Experiencing Conflict at Work

Did you know that 85% of employees are experiencing conflict at work? According to CPP Global:
• over a third (36%) spend a significant amount of time managing disputes.
• Another third (29%) deal with conflict frequently.
• 27% of employees have actually witnessed conflict morph into personal attacks.
• And a quarter (25%) reported that avoiding conflict resulted in illness or taking
time off from work.

Workplace conflict is one of the most pressing issues for companies today, with serious consequences, significant costs, and damage to company culture.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 85% of executives agree that it’s important for organizations to make workplace mental health a priority–but only 27% say their organization actually does. In this current economic climate, how can employers prioritize different benefits and leverage innovative strategies to improve the mental health and well-being of their employees?

What is Job Abandonment?

Question:

What is job abandonment, and how is it typically defined with employers?

Answer:

Job abandonment refers to a situation where an employee fails to show up for work according to their scheduled shift and demonstrates no intention of returning to the job. Importantly, the employee does not communicate their intention to quit to the employer. This absence disrupts work operations and can create challenges for employers.

Question:

How can employers address and manage instances of job abandonment?

Answer:

Employers are advised to establish a clear policy that outlines the criteria for identifying job abandonment. While no federal law specifies the exact number of days, many states rely on case law or guidance from state unemployment agencies to define a reasonable time frame. Commonly, three to five full business days are considered reasonable. This period allows employers sufficient time to investigate the absence without unnecessarily holding a position open.

Question: 

Are all instances of no-call/no-show absences automatically considered cases of job abandonment?

Answer:

Employers should exercise caution and not automatically assume that every instance of a no-call/no-show absence constitutes job abandonment. Sometimes, employees may face extenuating circumstances such as medical emergencies, incarceration, or personal crises that prevent them from communicating with their employer. Therefore, it’s important for employers to establish investigation procedures. These procedures could involve attempts to contact the absent employee and sending a termination letter that explains the employer’s position while inviting the employee to provide context or information that could potentially alter the employer’s decision.

LGBTQ Inclusions

LGBTQ inclusion requires more than just openly celebrating Pride. Several recent reports indicate that LGBTQ workers look at an organization’s track record of equality and inclusion when considering a job. For example, a series of studies by HR consulting firm Veris Insights found that:
• Nearly 70 percent of LGBTQ women and 60 percent of LGBTQ men have disengaged with an employer due to perceived lack of representation in the workplace.
• 80 percent of LGBTQ candidates said perception of “an inclusive and equitable workplace” is highly important to the decision to accept a job offer.
• 44 percent of LGBTQ candidates have felt that an employer was primarily interested in recruiting them to achieve diversity hiring goals.

Jobs site Indeed conducted a survey of about 1,000 full-time professionals who identify as members of the LGBTQ community to better understand their current workplace experiences. According to the findings:
• 87 percent of survey respondents said they researched their company prior to applying to ensure it was LGBTQ-friendly.
• 71 percent said they checked the company’s social media accounts to make sure they were LGBTQ-friendly.
• 61 percent said they spoke to current and/or former employees.
• 45 percent reported that they checked employee benefits to ensure they were inclusive.
• 30 percent said they researched company leadership to gauge sentiment and inclusion.
• 24 percent reported they checked the company’s profile and/or mission to ensure their values aligned with their own.

Recovering Property from Remote Employees

Question:

What happens when a remote employee resigns or is terminated?

Answer:

When a remote employee quits without notice or is fired, the difficult task of retrieving the worker’s laptop and other company equipment often falls to the HR team.
HR professionals might be tempted to withhold the employee’s last paycheck until the property is returned, but state laws forbid this. Some state wage-deduction laws also prohibit HR from pulling the value of the items out of the departing employee’s final pay, even if the worker were to somehow give written consent.
However, here are some actions HR professionals can take as they attempt to retrieve company equipment:
Put the terms in writing. Have employees sign an acknowledgment when they are issued any new company property. The acknowledgment should explain that the employee is responsible for returning the items when employment ends. This document can support an employer’s position if it becomes necessary to file a legal claim to recover the equipment. It can also remind employees that they should care for the property that belongs to the employer.
Ask to meet in person. If a termination meeting is necessary, ask the employee to come into the office and to bring any company-issued equipment. In some cases, managers will ask to meet with employees in the field. Some employers tell employees to bring the equipment because updates are needed; this is a dishonest tactic and should not be used.
Initiate recovery steps. If an employee refuses to meet in person, HR will need to begin a process to recover the equipment.
Send the individual a letter or e-mail showing the list of items that need to be returned. Include a copy of the acknowledgment form that was signed when the employee received the equipment, if such a form exists. Also, provide a prepaid shipping label, along with instructions on how to schedule pickup, in the event the person prefers not to deliver the items in person.
If two weeks pass and the individual has not taken action, then send a follow-up letter or e-mail stressing the importance of returning the property. The letter may mention what happens if the individual fails to do so.
If no response is received in 30 days, send another letter or e-mail informing the former employee that the organization will exercise its rights under the law for a criminal charge of theft, a civil action seeking the value of the items or both. Then, after seeking legal advice, determine whether to proceed with a claim after weighing the cost of the unrecovered items against the cost of legal action.
HR professionals may also want to consider how it might affect morale among the remaining employees if the organization takes legal action against a former employee.

Emotional Wellness – Types of Rest

Have you complained recently to someone else that you did not get a good night sleep? Do you feel yourself dragging or feeling less than your normal self? It seems to be a regular conversation regardless of where you are or who you talk to.
Most of us have heard plenty lately about self-care and with reason! So, what do you need to do to reboot yourself? Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD is a physician and researcher. She wrote the book, Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity. While Dr. Dalton-Smith’s 7 types of rest may not appear to be earth shattering when you read the list, we believe you’ll find at least one of them will resonate with you and because it is what we ALL need. The seven types of rest are:

  1. Physical Rest – there is both a passive option, such as sleeping, napping, etc., or an active option, which involves stretching or a massage. She notes that signs of a deficit of physical rest include aches, pains, swelling in legs and feet, back spasms.
  2. Mental Rest – this involves calming an overwhelmed and overworked mind. The doctor points out a deficit is likely if you can’t sleep because your mind is racing at night, or you can’t remember more than a couple of things.
  3. Social Rest – This is the time spent with “life-giving” people versus the people who need things from us: reports, data, a phone call, etc. Those folks, while well intentioned and doing their job, drain your energy. Then there are family members who need things from us: a meal, money, a ride, etc. While we need (and want) to engage with people who need things from us, social rest is about focusing on relationship and spending time with people who do not need anything from you but rather give to you – fill your emotional cup.
  4. Spiritual Rest – Dr. Dalton-Smith is very clear this can mean different things to different people – specifically one’s own belief system. It is more about feeling a sense of belonging. She identifies a deficit when someone doesn’t feel they are doing good, or their work doesn’t have purpose. She also notes lack of an inclusive and supportive environment contributes to a spiritual deficit, i.e., a toxic work environment will rob you of spiritual rest.
  5. Sensory Rest – This refers to getting a break from the ringing phones, the notifications, screen time, Zoom calls, etc. According to Statista, 22% of us spend 3-4 hours a day, while 46% spend between 5-6 hours daily on our phones. A shocking 11% spend more than 7 hours a day. Our brains need a break from our screens.
  6. Emotional Rest – this is not about emptying our minds, but rather spending time with people where we can be our authentic selves. “Many of us carry quite a bit of emotional labor privately, in that we don’t share with people what we’re feeling.” This can be due to wanting to maintain privacy, not feeling comfortable, etc. Regardless of the reason, we need to have time on a daily basis where we can just be ourselves, let down our guard.
    Creative Rest – This refers to the time where we let ourselves enjoy the beauty around us (be present, be in the moment). This may involve taking a walk, watching a sunset, listening to music, dancing. Dr. Dalton-Smith points to a deficit when you struggle to brainstorm or solve problems. She further argues, many of us have a deficit because there was so much problem-solving due to COVID.

Dr. Dalton-Smith argues that people often have a hard time accepting the deficits because they have things they need around them (a job, a car, a home, etc.), but that does not mean you are not in need of rest. If you are feeling burned out, you need rest, and not just a solid 8-hours of sleep. Her recommendation is to begin where you have the biggest deficit and if you need assistance in figuring out where your biggest deficit lies – she has a quiz for that (please note, it may take up to 24 hours to receive your results). She provides a score for each area and the severity of the deficit.
There is good news. The renewal process is something you can start as soon as today! It begins with being intentional, thinking about how you spend your time, and reflecting on what brings you peace and joy. Small steps can have a big impact, not only on your personal well-being, but it will likely spread into your work life and family life. Where are your deficits?

Signs Managers Need Coaching Skills

“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think” -Socrates
Do these observations or statements sound familiar?

  • Managers distrust teams and often employ tactics like micromanaging employees, controlling freedom, and acting superior.
  • Employees’ performance, productivity, and overall happiness seem to keep declining and harm their, sense of trust, emotional outlook, passion for work, company loyalty, and company advocacy.
  • Managers don’t understand the strength and weaknesses of each individual, preferring instead to approach coaching everyone as if they were on the same level.
  • Coaching sessions are uninteresting and lack engagement because coaching isn’t personalized to their needs and skills.
  • Teams lack basic skills and don’t know how to apply their knowledge.

Perhaps it is time to offer training for managers. One of the focal points for employers in 2023 is Manager engagement and retention. If managers are struggling and frustrated and feel like they are not doing their job well or don’t feel like they have a handle on their staff and how to help their employees meet their performance goals, they need assistance. You or your managers might need to develop focused coaching skills to be confident and competent enough to build and lead a high-performance and autonomous team to success. Manager groups with a strong sense of belonging and which practice accountability have a higher success rate. So, efforts to go beyond training that involve giving them opportunities and places to talk will be vital. Examples might include round tables, retreats, time, and places where they can workshop through a conversation or career pathing ideas for employees while building fellowship and having fun.

Time for Open Enrollment Planning

Your 2023 benefits open enrollment period is approaching and new needs will pop up as we continue with our hybrid workplaces. You will have to decide whether conducting your meeting in person, virtual, or a mix is going to be best for your employees. You need to ask yourself: 

Are you able to have all-staff meetings, or do you need employees to meet in smaller groups to avoid disruptions in production or safety considerations?

Are there some employees who will be best served by meeting in-person, while others will need to go through open enrollment virtually?

Whatever option you pick, your communication planning is paramount. Your messaging is important and the medium you use (well-crafted emails, brochures, and reminders) live, in-person, or virtual meetings vs. pre-recorded can also be productive and offer the opportunity as an on-demand feature. Your considerations may be number of employees, locations, employee tenure, your benefit offerings, the changes that need communicating, etc. 

We are sharing some checklist items from Celeste DaVault from USI and Deena Harvanek from Mercer along with some of ours as the backdrop to suggestions and planning steps for your consideration:

Make a plan and develop a strategy

  • Review your notes from what worked and what did not work from last year.
  • Set goals and measures for outreach, use of digital resources, and enrollment.
  • Conduct employee surveys or conduct employee listening sessions (when, how, who).
  • Determine your media plan, develop key messages, and identify all audiences, making content personal, simple, and direct.
  • Consider that most employees base their enrollment decisions on; answers to four basic questions: What is it? What’s in it for me? How does it work? How do I sign up?

 Get the word out

  • Let employees know it is coming…and your deadlines.
  • Think generational – what works best with each of your populations to hit your targets.
  • Distribute a pre-enrollment flier (printed and online).
  • Hold a virtual benefits fair
  • Who will attend – all of your providers/partners? Any incentives offered? Single event or multiple sessions/days?
  • Distribute an enrollment packet, again with a reminder of due dates (printed and online).

 Ready, set, go!

  • Launch enrollment through a benefits portal, for a period of about three weeks.
  • Take this opportunity to rethink your approach to open enrollment – create opportunities for “open door office hours” if people need to talk one-on-one.

 Measure success

  • Consider your stakeholders. What is it they want and need to know?
  • Developing year-round communications,
  • Research and update your offerings and support services
  • Track the results of your efforts. If possible, gather data related to:
  • Health plan and retirement plan elections
  • Increased contributions
  • Video views and material downloads
  • Email open rates and click throughs

An additional observation for your consideration: Often times employees do not know what they had….what was offered until they “need” it or until they leave. So, take this concept and work backwards with “how do I convey the messages I want or need the employees to hear and understand?”