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The Often Overlooked Forms of Diversity

Posted By Editor, Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, March 27, 2019

By Workforce Opportunity Services

In today’s world, we hear “diversity” everywhere. It’s a buzzword. But when we think about what diversity means and the initiatives that have come to bolster it, we often define it in terms of race and gender. This is an incredibly narrow view of diversity. Let’s take a deep dive into different types of diversity and how it impacts your organization.

Read this important article.

 

 

 

 

 

Tags:  diversity  employee relations  hr management  recruiting  workplace 

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Legalizing Marijuana: What's an Employer to do?

Posted By Editor, Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Contributed by Becky Barton

These days it’s difficult to avoid the election mania covered by the various media outlets. Given the major spotlight on the presidential race, you may not know that the potential decriminalization of marijuana will be on the ballot in several states.

California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada will all weigh in on legalized marijuana for recreational use (also known as “adult use” and “non-medical use”) where it is currently approved for medical use only. Another 3 states (Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota) will decide on the future of cannabis for medical use in their states.

Supporters of the ballot measures see this as a boon to the states’ economies via increased taxes and job growth for cannabusiness people. We have seen 25 states and the District of Columbia legalize marijuana in some fashion, making a continued trend of legalization highly likely.

So what does this mean for business owners and employers? Marijuana remains illegal under federal law and the state-by-state variations make this particularly confusing. For example, within the subset of those states approved for recreational use, the amount an individual can personally carry varies.  As an employer, particularly a multi-state employer, these variations can be an administrative and enforcement nightmare.

Or do they? After all, alcohol is a mind and behavior altering substance that’s been legal for over 80 years and we seem to manage that in the workplace, right? Wouldn’t this be treated similarly? Well, it depends. Many laws clearly state that employers don't have to accommodate medical marijuana use during work hours or on company property while other states require reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities (specifically as it relates to drug testing and adverse action).

The key is to know what is required by the states in which you operate, create an employment policy that complies with state law and enforce it consistently amongst employees of similar work groups.

The Bottom Line: Work with an HR consultant or an employment law attorney to navigate these unchartered waters. They should be watching how these new laws are interpreted by the courts and have your back should your policy need updating.

 

Becky Barton is the founder of People415, a San Francisco-based Human Resource Consultancy Firm helping companies navigate every stage of their growth.

Tags:  behavior  company culture  employee  employee communication  employee health and wellness  employee relations  Employee Training  employee wellness  healthcare expenditures  hr  HR Communication  HR law  HR Legislation  Human resources management. HR Leadership  law  leadership  management  marijuana  Policies  workforce 

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Micro-Aggressions in the Workplace: Identifying Problems and Working on Solutions

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Contributed by
Christine M Meadows, Vigilant

“I couldn’t talk to her; she was totally hysterical.”

“I don’t even think of you as being black.”

“That’s so gay.”

Micro-aggressions are those comments and interactions at work that leave employees feeling uneasy, angry, or upset – sometimes in ways that aren’t easily explained. Using a racial slur is an overt discriminatory act.  Micro-aggressions can come from people who mean no harm. The question to the multi-racial co-worker, “What are you?” may come from a real curiosity, but is rude and could carry an additional message that dismisses the racial identity of the person who hears it. In isolation these acts may not quite rise to the level of legal discrimination, but that single interaction communicates that a person is “other” or an outsider. Add up the experience of daily, weekly, and monthly micro-aggressions, and you could have a legally hostile work environment.

Micro-aggressions in the workplace manifest in different ways. Consider the following examples: 

  • Men talk to each other during a meeting and ignore the woman at the table, talking over her when she tries to contribute;
  • A manager tells an applicant of Chinese decent that he "speaks excellent English,” though it is obvious from his resume he was born and raised in the United States;
  • An African American manager gives a presentation and his Caucasian co-worker says she "had no idea he was so articulate.”

These types of interactions are not likely to find their way to upper management. Employees who already feel marginalized may never bring the issue forward, afraid of being labeled a whiner or of facing an unsympathetic supervisor or human resources representative. Confronting co-workers with the harmful impact of their statements may just make it worse (“I meant it as a joke/compliment. Why are you so sensitive?”), creating an additional burden on the employee who is already feeling marginalized.  If micro-aggressions are part of the organizational culture, the individual also has no reason to believe that organizational leadership will address it. As a result, these daily interactions can make an environment so intolerable over time that employees look for employment elsewhere.  

The truth is we probably have all been guilty of engaging in some form of micro-aggression at some point in time, intended or not. These subtle discriminations are born from our own internal biases.  Addressing micro-aggression must start with recognizing these internal biases and actively attempting to counter them. As an individual contributor within your organization, you can continue to learn and be honest with yourself about your own personal biases. Recognize that your experiential reality may be different from people of different races, gender, ethnicity, and age. Don’t be defensive about the fact that you have preconceptions or defend the basis for your personal biases.  Acknowledge that the feelings of others are valid and based on their life experiences.  Be willing to discuss your biases and recognize how you may have hurt others, even unintentionally. Have the courage to call attention to micro-aggressive behavior when it occurs. For example, “Steve, we’ve been talking over Sue and she has an interesting point. Let’s give her our full attention.”  Micro-aggressions can make people feel excluded; be vigilant about supporting colleagues who may feel marginalized.

In addition, organizations must work on a broader scale to create a culture in which everyone treats each other with respect. To accomplish this, many major corporations regularly engage in implicit bias training with their employees to increase their individual awareness. In a culture where it is safe, even encouraged, to bring up and discuss perceived micro-aggressions, the behavior tends to decrease. For example, the woman who was born in Ohio and is of Asian-American descent when asked, “Where were you born?” may perceive the question as one framing her as a stranger in her own country. The co-worker may have meant, “Were you born in Columbus?” and will be more likely to rephrase the question in a sensitive manner if the organization can provide safe and effective communication tools that bring micro-aggressions into the open. By discussing these issues, everyone gains a better understanding of each other. For that to occur, both employees must feel safe and trust the environment to allow honest conversations to happen.

While it sounds deceptively simple, addressing micro-aggressions in the workplace is not an easy thing to accomplish. It requires a long-term commitment to organizational values that holds everyone accountable to themselves and their co-workers for managing their biases in the workplace. The bottom line is that organizational change starts with individuals, and as individuals, it starts with us. Respect each other, everyone, no exceptions.

 

Christine Meadows is an employment and labor attorney at Vigilant

 

Tags:  employee relations  employment law  harassment in the workplace  micro-aggressions  organizational culture  organizational values 

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Top 5 Ways for Organizations to Handle Negative Employee Feedback

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Thursday, April 7, 2016

97% believe that negative feedback from employees can be useful.


Waggl, a digital platform that offers companies a simple way to surface and distill real-time actionable feedback, recently designed an ongoing research project called The Voice of the Workplace. Waggl goes beyond the traditional survey by offering an extremely easy way to listen to many voices at once within an organization for the purpose of making it better. Its real-time listening platform creates a transparent, authentic two-way dialogue that gives people a voice, distills insights, and unites organizations through purpose.

This latest Voice of the Workplace survey was sent out through the Northern California Human Resources Association (NCHRA), InsiderHub, and Executive Networks over a two-week period (March 8 to 23, 2016). The three organizations helped comprise an external audience of some 500 business leaders, HR leaders and consultants. The survey participants were first asked whether or not they agreed with the following two key statements: 

1) “Providing an open forum for employees to offer candid feedback is essential for organizational improvement,” and

2) “Negative feedback from employees can be useful to help an organization improve.” 

An overwhelming 96% responded positively to the first statement, and 97% to the second.  The responses were fairly consistent across various sizes of organization, job titles, and geographic regions.

There was a unanimous agreement that negative feedback from employees can be useful. Over the years, Waggl has seen many instances of companies that have either ignored or attempted to eradicate negative feedback, usually with less than optimal results. 

The data from this also poll indicates that attitudes are shifting, with business and HR leaders alike becoming more open to candid feedback, and more receptive about how to work with it to make their organizations stronger.

The Voice of the Workplace also included a second, open-ended, question in this particular survey: “What is the most constructive way for organizations to handle negative feedback from employees?” 

Here are the top five answers that were crowdsourced with over 3,000 votes on Waggl:

1.  “Provide a response to those giving feedback to indicate that it was heard and understood; then describe action to be taken -- this may include no action, but providing feedback indicates that the input was carefully considered. Further information may clarify the situation about which negative feedback occurred. Responses must be respectful, and not defensive.

2.  “Listen, understand the real issue, probe into further information if needed to fully understand, and then address the feedback directly, honestly, and in a timely manner. Then ask if that helps or if there is further negative feedback.

3.  “Acknowledge and address openly and honestly - be transparent whenever possible - communicate, communicate, communicate.”

4.  “Ask employees to elaborate. Individual or small group. Be honest and transparent. Assume your employees are intelligent and honest people. The dialogue may be uncomfortable, but necessary to fill understandings of issues.

5.  “Acknowledge receipt of the feedback and try to understand its root cause. Be transparent about what the feedback was and what if anything can be done to address/ respond to it.

In the open-ended responses, a clear pattern emerged in which the participants advocated acknowledging the feedback in a transparent way---rather than hiding from it. They also sought to clarify and better understand the root cause, as well as take timely action to address the issues. 

 

Strong organizations “ACT” on feedback (A.C.T. Acknowledge, Clarify, and Take action).  They understand that to be the best possible version of their organization, they need to look to the wisdom in their own system, their own people. In some cases, the action taken might be explaining to employees why the decisions were made, which can be very powerful in building trust and alignment within an organization.

 

Waggl is typically used within organizations to collect and distill anonymous, real-time feedback from employees.  The platform provides a variety of templates for users to cultivate feedback, in only a few clicks.  Results are available immediately to administrators and participants in the form of easily digestible infographics.  Unlike traditional survey and polling platforms, Waggl creates a virtual dialogue with participants by asking open-ended questions where favorite responses can be ‘voted up.’  It’s fast and easy to share through multiple channels, and adds a fun, gamified aspect to the process of collecting feedback as shown below.

Tags:  employee  employee engagement  employee relations  employee wellness  HR  human resources  human resources management  NCHRA  stress management  Waggl  workplace 

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