Monthly Archives

February 2020

Tips for Avoiding Employee Burnout

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When employers think of burnout, they typically associate it with unrealistic expectations, less competitive pay, or something business-related. However, employee burnout has long been connected to workplace culture and mental health. Company culture has made its way to the forefront of business priorities as it not only assists in marketability, but also decreases employee burnout. So how can business owners fight employee burnout? Let’s take a look at some underlying causes and effects of workplace culture and mental health on employee burnout.

Harassment. Different industries are tasked with various levels of harassment. For example, those who work in multimedia industries (i.e., any sort of news outlets) are subjected to extreme scrutiny and exposed to indirect harassment on a daily basis. This can have a lasting effect on their mental health. Also contributing to employee burnout is marginalized and underrepresented populations, which can lead to inappropriate behavior towards these individuals. For example, 37% of LGBTQ+ and 90% of transgender individuals reported harassment in the workplace.1 Setting forth narrow and strictly enforced harassment policies can help deter such behavior(s) in the workplace.

Leadership Support. Unfortunately, many employees that are either on the brink of burnout or trying to fight it do not find support from members of leadership. For example, responding with a reminder that it’s “part of the job” is not an effective way to combat burnout. Acknowledge the issue the employee is presenting. Discuss ways to assist the employee by directly asking what they need from management to feel supported and alleviate the burnout. Conduct regular check-ins to ensure employees are not burning out. Whether it is a simple, “How are you doing?” or an in-depth discussion of what is working and what is not, it is a critical discussion that should be regularly implemented.

Generation Divide. One thing to consider is the differences in demands and expectations across different generations. For example, a 2019 study revealed that 50% of Millennials and 75% of Gen-Z employees cited mental health as reasons for leaving a company. This is indicative of the significance company culture plays in an employee’s decision to stay with a company. One way to balance the generational divides is to ask employees what you can do to improve the culture. Send out a general feedback survey or an anonymous suggestion box that can open a dialogue about company culture revisions. It allows people to voice an opinion without feeling like they will be retaliated against for providing their feedback. From there, you can brainstorm ways to implement such feedback. If a suggestion is not feasible, creating transparency through clear, concise communication can assist in effectively acknowledging the suggestion, offering an explanation for why it cannot be implemented, and open the floor for further suggestions to revise or replace such suggestions. This creates a respectful, collaborative environment where employees feel they are being heard and that you’re being proactive in finding a solution.

Whatever the case may be, employee burnout begins with revamping the company culture. Emotional fatigue, lack of support, and lack of role responsibilities are the most influential causes of burnout, followed by position requirements, extensive workloads, lack of reward, and low job security.2 Take a proactive approach to employee wellness by review employee handbooks, labor laws, and/or consult Harbor America. We can provide safety and risk management and HR services to assist with healthier workplace practices to safeguard employee well being.

Source: What You’re Getting Wrong About Employee Burnout

1 https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/discrimination/llr-enda-v45-3/

2 https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-017-4153-7

Substance Abuse and Mental Health at Work

Addressing Substance Abuse in the Workplace

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What do technology and mental health have in common? They’re both on the rise and intersecting to improve the way we receive medical services. Telehealth is a new and trending approach to modern medicine, so it should come as no surprise that telerehabilitation is pushing its way to the virtual medical services platforms.

Substance abuse in the workplace can certainly endanger employees, especially if left untreated. According to the American Psychiatric Association Foundation’s Center for Workplace Health, roughly 1 in 10 U.S. employees struggle with substance abuse and/or dependence annually, resulting in healthcare costs and work-related expenses averaging a whopping $276 million annually.1 One in five adults will not seek professional help.2

Employers can significantly reduce costs by effectively identifying, addressing, and preventing such conduct, as well as developing a substance abuse program. The substance abuse programs can incorporate telerehabilitation to encourage anonymity, engagement in professional mental health services, and provide education and additional resources for managing such health issues.

Develop a substance abuse program. The first step is recognizing mental health issues in the workplace and identifying the extent to which it impacts your employees. Developing a substance abuse program can provide many advantages for the wellbeing of your employees. It offers professional mental health services, additional resources, and continued support and education on mental health issues.

Incorporate a telerehabilitation service. Substance abuse disorders can be incredibly sensitive subjects, therefore providing a telerehabilitation service can encourage those suffering from such issues to seek help because it can help retain a sense of anonymity for the employee to feel comfortable seeking help.

Build a culture of acceptance. One way to build such a culture is to incorporate diversity and team-building activities to encourage inclusivity. Hosting employer-provided lunches, after-hours activities, weekly meetings to discuss workflow processes and projects are all ways to open honest dialogues about work and personal struggles. Building a culture of acceptance can lead to increased productivity, decrease absenteeism, and increased employee retention.

Find health insurance plans that cover mental health services. Another great way to incorporate mental health awareness, prevention, and treatment is to thoroughly review health insurance plans to ensure they cover mental health services or at minimum, offer the option. From in-patient to out-patient care, it is important to explore all available services and determine which ones are best suited for your employees.

Distribute helpful resources. There are plenty of national helplines for mental health-related crises. Crisis Text Line, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s National Helpline, and other crisis services are available on national and local levels. Ensuring these types of resources are available to those suffering from substance abuse disorders can assist in preventing and treating such issues.

Mental health and substance abuse in the workplace can be delicate, complex issues that need to be handled with the utmost care to avoid lawsuits and/or other liabilities that may result if such situations are not handled properly. Human resources management can provide industry insights to ensure you remain within compliance, address any safety and risk management issues, and handle the HR intricacies that come with an employee undergoing treatment for substance abuse and/or mental health issues. Contact Harbor America to ensure that your employee handbook and policies remain in compliance. We understand the importance of employee wellbeing and can work to tailor our employee benefits and HR services to meet your unique business needs.

 

1 Substance Use Disorder

2 Mental Health in the Workplace

Source: Benefits Insights: Telerehabilitation

Artificial Intelligence and Avoiding Bias

Artificial Intelligence 101

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How It Works

The first step in utilizing and changing AI is understanding how AI works. The best way to summarize how AI works is that it is essentially a computer algorithm that is typically used to filter people by categories and requirements input by humans. The more information input into the AI systems, more refined results are generated.

How to Avoid Bias

You may have heard or read articles on recent issues AI has caused across industries. Most notoriously are law enforcement agencies, who have been battling the AI bias for quite some time. Recently, a report of an AI program used by a U.S. court to assess risk was biased toward the African American population – flagging black offenders twice as likely to reoffend than white offenders.1

Other lawsuits regarding bias using AI technology have occurred. In 2018, Amazon implemented past employee resumes as an outline for what they’re looking for in a candidate, but backfired as the AI discriminated against female candidates.2 In 2015, Google created an image recognition program that corresponded black people as gorillas.3 In 2016, LinkedIn created an advertising program that resulted in a bias against female names in searches.4 Also in 2016, Microsoft created a chatbot that was to learn Twitter formulas, but resulted in creating antisemitic messages.5 All of these lawsuits and issues are prime examples of when AI technically does exactly what it is told, but works against us.

The best way to avoid bias is to first understand how the AI will read the information. Understanding AI’s processing of information can help you determine what, how much, and words to avoid when inputting information into the system. Next, you might want to identify potential ways AI can misinterpret the information. This can aid you in forward-thinking solutions for problems the technology might cause. To learn more on AI, watch Janelle Shane’s Ted Talk on how AI breaks down the information humans input and ways to combat bias.

AI is still on the rise and implemented across industries. However, more state regulations have emerged to help regulate any potential discrimination or bias issues involved with its use. To ensure you are in compliance with local, state, and federal laws, please contact Harbor America. We understand how complex regulatory compliance can be, which is why Harbor America can provide you with a solution tailored to your compliance needs.

1 Machine Bias
2 Amazon Scraps Secret AI Recruiting Tool that Showed Bias Against Women
3 Google Says Sorry for Racist Auto-Tag in Photo App
4 How LinkedIn’s Search Engine May Reflect a Gender Bias

Source: Rise of the Racist Robots: How AI Is Learning All Our Work Impulses