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How do you help someone who is grieving? That’s the question that Megan Devine discusses in this brief and thoughtful animation. She asks why we feel so helpless and ineffective about helping people up when they are deeply sad or grieving? Maybe because cheering up doesn’t work. Although our intentions may be good, we can’t take someone’s pain away. Ger advice? Simply be there, acknowledge and listen. Megan says that “being heard helps.”

How do you help a grieving friend? - YouTube

A few years ago, in one of our newsletters, we talked about an important life skill that isn’t taught in schools, but that is needed time and again over the course of a lifetime: How to console our friends, work-colleagues and family members who face death, loss or grief.

Loss of a loved one is something we all experience, a shared human experience. But for many of us, talking about death is uncomfortable and can be a barrier to providing support to those who suffer a loss. It may be because we don’t know what to say or do; we don’t want to intrude; we find it difficult to deal with deep emotions; or it stirs our own grief about our own past or future losses.

Being there when someone needs help is very important – after all, we will all need the same support in our lives, too. Here are some “Dos and Don’ts” from loss counselors that may help to make things a little easier in offering support.

  • Do learn about the stages of grief. It’s normal for someone to be depressed or angry. Let them work through it. Expect sadness and tears.
  • Don’t try to fix things. You can’t.
  • Do offer more than words. Run errands, offer a ride, mind kids, bake a meal or just spend time.
  • Don’t make it about you or how you feel. It’s about them. Listen with compassion. Validate feelings.
  • Do hug the person, take their hand, or offer a light touch. The warmth of human touch can be healing.
  • Don’t be judgmental. Their timeline isn’t your timeline. Their way of mourning may not be the same as yours.
  • Do help to memorialize the loved one. Plant a tree, gather photos, share memories or start a fund.
  • Don’t minimize or explain away the loss. Avoid platitudes and phrases like “it was his time.”
  • Do remember into the future. Reach out on anniversaries and special days with a call or a card.

Here are some things you can say:

  • I’m so sorry for your loss.
  • I’m available anytime you need to talk.
  • What can I do for you?
  • I’m sorry I never had a chance to meet your aunt – she sounds wonderful.
  • Your Dad loved you so much, he always talked about you.
  • You are in my thoughts and prayers.
  • If you knew the person, share a special memory or a trait you admired.

The post How to help someone who is grieving appeared first on ESI Group.

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Wondering how your total compensation package stacks up to other employers? Check out this report on total compensation, breaking down benefits and wages & salaries. .Using the National Compensation Survey’s Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC) report, which collects data from roughly 27,200 occupations and 6,600 private industries, Bay Alarm Medical breaks the information into a series of helpful charts and graphs that allow a snapshot view of the data: The True Cost of Employee Benefits

Their report says that benefits account for approximately 29% of an private industry employer’s compensation costs, with the remaining 70% representing wages and salaries. Average per employee benefits cost employers $21,726 annually. When wages and salaries are added, the total cost of compensation averages $71,334 per worker.

The charts break costs down costs of total compensation

  • By percentage of the whole – health insurance is the big ticket item at 7.5% of the total
  • By year and by hour – see chart, below
  • By percentage of change from 2004 to 2018- over that time, there has been a 52% increase in total compensation, with a 368% benefit increase and a 164.6% increase in ages & salaries.
  • Benefits per industry sector – with a high of the utility industry ($18.70 per hour.; $39,028 per year) vs a low of retail ($5,57 per hour; $11,625 per year)
  • Costs in largest metropolitan areas – Phoenix AZ metro area has seen the steepest increase (89.8%) vs the lowest in Atlanta GA (1%)
  • By company size – Predictably, larger employers spend more on benefits.

We can’t help but notice that Employee Assistance Programs are not measured – but we’d make the case that a substantial, high-performing EAP can be a highly economical way to beef up your benefits at minimal cost – see just a few of the employee bs that ESI EAP brings to the table . 

The post Breaking down the total cost of compensation appeared first on ESI Group.

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In our latest HR News Roundup, we feature items on toxic bosses, sexual harassment, improving engagement and more news you can use. We also offer items from the lighter side about fun-loving educators.

Does having a bad boss make you more likely to be one yourself?
Harvard Business Review, Shannon G. Taylor, Robert Folger, Abhijeet K. Vadera, Matthew D. Griffith, Chaim R. Letwin

Toxic bosses harm employees in countless ways — for instance, by lowering morale, diminishing well-being, and increasing work-family conflict. Estimates suggest abusive supervision costs organizations millions in lost productivity, employee turnover, and litigation each year. Although prior research has found that leader behaviors can “trickle down” to affect the actions of employees at lower organizational levels, surely not all abused supervisors abuse their own subordinates. So when do supervisors perpetuate abuse in organizations, when don’t they, and why?

Key Elements of Complying With State Sexual Harassment Prevention Requirements
Workforce, Tammy Tyler

More than 30 jurisdictions have introduced more than 100 pieces of legislation in 2018 toward sexual harassment prevention. A legal expert shares key principles of much of the anti-sexual harassment legislation introduced this year, including where there to find guidance or model materials that employers can access.

10 Insights About Workplace Engagement
HR Daily Advisor, David Mizne

A workplace that supports employee engagement is a healthy, positive one. Unfortunately, it seems such working environments are uncommon. Surveys indicate that approximately 87% of workers throughout the globe are not engaged with their jobs.
This is a problem for businesses. High employee engagement is associated with greater productivity, employee retention, and more.
That’s why it pays to investigate the issue further. The following insights will help you understand why engagement levels remain low. They’ll also give you an idea of how to boost them in your organization.

6 crisis communication resolutions everyone should make this year
Ragan, Adam Fisher

For many, some New Year’s resolutions will already be in tatters. Some huge brands—including Facebook, Marriott Hotels, Pret A Manger and Starbucks—faced crises in 2018. Other companies (yours, maybe?) will find themselves in the spotlight’s glare when things go wrong. With that in mind, here are six crisis management resolutions for 2019:

I’ve Interviewed 300 High Achievers About Their Morning Routines. Here’s What I’ve Learned.
New York Times, Benjamin Spall

Over the past five years I’ve interviewed more than 300 successful people about their morning routines. Through talking with business leaders and university presidents to Olympians, fashion models and artists, I’ve learned that while there isn’t one “best” morning routine that works for everyone, there are best practices that some of the most successful people I spoke with follow every day.
Here are some of the most common morning routines I’ve found among successful people.

More HR News: Quick takes

From the lighter side…

We always love stories of people who enjoy their work and know how to make it fun. Take Swartz Creek Superintendent Ben Minka and Principal Jim Kitchen enjoying their school snow day announcement

SCCS Announcement 1-29-19 - YouTube

And then there’s the singing principal Chad Caddell of Union Pointe Academy who gets silly with it.

School principal singing snow day alert goes viral - YouTube

It looks like Durham Head of School Michael Ulku-Steiner and Assistant Head of School/Upper School Director Lee Hark might have started this craze in 2014.

Durham Academy Weather Announcement - YouTube

The post HR News Roundup: Toxic bosses, sexual harassment, better engagement, the lighter side & more appeared first on ESI Group.

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Want to cut calories and eat a healthier diet? We offer concrete tips to kick off your new year in a healthy way.

We don’t believe in diet fads – hopping on and off the latest “nutrition” craze can actually hurt your weight loss goals, not help. (see Weight loss is hard: Study of The Biggest Losers reveals why.) Instead, we are all about making small, incremental changes in diet and exercise to lower your calories in and raise your calories out – the true secret to better health. In that vein, we liked this article from MedlinePlus: 10 concrete tips for cutting 500 calories a day. We’ve listed the tips – click the link for more info about how to do this.

  • Swap your snack.
  • Cut one high-calorie treat.
  • DO NOT drink your calories
  • Skip seconds.
  • Make low calorie substitutions.
  • Ask for a doggie bag.
  • Just say “no” to fried food.
  • Build a thinner pizza.
  • Use a plate.
  • Avoid alcohol.

Great tips – we thought we’d add a few tips that we favor that can also help with cutting calories

It’s not just about calories in – it’s also about calories burned.

The post Handy tips to cut calories and make healthy choices appeared first on ESI Group.

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What are the HR trends and work issues we can expect to see in 2019? We turn to some of our favorite HR blogs, publications and experts to look ahead.

Forewarned is forearmed, according to the age-old proverb. To spot the HR trends and work issues we can expect to see in 2019, we turn to our favorite HR blogs, trade publications and HR watchers.  Here’s a list of some HR and workplace predictions for 2019, including some practical resources for how to prepare. We also took a quick look back at last year to recap some important HR trends and workplace issues of the year gone by. Don’t miss the worst employers entries, from the “what not to do” school of management. And if you didn’t catch it, check out our recap: HR Web Cafe Blog: Our top 20 posts in 2018.

A look back at 2018 HR trends & issues

The post HR trends and workplace issues for 2019 appeared first on ESI Group.

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Did you miss any of the HR Web Cafe Blog Top 20 posts in 2018?

Wondering what the most popular HR topics were in 2018? These 20 posts from ESI EAP’s HR Web Cafe blog and from our Wellness blog proved the most popular among our readers in terms of logging the most views. About half of these were new postings made over the last 12 months; the rest are posts from our archives that have had consistent popular appeal.

Planning terminations that involve potentially violent employees

Your 2018 Holiday Survival Toolkit

FMLA update for 2018: Tips & Tools

Supervisor’s Guide to Dealing with a Grieving Employee

Prescription Drug Guidelines: What employers need to know

Squirrel Hill tragedy: Responding to traumatic events

Employee Lawsuits: Costs, types of suits and 2017 employment law issues in review

When it comes to a healthy diet, the secret is in the details

Corporate fitness programs: 20 at-work ideas that won’t break the budget

How should HR deal with #MeToo harassment issues in the workplace?

Test your nonverbal communication skills

Annoying Colleagues: A Taxonomy of Troublemakers

Smoking Cessation Programs in the Workplace

Onboarding is the first step in employee engagement

What does a day’s worth of food look like?

Compassion Fatigue: The high toll of caring

New studies show how to live a long, healthy life

Accommodating transgender employees in the workplace

Leadership lessons from a 4-star general: Listen, learn … then lead

The Marshmallow Challenge: An exercise in collaboration

The post HR Web Cafe Blog: Our top 20 posts in 2018 appeared first on ESI Group.

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Want to avoid being sued by your employees in the coming year? We have some tips.

Here’s a good New Year’s resolution for all employers: Bolster your defenses against the chance of being sued by your employees, which can happen to any employer, regardless of size or industry. Employee lawsuits can be costly: The biannual report from Hiscox put the latest toll at an average of $160,000 for claims that resulted in defense; 24% of employment charges resulted in defense and settlement costs. Employee lawsuits can also be costly in terms of management time needed to defend against such claims: in 2015, the average time to settle a claim was 318 days.

Risk and Insurance recently featured an article discussing 4 trends that are making the risks or employee lawsuits more severe. They note that:

Employee Lawsuits Are Costly – Win or Lose. These 4 Trends Are Making the Risks More Severe

“The probability that a company will get sued for an alleged employment practices violation has increased dramatically; aggrieved employees drive some litigation, and, in other cases, plaintiffs’ lawyers encourage this type of claim,” said Beth Goldberg, chief underwriting officer, Financial Lines Division, Starr Insurance Companies. “These claims can be expensive just to defend, even if they are groundless.”

According to Westlaw, a legal research service by Thomson Reuters, plaintiffs win 51 percent of the time when employment practices liability (EPL) claims go to trial.

We’ve summarized these four trends below – click the article for more detail.

1. It’s not just about lost wages and compensation; juries are increasingly focused on emotional damages.
2. Social media and movements like #MeToo intensify reputational risk.
3. Plaintiffs’ attorneys drive class action disability discrimination cases.
4. Varying state regulations add complexity to compliance.

Minimizing your risk of getting sued by your employees is not a once and done thing – it is a continual process and requires attention on several fronts. A new year is a good time to audit your practices and take steps to minimize your risk. Some strategies to minimize your risk include:

  • Up-to-date employee handbooks that complies with federal and state laws.
  • Policies and procedures around hiring and firing. Specify any behaviors that would result in immediate termination.
  • Accurate job descriptions outlining essential functions
  • Safety and on-the-job injury prevention program
  • Performance feedback process
  • Supervisory training for hiring & firing
  • Organization-wide policies, training and enforcement geared to discrimination and harassment prevention
  • Employment practices liability insurance coverage

Related resources

Termination for cause
Employee handbook legal blunders
State employment law updates
Best Practices for downsizing, layoffs, and firings

The post New Year’s resolution: Don’t get sued by your employees! appeared first on ESI Group.

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Again, we find ourselves as a nation at a terrible pass with an unspeakable act of violence in our midst. We’ve mourned previously when our babies were killed at Newtown and when the blood of our teens spilled at Parkland; this weekend, it was our grandparents. The victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting ranged in age from 59 to 97. Two victims were developmentally disabled brothers; one was a doctor who was among the first to treat AIDS patients; one was a rabbi; one a dentist; another a retired accountant; another a teacher; a married couple in their 80s.

The shooting in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood killed 11 and wounded 6 in a house of worship. Sadly, it is not the first time violence met worshipers. Last year, 26 worshipers were killed at a Sunday service at a Texas church. In 2015, nine people – several elderly worshipers among them – were killed in the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, South Carolina. In 2012 , 6 worshipers were killed at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Hatred and human intolerance was at the root of many of these shootings. This recent killer came with an intent to “kill all the Jews,” as he told police during the shooting. And in sharp contrast to this hatred was the heroism of the first responders, four of whom were wounded while trying to protect the congregants. And within 24-hours of the shooting. a fundraiser by Muslims raised more than $75,000 for the victims. In the days to come, we will see more coming together, more acts of grace and human goodness in response to this tragic event.

Human-triggered disasters are particularly difficult to cope with and recover from. The quiet neighborhood of Squirrel Hill – the home of Mr. Rogers – has had its peace shattered. Our hearts go out to the people in the community, who suffered grievous losses and who face a difficult recovery. To glimpse what this recovery entails, see Seth J. Gillihan’s article 21 Common Reactions to Trauma in Psychology Today.

We are also updating and re-posting response and recovery advice that we’ve posted previously. And, sadly, all too often:

While everyone is disturbed by such a sudden and terrible set of events, some may feel and react to the news more intensely than others. Reactions may be exacerbated as stories emerge about the horrific attacks and we learn more about the details of the violence and the personal stories of victims and their families. As memorials occur, we are exposed to the grief and raw reactions of survivors and grieving families. Events become more personal. Some of the people for whom this might trigger a heightened level of grief, stress, or anxiety include:

People who were involved in the event – Survivors, employees, family members and friends of the deceased and survivors. First responders, health care professionals, fire, police and EMTs who have had direct relation to the event or to providing care and support for victims and their families.

People with a connection to the events – This would encompass members of the Tree of Life Synagogue, the Squirrel Hill and the greater Pittsburgh community. It would also encompass the Jewish communities throughout the nation.

People who have been a victim of violence themselves – This might encompass people who were prior victims of shootings, assault or other violence, or people who lost loved ones to targeted or random violence. The events might rekindle memories, grief, loss, fear and heightened anxiety.

People who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – This might include survivors of other shootings, veterans, victims of 9/11 and many others who experienced trauma and are not able to get beyond it. The events might trigger heightened memories, fear, anxiety, anger, stress, or disruption of eating or sleeping habits, among other things.

Children and young people. Violent events can be particularly frightening to children. The sudden and random nature of events may be terribly upsetting and threatening to a child’s sense of security. Some children may be intensely fearful of their own safety or the safety of loved ones.

Responding to events

Be sensitive to others and how they experience events. People handle stress and grief differently, and we don’t always know what experiences others have had that might intensify a reaction. While some may hear such news and move on, others need time to process and react. Don’t assume everyone feels things the same way that you do – be sensitive to those around you and let them express their feelings.

Limit exposure to gruesome details in the news. The 24-hour nature of social media and cable news mean that we can be bombarded with nonstop news and disturbing images of a disastrous event. This continual exposure can exacerbate anxiety, fear and grief.

Take positive action. When violent events occur, it can shake our faith and trust in our fellow man. Counter these feeling by spending time with family and friends. It can also help to do something to reduce the feelings of helplessness that many experience in the face of such events: Help others. Give blood. Organize or take part in a memorial activity. Write letters. Make a donation. Volunteer.

Consider counseling. If you or somebody else is having a particularly hard time coping with these events, counseling with a professional may be in order. Signs that you or a loved one may need help getting past this might include sleeplessness, heightened anxiety or phobias, and preoccupation with details of events.

We would add one more suggestion: Say yes to love and no to hate. Be the change you want to see.

We close with advice from a former Squirrel Hill resident:

Fred Rogers: Look for the Helpers - YouTube

The post Squirrel Hill tragedy: Responding to traumatic events appeared first on ESI Group.

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For the first time in a decade, the Department of Health and Human Services has updated the federal guidelines for physical activity, recommending 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week, along with strength training twice a week.

Wait … what’s new about that? isn’t that the same as the 2008 recommendation? Well, yes, sort of …

The New York Times offers a good summary of the changes and the rationale behind the recommendations: Very Brief Workouts Count Toward 150-Minute Goal, New Guidelines Say. Previously, the guidelines suggested at least 10 minute blocks of physical activity, but the new guidelines say that shorter spurts of activity count too:  “Any physical activity, no matter how brief, including walking up stairs or from the car to the office, provides health benefits, according to the new guidelines, and counts toward exercise goals.” They list some of the immediate benefits of increased activity as being better sleep, improved focus, better mood, and reduced stress. The campaign also focuses on the role of physical activity in managing chronic conditions that affect millions of Americans, like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

If you are wondering whether your activity is is moderate or vigorous, the guidelines offer this simple “talk test” to find out.

When you’re being active, just try talking:
• If you’re breathing hard but can still have a conversation easily, it’s moderate-intensity activity
• If you can only say a few words before you have to take a breath, it’s vigorous-intensity activity

The guidelines “… also suggest balance training for older people and, for the first time, urge kids between the ages of 3 and 5 to be active for at least three hours a day, an acknowledgment that even small children run the risk of being too sedentary these days.”

Most adults don’t get the exercise they need to optimize their health. According to various studies, only about 20% of American adults currently meet the existing recommendations, and a third never work out at all. Overall, the new guidelines are working to change that by making it easier for people to get into a “sit less, move more” mindset. Their new campaign theme is Move your way: Walk. Run. Dance. Play, with a site that offers tools, videos, and fact sheets to make it easier to get a little more active.

Related resources

Exercise ideas from our blog archives:

The post New physical activity guidelines released appeared first on ESI Group.

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We’ve updated our holiday survival toolkit to help you and your and your employees get through the holidays!

Buckle in – it’s time for super stress season! The weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day are arguably the most stressful time of year. On the upside, holidays can afford rich time with family and friends. On the downside, there are pressures around money and time. Holiday festivities can be fun, but they can also tempt us stray dangerously from our normal eating, drinking, exercise, and sleep habits. Plus, any fault lines we have in our lives seem to intensify – loneliness, grief, separation, family dynamics, etc. So while holidays can hold joys for many, the flip side can be pretty intense.

Our holiday survival toolkit is intended to help you and your staff get through the holidays. Plus, we remind our Members that your EAP is available 24-7-365 for help with any difficulties you may experience.

At the Workplace

Avoiding stress & problems

Staying Healthy

Keeping a Sober Season

Family Matters

Holidays after a divorce

Special situations

Keeping Safe

Money and finance

Security & Crime Prevention

Guide to Meaningful & Charitable Gift-Giving

The post Your 2018 Holiday Survival Toolkit appeared first on ESI Group.

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