. What would he/she have to use?

Whether it’s called a conference, convention, institute, or roundtable, it’s been my experience that these events are well worth it. A forward thinking employer should think so, too.

 

 

Fake News, Biased News: Bad Journalism has Spread like a Wildfire

Sometimes fires are pretty small and can be put out pretty easily. In other cases, it’s a raging, wild beast that will take multiple firefighters, if not whole departments, to tame. In many cases, it need not have turned into a raging inferno, but it did.

Between fake news, biased news, and no news, the media has come under fire recently like never before. Unfortunately, much of it is deserved. As someone who’s been a practicing journalist for 30 years, here are what I see as some of the big problems today.

* News today is too instantaneous. While it’s possible to get a story “out there” much faster than I would have ever dreamed possible decades ago, today’s breakneck media pace often isn’t a good thing. Ryan Holiday, a media columnist and author of Ego is the Enemy, puts it this way: “You cannot have your news instantly and have it done well. You cannot have your news reduced to 140 characters or less without losing large parts of it.”

Let me read that sentence again. “You cannot have your news instantly and have it done well.” News takes time to gather, check facts, proofread, and have an editor look it over for grammar and context. But in today’s mad rush to fill the numerous news channels and electronic outlets, it’s more like write first, post first, and don’t worry about “that other stuff” (too messy, takes time you know). Besides, who remembers the ramifications of a story that was inaccurate or misleading? The people who were affected by it, that’s who…. But that’s “okay,” in the wild rush for a new scoop, who’s going to take the time to set the story straight, right?

* News today is far too biased. Even the most nonchalant reader has become aware that the majority of today’s media outlets are far too left leaning. This was something some friends of mine pointed out to me 20 years ago, when I was still working as a newspaper reporter. Naturally, I defended my profession and said they were full of hogwash. Today, the problem has only gotten worse, much worse, I dare say.

But it wasn’t always like that. In my day, an editor or J-school professor would not have accepted a story that didn’t have two sides to it. If you were talking to a Democratic candidate and you didn’t get the Republican’s point of view you didn’t have a story. Period. If you were under a really tight deadline, you “might” get away with saying something to the effect that…. “John Smith, Republican candidate for …. office, was not available for comment.” In that way, readers knew that you were at least trying to get a balanced story.

But purposely not seeking anyone else’s opinion was just that in the day, an op-ed piece, and not a news story. A heavily one-sided story would have gotten you a failing grade in a journalism class 30 years ago. I don’t know what they teach today. I shudder to think.

* Today’s journalists aren’t trusted. I’m not sure what the profession can do to get back the respect that used to come with being a reporter. Not that you didn’t louse up a story from time to time! Of course I did! It was embarrassing, humbling, but you said you were sorry, tried to learn from your mistake, and moved on.

And when a source told you something was off the record, you kept it that way because the information you got later on by honoring that request, even though you wanted to use the statement – boy, did you! – ended up being an even better treasure trove of info than the one nugget you wanted to use. The point is, you kept your word, and so while you may have gotten something wrong in a story from time to time, you were TRUSTED.

“In my opinion, the current state of journalism is a dumpster fire,” states Jim Rossi, writer, entrepreneur, and LinkedIn campus editor for UC Berkeley.

What’s being done to dump some water on this blaze? Nowhere near enough, I’m afraid.

Autism in the Workplace

April is Autism Awareness Month.

Individuals with autism vary widely in their abilities, challenges, and need of support. Not every person experiences every symptom. For some, holding on to any job is a challenge. Others are able to establish careers, although they often face significant struggles with communication throughout their working lives.

Although persons with autism are represented in all types of careers, the areas of high technology, technical writing, scientific and academic research, library science, and engineering make good use of their logic and analytical skills, excellent memory for facts, attention to detail, vast knowledge in specialized fields, and tolerance of routine.

Unfortunately, while the number of people diagnosed with autism increases each year, there are not enough quality programs designed to train adults with autism with real-world career skills. As a result, too many are either unemployed or working in menial jobs below their skill level.

Support is vital for adults with autism to remain successful and employed over time. Job coaches, mentors, liaisons – and/or an EAP – are needed to ensure that individuals with autism understand their jobs, and employers and co-workers grasp the unique needs of a colleague with autism.

Companies that have successfully hired and retained individuals with disabilities (including those with autism) include Walgreens, Glaxo Smith Kline, Clark Manufacturing, Outback Steakhouse, and CVS Pharmacy. Firms like these have developed programs so managers and employees alike can learn about the benefits of providing accommodations for workers with disabilities, such as autism.

Coding Autism is another such organization. To help adults with autism learn the fundamental skills necessary to secure an entry-level web developer job, Coding Autism recently announced a new program to train those with autism how to code.

To help fund the program, and allow contributors to provide for scholarships so that the entire 15-person first class can attend tuition-free, Coding Autism launched a crowdfunding campaign at: https://startsomegood.com/coding-autism-training-adults-with-autism-in-code.

Support is vital for adults with autism to remain successful and employed over time. Job coaches, mentors, liaisons – and/or an EAP – are needed to ensure that individuals with autism understand their jobs, and employers and co-workers grasp the unique needs of a colleague with autism.

Individuals with autism typically have social difficulties, therefore social aspects of workplace relationships are an important factor for support persons such as job coaches, EA professionals, and others to address.

Support must be tailored to the individual. Each adult with autism has different skills and challenges to overcome in the workplace. Adults with autism are a valuable sector of the workplace and with support can be very productive and valued employees.

In a day and age in which reliable, skilled help is too often in short supply, it is in management’s best interests to work effectively with persons with autism.

Resources include:

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families: https://www.autismspeaks.org

Job Accommodation Network (JAN) offers free information for individuals and employers on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues: www.askjan.org

Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support (OASIS) provides resources for individuals and medical professionals: www.aspergerssyndrome.org

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates charges of discrimination against employers: www.eeoc.gov