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Archive for the ‘Healthy Practices’ Category

6 Ways To Prevent Accidents In The Workplace

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Traffic cones and red stop sign. Road safety and prevention of accidents during road constructionEach and every day, Canadians head to work with the expectations that they will be able to complete their daily tasks free of injury or any other health risks. Certainly, we all deserve to work in safe and clean environments. And while most businesses take measures to ensure the safety of their employees, accidents are bound to happen. However, there are ways to ensure that such accidents are minimized and unable to present serious ill effects.

Of course, it’s important for all employees to be aware of the hazards that may come along with their jobs. And, naturally, some jobs present more risks than others. Construction workers, for example, often have to work with heavy equipment and at high elevations. Clearly, protective gear must be worn and extra precautions need to be followed. There are steps, however, that we all must take in order to be safe, no matter what type of environment we work in.

Here are six ways prevent accidents in the workplace:

1. Always be alert. There’s a reason why many workers insist upon that morning coffee. Being awake and alert isn’t just important in order to complete tasks adequately, but it also helps to keep both you and your co-workers out of harm’s way. According to Julian Hall on Character-Training.com, “most of the people who become involved with accidents at work are those who feel sleepy while working.”

2. Don’t rush your work. In many workplaces, time is of the essence. Employees are given deadlines that they must meet, so there is often a sense of urgency when it comes to completing certain tasks. It’s important, however, to take the appropriate amount of time to perform your duties safely. On Arbill.com, it is explained that “it’s natural to want to get the job finished on schedule — or even ahead of time — but with a ‘get it done quick’ attitude, accidents happen.”

3. Wear required safety gear. Many jobs require uniforms. But the jobs that require the wearing of safety equipment are the ones where dress codes are the most important. “A person who works in a factory has a greater chance of being involved in an accident at work,” reminds Hall, “Thus, he should be more vigilant about the wearing of proper uniforms and other protective garments when working. Never take safety to chance so always go to work with the proper dress code.”

4. Follow instructions to a tee. Sometimes, workers get complacent. It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that you’re an expert at your job, so you don’t need to follow every last instruction. However, paying attention to detail can help you to avoid making mistakes that can lead to injury. “Don’t take shortcuts,” insists Arbill.com, “stick to the instructions and work with diligence and awareness of your surroundings.”

5. Pay attention to and follow emergency drills. Workers also tend to take safety drills for granted. If they’re not “the real thing”, they often go through the motions carelessly. However, participation in such drills couldn’t be more important. As Hall points out, these emergency drills are conducted for the purpose of teaching employees what to do in the event of an emergency and so that they can avoid accidents.

6. Insist upon proper training. This is especially important if you plan on taking on a job that may present a number of risks. Knowing exactly what you’re in for and how to react during emergency situations is imperative for your safety. “It is stupid for anyone to take on a high-risk job especially if he has not been trained for the job,” states Arbill.com, “Imagine an untrained person doing the job of a fireman? Doing this will not only expose you to a great danger but will expose other people to danger as well.”

The Importance Of Ergonomics In The Workplace

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White computer mouse and hand on whiteNot every job in the world requires laborious use of the hands. Not every job entails a great deal of heavy lifting, lugging and carrying. But that doesn’t mean that jobs void of these tiring tasks aren’t hard on the body. Office workers experience their fair share of job-related injuries as well. You may be surprised just how taxing it can be on the body to sit at a desk in front of a computer all day long.

This is why ergonomics is so vital to any working environment. Ergonomics, which is the study of people’s efficiency in the workplace, is an important element when considering the health and safety of people at work. And, as Cynthia Roth points out on EHSToday.com, office environments are known for their ergonomic-related injuries and illnesses. Believe it or not, typing isn’t exactly the safest job-related task in the world!

“If an employee is able to type 40 words per minute, he or she presses 12,000 keys per 8-hour day,” she explains, “Approximately 8 ounces of force is necessary to depress one key. Almost 16 tons of force will be exercised by his or her fingers each day. The fingers of typists whose speed is 60 words per minute exert up to 25 tons of pressure each day.” So what does all of this mean? How does the pressure exerted by typists affect their health?

According to Roth, back pain is considered the most common side effect of daily sitting and typing. But studies have shown that “the office workplace has other musculoskeletal disorders, including carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, tenosynovitis and myositis.” She writes that “more than 8 million people are affected by carpal tunnel syndrome each year. Surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome is the second-most common type of musculoskeletal surgery.”

A focus on ergonomics can help present better working conditions in an effort to avoid such physical hardships. Roth notes that it’s important to reduce the physical demands of jobs by decreasing levels of force, repetition and awkward postures. “Job descriptions are necessary to understand how tasks impact the worker: which body part is used, whether right or left side, cycle times, weights, reaches, etc.” she writes.

The benefits to implementing strong workplace ergonomics are many. On Ergo-Plus.com, Mark Middlesworth explains that ergonomics can help to reduce costs, improve productivity and boost the quality of the work being done. “Poor ergonomics leads to frustrated and fatigued workers that don’t do their best work,” he writes, “When the job task is too physically taxing on the worker, they may not perform their job like they were trained.”

A focus on ergonomics in the workplace is also excellent for employee morale. It should go without saying that it’s important to have a staff made up for happy and enthusiastic people. It’s good for any company’s bottom line. “If an employee does not experience fatigue and discomfort during their workday, it can reduce turnover, decrease absenteeism, improve morale and increase employee involvement,” says Middlesworth.

At Independence Incorporated, we offer Ergonomic Assessments that carefully consider the relationships between workers and their work environments. Our assessments involve the creation of matches between employees and their activities, equipment and systems to maximize both productivity and health-focused circumstances. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call Independence Incorporated at 204-478-6644 or email info@indep.ca.

6 Ways To Promote Health In The Workplace

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Smiling medical doctor woman with appleIt’s not easy running a business. You have a lot on your plate on a daily basis. And one of the most important daily tasks you have is ensuring the health and safety of all those who work for you. Without a staff that is comprised of positive-minded, well-rested, energetic members, your company is bound to endure some hardships. And, of course, the last thing you want is to have any of your employees endure an illness or injury.

It would especially be unfortunate and detrimental to your company if your employees become ill or injured while on the job. So while motivating your team members towards productive work days is always a necessity, it is equally important to keep in mind that you should be promoting health and wellness on the job. That way, you can ensure a strong and productive team that is happy to work for you.

Here are six ways to promote health in the workplace:

1. Advocate exercise. One of the most popular excuses that people give for their lack of exercise is that they have no time. By offering facilities at your place of business, you give people reasons to lose that excuse. On Inc.com, Lauren Lastowka offers up an alternative to providing gyms and showers, if doing so isn’t possible. “Implement and promote a lunch hour walking club and offer incentives for employees who participate,” she suggests.

2. Encourage better nutrition. Do you have vending machines at your place of work that include an array of chocolate bars and potato chips? If so, lose them. Food that promotes poor health is not doing your company any favours. Not only should you offer healthy options at your cafeteria but according to Dr. Jeffrey Brown in a special to Financial Post, you should “offer incentives for reaching health and weight goals.”

3. Find ways to minimize stress. Stress is bound to occur on any job. But the less of it you’re able to put on your employees, the better they’ll be able to perform their duties. “Unmanaged stress has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep trouble,” reminds Lastowka, “At the workplace, it can lead to inefficiency, job dissatisfaction, and absence from work for related health conditions.”

4. Make drinking water available. If you don’t have water fountains set up at your place of work, bring in water coolers. The importance of staying hydrated cannot be understated. Dr. Brown insists that you “educate staff to stay hydrated by drinking 8 oz. of water each working hour. Discourage caffeine, sodas and energy drinks in the office. Provide clean-filtered water. I recommend reverse-osmosis filters, which are cheap and effective.”

5. Have a doctor make “work calls”. You’ve heard of “house calls” before, right? Why not implement a similar practice at your office? “One of the most innovative trends in workplace wellness has been that of the office doctor’s office,” informs Lastowka, “On-site health clinics give employees the opportunity to schedule office visits for routine care without taking time off work. And they seem to be successful.”

6. Open up the windows. There are few things worse than a dank, congested and musty workplace. Be sure to let in fresh air and sunlight to brighten up the moods of everyone on your team. “Sunlight refreshes us, triggers are feel good chemicals, strengthens our joints and bones, and helps our immune system,” says Dr. Brown, who goes on to mention that “Sick Building Syndrome is an increasing cause of illness and lawsuits.”

6 Steps To Nailing Your Next Job Interview

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Two businesspeople shaking hands and smiling.At Independence Incorporated, we offer our clients Interview Coaching to better prepare them for the sometimes-tough task of interviewing for a new job. The entire interview experience can especially be taxing on those who are returning to work after a long layoff from the workforce. Our team helps clients with a number of effective interview strategies in order to help them rebuild their confidence and alleviate any anxiety.

For example, it’s important to remember that a good job interview doesn’t just involve the adequate answering of questions. In many cases, it’s helpful to ask questions too. Showing a genuine interest in the job that you are applying for can go a long way with an interviewer. Remember that you’ll often be competing against several other candidates who are vying for the same position. What will help you to stand out from the rest?

Here are six steps to nailing your next job interview:

1. Make a good first impression. You know what they say. You only get one chance to pull this off, right? Be sure that the first time your interviewer lays on eyes on you, he or she is impressed. On InCharge.org, Janet Farley discusses how you can pull this off. “Dress the part. Show up fashionably early for the interview. Wear a confident, not arrogant, attitude and be willing to put yourself out there for closer inspection,” she advises.

2. Practice makes perfect. This is another cliché that is worth its weight in the job interview department. Research the company you’re applying to and show that you are capable on answering questions about the industry. On Forbes.com, Trudy Steinfeld recommends that you “practice with others; familiarize yourself with different interview styles (and) anticipate and practice responses for difficult questions, so you won’t be caught off guard during the interview.”

3. Be sure to study your own resume. Embellishing your skill set on your resume isn’t your best bet. At some point, you’ll need to be able to back it up. Instead, be prepared to discuss the legitimate attributes listed on your resume. Farley offers advice about what to highlight: “What looks interesting and what doesn’t? Where can you add in examples of how you accomplished a particularly daunting task?”

4. Make an impression on those who aren’t even interviewing you. It’s always great to get a recommendation from others – especially those who already work for the company you’re applying to. “Be nice to everyone,” insists Steinfeld, “From the moment you walk in the building, smile, be respectful, personable and professional at all times. You want anyone who interacted with you to remember you in a positive way.”

5. Ask intelligent questions. We’ve already mentioned that this step is an important one in securing your next job. But it’s important to come prepared with the right questions to ask. Farley insists that you avoid asking “amateur questions” that are easy to find the answers to online. “To make the best impression, come prepared with a short list of real questions that can help you make a good decision about the job if it comes to that,” she advises.

6. Don’t forget to follow up. To show your genuine interest in a job position, you can’t just assume that the interview itself is all that you’ll need. Follow up shortly after. “Don’t make the mistake now of sitting by your laptop or phone waiting for that life-changing email or call,” says Steinfeld, “It’s over. You either nailed it or you didn’t. Lucky for you, however, you can still make a good impression by following through after the interview.”

For more information about Independence Incorporated’s Interview Coaching, please don’t hesitate to call us at 204-478-6644 or email info@indep.ca.

6 Steps To Creating The Perfect Cover Letter

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Cover Letter Word Cloud Concept with great terms such as interview, resume, summary and more.It’s always important to make a good first impression. And, most often, when you are looking to secure a new job opportunity, your cover letter to your resume represents your first impression. It’s a good idea to remember that your hiring manager is looking to find out more about you, not just what you’re capable of doing on the job. So creating a cover letter that is as personable as it is professional is a wise choice.

Of course, writing a cover letter can be considered a tough task if you haven’t done one in a while. This is especially true for those who have experienced long layoffs from work due to illnesses or injuries. For more information about Independence Incorporated’s Resume Preparation services that assist with both resume development and appropriate cover letter creation, please don’t hesitate to call us at 204-478-6644 or email info@indep.ca.

Here are six steps to creating the perfect cover letter:

1. Address the hiring manager directly. Showing that you’ve done your research about the company you are applying to demonstrates your attention to detail and your dedication to securing the job. Be sure to find out the hiring manager’s name in order to properly address that person in your letter. “If this person’s name isn’t in the job listing, take the extra effort to call or email the company and find out,” suggests Vivian Giang on BusinessInsider.com.

2. Get to the point. Telling your life story isn’t necessary. Your best bet is covering all of the necessary details that relate to the reason you are applying for the job. On Monster.com, Caroline M.L. Potter recommends that you also include where you saw the ad for the position and who recommended you to apply for it. Keep in mind that recruiters have many cover letters to read. Cutting to the chase will help you to gain favour.

3. Don’t go overboard. Remember that the purpose of your cover letter is to pinpoint reasons why you should be considered for the job. It is your personal request for consideration. So you don’t need to go over the details that are already listed on your resume. “It’s a professional document, so don’t go too over-the-top,” reminds Giang, “Yes, trying to figure out ways to be creative may be difficult, but don’t go overboard out of desperation.”

4. Be complimentary. Naturally, your cover letter should endear its reader to you. But you’ll also want to include reasons why you’re interested in the company you’re applying to work for. “Compliment the organization on what they have done right and what you admire about them,” advises Potter. That way, you will prove that you’ve taken the time to look into and get to know the company.

5. Stick to the “one page rule”. You don’t need to make your cover letter any longer than one page. To reiterate, its intent is not to tell your life story. Sticking to the important facts and highlighting your strengths are what is necessary. “Your cover letter is an introduction to yourself,” says Giang, “It’s supposed to show that you have strong communication skills. Be brief and concise.”

6. Include a call to action. Of course, you can assume that your hiring manager wants to meet you in person. But, it’s best that you state your intention of doing so. Potter advises that you express your enthusiasm for the job position and the interview. Giang agrees that you should be proactive. “Tell the reader what you’re planning on doing next — for example, calling in a week or two to follow up,” she advises.

Good luck!

6 Steps To Securing A Successful New Job Experience

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Depositphotos_63778287_xsBeginning a new job can be an incredibly exciting experience. However, your first day in a new environment, surrounded by new people and with a new responsibility to take on important tasks can also be pretty nerve-wracking. This is especially true for those who have been away from any job positions due to long layoffs. For those who have suffered injuries or illnesses that have kept them out of the work force for some time, starting new jobs can be downright scary!

At Independence Incorporated, our Return To Work Program ensures that all return to work issues are dealt with in a comprehensive and proactive manner. It has been very successful in helping clients feel comfortable when they begin their new job positions. However, there are also a number of simple steps that one can take to get better assimilated to a new career. Reducing anxiety is a big part of being successful when starting a new job.

Here are six steps to securing a successful new job experience:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’re new on the job. Your employers and co-workers are likely well aware. Not only will asking questions better acquaint you with your new position, but it will help you to develop new relationships at work. This should make for a more comfortable working experience. According to Cheryl Cirelli on LoveToKnow.com, you should “ask what your responsibilities will be as well as any specific requirements that the company may have.”

2. Show enthusiasm for your new position. Remember that since you’ve successfully landed your new job position, it’s important to put in the work so that you keep it. Display the kind of energy that employers love to see. It will help you move up in the company eventually. Just don’t be too eager! On Levo.com, Betsy Smith warns that “asking about other opportunities (too early) may cause people to question your loyalty and enthusiasm.”

3. Get acquainted with your new company. It’s important to do your research. Before beginning your new position, you should endeavour to learn as much as you can about the company you’re working for. Being familiar with the brand will help you to be a top representative of it. Cirelli insists that you thoroughly review the materials you are given when you start the new position. “You may also want to check out the company’s website and get acquainted with it,” she advises.

4. Dress the part. Quickly become familiar with the dress code at your new place of work. But seek to dress professionally so that you carry with you a sense of dignity and respect for your role. It’s bound to leave an impression on those who see you at work each day. “Learn how to be a casual professional,” recommends Smith, “Some office environments are extremely buttoned up, while others are far more relaxed. I’ve worked in both, and what I’ve seen is that one type of person always prevails—the casual professional.”

5. Arrive early. The last thing you want is to show up to a new job late. Tardiness is frowned upon no matter what type of industry you work in. Do yourself a favour and plan to leave home early, especially during your first week, so that you know how long it takes to get to work, on average. “Know before you start your job how long your commute will be and if you need to find parking or take mass transit to your job,” reminds Cirelli.

6. Make friends. This one can be tricky. How do you know which employees will make the best co-worker friends? Smith recommends that you make notes about the people you meet on the job, and never be afraid to introduce yourself. For those that you feel the most comfortable with, make efforts to greet them again. “Send each of them a personalized email saying that you enjoyed meeting them and you hope your paths cross again,” she suggests.

For more information about our Return To Work Program, please don’t hesitate to call Independence Incorporated at 204-478-6644 or email info@indep.ca.

6 Ways To Assist Injured Loved Ones With Their Recoveries

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Rear view of trainer assisting senior woman with her walker over white backgroundOvercoming an injury is no easy feat. And it can be especially difficult if you’re doing so alone. The help and support of family members and friends play a crucial role in the recovery of an individual who has experienced a significant injury. Arguably, one’s emotional state needs as much rehabilitation as his or her physical condition after being injured. The negative impacts of an injury are many. So the more help one gets towards recovery, the better.

At Independence Incorporated, we offer a Personal Care Needs Assessment that includes the help of registered nurses and occupational therapists. Together, they provide comprehensive assessments of the personal care needs of their clients. That way, those impacted by injuries are provided with the best possible paths towards recovery. Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t need additional assistance from their loved ones.

Here are six ways to assist injured loved ones with their recoveries:

1. Spend some quality time. Injured loved ones can develop overwhelming senses of loneliness since they are usually unable to participate in regular everyday activities. Since they generally won’t be able to come to you, it’s important that you find some time to spend with them in their homes. On SpinalCord.org, Dr. Linda Lindsey writes that spending time with friends and family is a great way for those in recovery to assist themselves with the process of getting better.

2. Be respectful and realistic. There is no exact science to being a caregiver. In many instances, you may be doing something that you believe to be helpful that may only worsen the situation. On MSKTC.org, Dr. Thomas Novack reminds us that you may want to refrain from expressing false optimism like “you will be back to work in no time”. It’s important to treat your loved one like an adult, not talk down to him or her and respect his or her likes and dislikes regarding your care.

3. Encourage a healthy lifestyle. As mentioned, when someone is injured, it’s not so easy to participate in regular activities. So it’s important to help your loved one to not fall into the trap of letting their health go. “Get enough sleep,” Dr. Lindsey insists, “Eat regular, healthy meals and snacks…Cut down or cut out use of caffeine and tobacco.” Helping your injured loved one to avoid falling into bad habits during the rehabilitation process can go a long way in the healing process.

4. Reduce your own stress. A loved one’s injury is hard on you too. Obviously, it brings about a level of stress that no one is interested in having. Dr. Novack reminds us that stress is related to such health issues as heart disease, cancer and stroke. It’s important to always find time for yourself so that you can rest and care for your own needs. “If you are under constant stress, you are not going to be as helpful to your injured family member or anyone else,” says the doctor.

5. Take some time for yourself. Don’t assume that you can do it all. While helping your loved one with his or her recovery process, it’s important to remember that you need to be in a healthy state of mind and body yourself. As Dr. Lindsey points out, “caregiving is not a one-person job. You need time away for a healthy lifestyle, and there are going to be times when you are sick or need to get to get away for other reasons.”

6. Reward yourself. Your loving care for your injured family member or friend is an incredible gesture. You deserve to be rewarded for it. Treating yourself will not only help you to alleviate stress, but it will re-energize you to take on the difficult daily tasks that you’ve become responsible for. “Everyone needs something to look forward to,” writes Dr. Novack, “Promise yourself a cup of your favourite coffee or an opportunity to watch a good TV show or read something you enjoy.”

For more information about our Personal Care Needs Assessment, please don’t hesitate to call Independence Incorporated at 204-478-6644.

6 Tips For Finding The Right Job For You

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We want youThere was once a time when a person would begin a career and retire from it approximately 40 or 50 years later. Today, we live in a world where career changes happen a whole lot more often. In some cases, career transitions become necessities in order to address the changes that may be occurring in our personal lives. A long term illness or injury is certainly a reason that many people use to consider moving from one career to another.

If the time for change becomes necessary due to one’s physical limitations, it’s important to consider what they are before looking for a new job. At Independence Incorporated, we offer a Job Search Assistance Program that is tailored to the needs of each individual client. The program includes regular client meetings to establish responsibilities and obligations, résumé preparation and a daily review of offline and online classified employment ads.

Here are six tips for finding the right job for you:

1. Focus your job search. Locating the ideal job for you begins with knowing exactly what it is you are interested in doing. With online listings being so prevalent these days, narrowing your search by using specific key words in search engines should help you to locate the opportunities that best suit your needs and skill set. “Narrowing your search criteria will help you focus your job search and will give you more relevant job listings to review and less non-relevant job listings to weed through,” writes Alison Doyle on About.com.

2. Seek to develop new skills. Perhaps, you’re looking to completely change your career path. If so, some new training may be in order. You’re never too old to learn new tricks! Mary Eileen Williams of The Huffington Post recommends that you take a class at a community college or senior centre. “You will not only gain the necessary knowledge (you can add this to your résumé),” she writes, but “you will also be able to network with your fellow students and the instructor.”

3. Do some volunteer work. There are few things on a résumé that seem to impress employers more than the experience you have in a related work field. Especially if you are entering into an unfamiliar industry, it will pay dividends to get some experience through volunteer work. “The very act of serving others will raise your feelings of wellbeing,” believes Williams, “Even more, because you will be volunteering in a field associated with your own, your new connections are likely to lead to unexpected opportunities and liaisons.”

4. Join a job search group. It certainly can’t hurt you to be around other people who are going through the same situation as you are. This is especially true if the entire job search process is bringing you some anxiety. Joining a job search group “will go a long way to lesson any feelings of isolation you may be experiencing,” says Williams, “In addition, you will have opportunities to share job search tips, exchange leads, and provide emotional support.”

5. Target your résumé and cover letter. Once you’ve narrowed your search to the job opportunities that you feel you are best suited for, be sure to prepare a résumé that speaks to that industry. “It’s important to take the time to write targeted résumés and cover letters that specifically link your qualifications to the hiring criteria for the jobs you are applying for,” insists Doyle, “The hiring manager will be able to see, at a glance, why, and how, you are qualified for the job.” Generic résumés, she believes, aren’t likely to impress.

6. Nail the job interview. Of course, your résumé and cover letter should help you get your foot through the door. But once that happens, you don’t want to put your foot in your mouth! It’s important to research the company that is interviewing you before you meet its hiring manager. As well, “dress appropriately, practice answering and asking interview questions, and make a concerted effort to impress the interviewer with your skills, experience, confidence, and expertise,” advises Doyle.

Good luck!

6 Ways To Save Money While You’re Not Working

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Saving moneyExperiencing a long-term disability or a serious illness is hard enough. Obviously, health must be put first. And any measures necessary to take in order to return to a state of well-being should be made priorities. However, there is another stress that comes with being unable to work due to an injury or illness. And that would be the blow to the wallet. It’s not just that many individuals who are unable to work are bringing in a lot less through their insurance claims. Some are unable to earn any money at all.

What to do in such a situation? How can one save money while there is lot less of it being earned? It’s not an easy transition. It’s important to discover where one stands financially, what his or her necessities are, what the goals are for the future and how to attain the necessary support. It’s also important to manage the money you do have as effectively as possible. Here are six ways to save money while you’re not working.

1. Seek lower interest rates. One obvious way to save money is to spend less of it. At the same time, it would help you to begin paying off the debts that you may currently owe. On CanadianLiving.com, Krystal Yee writes that you should “contact your creditors to negotiate a lower interest rate, and see if you qualify for deferments on any outstanding loans. If you were paying more than the minimum on any debts, cut back for the time being.”

2. Pay off your creditors. On Forbes.com, Katherine Pilnick suggests that you do yourself one better. If you can afford to pay off those credit cards, then go ahead and do so. Saving yourself from having to pay those high interest rates on your purchases will work wonders in rescuing your finances. “Depending on how much debt you have, this can require a financial commitment for months or even years,” she writes, “It’s important to keep at it until you’ve resolved your debts completely.”

3. Conserve your cash. Yee reminds us that, often, one doesn’t know how long he or she will be away from his or her job. It’s important, therefore, to create a budget. Being frugal is key. So avoiding the purchases of any unnecessary items will be very helpful. “It might be hard at first, but stretching your money as far as it can go will keep you from relying on credit cards or loans to get you through until your next job,” she encourages.

4. Build a rainy day fund. This tip falls under the “still working” category. Pilnick suggests that the best time to begin saving your money, for instances when you may not be able to work, is while you are still working. “A good emergency fund is enough to cover living expenses for at least three to six months,” she describes, “While growing this fund, keep up with minimum monthly payments on all of your debts. Then save for retirement.”

5. Apply for Employment Insurance. Falling under the “no longer working” category, this tip affirms the necessity to find a source of income while you’re unable to perform the duties of your job. To reiterate an earlier point, you may not know how long you’ll be away from work. Therefore, “when you qualify for EI, take advantage of it,” insists Yee, “even if you received a severance package, or think you have the savings in your bank account to get you through until your next job, truthfully, you just don’t know when that might be.”

6. Consider debt consolidation. Pilnick notes that this is a tip that can be especially helpful for those who are reaching their retirement ages. “Debt consolidation rolls all your debts and loans into one,” she explains, “It simplifies the repayment process and typically saves you money on interest and fees. Debt settlement, typically considered the better option, actually reduces the amount of money you owe. It can get you out of debt years earlier and save you thousands of dollars.”

At Independence Incorporated, we offer a new program called “Money Talks, and the Talk of Money”. It is designed to help our clients with financial management during bouts with injuries or illnesses. For more information, 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”.