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Archive for the ‘Healthy Practices’ Category

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.

6 Ways To Welcome New Employees To Your Staff

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Business man introducing new employee to the companyOn behalf of everyone here at Independence Incorporated, we wish you a very happy new year! And yes, we know 2015 is now a week old. Please forgive us for being a tad late on the well wishes. But as you can imagine, we keep pretty busy. As do the many great business owners that exist all over Canada. And this is especially true for those who have started the new year off by hiring new staff. “Growing the company” is likely a New Year’s Resolution for many.

With our many years of experience assisting individuals back to the workplace after long layoffs due to illness or injury, we have learned quite a bit about the importance of making the transition a smooth one. Often, it’s not at all unlike starting a job all over again from scratch. If you’re in the position of hiring new staff or welcoming back an employee who has been away, you may want to consider some important steps in making the process as comfortable as possible. Here are six tips.

1. Offer a welcoming treat. Making your new staff member’s first day on the job a pleasant one will definitely go a long way. To really make a new or returning employee feel right at home, you may want to offer a kind gesture of some sort. On Inc.com, Lou Dubois writes that you should engage your new employee “by communicating and asking how things are going and by taking them to lunch or coffee, even if it’s just in the office.”

2. Present a comfortable working environment. Remember that there is only one opportunity to give a great first impression. The more comfortable you make your new hire or returning worker, the more productive he or she will be in the long run. Katie White of AssociationAdviser.com suggests that you “treat the training room/building as if it’s your home and you are welcoming out-of-town visitors.”

3. Be accessible and approachable. One of the top reasons that employees will find their work difficult is because of their inability to communicate effectively with their managers. Too often, they are intimidated to do so. To avoid this, Dubois recommends that you maintain “an open-door policy as a manager and ensure that this is communicated to every employee, not just the new hire. This exudes that if they have questions, you’ll be there for them.”

4. Pace their entry on to your team. You may really be eager to get your new employee or returning worker to engage with the rest of your staff members. These relationships, however, will take time. Try not to rush things. Creating a comfortable environment means not doing too much too early. White advises that you “introduce new employees to just a few people each day so they are not overwhelmed with new names and faces.”

5. Define job requirements early. Naturally, it’s all well and good to make your employees feel comfortable at work. But you’ll also need to be firm about what you expect from them. “Include both short- and long-term projects for the new hire from an early stage,” writes Dubois, “New employees feel an inherent desire to contribute to the business right away. You don’t want them working on the big projects, though, until they’re really up to speed on the way your company works.”

6. Keep them informed. Employees like to be in the know about what’s happening with the business they work for. But this goes double for those who are new and still trying to get a grasp of the lay of the land. You’ll want to make sure they are aware of who they can speak to for help. To assist with this, White recommends that you “provide a management contact sheet with details on who does what. It can be overwhelming at first to know who does what.”

6 Steps To Having Strong Job Interviews

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Manager interviewing a male applicantPreparing for a job interview is hard enough when you haven’t had a long layoff from the work force. Not only are you required to overcome some of the anxiety that comes with being put on the spot and having to answer questions, but you must reacquaint yourself with the ins and outs of the world of work. Job interviews can be harrowing experiences, for some. And at Independence Incorporated, we offer Interview Coaching to make things a lot easier for you.

When our clients are away from the work force for extended time periods, we offer a review of effective interview strategies that is often very helpful in helping them to rebuild their confidence. We know that it isn’t easy to start your career all over again. It’s hard enough just to get back to a state of good health and strength. There are a number of steps to be taken to get back to a good job position. Here are six tips to help you have strong job interviews.

1. Get to know the company you are applying to work for. Before an interviewer can get to know you, it’s important that you do your research about the company. “Knowing as much as possible about the company’s past performance and future plans can make your interview more interactive and could be just the leg up you need in a competitive job market,” writes Alison Doyle on About.com. She recommends that you start with reviewing the company’s website.

2. Dress the part. You know what they say about first impressions, right? It’s important to make sure that you impress your interviewer the moment he or she lays eyes on you. On BitesizeBio.com, Allison Ross insists that dressing professionally is a critical part of any successful job interview. “Casual is not good and gives the wrong impression,” she writes, “for a professional career position, get it right and buy that killer suit.”

3. Practice makes perfect. You always studied before you took tests in school, right? Well, consider your job interview your next big test. That means that you should practice what you plan to say and how you plan to say it before the actual interview takes place. “Practice with a friend and record or videotape your responses so you can replay the interview and see how well you did,” recommends Doyle.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It is true that a standard job interview places the interviewer in the position of ‘question-asker’ and the interviewee in the position of ‘question-answerer’. But, believe it or not, your interviewer wants you to ask questions. It shows that you genuinely care about the job position and are curious to learn more. “You don’t have to wait until the end of the interview to ask questions,” encourages Ross.

5. Keep your calm. Doyle points out that it’s important to stay calm throughout your interview. It’s normal to be nervous. But showing poise can go a long way. “It is perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to frame your responses so you can be sure to fully answer the question,” she reminds us. She also advises that you always thank your interviewers at the end of each interview, reminding them of your interest in the job position.

6. Be on time. All of the above mentioned tips are great. But they won’t come in very handy if you don’t show up for your interview on time! Tardiness is certainly not a trait that any company wants in a new employee. Instead, “arrive 10 minutes before – and if you’re too early then take a walk around the block,” suggests Ross, “Just don’t leave it until 5 minutes before the interview is due to start.”

For more information on Independence Incorporated’s Interview Coaching, please feel free to call 204-478-6644.

6 Steps To Creating The Perfect Résumé

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target resume illustration designThere are many reasons why we may, at some point in our lives, need to take a long layoff from work. In some cases, we may actually have to leave our jobs in order to attend to more pressing matters. Needless to say, our health should always come first. So when battling an illness or injury that requires a long recovery period, it can be difficult trying to get assimilated with a professional working environment again.

Not only may we have distanced ourselves from lifestyles that involve daily work schedules, but we may have also forgotten what it takes to complete adequate résumés. It’s hard to imagine yourself starting from scratch, isn’t it? But, believe it or not, many people have to begin their careers all over again after unexpected occurrences take place in their lives. This can actually be a good thing. But it takes a good résumé to get you started! Here are six steps to writing the perfect one.

1. Tailor it to the specific position you’re applying for. On BusinessInsider.com, Vivian Giang and Melissa Stanger write that a generic résumé won’t generally do the trick. It’s important to “mold the information to reflect what your potential employer is looking for in an ideal job candidate.” Naturally, you may have to make revisions to your résumé depending on the different industries within which you may be applying.

2. Include professional modes of contact. It’s important to remember the fact that you are looking to an impress an employer. Providing e-mail addresses and phone numbers may seem like the easy part. But as Barbara Safani points out on Aol.com, if your email address doesn’t reflect a sense of professionalism (partygirl7@aol.com is her example) and your outgoing voicemail message is done in a “goofy voice”, it will “encourage recruiters to walk away.”

3. The length of your résumé should reflect years of experience. Giang and Stanger remind us that, although you may be proud of your various accomplishments, they may not all be relevant to your potential employers. “Cut it down,” they insist, noting that if you’re in your twenties, a one-page résumé will suffice. However, those with more than ten years of experience can feel free to add second pages.

4. Use strong language. Now, of course, we’re not referring to using any inappropriate terms to describe yourself. Instead, you should try to make use of words that connote a great sense of confidence and strength. “Refrain from using subjective words like ‘loyal’ or ‘trustworthy’ to explain your candidacy,” advises Safani, “Omit phrases such as ‘responsible for’ or ‘duties included’ from your résumé; opt for stronger language such as ‘managed’ or ‘oversaw.’”

5. Use plenty of white space to draw the reader’s eye to specific items. An abundance of information can be distracting. Giang and Stanger point out that a résumé that is pleasing to the eye can be a lot more effective than one that is crammed with information. Sometimes, keeping it concise is key. Focus on the most relevant points of your job history and experience so that they are seen as highlighted reasons to hire you.

6. Explain your layoff. This may be a tip that most people wouldn’t consider. Especially if you’re seeking employment after a long layoff, it may be important to explain why. “If you left the workplace to take care of a child or aging parent, explain that right on the résumé,” insists Safani, “Don’t make the reader guess what you were doing during that gap. Their assumptions will rarely work in your favour.”

At Independence Incorporated, we proudly offer Resume Preparation services. For more information, call us at 204-478-6644.

6 Solutions For Boosting Team Spirit

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Depositphotos_3231546_xsNaturally, there are many different facets to a safe and comfortable return to work by an employee who has had a long layoff due to illness or injury. But in our experience, one of the most important aspects of a comfortable return is a positive working environment. And in order for a working environment to be a positive one, the people who fill it each and every day need to be in high spirits.

It can be argued then that one of the most important components to one’s successful return to the workplace is an office that is high in team spirit. Of course, this requires business owners and team managers to put forth efforts to ensure that their staff members are receiving ample amounts of motivation on a daily basis. All members of a staff need to be happy when coming in to work each day to really create a positive working environment. Here are six ways to boost team spirit.

1. Be Honest. We’ve all heard the term “honesty is the best policy.” According to Ralph Heibutzki on Chron.com, this is especially true for team managers looking to boost team spirit. “Keeping secrets inhibits staff from giving its best,” he writes, “Employees who know what’s going on are more likely to share your vision and care about making it happen…To promote morale, hold regular informal meetings, but don’t limit the agenda to major announcements.”

2. Recognize Success. A huge part of building team spirit is giving credit where credit is due. Staff members deserve to be recognized for their jobs well done. Letting them know that their contributions matter certainly goes a long way. “Look for workers who contribute to a team atmosphere and have a ‘can do’ attitude,” suggests Gina Scott on GlobalPost.com, “Give a monthly award to the person who jumped in and helped out the most, such as when a co-worker was sick or on medical leave.”

3. Get Everyone Involved. Perhaps there is nothing better to boost team spirit than to encourage employees to actually work as a team. “Collaborative decision-making is a key element in team building,” writes Heibutzki. Be sure to encourage feedback during team meetings and truly listen to what each member of your team has to contribute. Implement the best ideas in your company policies. You may also want to inspire friendly competition among the various members of your team.

4. Play Some Games. Speaking of friendly competition, it won’t hurt your bottom line to sometimes turn work into play. Firstly, you can promote productivity by creating teams within your team to try to inspire everyone to outdo their counterparts. Secondly, for an excellent way to boost morale, you may want to create games that build trust and communication. “Activities like these show co-workers how to produce better as a group,” says Scott.

5. Promote Work/Life Balance. No matter how fun you make the workplace, employees will always cherish time with their friends and family more. It’s just a fact of life. By appropriately balancing out one’s work life with his or her personal life, it helps for that person to be that much more enthusiastic about his or her job. “Cohesion and morale suffers when employees feel tethered to their computers, or see little relief from unrealistic workloads,” warns Heibutzki.

6. Get Out of the Office. Perhaps one of the best ways to make the office a more enjoyable place to be is to get out of it more often! “Getting team members out of their element helps them think from a new perspective and build camaraderie,” informs Scott, “Retreats can last all day or a weekend. They can be filled with trust exercises and motivational speeches that build loyalty to the company brand and to each other.”

6 Strategies To Boost Employee Morale

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Depositphotos_10825393_xsTruthfully speaking, there is no easy way for an employee to return to work. It’s a major life transition following a serious illness or injury. However, to make it as comfortable a transition as possible, a few steps should be taken. Making an employee who has had a long layoff from work feel better about his or her return has a lot to do with preparing the entire work environment in the right way. And that means getting your entire staff involved.

Consider that things are about to change, not just for one of your employees, but for all of them. Keeping the morale high, within any given workspace, is a bonus for the business at large. If you can find ways to ensure that your place of business is a happy one to work in, everyone will be able to play a big part in welcoming back returning staff members. Here are six strategies to keep the morale levels in your office high.

1. Recognize individual employees. When your returning worker sees that other members of his or her team are appreciated, it will foster a greater sense of belonging to a productive team. It will also motivate him or her to accomplish great feats as well. According to Joy Powers of SparkMinute.com, it’s important to tell people when they do fantastic jobs. “Praise your employees at staff meetings, or take the time to thank them in a hand-written note,” she writes.

2. Allow employees to pursue their passions. It’s one thing to appreciate your employees for the work they do, but it’s an entirely different thing to allow them the time to work on personal projects. “Promote innovation and creativity by allowing time for your employees to work on a ‘passion project’,” writes Alex Fishleder of Maximizer.com. You may find that your attention to the individual goals of your staff members will encourage them to work harder for you.

3. Give them responsibility. Employees like to know that their contributions matter. Often, there is no better way than to communicate that than to delineate important tasks to the various members of your organization. Powers writes that it’s wise to listen to your employees and involve their ideas in your company’s planning. Empowering your staff members will give them greater senses of purpose, encouraging them to make bigger contributions.

4. Offer training. Partner new or returning employees with more seasoned veterans, recommends Powers. One of the best things you can do for your workers is to equip them with all of the tools necessary to complete their jobs efficiently. Powers suggests that you bring in experts for training sessions while encouraging your team members to attend trade conferences and other industry-related events to help develop their expertise in the field.

5. Encourage a good work-life balance. Sometimes, the key ingredient to a positive working environment is ample time away from work. “Since happy employees tend to be more productive, it makes sense for companies to give their staff the time, pay and benefits that are needed to have a successful life outside of work,” writes Fishleder, “Be sure to pay attention to employee complaints about leave, hours, and other factors that may affect their performance at work.”

6. Treat them as people. At the end of the day, this is what we all want, isn’t it? It only makes sense to show your employees that you care about them. And sometimes, the smallest things can have the biggest impacts. As Powers writes, “small gestures like learning your employees’ names, and sending flowers when they are sick can go a long way.” This will be especially important for workers returning after a long time away.

6 Ways To Assist With An Employee’s Return To Work

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Mentor Series - Good WorkAs you can imagine, it’s incredibly difficult to return to work after a long layoff. This is especially true if the absence came as a result of a significant injury or illness. Firstly, it should go without saying that a person’s priority becomes his or her health when such an unfortunate circumstance occurs. So, quite often, one’s daily tasks at work become so far from the mind, they are often forgotten by the time rehabilitation is complete.

But once a person’s physical health has returned to some semblance of normalcy, his or her emotional well-being also needs to be considered. Even if an employee is physically ready to take on the tasks of his or her position at work, he or she is still likely to encounter some trepidation about working again. As a result, there are many things that employers and co-workers should consider in order to help a returning worker with the transition back to the job.

1. Keep in touch. As long as you have the person’s permission, it’s a great idea to keep in contact during the absence from work. According to Mark Swartz of Monster.ca, it’s important to “stay in touch with the affected employee in order to monitor their progress. Reassure them that their job is waiting for them when they’re released to return to work.” Often, people who are unable to perform their regular duties worry about ever being able to do so again.

2. Have a chat. The first couple of days back on the job are bound to be tough for the employee. It’s important to make him or her feel as welcomed back as possible. Shepellfgi.com advises that you “welcome the worker back, discuss how responsibilities were handled during their absence and if there have been any changes to the role…This is also an opportunity for your employee to open up about any concerns or issues, while giving you a chance to offer your support and empathy.”

3. Prepare for the return. Welcoming an employee back to work after a long period of time isn’t something that should be taken lightly. It needs to be planned for. The job the person is coming back to may even have changed. Swartz writes that “it could take you weeks or even months to plan for the return of an employee. Roles may have to be assessed. Workloads need to be reviewed. And job descriptions, possibly schedules too, might have to be modified.”

4. Get your team ready. Reintegrating an employee back into the flow of things at work is a team effort. It will require the cooperation of an entire staff to make its returning team member feel comfortable with reassuming his or her role. “Try to keep your staff updated,” says Swartz, “Then, at least a few weeks ahead of the affected worker’s return, inform your employees. Let them know what to expect and announce changes (if any).”

5. Be accommodating. There may have to be a number of changes made to a returning worker’s schedule. His or her workstation may need to be modified. As well, the duties outlined in the employee’s job description may have to be reassessed. Shepellfgi.com notes that you may need to consult the employee’s physician or other health professionals to fully understand what the employee can and can’t manage.

6. Break them in slowly. Naturally, rushing a person to his or her old self isn’t advisable. As Swartz reminds us, “the longer someone has been away on disability leave, the less you should demand of them right away. Give them time to regain their footing. After all, they may have a new schedule, role, equipment and assignments to deal with. Set reasonable deadlines and provide a supportive environment.”

6 Ways To Ensure That Your Workplace Is A Safe One

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construction safety conceptIf there’s something that we can all agree on – most of us, anyway – it’s that nothing is more important than our health and safety. This is why it’s incumbent upon all of us to do our best to practice safety measures in our daily lives. The old parent-taught adage of “always look both ways before you cross the street” rings true for us all no matter our ages. So when it comes to being on the job, there’s no reason to stop taking care.

In fact, practicing safety at work is more than mandatory. Naturally, employers want their employees to work in an environment that promotes high levels of productivity. And that requires a workspace that is safe and fun to conduct business in. According to health specialist, Langdon Dement on EHSToday.com, “thousands of workers are injured on the job every year.” So what can you do to ensure your workplace is a safe one? Here are six top suggestions.

1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you can’t reach something, if something is too heavy, if you’re unsure of how to manoeuvre around something (you get the picture), simply request assistance. Dement writes that injuries due to bending, climbing, reaching, standing, sitting, slipping or tripping without falling are incredibly common. When one overexerts him or herself, it is bound to lead to some type of injury. Get help instead.

2. Be prepared for a fire. People tend to not take fire drills very seriously. Often, they’ll stroll through the doors while having casual conversations with their co-workers. That doesn’t mean that your business shouldn’t be conducting fire drills. WikiHow.com states that “fires are potentially devastating occurrences, putting many businesses, especially restaurants, in jeopardy”. The site also insists that you make sure that working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are always installed.

3. Be mindful of where you walk. Yes, it may sound like a no-brainer to “watch your step”. But taking your surroundings for granted can often lead to injury. Dement writes that being struck by an object has accounted for 8 per cent of workplace injuries and $4.10 billion in direct costs, based on the 2012 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index. He recommends implementing policies that include the wearing of hardhats, glasses and goggles to protect workers in certain environments.

4. Clearly mark potential safety concerns with the proper signage and instructions. WikiHow.com provides us with this pertinent advice: “If an electrician is rewiring an area of the workplace, or if a crew is doing construction on a piece of railing, inform your employees by memo and by placing an appropriate, visible sign near where the potential hazard could occur. Don’t assume that people are smart enough to act accordingly. Spell it out for them very clearly.”

5. Maintain proper housekeeping. Who doesn’t like a tidy place? Keeping your office clean isn’t just great for aesthetics, it makes things safer. Dement writes that falling is among the top five ways that employees get injured on the job. The solution? “Proper housekeeping is one way to reduce injuries from falls,” he writes, “Keeping your work area clean and clutter-free is very important in preventing these kinds of injuries.”

6. Have an easily accessible first aid kit in the office. No matter what, accidents are bound to happen. So unfortunately, you won’t be able to prevent them all from taking place. However, you can certainly minimize the damage done by having help nearby. WikiHow.com recommends that you “consider investing in first-aid training or, at the very least, a first aid kit. First-aid training won’t keep the accident from happening in the first place, but it could help keep any injuries incurred during an accident from getting out of control.”

Why Ergonomics In The Workplace Is So Important

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Happy Executive in Ergonomic ChairWhen an employee is ill or injured, it’s so important to get that person back to a state where he or she is healthy enough to be capable of carrying out their duties. Making working environments as comfortable for employees as possible is key factor in having a productive workforce. However, it shouldn’t require an illness or injury to occur in order for adequate ergonomics in the workplace to be considered.

What exactly is ergonomics, you ask? It’s all about the environment within which one works and how that person is able to complete tasks within it. The tools used by employees to carry out their job requirements are considered in the study of ergonomics as well. The importance of ergonomics in the workplace lies in each employee’s ability to work within a space that is ideal for them to do their jobs well.

On WebMD.com, it is explained that attention to ergonomics is found through setting up one’s workstation in such a way that it lessens risk of headaches, eyestrains, back pain, neck pain and even bursitis or tendon problems that are often linked to doing the same tasks over and over again. The site actually goes on to note that most injuries that occur on the job are related to making repetitive movements, poor posture, bending over, lifting heavy objects and falling.

Ergonomics, as you may have guessed, can help to prevent all of these pitfalls. Naturally, there are numerous benefits to keeping employees healthy. Obviously, there are benefits to both the employees and the employers who depend on them to make their companies successful. On Ergo-Plus.com, Mark Middlesworth writes that “leading companies are integrating ergonomics deeply into all of their operations” and goes on to list their proven benefits.

Ergonomics improves productivity. Middlesworth notes that designing a workplace that promotes good health can only make workers more efficient. Creating an environment that allows for good posture, less exertion, fewer motions and better heights and reaches, he says, will help to create a much more productive staff. After all, as human beings, we all share a need to be comfortable, no matter where we are.

Ergonomics improves quality. Speaking of being comfortable, no one likes being frustrated and tired. Middlesworth points out that people aren’t able to work properly when feeling such strains. “When the job task is too physically taxing on the worker, they may not perform their job like they were trained,” he writes, “For example, an employee might not fasten a screw tight enough due to a high force requirement which could create a product quality issue.”

Ergonomics improves employee engagement. It is often said that a happy staff is a productive staff. And this often entails strong relationships among the various members of a working team. When a company puts forth efforts to ensure health and safety, says Middlesworth, employees notice and it often boosts morale. In addition, high energy levels on the job help to decrease absenteeism.

Ergonomics creates a better safety culture. “Ergonomics shows your company’s commitment to safety and health as a core value,” writes Middlesworth, “The cumulative effect of the previous four benefits of ergonomics is a stronger safety culture for your company. Healthy employees are your most valuable asset; creating and fostering the safety & health culture at your company will lead to better human performance for your organization.”

At Independence Incorporated, we offer an “Ergonomic Assessment” to closely examine the relationships between employees and their work environments. We seek to ensure that the individual needs of employees are being met and that there is a match between workers and their activities, equipment, tools and systems. We provide written assessments and evaluate all factors before following up with our clients.

For more information about our “Ergonomic Assessment”, please feel free to call us at 204-478-6644.