B1 – 90 Garry St. Winnipeg, MB R3C 4H1 - Phone: (204) 478-6644, Fax: 204-478-6677 - info@indep.ca

Archive for February, 2015

Putting Health First With Our Working Well Program

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Patient doing some exercises under supervision“Health first”. This is a common idiom uttered by nearly all of us. And it’s likely that it’s become such a popular term due to its sheer obviousness. It’s true, isn’t it? Our health does come first. Because without our health, what else would we have? Clearly, it’s not possible to truly enjoy life without being able to live every day pain and illness-free. And it’s certainly not possible to be able to function adequately at work when there are health issues.

It goes without saying that your workforce is important to you. The fine individuals that make up your staff are the lifeblood of your business. They help for your company to function on a daily basis, and without them, your brand’s operations would cease to exist. Therefore, as a business owner, “health first” is an idiom that you also take seriously as it relates to your employees. At Independence Incorporated, we strongly support that way of thinking.

Our “Working Well Program” is designed to assist businesses with implementing the best practices possible to ensure that health and safety are key components to the working environment. We have devised a plan to address the health concerns of your team so that we can prevent injuries, manages stress and provide early intervention of musculoskeletal injuries. Our multidisciplinary team consists of a Registered Nurse, an Occupational Therapist and a Physiotherapist. And here’s what they provide.

1. Injury Prevention. “Knowledge is power” is yet another idiom that’s been thrown out there to connote how important it is to be educated about the issues that affect our everyday lives. In many cases, staff members require information to be delivered to them about the various ways that injuries can be prevented on the job. Our program’s education and training seminars go a long way in educating your team about the many ways to keep safe on the job.

2. Worker Wellness Support. Naturally, we expect to minimize the number of injuries that occur in the workplace with all of the education that our program provides. However, there is always the possibility that an injury can occur. And, of course, some jobs present more dangers than others. Our In-House Physiotherapy Programme works to rehabilitate those who have suffered injuries in order to promote a more speedy recovery.

3. Work-Flow Improvement. Sometimes, the biggest risks to our health and safety are found in the machinery, tools, supplies and materials that are being used in the workplace. Our program seeks to identify improper and unsafe body mechanics and provide feedback that serves to correct particular issues that may be deemed as dangerous. By making particular changes in the workplace, we strive to improve the overall safety conditions for all of your employees.

4. Work Re-Entry Support. As you know, there are some injuries that will require employees to take time off of work. In such cases, it may be necessary to facilitate an adequate work re-entry program. This way, the employee can experience a smoother transition when coming back to work after a prolonged absence due to injury or illness. By putting health first, your company will be given the opportunity to foster a stronger staff and therefore, a stronger business.

Your business is important to you. That goes without saying. So it should also go without saying that your employees are very important to you as well. At Independence Incorporated, we work to ensure that your team is well taken care of. And that helps to take care of your business. For more information on our “Working Well Program”, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly by calling 204-474-2228 or emailing victor@indep.ca.

Taking on the Resume

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BY: Lisa Borchert BA., RVP. Vocational Rehab Consultant. Independence Incorporated

Why it is a difficult but mandatory tool to the return to work process

Remember the old expression – “if I had a nickel for every time I heard that” Well, I wish I had a nickel (or a loonie) for every time I heard a client say “I have no skills” or “I’m not good at anything” and “there’s no job out there for me….”  

The return to work is difficult, often frightening and challenging on many levels. And that’s going back to the pre-disability job! A job where you know the people, the routines, the culture, the physical layout and you know your position and its expected outcomes. You have a coffee buddy, people smile and nod and say hello and know your name. You know where the bathrooms are. You know who rules the water cooler. You know what the company does and what your role is or has been. You know the bus route and where to park.

Now imagine going to a completely new job – different job different employer – doing work you’ve never done before, probably using skills you haven’t used extensively in your work history or using newly acquired skills. You know no one, can’t find the bathroom or the lunchroom without help, don’t really know what it is you are supposed to be doing and don’t know who to ask, or even if you can ask. New jobs are scary to some degree for everyone, whether you are a seasoned executive making a planned job change or an average guy getting hired at a new place. Every first day produces stress at some level. So imagine, if you will, that you’ve been injured, can’t do the only job you’ve ever done and you know in your heart your company isn’t going to take you back. Wouldn’t take you back / couldn’t take you back, doesn’t matter – there’s no place for you there and now you have to live through yet another potentially traumatic event – transitioning to a new job.

I’ve done it. Twice. It was hard each time. And what did I say the first time…”I’ll never get hired, no one will hire me, I have no skills”.   What was it my friend said at the time, “No one wants to hire 40 year old women like us”……    wrong!

So now we come to the title of this little piece. The resume. The little tool that does it all, the true multitasker.   Working with your return to work clients to create a resume can be so much more than simply creating a document for answering job ads. The resume is a clearly laid out statement of skills and abilities that spotlights what each individual client is good at. It doesn’t matter if it’s putting up drywall or programming firewalls every person has talent. As a voc rehab provider it’s my job to help each client recognize and identify those talents.

The resume process is at least as important and rewarding as the finished product. By moving the clients to the point where they recognize and believe that they have talent, skills and abilities they begin to believe that they are deserving of a new job; that they have something to offer, that someone might actually want to hire them and that they have not worked 20 years for nothing. I have seen it proven many times that the resume process can be a powerful shot in the arm for lagging confidence and low self-esteem.

What is the resume process? Simple and sometimes not so simple, it’s all communication. Sit down with your client, no time limit and be prepared to dig for information. I never let a client get away with things like ‘I did the morning mail’, ‘I assisted the manager’, I was responsible for’…no skill is identifiable in those phrases, there are no verbs. (Action words, I love them!) I dig for specific tasks; as I recently told a client the word ‘assisted’ could mean anything from ‘I brought coffee’ to ‘I did all the work and got none of the credit’. Probe for verbs, did your client research, proofread, build, program, lead, delegate, teach, measure….you get the picture. It’s an action film.

For many clients this process is difficult and very emotional. Routine jobs done over long periods of time with little or no recognition wear away self confidence and can make workers feel like they don’t have any skills any more. They just do the same thing every day, by rote and possibly with their eyes closed and one hand tied behind their back. It is important to remind clients that while they see it as routine, potential employers see it as a desired skill. Being able to do it well with minimal training on the new job is a benefit for everyone – less training time for the employer and an easier, quicker transition for the client.

For clients who can no longer use long time skills and must seek alternate employment the resume process can be even more difficult. It is important to identify the transferable skills and identify how the client did their job, what professional traits do they exhibit on the workforce – patience, detailed, organized, efficient. What does the client do in their life or in volunteer activities? The resume can’t change a work history but it can highlight skills, talents and abilities that are relevant to where the client is going right now.   And that is what a good resume does; it is a forward thinking document designed to get someone where they want to go, not keep them where they’ve been.

Some clients will fight you every step of the way. I think there are two main reasons.

  1. Lots of people think they are fabulous resume writers. They can use the template from MicroSoft Word. They have a friend or relative in HR or management and they get good advice. They don’t need you nor do they want to be part of the process.   Definitely putting up barriers.
  2. Creating a resume is hard work. Emotionally. Not only does it demand thinking of oneself in a whole new light, but it also means that a job search is imminent. It is concrete evidence that they are leaving the past and moving to the future, the scary unknown future. When clients feel they are not ready to return to work the resume, or even the thought of the resume process becomes frightening and up go the roadblocks.

Resistance is futile. In the end no one can resist a good voc rehab provider. Here’s where that communication comes in. It’s important to explain to a client that writing a resume is a process and that the finished document has no best before date. Wherever the client is in return to work planning there are benefits to at least beginning the process. One is identification of skills which leads to job discussion which leads to the realization and belief that possibilities exist. The second benefit is increased self awareness that begins re-building the confidence that leads to that glorious moment when the client sees themselves reflected in the resume as a viable, hirable professional.

So that little resume has accomplished a number of important tasks. The process helped create a solid working relationship with you and the client, it brought the client on board to see themselves as being in the process, it demonstrated the value of the client for a new employer and right there in black and white that little resume showed the client a skill set he never knew or had forgotten he had.

That little resume, crafted uniquely with, and for each client now spotlights possibilities for a successful job search or at the very least (or most) helps move the client to the point where the very words job search don’t bring on a cold sweat. The client is moving forward.   And that is what it’s all about.

Now I wish I had a loonie for every time I heard…”If I were an employer, I’d hire me”.

6 Steps To Retraining Returning Employees

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Employee trainingWhen it has come time for a worker to return to his or her job after a long absence, it is understandably difficult. It’s not just difficult for the employee, however. It requires a great deal of effort from the employer to ensure that his or her returning staff member is given all of the tools necessary to do the job. This often means that retraining is required. It stands to reason that someone who has spent a lot of time away from the job will need to become reacquainted with it.

As a result, an appropriate training regimen needs to be put in place. And this type of training should be tailored in such a way that it addresses the various needs and potential limitations of the employee that is returning to work. In many cases, there may be sensitivities that need to be respected. So what is the best way to retrain a returning employee? Well, it’s a process that takes several steps. Here are six important ones.

1. Clearly define the job. It’s important to make clear to your returning staff member what is expected of him or her. In some cases, the role may have been changed to suit the skill set and physical abilities of the employee. On Blogging4Jobs.com, Eric Friedman offers some insight into the approach. “Itemize the main points or duties of the new task or policy,” he advises, “You’ll need to manage your employee’s knowledge, skill, and ability to perform the new task or adhere to new policies while training.”

2. Get the right trainer. A good retraining program is important. But it’s only as good as the individual doing the training. It’s important to select a knowledgeable and friendly member of your staff who is good with interacting with others. “The trainer needs to be sensitive to the situation of the trainee,” writes Lynn A. Emmert on MasterControl.com, “but s/he also must keep in mind the goals of the retraining and the needs of the organization.”

3. Provide regular follow-ups. Don’t leave your returning employee in the dark. Be sure to check up with your staff member to foster a strong comfort level with being back on the job. This will be especially important once the training schedule has been completed. “Once the trainings have come to an end, make sure to set a follow-up appointment with your employees 3-6 months out to see how they are doing with the new material or changes,” recommends Friedman.

4. Ask for feedback. The only way to know that your returning employee is taking well to the training is to ask about it. Accept feedback readily and do your best to curb the training program so that the information is being properly absorbed. “This is one of the most effective ways to re-train your employees,” Friedman insists, “Unless management is open to feedback, trainings will come and go without information being retained.”

5. Adjust for learning styles. Everyone learns differently. You may assume that your training program is ideal for employees to learn the various ins and outs of the job. But it’s important to remember that there are different types of learners. “By recognizing and understanding their employee styles, you will be able to use better techniques suited for their needs,” Friedman tells us, “The most common learning styles are visual, verbal, physical, logical, social, solitary, and aural.”

6. Be a good communicator. “This seems like a no-brainer,” admits Friedman, “but clear communication is the biggest item on this list. Without being able to communicate the purpose, relevance, and value the training has to your employee, there won’t be a connection.” It’s especially important to listen. Listening, some people forget, is the most important element of good communication. Be sure to know that your employee understands what is being taught while also having his or her concerns respected.