• print
  • decrease text sizeincrease text size
    text

5 Employment Trends to Watch in 2023

Share this post

As we enter 2023, changing employment trends have emerged that are already impacting countless employees and job seekers.  

Here are 5 specific developments that Allison & Taylor Reference & Background Checking anticipates for 2023:

  1. Given a projected tight labor market, employees are in a strong position vis a vis their compensation, benefits, and workplace accommodations.  Those seeking new employment — particularly those with technical skills — are in high demand and likely to remain so for the near term.  Increased opportunities for college graduates in 2023 are projected as well.
  1. While many employers are fostering a “return-to-the-office” mandate, hybrid and remote work are highly valued by countless employees which will ensure their continued presence in the marketplace.  Also likely: the expanded presence of the four-day workweek, benefitting employers and employees alike with lower burnout, reduced absenteeism, and increased sales.
  1. The modern workforce will continue to trend towards freelancing.  The growth of freelancing in recent years has easily exceeded that of the traditional workforce, with approximately half of all working millennials working in some freelance capacity.  Despite the current efforts of some states – notably California – to regulate the “gig” economy, it is estimated that a majority of the U.S. workforce will freelance by 2027.  
  1. Employers are increasing their levels of employee surveillance.  The number of employees who are monitoring their employees’ activities is growing, a function of ever-increasing numbers of employees working remotely or hybrid (and using their computers for both professional and personal use), a concern with employees leaking sensitive company information, and decreasing corporate costs in monitoring technology.  Employers are also watching their workers to avoid sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits, in large part due to recent high-profile cases that resulted in the termination of well-known corporate executives.
  1. Workplace Abuse Will Continue As An Ongoing Fact of Life.  Previous surveys by the Workplace Bullying Institute (workplacebullying.org) identified approximately 27% of responders as having current or past direct experience with abusive conduct at work, with bosses constituted the majority of bullies. 

While the degree to which this might be mitigated as the result of remote/hybrid employment has yet to be determined, countless employers offer negative reference commentary regarding their former employees, adversely affecting their future employment prospects.  

Fortunately, third party reference checks conducted with former employers can often reveal information that can be utilized for remedial action, such as Cease & Desist letters, or more aggressive legal action.

This blog was contributed to Workplace Fairness by Heidi Allison-Shane. Republished with permission.


Share this post

Team Building Activities That Improve Engagement for Remote Teams

Share this post

As of 2022, around 26% of Americans work remotely. This should come as no real surprise; remote work has a wealth of benefits, including boosting productivity and allowing employees to have a better work-life balance.

But it also has its disadvantages, including a lack of team interaction.

To tackle this, an increasing number of companies are putting more focus on team-building activities.

If you have a remote team, be it local or global, take a look at these top team games to bring your staff together and encourage successful collaboration.

Monthly Team Quizzes

Quizzes are always a crowd-pleaser and super easy to take part in remotely or in-house, so if you have a blend of office and work-from-home staff, it’s a great choice!

Those who are in the workplace can get together to create teams, heading onto the video chat as one. Remote workers can join the group video chat, but each team can be given a private online “room” to discuss answers in.

If you have remote teams, it might be a good idea to give everyone a list of questions to go through in their groups and a time limit. When the time is up, each team heads into the main group chat to share their answers and see who wins.

Organize Virtual Workouts

Over half of Americans admit to not living a healthy lifestyle, with many wanting to change their ways and become fitter. But when you have an important job that takes up most of your day, it can be tricky to prioritize health. That’s where your business comes in.

As an employer, you can help staff to get more exercise and forge lasting connections with virtual or in-person workout sessions.

Once a week, put aside time for a non-compulsory team workout. Hire a professional trainer to host the session, guiding your team through exercise classes to help them get healthier and happier. Set up a group chat for everyone involved and encourage conversations about fitness goals and workout motivation. 

Not only does this help your team get to know one another and collaborate better, but exercise is also a great way to boost engagement and productivity! With numerous workplace benefits, this activity is a no-brainer.

Challenge Staff to a Scavenger Hunt

Just because you have remote staff doesn’t mean that every activity has to take place in the digital world.

If your team works near the same city, for example, why not invite them to an in-person event? This is a great way to encourage your team to meet up and get to know each other, and also helps to build your company’s reputation as a positive employer.

A fun in-person activity that should get lots of RSVPs is a scavenger hunt. Encourage your team to work together to overcome challenges and solve clues, helping them get to know one another and become more comfortable solving problems as a group.

If you’re in New York, we highly recommend checking out The Secret City’s NYC Scavenger Hunt, which they describe as “Urban adventures bringing the secrets of New York City to life.” Sounds good to us!

Send Daily Lunch Snaps

Not every activity has to be overly complicated. Some of the simplest group activities can be the best, helping to generate better rapport between staff and build long-lasting connections. One such idea is sending daily pictures of lunches. It’s simple but effective! 

Start a group chat and add whoever wants to join. Every working day (or most days), participants send a snap of their lunch to the group, and conversations will start to flow naturally.

Discussions over who has the best lunch, which flavor chips people prefer, and what they should make the next day are just some of the ways that this activity will get people talking! It’s a particularly good idea for new teams, helping break the ice quickly and get everyone over those first-chat nerves.

A Workplace Trivia Game

This is another game that can be done in person or remotely. You could plan it for the last hour on Friday, for example, allowing everyone to finish work early and turn their attention to some workplace trivia. Create a range of workplace-themed questions, such as:

  • Who has a new puppy called Yorkie
  • Who is the company’s biggest competitor
  • Which employee has their birthday in May
  • Who’s getting married in December
  • How many employees does the company have

Not only is this a fun game that should lead to plenty of laughs, it also helps staff get to know each other and improve their team collaboration skills  – a win-win! 

Final Words

Team building for remote staff isn’t just about improving teamwork but also about helping staff get to know each other better. With better workplace relationships, you’ll see improvements in collaboration, problem-solving, and engagement.

Hopefully, these activities have given you the inspiration to start planning your own, bringing your team together no matter where they work.

This blog was contributed to Workplace Fairness on January 4, 2023. Published with permission.

About the Author: Gemma Williams is a contributor to Workplace Fairness.


Share this post

All Workplaces Need an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Share this post

Every savvy employer knows that your workers are the heart and soul of your business. Without them, your company simply couldn’t survive. Unfortunately, though, employees have not always been afforded the respect and care they deserve. 

For too long, workers have been expected — and even required –to leave their concerns at the office door. But that is neither feasible nor desirable. If employers want the best from their employees, then they must be willing to give their staff the best in return. 

This is just one of the many reasons why implementing a robust employee assistance program (EAP) is so critical to building strong compassionate business leadership today. 

What Is an EAP?

Employee assistance programs (EAP) can take many forms, depending on the needs of your workforce and your company’s capacity to help meet them. EAPs are designed to offer diverse forms of support for employees facing particular life challenges — from illness to caregiving to preparing for retirement.  

In general, however, EAPs encompass a range of services — from financial planning assistance to legal and medical advocacy.

EAPs for Retirement Planning

No matter what the average age of your workforce or how young they may be in their careers, retirement is a concern for every worker. For those who are nearing retirement age, however, financial anxiety can take a devastating toll. 

Because of this, integrating assistance with retirement financial planning may well be one of the greatest benefits you can offer employees in your EAP.  The peace of mind of knowing that one can live securely and well in retirement can free employees of a tremendous burden, and in turn, promote their overall well-being, loyalty, and performance.

Medical Advocacy

There are few circumstances in life more frightening than when you or someone you love is facing a medical crisis. This is why ensuring that your employees have access to a patient navigator or medical advocate can be a tremendous asset for your EAP package. 

Patient navigators, for instance, can help your employees connect with care providers, manage health and life insurance policies, and in general, ensure that your employee and their loved ones receive the highest quality of care and the best possible patient experience.

The ability to access expert support such as that provided by a patient navigator or medical advocate may well mean a life or death difference for your worker or someone they love.

The Takeaway

Employee assistance programs (EAP) aren’t just an optional perk of doing business. They’re more than an ideal benefit to add to your workers’ compensation in the future. Today’s employees, after all, are facing challenges that could not have been imagined a few short years ago. From the trauma of the global pandemic to the current financial anxieties borne of a global economy on the verge of a recession, your staff has endured a lot, and they need support today.

An EAP is designed to provide that support, helping employees access the legal, medical, and financial resources they need to overcome whatever challenges they may face.  


Share this post

How to Ease Return-to-Office Anxiety

Share this post

Dan Matthews

Businesses have been returning to their offices post-pandemic for some time now, albeit to a ‘new normal.’ With such significant ongoing change and unprecedented concerns, returning to the office is understandably evoking some anxieties for both staff and employers. 

As an employer, it can be challenging to navigate these transitions while keeping staff anxieties down and productivity high. Here are some strategies to help manage employee anxiety when returning to office life.

Take the time to understand their anxieties

We can’t fix what we don’t acknowledge. So, before you attempt to support returning employees’ anxieties, it’s important to first understand what exactly they are feeling anxious about.

There can be a number of reasons why an employee may feel anxious about returning to the office environment; it could be a social anxiety after so long working from home, concerns about adapting back to the faster pace of office life, fear of feeling unsafe – the list goes on.

It can also sometimes be difficult for the employee themselves to pinpoint what they are feeling concerned about, so it’s essential to take the time to talk it through with them in an understanding way. In some instances, it can be helpful to create an anonymous form of reporting their worries, allowing them to feel more comfortable to share what they are feeling, and giving you a deeper insight as to what needs to be addressed. 

Provide tools and strategies to manage anxiety

It’s important to take a proactive approach to supporting your employees through this transition (as opposed to simply talking it out). 

Invest some time and resources into educating your staff on subjects such as stress and panic attacks, and provide them with a variety of coping strategy information. Encourage a judgment-free environment in which employees can feel comfortable practicing breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques at their desk, or request for some time-out to get some fresh air. 

This is also a great time to implement some general, ongoing wellness-related resources, such as wellbeing check-in apps and perks such as discounts on local yoga classes. It is important to also implement security technology that not only secures your employees in a physical and cyber space but also conveniently.

A type of technology that can help reduce anxiety about forgetting employee badges to gain access to buildings are keyless commercial access control systems, which leverage mobile phones as credentials instead of physical cards and fobs.

Stay open and flexible

When the pandemic hit, businesses (and everyone) had to adapt to being far more mentally flexible – virtually everything about our daily lives had to be recalibrated to fit into the chaos as best as possible.

This level of ongoing disruption brought about some changes that have not disappeared alongside the gradual quieting of Covid. Remote working might have been hard for some to adapt to, but once it became the norm, many workers have experienced the advantages and don’t want to return to the former working model.

According to a 2021 survey by FlexJobs, 98% of those who became remote workers during the pandemic either want to remain so (65%), or at least wish for ongoing flexible, hybrid work options (33%) post-Covid. Even more telling, is that 60% of respondents reported that they would seek new employment if their current position refused to allow ongoing remote working options. 

Unless your business will experience significant negative impacts from facilitating ongoing flexible work options, it’s in your best interests to remain flexible with your staff and be willing to reimagine how this new normal could look. 

Prioritize clear and meaningful communication

Staff resistant to returning to ‘normal’ office life may feel agitated and even confused as to why it’s necessary to do so. Left unaddressed, these feelings of confusion can lead to resentment, inevitably impacting working relations and productivity.

If returning to the physical office, either full or part-time, is unavoidable, then make sure you communicate clearly and openly with your staff. Make sure they understand the reasons behind your decision and why it’s so important to the running of the business.

Be willing to answer any questions or concerns, and also be open to hearing their opinion and ideas regarding how best to move forward; if you don’t agree, that’s fine, but at least you have heard them out and demonstrated your willingness to consider their point of view.

Outline all Covid-related protocols clearly 

As we know, the Covid-19 vaccination doesn’t fully protect us from contracting the virus, or passing it on to others. Some workers may be understandably concerned about the elevated risks of returning to the office, especially if they live with or care for vulnerable people. 

Make sure you adhere to all necessary Covid-19 protocols and keep your staff fully informed of all policies and requirements. Giving your staff the reassurance that all appropriate measures are being taken can help them to feel more comfortable about the return to office – some may be more concerned than others, and you will have to take this on a case-by-case basis, ensuring that you provide adequate consideration and understanding to their position. 

Meet your employees where they are at

Ultimately, your employees are all individuals with their own unique feelings, needs and concerns, and treating them as such will help to address any return-to-office anxieties. Investing in your employees should always be a priority, but all the more when there are so many changes afoot.

In many cases, people just need a little reassurance and a sense that their concerns are validated, so meet them where they are at and do what you can to meet their needs.

This blog was contributed to Workplace Fairness by Dan Matthews.


Share this post

How Does a Company Qualify as a Great Place to Work?

Share this post

To ensure a company will succeed, it needs employees. That might seem obvious, but hiring and retaining the right ones can be tough. Hiring people is strenuous in and of itself, but keeping those people motivated to continue pursuing their career through your company can be even more challenging.

Some companies are considered a Great Place To Work and have a very
high retention rate when it comes to their employees. We hope this article helps you better understand how your business can reach this goal.

Culture and Values

All companies should have a list of values that they want their employees to live by, within their working hours. These values help create an atmosphere where employees feel like a team across all departments, in many different ways. Although a company may clearly state their values, they can be prioritized differently depending on the company and the administration team running the business. Employees coming in will learn and follow the example set by those
above them. This will have an effect on the way your employees work and if they choose to stay.

If the company and its reputable employees don’t abide by the values the company claims to work by, they might stray in a different direction. Sometimes this can get out of hand. An example of a value one company might list is integrity; the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

If an employee works for a company long enough, they will realize
quickly if that company actually portrays this value. Not only could this cause new hires to start cutting corners and become more outspoken in the wrong ways, but it could lead to a higher employee turnover rate.

Try to have an employee-first mindset when creating these values.

Benefits and Recognition

There are many ways for a company to grab the attention of someone in search of a job. Some might look for a specific salary, but not all can negotiate compensation. Others are simply looking for a company that will recognize their employees and show their appreciation for all the work they provide. Whatever category your company chooses to focus on, make sure the website or job listing points that out. When applying to jobs, this might be the first place people will look.

Sometimes compensation is harder to increase as this depends on how well the company is profiting. Providing the right benefits, allowing opportunities for employees to receive appreciation, and giving recognition when it’s due can balance out the happiness your employees feel when it comes to how the company treats them.

As far as benefits go, most companies will likely include your typical insurance coverage for medical, dental, and vision.

Along with these basic benefits, it is important to provide your employees with information regarding the open enrollment period. This is the time where employees can sign up for specific benefits and only occurs once a year. Letting them know about this period of time will allow your employees to make changes to their benefits in a timely manner, that won’t raise red flags for your insurance company.

The benefits that catch the eye of people in search of a job are the ones that aren’t so typical such as paid time off (PTO) and family medical leave. Some
companies also give out holiday bonuses as a thank you for the year’s work.

There are many different ways to give back to your employees, these are just a few options.

Networking and Events

Corporate team-building events are a great way to allow employees to connect on a more personal level. Sometimes those events look like networking. Networking is a chance for employees from one company to connect with others from similar companies. This could be great for many reasons. It could open up doors for companies to work together for a bigger purpose or combine their services to reach more potential customers.

Networking can also bring in new employees by providing classes for others to learn what it is your company specializes in. Consider networking as an event that goes outside of your business.

Other events within your company could be things such as holiday parties, in-office events, or happy hours that occur outside of the work day.

These events are a great way to help your employees feel truly connected. Throwing holiday parties is a fun way to give everyone a chance to unwind, while getting to know each other and can help boost morale. Happy hour would allow employees the same chance to relax while still conversing about work. Who knows… maybe a new idea could arise through these conversations.

In-office events could be for a birthday or achievement within the company. This just shows your employees how much you appreciate them and the work they provide.

Remember, we’re all human and we are all working towards a common goal.

Retaining employees could seem like a challenge at first, but organizing your thoughts and achievements can make your company a great place to work.


Share this post

Pizza Does Not Motivate Employees More Than Cash

Share this post

Laura Clawson

Pizza motivates workers more than cash, according to a headline that’s been making the rounds — in disbelief, not agreement — on social media. So what’s going on with this? Who would say that? Because … what?

As it turns out, it’s not an idea pulled directly out of the ass of some corporate consultant. Even though that’s what it sounds like. Although an image of a headline is circulating now, the coverage dates to 2016, when psychologist and behavioral economist Dan Ariely released the results of a study testing three ways of motivating workers against a control group that was not offered an incentive. Pizza, a complimentary text from the boss, and about $30 cash were the three incentives. Pizza came in just behind the “Well done!” text from the boss, with cash doing the worst. Or so Ariely said.

Before we get into what this study would and would not mean if it was carried out absolutely perfectly, there’s this: In 2021, Ariely had to retract a different study — one on honesty — because of fake data. So that’s one grain of salt to add to your reading of his pizza study. But even if the pizza study was conducted with the utmost care and diligence and produced completely accurate data, there’s still absolutely no reason to believe it’s universally true. 

So any bosses out there who are thinking, “Great, I’m going to toss my workers the occasional pizza rather than a raise,” should slow their roll, for a number of reasons.

First off, it’s one study of one group of workers. Specifically, workers in a semiconductor plant in Israel. (That’s why it’s not exactly $30 in cash.) That setting offered the advantage of being able to measure productivity in the form of how many chips the workers made. But it’s not necessarily generalizable, as the coverage implies.

We don’t know how much those workers were paid regularly. This is a significant question when you’re considering how much motivation $30 would provide. There are people for whom $30 is more than four hours of work, and there are people for whom it’s the tip they casually give their hairdresser or waiter. A small cash bonus for someone who doesn’t worry about money lands really differently than the same amount of cash for someone worried about making rent.

The fact that this study’s incentives were one-time also matters. If you get a “Well done!” text from your boss every week, it might just start seeming a little insincere and pro forma. If you get a pizza party every week, you might start thinking it would be nice to just get to go home early instead.

Whereas if you got a $30-a-week raise, well, it wouldn’t be a very big raise — you deserve more! — but you’d be talking about $1,560 a year. In many parts of the United States, that’s a month’s rent.

If we want to put it in pizza terms, with $30 a week extra, you could get a large pizza as a meal for your family and still have some money left over, rather than eating a couple of slices at work. For a lot of families in this country, a weekly pizza night registers as a real extra in life.

But $30 a week could also mean back-to-school clothes for your kids. It could mean not falling behind on the electric bill. These things matter to people.

Indeed, according to a 2022 Gallup poll of more than 13,000 U.S. workers, the most important thing in considering a new job would be “a significant increase in income or benefits.” Nearly two out of three workers said that was “very important” to them. “Greater work-life balance and better personal wellbeing” came in second, with 61% identifying it as very important. It’s safe to say they didn’t mean pizza parties by that.

What’s appealing about Ariely’s study, to managers, is that it looked at one-time incentives, not at the effects of treating workers well and paying them a living wage week in and week out.

As articles like “51 Employee Appreciation Day Ideas That Won’t Break The Bank” show, management is always looking for ways to convey “appreciation” without spending money, let alone giving raises. Whereas workers are pretty clear that being paid enough to live on is important — and bosses, who are themselves paid well enough for $30 to seem irrelevant, generally don’t want to hear it. 

This is not a hypothetical.

Recently, as workers at a Minneapolis Trader Joe’s moved to unionize, a worker put a sign in the break room saying, “We need a living wage, not a pizza party,” Josh Eidelson reports. How did management respond? By starting an investigation and grilling workers about the sign.

When that’s the attitude you take to workers saying they need a living wage, you kind of show the real motivation behind the pizza party.

This blog originally appeared at Daily Kos on October 20, 2022. Republished with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson has been a contributing editor since December 2006. She has been full-time staff since 2011, and she is currently the assistant managing editor.


Share this post

Are You Entitled to Time Off Work for Rehab?

Share this post

Did you know that only around 10% of people who need it get help from an appropriate rehabilitation facility? There are a number of reasons for this, including budget constraints, family responsibilities, and location, making entering a good rehab a difficult task. However, one of the biggest challenges those struggling with addiction face is taking leave from their workplace.

Taking time off for rehab is scary in itself, but when you don’t know the laws around it, it’s even worse. Whether you’re an employer, lawyer, or member of staff, it’s vital that you know the rights of employees who need to go to rehab. Let’s take a look. 

Can I Get Fired For Going to Rehab?

Most workplaces respond positively to time off for mental health and addiction. As the stigma around these topics decreases and employers risk facing criticism if they don’t modernize their policies, it’s highly unlikely you’d be fired for taking time off to attend rehab.

Even if you do have an employer who doesn’t respect putting your wellbeing first, the U.S. has laws in place to prevent this from happening. In short, it would be quite hard for an employer to fire you for going to rehab, whether they want to or not.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

In the U.S., the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was brought in in 1993 to ensure employees can take time off for medical or family-related reasons. This leave is unpaid, but the law prevents you from being fired. This act covers those who require treatment at mental health and addiction rehabilitation centers. It also protects anyone who takes care of that individual during their recovery, such as a parent or spouse.

The FMLA allows for twelve weeks of unpaid leave per year for those suffering from substance abuse and mental illness. When you return, your employer must welcome you back under the same terms and conditions as when you left (e.g., the same pay and the same allocated holiday days).

Be aware, though, that you must be receiving treatment during this time. If you stop attending rehab or are struggling with substance abuse without seeking treatment, you won’t be covered by the act and can lose your job.

Are You Protected by FMLA?

Before leaving work to attend rehab, we advise speaking with your employer about whether you’re covered by FMLA. Some companies have substance abuse policies that render the FMLA ineffective, meaning that you won’t be covered. Check with HR or your direct manager to understand the company’s stance.

Other than speaking with your employer, you can take a look at the following criteria to work out if you’re covered:

  • Your employers must be covered
  • The company employs 50+ workers within a 75-mile radius
  • You must have worked at the company for at least one year in total (the months don’t have to be consecutive)
  • You must have worked for at least 1,250 hours over that year

But, even if you think you’re covered, it’s always best to check in with your company just in case.

Is Your Employer Covered by the FMLA?

Employers that are covered by FMLA include:

  • Government agencies
  • Public or private schools
  • Private companies with 50+ employees

If your employer is covered by FMLA, they must make all staff aware. This is usually done through paperwork for new hires or is detailed in the employee handbook.

The FMLA Process For Requesting Leave

When requesting leave for rehab, it’s vital that you follow the FMLA process to ensure you’re protected by the law. Each employer will have its only policies you must adhere to, but in general, the process has three steps.

The first is to collect all information required by your workplace to process your leave request. This can include:

  • How long you’ll be in treatment
  • Confirmation you’ll be able to resume work after treatment
  • A copy of your essential duties at work

You’ll then file for an FMLA leave request, which should give your employer 30+ days’ notice. You don’t need to mention FMLA if this is your first leave request. Within five days of the request, your employer must confirm or deny your request.

It’s also important to note that you’re not required to hand over any medical records if your employer doesn’t specifically request them. All communication between your health care provider and employer must be in-line with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations regarding privacy.

Other Acts That Protect Employees Attending Rehab

There is another act that you can look into if your employer isn’t covered by FMLA. This is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If your addiction meets the requirements, you’ll be protected against discrimination in the workplace, including being fired. They must also make it easier for you to receive treatment, such as by being flexible with working hours to allow you to attend sessions.

Speaking to Your Employer About Time Off

If you’re worried about bringing up your need for treatment with your employer, remember that you’re far less likely to be treated negatively for seeking treatment rather than for substance abuse. Most employers will be sympathetic and admire your bravery.

If your nerves are holding you back, get in touch with an addiction center you feel comfortable with and ask them for help. They can give you tips and empower you to speak out, giving you the confidence you need to secure your treatment.

Final Words

Requesting leave for addiction treatment is never an easy task, but knowing your rights can make it a lot simpler. Do your research before putting in your request and prepare what you’d like to say to help your meeting go as smoothly as possible. Remember, if you’re covered by FMLA, you can’t be fired.

This blog was contributed directly to Workplace Fairness by contributor Gemma Williams — formerly Gemma Hart.


Share this post

The Importance of Providing Mental Health Days for Your Team

Share this post

upload image

With nearly 1 in 5 American adults being diagnosed with a mental health condition each year, introducing Mental Health Days in the workplace could, in theory, benefit around 20% of your employees.  

Although most workplaces agree that employee wellbeing is essential, there is still some uncertainty around the concept of ‘Mental Health Days’; from employers granting and embracing them, to employees feeling ashamed or embarrassed to request them. 

For some, managers and assistants alike, bringing up the topic of mental health may seem like a difficult conversation to have at work. But, changing mindsets and reframing mental health days will begin to break down stigmas and overall create a more open dialogue and a more productive and healthy work environment. 

Providing, and even encouraging, regular Mental Health Days could decrease extended periods of leave for employees, in particular Executives and Senior Managers. “Executives face unique stressors,” says Kayla Gill, Content Director at LuxuryRehabs.com. “With so many people depending on you, […] many executives feel like they don’t have the time or freedom to step away from work in order to begin recovery.” 

Granting regular Mental Health Day’s could alleviate some of the pressure that leads executives to seek recovery help from work-related stress. This can result in many serious problems, such as anxiety disorders and even substance abuse and addiction.

In this article, we will define what a Mental Health Day is, discuss why they are so important and how they can help to reduce work-based stress and anxiety, and ultimately help to reduce burnout.  

What is a Mental Health Day 

Much like a traditionally accepted ‘sick day’, a Mental Health Day is taking a day off to recover. Having a cold, sickness bug or another physical sickness may seem easier to ‘prove’ as there are obvious visible symptoms. But, struggling with mental health is often harder to explain as many of the side effects are invisible to others, though felt strongly by the sufferer. 

Mental Health Days could be scheduled in advance. For example, if employees are working towards a deadline, encouraging them to take a Mental Health Day after this has passed, to recuperate and de-stress following their hard work could see them returning refreshed. 

However, mental health isn’t always something that can be pre-planned or prepared for. Sometimes severe anxiety or other mental health disorders can come on suddenly, and employees may need to request a Mental Health Day in the morning for that day. 

Being accepting of all Mental Health Day requests is important to changing attitudes towards mental health in the workplace. Ensuring employees, of all levels, are aware of how to request them, in a safe space, will encourage uptake, contributing to employee wellbeing and overall company culture. 

Why Mental Health Days are Important

While having just one day off may not seem revolutionary, and it certainly won’t make stress or anxiety disappear, it is an important step in avoiding complete burnout. 

It encourages employees to recognize signs of stress before they become larger problems or contribute to developing anxiety disorders. But it is equally important for employers to look out for early signs of stress 

If multiple employees in the workplace and working remotely are requesting Mental Health Days, or there is a noticeable increase of them within a team or coinciding with a project, it could be a sign that workload is too much, deadlines are too tight, or overall stressors need to be addressed. 

How to reduce stress and anxiety in the workplace. 

Mental Health Days could be counterproductive for staff if met with negativity or suspicion. Staff could be hesitant to request Mental Health Days through fear of how they will be perceived or feelings of guilt for prioritizing their mental wellbeing. This leads to them not being able to fully relax and focus on self-care on their requested day. Here it is vital that there is a company-wide positive approach to Mental Health Days, and a united mission to reduce stress across the board. 

Although not all mental health days are impacted by work-related stress, it is still worth finding ways to reduce stressors for employees. Overwhelm and pressure are two key factors that contribute to stress and anxiety and could be a cause for staff to request mental health leave. 

Managing tasks, good communication and regular check-ins will help gauge team morale and present a space for issues to be aired in an accepting space.  

High performers and Executives are at a higher risk of burnout and more likely to experience workplace stress, finding it hard to say no at work and often having to manage multiple projects, teams and tasks. Noticing early signs of stress in these members, and all staff, will help to indicate where Mental Health Days could benefit, and where workload needs to be shifted. 

Final Thoughts 

With 40% of American workers finding their jobs stressful, implementing processes to alleviate stress in combination with scheduling Mental Health Days could have a huge impact on overall employee wellbeing and productivity. 

Recognizing signs of stress in staff, opening conversations about mental health, and encouraging scheduled Mental Health Days, especially after high-pressure projects can positively impact stress levels. 

This blog was printed with permission.

About the Author: Gemma Hart is a HR and Recruitment Specialist based in the South of England. Since graduating from Sussex University in 2016, Gemma has developed her skill set and knowledge around the future of recruitment and graduate education.


Share this post

How to Keep On Keeping On

Share this post

Even asking the questions is exhausting.

Who’s making the Covid decisions, and why do they change every day? How has the workload doubled? What about the new extremes of micro-management? Which of my co-workers, or their families, or my customers or patients or students are going to get sick?

And why can’t we seem to do anything to stop all this suffering?

The pull to give up, to withdraw, to hunker down and “just survive” is almost irresistible—even for a committed activist like you. 

But here we are. We are connecting to one another at work, even if just through images on a screen. We know that others are in the same situation, and we remember that the fight we were already committed to—for decent, dignified work and the power needed to grab it—was always going to be a long and hard haul. 

So how do we make it through to the other side of this pandemic, with some semblance of solidarity and sanity?

COUNT ON YOUR VALUES

Check in with yourself, often. Remind yourself what you believe and what you want to do with your beliefs. Those have not changed just because our employers have found a new way to slap us around. Your deep values and beliefs can shape your response to any situation. 

Say the boss has abruptly and unilaterally implemented an awful new policy. You have a choice: shoulder it without question, complain bitterly, or think critically about a response.

If your values include self-respect and respect for your co-workers, then the first two options make no sense. Accepting abuse is incompatible with your values. Just complaining is an advertisement of powerlessness. Why not start with the intention to resist? Even as just an idea in your mind, the intention is necessary to push through hopelessness that nothing can be done.

BROADCAST DETERMINATION

Even if you can barely scrape yourself off the ground, don’t broadcast your despair to co-workers. The tendency towards hopeless dismay is very contagious, but so is determination to not give up. Commiseration and complaining are a waste of time; engaging your co-workers around productive ways to resist is gold.

Consider how often you’ve found yourself thinking that most of your co-workers are apathetic, or are frightened, or just go along to get along. It may seem true, but remember: these are the attitudes that people take on when they have given in to helplessness.

Your commitment to resisting oppression should help you reach past these defenses thrown up by your co-workers, simply by steadily asserting confidence that things can change through collective action. No need to be falsely optimistic, or to cheerlead; just be doggedly committed to your own—and their own—dignity.

SET A REAL GOAL

Some goal is better than no goal. It doesn’t help to be overly ambitious (we need to get rid of this guy, or let’s all walk out right now, or I’m refusing to follow that policy no matter what). Instead, simply start with a clear conviction that something can be done, that some action can be taken together with co-workers. 

Setting any goal that can be achieved is a far better use of your energy than setting a wildly unrealistic goal too soon. Is it a realistic goal to talk to colleagues and encourage them? Then that’s the goal to work toward.

Say your next goal is to get together with co-workers to ask the boss probing questions about the new policy. In lots of workplaces this itself will be seen as insurrection, and people will need coaching and encouragement to take such a step.

Again, it’s the attitude of collective noncompliance that matters. We should all be noncompliant with the fear that pervades the worksite, with the right of the employer to be unilateral and coercive, and with the “normal” subordinate behavior that’s expected of workers. Practicing noncompliance in small but purposeful ways builds the muscle of collective power, and pushes against helplessness.

For example: think of one totally useless form of record-keeping you’re required to do. Talk with co-workers who also despise this waste of time, and persistently reach out until you have a critical mass—it could be five people or 100, depending on your workplace—who are willing to just stop doing it.

Think through the arguments management will use to scare people, and how to respond. Think whether this particular form of noncompliance might affect anyone else’s work adversely. Consider what to do if management threatens discipline.

Always aim for a big enough group to call management’s bluff. If you win, even on something small, talk about it in the group and reflect on how it happened. Everyone’s confidence will increase for the next fight.

LOVE THOSE CO-WORKERS

Since our only path to power at work is through collective action, the need for connection to co-workers is beyond debate. But it’s quite possible that you don’t love your co-workers! Maybe your workplace is rife with gossip, cliques, racist hostility, competitive friction, or distrust.

Or maybe there’s so much turnover that you barely know your colleagues. Maybe Covid means you never get to see them, or only in Zoom meetings where the supervisor talks endlessly.

None of this is reason not to strive to love the people you work with. Yes, love—meaning a deep-down commitment to the idea that they are human beings capable of collective dignity.

As we know from lifetimes of loving family and friends, love can have infinite expressions: When a co-worker snaps at you, don’t snap back. If you admire the way a colleague has conducted herself, tell her. If someone in your workplace is driving himself beyond reason, support him to regain perspective and slow down.

And wherever despair and hopelessness rear up in a co-worker, find the way to quietly and confidently express your trust. (No one can love everyone they work with; set a reasonable goal of those with the best potential to be allies.)

STAY ON YOUR FEET

An amazing byproduct of the effort to love your co-workers is that it makes you feel less alone. Not only does it chip away at isolation—expressing your care and respect also builds out a productive network of people willing to trust one another. And when there is a network—even a small one—of co-workers in the habit of action, everyone’s confidence is built up.

If you happen to be brave enough to speak up to the boss individually, you may come to believe you’re the only one who will, or who can. Others will depend on your courage, rather than exercising their own; this actually reinforces isolation. 

But a network where you depend on each other can help you lift yourself back up at your own lowest moments. Trusting each other also means fostering debate, tolerating criticism, making apologies, and granting forgiveness. It can become a “righteous cycle” of mutual respect leading to critical reflection leading to purposeful action.

Whatever form your purposeful action eventually takes—bargaining a Covid Memorandum of Understanding, fighting for more staff, defending benefits, demanding safety, beating back a bullying boss—if it is grounded in relationships that sustain you, it will keep you on your feet for the many struggles still ahead.

This blog originally appeared at Labor Notes on January 5, 2021. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Ellen David Friedman is a retired organizer for Vermont NEA and a member of the Labor Notes board.


Share this post

How to Help Employees Adjust To Remote Work

Share this post

With a global pandemic raging on, most of us have started working remotely from the safety and security of our homes. However, the transition from physical work to remote work hasn’t been easy. Remote working has loads of benefits, such as no office distractions, no frustrating commute, no colleagues interrupting your workflow, etc.

However, there are a few things that you need to do in order to help your employees adjust to remote work. If you work remotely, it is no longer easy to keep your personal and professional life separate – you are susceptible to working longer hours and more likely to be stressed.

What are the Difficulties Faced in Remote Work

  • Isolation

Remote work sounds enticing but it comes with its fair share of challenges and issues. One of the biggest issues with remote work is isolation. With COVID-19 wrecking havoc in our lives and most of us being under lockdown, the deficit in human interaction is already being felt by all of us.

The camaraderie of working in your office, chatting with your colleagues, etc. is something which we are all missing.

  • Issues with Virtual Communication

Want to ask your colleague something? Having an issue with the project that you are currently working on and need some help? We all are used to wandering over someone else’s desk and getting the help that we need.

For most of us, work communication went from face-to-face to over-the-internet overnight. This forced everyone to adopt complex working structures that led to dissonance and confusion. Where should we send the updates? Should we email it to our supervisor or should we start a Slack thread? All these and a million other questions, with no one, to answer them clearly!

Helping Employees Adjust to Remote Work

Even though the management needs to take care of the individual needs of the employees, a couple of things are very important to ensure that all of the employees are on the same page and are facing no difficulties while working from home. It comes under your managerial responsibilities to provide the best workplace environment to your employees.

  • Establishing Clear Communication Structure

The ways you communicate with your employees need to be clearly set. Email and Slack updates aren’t enough – you need to supplement them with video conferences regularly. However, don’t go overboard with these but do keep them a part of your workweek so that the employees will be able to chat in real-time and interact with each other regarding any issues.

Make sure that your employees know how to use the virtual communication tools and they are not lagging behind due to lack of knowledge.

  • Frequent Check-Ins

The most ideal way of ensuring that your employees are alright is by checking in with them regularly. Don’t be overbearing – just give them a daily call, or set calls throughout the week to ensure that they are working properly and aren’t facing any difficulties. It is very important to ensure that you providing all the workplace rights to your employees while they work remotely.

  • Offer encouragement and support

You need to remember that your employees have just gone through a shift – a shift that hasn’t been easy for most of them. Keep in contact with your team and connect with them on an emotional level. Ask them if they are facing any issues and if you can help them in any way, don’t hesitate to provide your services.

However, you have to ensure that you are not crossing any workplace professional boundaries at the same time.

  • Ensure Social Interaction

In physical workplaces, employees get to interact with each other due to a multitude of reasons. Even the mere task of getting coffee from the office kitchen will allow you the opportunity to talk to your colleagues. Such opportunities don’t exist when you are working remotely from home and for those of us who are extroverts, this can be crushing.

However, as an employer, it is your obligation to ensure that your employees are virtually socializing. It can something as minute as keeping the last 10 minutes of a meeting to talk about what you are doing to hosting a virtual pizza party where all of you have pizza together and video chat.

With the help of these few tips and tricks, you can ensure that your employees are adjusting to remote work easily.

Happy Working, Folks!

About the Author: Alina Burakova is a life coach and she loves helping people figure out ways out of their problems. She also reviews the best online tutoring, resume, business plan writing and test prep services at EduReviewer and has an avid interest in reading & writing.


Share this post

Subscribe For Updates

Sign Up:

* indicates required

Recent Posts

Forbes Best of the Web, Summer 2004
A Forbes "Best of the Web" Blog

Archives

  • Tracking image for JustAnswer widget
  • Find an Employment Lawyer

  • Support Workplace Fairness

 
 

Find an Employment Attorney

The Workplace Fairness Attorney Directory features lawyers from across the United States who primarily represent workers in employment cases. Please note that Workplace Fairness does not operate a lawyer referral service and does not provide legal advice, and that Workplace Fairness is not responsible for any advice that you receive from anyone, attorney or non-attorney, you may contact from this site.