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Written by: Meghan Holub
Work plays an important role in our lives. In addition to the income associated with work, for many cancer patients, our occupational role is an important part of our identity, and our workplace is part of our social interaction. Many people feel a sense of satisfaction in being productive and in contributing to a collective effort in the workplace. Taking time off work to care for your health and treatment can bring a range of feelings and reactions, as can the prospect of returning to work.
As a follow up to the webinar on November 17, 2018 on Cancer in the Workplace – The Gradual Return to Work Process, I wanted to address three important questions that were asked but unfortunately I did not have the time to answer.
If LTD is denied due to pre-existing condition clauses and the employee has maxed out employer-sponsored STD (e.g. 26 weeks), can they apply for EI Sickness Benefits or not because they already got a benefit longer than the EI benefit?
As long as the employee has not returned to work and they still medically qualify (e.g. they are still sick or injured) they can apply for EI Sickness benefits. As long as the employee has worked 600 hours in the last 52 weeks and they have made contributions to the program they would be eligible for benefits.
Employees often get frustrated with delays in payments due to doctors submitting medical forms late and insurance companies making decisions. What would you recommend to employers to best support the employee?
In helping to support your employees please discuss with them who the best medical physician or nurse practitioner will be for completing their medical forms. The employee can choose the medical practitioner in some cases – it does not have to be a specialist. Specialists usually have lengthy waiting periods to access an appointment. If the person is able to access their General Physician this may be the best route to pursue, as long as medical evidence can be given about the specific illness or injury.
What are your recommendations for employees who need medications that not covered by their benefits plan? Are there programs out that that support this?
Once a condition is diagnosed the person is now viewed as having a pre-existing medical condition. I often suggest Alberta Blue Cross Non-Group coverage. This is guaranteed coverage – meaning that the person applying for coverage does not need to submit medical information. I would suggest for anyone looking into this type of coverage that they look through the drug formulary list to ensure that the specific drugs they are needing are covered before they begin paying premiums.
Returning to work is a complicated process so the more information that employers and employees have the better. Please always refer to the disability policies (STD/LTD and Extended Health Benefits) for specific information.
Written by: Deanna Brousseau
Did you know that almost 70% of adult Albertans with disabilities participate in the workforce? Physical disabilities only represent a fraction of the overall population. Invisible disabilities such as chronic pain, diabetes and depression exist in most employee’s everyday lives.
Many employers are making a claim that they support diversity and inclusion in their workplace. However, behind these claims there are varying levels of commitment. As an employer, are we actually walking the talk? Here are a few reasons why employers should aim to become more inclusive in supporting employment for persons with disabilities:
1. Good for business
Benefits include better job retention, higher attendance, lower turnover, enhanced job performance and work quality and better safety records. Other advantages of accessible employment practices include access to this untapped labour pool and large consumer market, enhanced disability management, improved brand image, and broader community/societal benefits.
2. New Accessibility Legislation
As an employer, you have a legal obligation to be inclusive and as well as a duty to accommodate. In addition, the federal government is expected to implement legislation designed to increase accessibility nationwide. This bill will aim to remove barriers in federally regulated sectors such as banking, inter-provincial transportation, telecommunications and government-run services such as Canada Post.
3. More Innovative
Research suggests that more diverse work teams create a wider range of solutions to business issues, and are often more innovative and creative.
4. Disability affects all of us
Persons with disabilities include our family members, friends and ourselves. At any stage in life, someone can develop a disability that may impact their employment. By fostering an environment of inclusion in our workplace, we can support, train and develop employees to reach their full potential.
Written by: Vanessa Salopek
“What people call “weird” comes part and parcel with people who are brilliant in some way. So embrace your weird. Embrace your eccentricity.” – Elleen Anglin , Life Coach
No matter what industry, position, or place you work in, I’m sure we all have that one co-worker who is singled out as the office “odd ball”. Perhaps this unique person is even yourself, and you are constantly finding it hard to sustain a positive working relationship with your fellow co-workers. Eccentric is defined as “a person or their behaviour being unconventional and slightly strange”, however where one might see these creative minds as “odd”, I see true brilliance in their “kooky” ways. Sure, eccentrics don’t come without their challenges and these original people are often arrogant, blunt, erratic, and moody, but they can be oh so wonderful and offer an extraordinary value to the employer who can manage their unique personality properly.
Research has found that eccentrics stem from having an overly gifted and high intelligence. Some of the most brilliant and inspiring individuals have been eccentrics like Nikola Tesla, Edgar Allan Poe, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Charles Dickens, and William the Conqueror. I’ve found that the best way to manage an eccentric, is to let them do what they do best, and help keep them on-track and stimulated throughout their journey within your organization.
Here are some examples on how do you engage, utilize and retain these creative, questing souls!
- Give creative meaningful work. Creatives often think about the bigger issues in life, the forest as well as the trees. Only give them interesting, challenging projects and clients. Give them hard stuff.
- Trust them. Assuming they are ethical and diligent, let them create procure their own way to success. Give creatives the freedom and flexibility to flourish. Don’t force them into excessive structure or quotas. It obviates the very reason you hired them.
- Be flexible. If new hires excel, let them do it their way. If they create superb results working five hours a week in their underwear at home, when you are paying them for 40 hours in the office, who cares? As long as they are meeting the tasks and deadlines successfully.
- Give them a sense of ownership. Ask their opinion and take their advice seriously. Make them feel valued, an essential part of the organism that is your company.
- Don’t expect to motivate them through money. Of course pay them fairly, but research indicates these out-of-the norm individuals may actually be discouraged and perform poorly when they are rewarded just for completing a task. Mihaly Czikzentmihalyi, says in his classic book, Flow: “The most important quality, the one that is most consistently present in all creative individuals, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake.”
With so many different personality types working under one roof, its important to know how to embrace uniqueness and play to their strengths to ensure the organization as a whole flourishes.
Written for: River City Recruiting & HR Inc. by Riley Witiw
What’s the best way to deal with workplace harassment? As an employer, harassment threatens both your business and your employees. Therefore, effective human resource management is critical to prevent and manage incidents when they arise.
But, what do I mean by harassment?
The Alberta Government defines workplace harassment as a single or repeated incident of objectionable or unwelcome conduct, comment, bullying or action intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a particular person or group.
If unchecked, harassment results in an unhealthy workplace, which can impact your bottom line:
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) warns of increased absences, turnover, stress, costs associated with employee assistance programs, and accidents, as well as decreased productivity, morale, and image.
Here we present five human resource tips to minimize your liability while ensuring harmony in your workplace:
1. Develop a comprehensive harassment policy
To prevent workplace harassment, the CCOHS recommends that you communicate your management commitment through a written policy with several essential characteristics:
- Developed by management and employee representatives
- Applies to all levels of personnel
- Defines and provide examples of harassment
- States your commitment to preventing harassment
- Encourages employees to report all incidents
- Outlines the confidential reporting process, investigation procedure, and consequences for breaching conduct
- Commits to provide support services to victims
- Commits to monitoring and regularly reviewing policy
These policies should be made available through reference in an employee handbook or manual.
2. Promote your workplace policy
According to a survey of 1,349 Canadians conducted by Employment and Social Development Canada, 76% of survey respondents acknowledged their workplace had a sexual harassment policy.
But there’s a problem:
Only 43% received any training on the policy.
This statistic indicates the need for more human and financial resources dedicated to raising awareness about rights regarding harassment. Your workplace may need to promote related educational materials and training opportunities actively.
39% of the respondents noted such a campaign would be a useful tool in making them feel safe and secure in the workplace.
3. Ensure all international employees know their rights
The law firm, MLT Aikins, relates that internationally qualified individuals or foreign workers are vulnerable to harassment because they often don’t know their rights and are afraid of being deported if they are unemployed. Therefore, if your company hires internationally qualified individuals or foreign workers, educate them on how to identify and report workplace harassment.
This education is especially vital for visible minorities, as Employment and Social Development Canada found they are more likely to undergo harassment than other groups. Educating international employees reduces their potential work-related suffering and limits your legal exposure in cases where harassment potentially goes unreported for an extended period, due to their limited knowledge on the subject.
4. Enforce a social media policy
You are legally obligated to provide your employees with a safe workplace, whether it’s in the office or online. Social media has wide-reaching implications that can expose you to some operational and legal risks, including harassment. However, you can mitigate this risk through a social media policy. MLT Aikins notes an effective policy defines the appropriate use of social media, informs employees you will monitor their online activities, and describes the consequences for breaching protocol.
5. Remove obstacles for employees who report incidents
In a healthy workplace, employees are empowered to report harassment and receive a resolution. However, three-quarters of respondents in the Employment and Social Development Canada survey who experienced harassment faced obstacles from their employers while trying to resolve their incident. Additionally, these obstacles dissuaded 25% of those who suffered harassment from reporting their conflict.
By following these three simple steps, you can avoid creating roadblocks:
- Take harassment complaints seriously
- Initiate workplace investigations
- Do not retaliate against employees who file harassment complaints
The health and success of your workplace depends on the steps that you take to deter and resolve harassment, such as developing and promoting a harassment policy, educating foreign workers, making a social media policy and removing obstacles for employees who report incidents.
Written by: Janet Hueglin Hartwick
For many leaders, the most uncomfortable message to communicate is ‘no’. Watching a person’s face fall as they’re told something they don’t want to hear is never pleasant. But, if you work in human resources or public relations (aka communications) chances are you’re comfortable handing out disappointing news like Tic Tacs after a spicy meal. It can be a challenge for colleagues to understand why HR and communications staff seem to butt their way into other departments’ business. It’s not always understood both professions require its practitioners to do what’s best for their organization, not just their own department. Sometimes mistaken by colleagues as the ‘fun police’, here’s a light-hearted look at the challenges these corporate cousins have in common.
Three Reasons HR and Communications Practitioners Are Misunderstood
1. You enforce rules your colleagues don’t understand
Common sense doesn’t always win the day if you’re talking with someone in HR or communications. Both professions are guided by industry specific rules and professional standards which are not well known and can, at times, seem unnecessary.
HR leaders are expected to be on top of ever-changing legal precedents and they have the unenviable task of asking leaders to follow new processes and procedures, often resulting in more work for their colleagues. They must ensure their organizations stay in compliance with a myriad of employment standards and labour laws. Similarly, communication professionals actively enforce a number of best practices when dealing with the media or sharing external communications. Well known for being persnickety when it comes to the written word, PR practitioners are required to follow the Canadian Press (‘CP Style’) guide used by journalists. This quirky guide is full of rules that go against common sense, making it a regular occurrence for practitioners to tell senior leaders “Sorry, I know it looks wrong but we have to write it that way.”
2. You look like you’re “kissing up” to the boss
It’s easy for HR and PR professionals to look like they’re campaigning to be employee of the month. To do their jobs well, these leaders need to have their finger on the pulse of what’s happening across the organization, not just in their own departments. HR and communication practitioners are known for being ‘in the know’. This is why top management tend to stop by to chat. Savvy leaders, especially those who travel frequently, appreciate the chance to catch-up on what’s been happening while they’ve been away. It’s also common for members of the leadership team to seek out human resources and public relations for their advice. Seasoned leaders appreciate the value of a gut check from their HR or communications practitioner before making an important decision. Many of these discussions are time sensitive and confidential so they happen behind closed doors which can be confusing to leaders in other departments who don’t have this type of relationship with management. Nor do they realize there’s a good chance the boss is actually receiving a word of caution.
3. Some of your best work is a secret
HR and communication professionals see people at their most vulnerable. In times of crisis, these practitioners are able to put their personal feelings aside to offer compassion and guidance to those in need. Leaders make mistakes and it’s often the HR or PR team members who make things right again. How do you quantify the value of an HR leader who stops a colleague from accidentally giving an employee a case for constructive dismissal? Or the communications professional who writes a letter to “further clarify” and tactfully override a catastrophic mistake that was included in a previous letter signed by the top leadership? Much like a member of a covert military operation, the facts of what happened (including the hard fought victories) usually remain classified. The bad news is keeping these events confidential furthers the misunderstanding of how critical HR and communications are to an organization.
I admit there was a time in my career that I envied what it must be like to work in finance. Have you ever watched a financial update be delivered to a leadership team? It’s pretty amazing. Everyone pays attention, some get out their calculators and there are always questions. Communications, and I suspect HR, are not capable of engaging leaders in the same way as finance, sales or even marketing. We often live up to the nickname the ‘fun police’. We say ‘no’ a lot, we tell people what they don’t want to hear and we appear inflexible. But, we also have the deep satisfaction of knowing we help people in need, we develop leaders, and, thankfully, we have each other.