Category: HR

  • In Depth: The Future of Work Part 2

    August 4, 2020

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    The future of work is now. You’ve probably heard that being said since the onset of COVID-19 and the growth of remote work. Well, it’s true and as the nature of how work gets done changes, so too does the way HR’s function plays out.

    In part 1, we took a look at current trends, spoke to experts and focused on the learning and development arena when it comes to the future of work. In part 2, we’ll dive into other HR specialties and consider how they are changing as well.

    Talent Acquisition

    In addition to talent acquisition, there are other areas that need some transformation. That includes human resources itself.

    “It’s absolutely critical to put in the time to learn new things, especially when it comes to HR Technology. Don’t let fear of the unknown, or a lack of understanding about technology scare you away,” Tracie Sponenberg, Chief People Officer of the Granite Group said.

    And the statistics are certainly on her side. According to a report by Harris Interactive and Eightfold.ai, those companies adopting HR are 19% more effective in reducing the time HR spends on administrative tasks.

    While we’ve seen continued changes to the profession as a result of technology, we’ve also seen a real need for HR practitioners to focus on employees at the same time. HR automation/robotic process automation (RPA) provides the ability for the focus to be shared and making sure goals are met. Some of those administrative tasks include benefits management, form processing and even employee questions related to policies and procedures. Chat bots are helpful in this particular instance.

    Additionally, automation with the help of provided data can reduce pain points and drive change across the business. For instance, in a manual process, there is some level of human error that can happen. While errors in automation do occur, it is at a much lower rate. Automation can be used to automate forms and workflows that avoid printing, signing and scanning. It can also automate the dissemination of those documents to ensure they are delivered to the appropriate people. And, it can also help in pulling data, filling out systems and databases and elevating manual data entry.

    “If HR takes the time to automate the routine day-to-day tasks and ‘paperwork,’ we can be free to really dig into strategy and people development – coaching, training and developing our team members to be prepared for the future of work – whatever that may mean to our individual industries and companies,” Sponenberg said.

    Remote Work

    In addition to being prepared for the future of work as Sponenberg said, HR must keep an eye on where work is going to be happening. There aren’t many places where it’s happening in office buildings anymore. It’s happening in home offices and public spaces that can accommodate social distancing. It’s likely to stay that way as more and more workers have embraced flexible scheduling and remote work.

    Remote work has quickly become a reality for many different industries, but that trend was already occurring before the pandemic. There had already been a 173% increase in people working remotely since 2005. Additionally, 75% of workers say they’re more productive at home.

    Some of the reasons given include fewer distractions and less commuting. This presents a fair amount of challenge. A big one centers on engagement. Remote workers aren’t that much different from brick-and-mortar employees and the concerns are similar. Remote workers, just like those sitting in the office, are at risk for leaving the organization within the first year and even leaving to pursue other opportunities to advance. That means they need just as much attention when it comes to engagement. In some instances, more attention is necessary.

    Stemming the Tide

    To solve issues related to the retention of remote workers, first think about setting expectations. The whole point of remote work is not having to go into the office. As such flexible work scheduling is typically a piece of the overall remote working strategy. To be more to the point – workers probably aren’t working a 9-to-5 shift if they’re off-site. That being said, managers can set particular expectations such as times the employee is expected to be “on the clock.” Some people refer to these as “busy hours” or “office hours.” It’s during this time remote workers should be expected to be prompt in their responses to emails and phone calls as well as be available to collaborate with the team.

    Secondly, these workers must be included and that requires attention-to-detail and technology. If a team is meeting at the office to discuss strategy or anything for that matter, remote workers should be allowed to participate. They should actually be expected to do so. With tools such as Zoom and Skype available, there’s no reason they should not be included in the conversation.

    Finally, think about rewards. There’s a misconception that remote workers don’t work nearly as much as those people sitting in an office. That is very far from the truth. In most instances, remote workers work longer hours than those in the office; about 46 hours a week. That being said, it’s important to reward these workers. If they are hitting their goals, that needs to be recognized. That naturally ties into productivity.

    There is some real concern remote workers, in addition to allegedly working less, aren’t nearly as productive as their in office counterparts. Again, that’s a misconception. Look to CTrip, China’s largest travel agency. A professor from Stanford studied whether or not remote work was “beneficial or harmful for productivity.” It took two years to complete the study and what the professor found is a profound increase in productivity for a group of remote workers over their in-office counterparts.

    It wasn’t all “sunshine and rainbows”, however. Those remote workers did report an increase in feeling lonely and many reported they didn’t want to work from home all the time. In the end, the recommendation was to create a hybrid of sorts; one that balanced working from home and in the office.

    Words of Advice

    There is no stopping the future of work. In fact, as this report has explained it’s already here. While it is a concern for every HR professional working today and those who are about to enter the practice, there are words of encouragement to be shared.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • Employee Engagement in a Post-COVID Workplace

    July 27, 2020

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    “When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” – Simon Sinek

    The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us many things. First, it has taught us that empathy and kindness goes a long way. We’ve learned that as individuals, communities, and as a nation, that we can do hard things when we work together. Finally, this pandemic has taught us that the relationship between employer and employee is a valuable one. How much the employee feels valued by their employer is called “engagement.” And this feeling of value is one that more and more companies are investing in in a post-COVID environment.

    Employee engagement is when an employee feels “high levels of involvement (passion and absorption) in the work and the organization (pride and identity) as well as affective energy (enthusiasm and alertness) and a sense of self-presence.” Let’s dive in and look at some fast facts on this subject and how to increase engagement in this new workspace we have found our world occupying.

     

    BY THE NUMBERS

    • 34% of employees and 35% of employers stated they felt engaged in their work in a 2019 Gallup poll.
    • 38% of employees now say they are “highly involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace” via a May 2020 Gallup poll.
    • This is the highest reported engagement since Gallup began measuring this topic in 2000.

     

    BOTTOM LINE

    • Unengaged employees lower productivity, innovation, and the bottom line.
    • Engaged employees have lower absenteeism and lower turnover.
    • When an employee believes that they are being heard and seen as a valued investment, they feel empowered to do their best work.
    • Teams that report being engaged in the workplace have 21% higher profitability than those who report being unengaged.

     

    HOMESCHOOL

    • One way to create engagement in the workplace is to promote learning opportunities at home for employees. This can be done in virtual workshops for remote workers.
    • If a company’s investment is in learning and development, this shows the employee that their employer sees their future as important.
    • Positive results of investing in workforce education include increased employee engagement, more innovation, and increased understanding of the company’s goals.
    • Remote employees who participate in a company’s virtual training report that beyond the educational benefit they receive, they also feel as though they are being equipped with new skills for handling stressful situations once they are able to return to work.

     

    RESOURCES

    There are numerous blogs and articles and creative educational interaction sites to keep employees engaged and learning while remote. Below are some fun and creative sites to help you create your own engagement campaign for your organization.

     

  • 5 Tips for Building Trust When Employees Return to Work

    May 6, 2020

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    The day where people return to normal routines around work doesn’t seem as far off today as it did just a few weeks ago. As politicians itching to “re-open” the world look at ways to revive normalcy, companies now have to do the same as they consider operational needs and employee safety.

    As the work environment shifts back toward what it was, what HR teams will find is that a new normal must now exist. Procedures that were once an afterthought, such as how the break room was cleaned, are now top of mind for everyone from entry level employees to the C-suite. Having the trust of your employees that the workplace is safe for them to return to is paramount to productivity.

    And it isn’t just during a period of time when the virus subsides temporarily. The lasting impact of the coronavirus pandemic is that even after a vaccine is developed, it will alter the way people view the cleanliness of public spaces and the amenities at their disposal for things such as washing their hands or cleansing shared surfaces, be it a meeting room table or door handles.

    There is a lot more to consider than simply reassuring everyone that the facilities are clean and that the company is doing the best it can to assure everyone’s health. There are cultural aspects of day-to-day business to address as well as implications for the organization’s reputation to consider. As an article from the Society for Human Resource Management notes, job candidates interviewed in the future will ask how the company handled this situation and “about the organization’s business continuity plans, pandemic-specific plans and other coronavirus-oriented practices.”

    HR departments have a significant challenge ahead, but not one they should shy away from or feel overwhelmed by.

    “I think this is the beginning of the most exciting period we’ve ever been part of,” Eric Torigian, Vice President and Assistant General Manager of Global HR for Akebono Brake Corporation USA told us on a recent episode of the HR Exchange Network podcast. “People are going to figure out how to pour their passion into it. The world has been getting ready for this for a while. We’ve been moving to an online world, a gig economy, toward remote work groups. In the next 20 or 30 years, this world is going to change a lot and people are going to come back to this time and ask ‘who were the people that made the difference?’ I think they’re going to look at HR people and say they’re the ones who led us through this.”

    Leadership Considerations

    To help you manage current and future employee expectations, here are 5 tips for managing your teams’ return to the workplace.

    1. Get the Timing Right

    The government telling everyone to get back to work isn’t likely to inspire faith in a lot of people given how things have been handled so far and the fact that social distancing has been as effective as it has. There are many people who would hesitate to return to a normal working environment in the near future and rushing them back early will likely undermine any good will accrued in facilitating remote work and establishing improved engagement practices during this period.

    The first thing to consider is the situation in your local area. The number of new cases in the city and state will drive perception among your employees. Even if numbers are on the decline, a return may be seen as jumping the gun, particularly for large companies with bigger personnel footprints.

    Once you decide to put things in motion, spend time discussing team needs with managers to determine which teams can remain remote and which ones are required to return. Then, assemble your operations staff and develop a plan to create safer physical spaces.

    Finally, engage with your employees to find out how they’re feeling about a possible return to the office through surveys and town halls. Doing so and incorporating their concerns into your strategy will go a long way toward building the type of trust necessary to maintain a good reputation with your employees.

    1. Facilitate Social Distancing

    Social distancing isn’t going anywhere any time soon. This means restaurants will likely have to re-think seating arrangements, cleanliness practices and personal protective equipment and testing for staff before they can re-open. That may mean limiting the scale of business and changing the way people flow through the every part of the building.

    Offices will have to consider whether desks spaces are separated enough to comply with social distancing standards and retail operations will need to continue limiting the flow of people into their stores for the time being.

    How companies react and commit to this new normal is going to determine how well they maintain morale and what the reaction of returning workers to physical locations will be. For new hires, seeing a commitment to social distancing will reassure them that they’ve joined an organization which has their health and wellbeing top of mind.

    1. Culture of Cleanliness

    There is always a lot of talk about culture in HR, and in the wake of this pandemic, that is likely going to have to change as well. But as Torigian noted in our discussion, teaching people how to be responsible around each other and avoid the spread of the virus is a challenge for both organizations and society as a whole.

    “That’s not just something that’s good for business, it’s something that is going to be required in the new world,” Torigian said. “We’ll learn how to do it and we’ll get really good at it.”

    This means changing social norms. For example, banning handshakes in favor of greeting techniques that respect personal space and safety.

    Beyond that, HR teams have to consider what mechanisms are in place to ensure cleanliness, such as hand-washing stations and requirements for different roles. Which employees require personal protective equipment, for example, is a key consideration.

    Additionally, using company resources to ensure safety will help employees feel the organization is doing everything in its power to prioritize their health and therefore, will be more dedicated to doing their part. Care packages with cleansing wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves, tissues and other items they can use to stay safe is one small act that could go a long way toward inspiring confidence.

    1. Career Transitions

    Businesses are bound to operate differently from here on out and with that comes some new realities. People who have traditionally been in office may no longer be required to be there and some, unfortunately, will not be required at all. That, however, does not mean those people must be cut loose.

    Now is an ideal time for companies to engage in career mapping exercises to better understand the capabilities and interests of their employees. There is already talk of mass efforts by some in government to retrain much of the workforce for positions that can be done remotely and for careers that offer different prospects going forward than what they’ve experienced in the past, but that is something that may be better led by HR professionals than government programs.

    1. Invest in Employee Wellness

    It may seem an invasion of privacy at first, but given the implications for your staff as a whole, monitoring on-site employees’ health and wellness is a matter of public safety. Some public health experts say that office buildings and public spaces such as bars and restaurants cannot be re-opened until there are testing methods that can be done quickly and accurately to determine if someone is carrying the virus.

    We’re likely a ways off from that being a possibility for many businesses, but others are already putting measures in place to conduct temperature checks at entrances and getting creative as they find solutions for social distancing buzzers and one way routes through shared spaces so that people don’t cross paths or come face-to-face with one another.

    As an article from Bloomberg noted recently: “The way we work, shop, travel and eat in 2020 – and probably beyond – is being plotted out in boardrooms around the world.”

    Meanwhile, office spaces may have to be redesigned, moving away from the open floor plans that have been trending for several years and toward cubicles with high walls so that employees have more isolated spaces.

    To get ahead of these issues, now is the time for organizations to begin discussing what their path forward is and consider how much risk they are willing to take on in bringing employees back to work. What improvements need to be made to sanitation procedures, ventilation systems and the structure of the workplace are all things that need to be evaluated.

    By HR Exchange Network Editorial Team

    Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • The Cause of Disengagement | California Employee Benefits Group

    April 13, 2020

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    For decades, employee engagement has been the gold standard in measuring the way employees interact with the business.  In today’s world, especially where the coronavirus is concerned, it’s not just about the interaction but also the level of commitment to the company.  While all human resources professionals would like to believe their employees are committed to their organization, the statistics simply don’t paint that type of picture.

    Over the last two decades, Gallup reports the percentage of employees disengaged at work has averaged 70 percent.1  And it’s been costly.  Disengaged employees have 18 percent lower productivity with profitability being 15 percent lower.2  When put into dollars and cents – “an actively disengaged employee costs their organization $3,400 for every $10,000 of salary, or 34 percent. That means an actively disengaged employee who makes $60,000 a year costs their company $20,400 a year!”3

    So, what’s the answer to increasing engagement across the enterprise and, in doing so, increasing productivity and profits?

    Disengagement and Engagement

    The Causes

    Defining what employee engagement is, in reality, is critical to understanding its benefits and its challenges.  Generally speaking, every HR professional has a different definition but all include the basic component that an engaged employee is one who commits to the organization and gives of him or herself freely to the success of the company.

    Engagement

    But what causes employee engagement?  Let’s take a psychological approach.

    The term was first coined by psychologist William Kahn in a 1990 study titled Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work.4  In the piece, Khan studied two different workplaces:  a very structured and formal architecture firm and a casual summer camp.  From his observations, he defined engagement as “the harnessing of organization members’ selves to their work roles; in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances”.

    Additionally, Kahn outlined three psychological conditions that allow engagement to exist:

    1. Meaningfulness – Is the work meaningful enough to the employee that he/she engages with their full-self?
    2. Safety – Is the work environment such that a person can bring their full-self without fear of criticism?
    3. Availability – Is the employee mentally and physically able to express their full-self in the work environment?

    Kahn further stated those individuals who are fully engaged with the organization will take ownership of their work and will be loyal to the organization.  Additionally, he said engagement isn’t a constant.  Any number of experiences can cause engagement to change.

    Of course, Kahn’s original definition has changed somewhat over the three decades since it was first coined.  As previously mentioned, engagement has become more about the employee’s willingness to go “above and beyond”5 to benefit the organization.

    “People are wanting to feel that investment from their organization and that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a massive thing, but they want it to feel like it’s a two-way street,” Christopher Lind said.  He’s the Head of Global Digital Learning for GE Healthcare.  “It’s not so much a ‘you’re here to serve the employer’ thing.  People are looking for that partnership. ‘I’m here to serve you.  You’re here to serve me.  And how are we meeting in the middle?”

    Disengagement

    Understanding how engagement works is only half the battle.  For HR to move the needle and make significant improvements, there needs to be an understanding of what can cause disengagement.

    A key indicator of disengagement is apathy.  Other factors occur when there is a lack of:

    • Autonomy
    • Communication
    • Flexibility
    • Development
    • Trust
    • Personal and/or Workplace Challenges

    While it’s not an exhaustive list, it is a very real possibility one or more of these can exist within an organization.  The challenge lies in trying to figure out how best to address each consistently and constantly.

    If we were to rank these factors on a spectrum of difficulty where 10 is the most difficult and one is the least difficult, it might look something like this:

    As you notice, not a one of the factors is easily overcome.  Personal and/or workplace challenges are difficult because some of those situations are not internal.  They are external and companies are in a limited position of power when it comes to impacting those factors.  Apathy isn’t far behind, but it is often a symptom of those perceived challenges.  If a person is having an issue at home, it may present itself as a lack of interest or enthusiasm at work.

    Now, that’s not to say human resources or leadership can’t offer some ways of dealing with these issues.  In some instances, a wellness benefit can be of use i.e. counseling of any type be it emotion or legal.

    When it comes to autonomy, there is often a disconnect about what this actually entails.  It is not:

    • Working in isolation without supervision.
    • Allowing employees to do whatever they like, but rather employers creating guidelines that put boundaries around employee autonomy.
    • Working without a net, but rather employers providing a picture of what success looks like and tips on how to achieve it.

    It’s more about providing the means by which employees have the latitude to make their own decisions and employers provide both the tools and the guidelines to help employees succeed.  Success often leads to engagement.

    Autonomy is often the result of trust.  Leaders who trust their employees allow them to be more autonomous.  But trust goes both ways.  From a disengagement standpoint, the employee who feels they are not trusted by leadership at any level will be less likely to give of themselves.  Trust within this context can also mean the employee does not feel the company has his or her best interest at heart; that they are seen as nothing more than a number rather than a person.

    Communication ranked lower than some might consider, but its difficulty lies in the messaging.  Anyone can send an email, make a phone call or share something on social media.  It’s the context of the message; what are you as a company, as an HR professional trying to convey to the employ?  How is the employee perceiving that message and acting upon it as a result.

    From the employee perspective, it’s about communicating with the organization about any number of things be it needs or desires.  Sometimes that communication is of a sensitive nature.  How is that communication handled?  If it is handled poorly, the employee will disengage.  If it is properly handled, the translation is often an increase in engagement.

    Flexibility presents unique challenges as it is often related to scheduling and working environment.  Can an employee work different hours to complete his or her job and function at the same productivity levels as other members of the team?  Flexibility is also critical in today’s environment especially when considering work-life balance.  Can a parent still get their child to soccer practice on time and provide great service to their employer?

    Finally, we come to development.  Development is not easy.  Not by any means.  The challenges often lay in meeting people where they are, but also what they desire.  There are also challenges in making sure that learning presents a return on investment.

    Impact on the Business

    Employee engagement continues to be one of the most important metrics an organization can track.  It is, after all, not just a check box issue.  It requires constant and consistent attention.  Otherwise, human resources runs the risk of seeing gaps in engagement leading to an increase in disengagement.

    Employees aren’t simply looking for a 9-to-5, Monday through Friday job.  They want to be involved, committed and enthusiastic.  An organization that creates the right environment can continuously feed those employee needs.  In return, the organization sees continued growth and success within their industry.

     

    by Mason Stevenson
    Originally posted on HR Exchange Network

  • Employee Burnout in 2020

    March 10, 2020

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    For a long time, employee burnout has been dismissed. In some instances, it’s been written off as employee laziness or simply an employee being contrary. That, however, is no longer the case.

    In 2020, HR professionals are going to have to deal with it as a realized syndrome and one that is becoming more prevalent in the workplace. By going unmanaged, it has become an issue for companies all over the world. And if the trends are to be believed, it’s going to continue to go as a problem in the years to come. The impact is overwhelming. According to one article, in 2019 there was an increase in stress and burnout incidents reported. The result had an impact on workplace cultures actually causing them to decline.

     

    Employee Burnout
    Impact on Workplaces

    Employee burnout cases have increased to the point where the World Health Organization has officially recognized it as an occupational phenomenon. In fact, the WHO has included it in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases. The handbook describes burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

    “As work becomes more intertwined with technology and work becomes more portable, the boundaries of personal time and work time are getting blurred,” Vishal Bhalla said. He’s the Chief Experience Officer for Parkland Health and Hospital System. “It’s important HR doesn’t puff its chest up and pretend it doesn’t exist and actually address it.”

    Why? Bhalla says it can impact so many things in the workplace and outside of it.

    “Burnout impacts safety issues. It impacts turnover. And there are many social effects because individuals who experience burnout tend to numb themselves by indulging in things one should not indulge in and they eventually end up hurting themselves or others,” Bhalla explained.

    Gallup recently surveyed more than 7,500 full-time employees about burnout. 23 percent of those workers said they felt burned out more often than not. An additional 44 percent reported feeling burned out sometimes. To put that into context, nearly two-thirds of full-time workers are dealing with burnout at some point while at work.

    As a result, those employees were nearly three times as likely to start looking for another job. Additionally, Ginger, an on-demand behavioral health provider, says 50 percent have missed at least one day.

     

    Causes of Burnout
    Bhalla said any number of things can lead to an employee experiencing burnout. Sometimes, it has to do with the relationship between the employee and his or her manager. It can also be tracked back to instances of bullying or discrimination. Another big component to employee burnout is the employee doing more than his or her fair share of work. Bhalla says this relates to, for example, the time it takes for the company to replace a member of the team that was promoted, left the organization or was terminated. In most situations, the team is expected to pick up the slack. That can lead to stress which can ultimately translate into burnout.

     

    Conclusion
    So how does HR solve for the problem?

    “We can leverage technology. We can leverage culture work. We can leverage engagement because the other end of the spectrum is an engaged team member,” Bhalla said. He also pointed to design thinking as an option.

    “It’s more incumbent on HR to take care of their people well. There are a lot of resources that are available for us to be able to impact burnout.”

    Creating a workplace where an employee is excited to come to work can help curb the possibility of an employee developing burnout. In reality, no one is immune, but creating an environment where employees feel happy, engaged and motivated along with having the tools they need to succeed goes a long way.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • Service Animals in the Workplace | California Benefits Advisors

    February 24, 2020

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    In 2020, many people with disabilities use the emotional and physical support provided by a service animal. This means that the workplace has seen an increase of these service animals over the last decade and therefore the workforce needs to be educated on this changing environment. Let’s take a look at what constitutes a service animal and the accommodation of such in the workplace.


    Americans with Disabilities Act

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides a framework of protections for people with disabilities in the workplace. Title I of the ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against potential candidates and employees with disabilities. In fact, Title I outlines that the workplace must make “reasonable accommodations” for this specific group of people. “Examples of reasonable accommodations include making existing facilities accessible; job restructuring; part-time or modified work schedules; acquiring or modifying equipment; changing tests, training materials, or policies; and providing qualified readers or interpreters.”


    “Service Animals” Definition

    According to the Department of Justice’s revised Title III of the ADA, a service animal is now defined under Title III as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability.” Currently, a “service animal” can also include another species of helper: a trained miniature horse. Of course, there are limitations to what a workplace can accommodate in terms of miniature horses and the employer would make those limitations known if approached with the need of a person with a horse as their assistant.


    Accommodation Requests & Documentation

    When an accommodation is requested on behalf of a disabled candidate or employee, the employer must consider the request. However, the employer is simply required to assess and suggest options for the reasonable accommodation for the employee. Some examples of job accommodations may include installing a ramp or modifying the layout of a workstation. Technology accommodations may be providing sign language interpreters at events or providing screen reader software. The ADA does not specifically address or require the inclusion of service animals in the workplace. So, if the employer has a no-animals-in-the-workplace policy and is asked to allow a service animal for an employee, the employer must consider modifying this policy but is not required to modify it. A “reasonable accommodation” for an employee does not always equal their “preferred accommodation.”

    As for documentation for service animals in the workplace, the ADA does allow for an employer to request medical documentation for the need for the disabled person to need this accommodation. It also allows for the employer to request proof from the employee that the service animal is appropriately trained to assist them and that it is trained to not disrupt the workplace under normal conditions. It is worth noting that an “emotional support animal” is NOT classified as a “service animal” by the ADA unless it can perform a specific task, such as sense when an anxiety attack is about to happen in the case of someone with PTSD and the animal helps avoid or lesson that attack.


    Conclusion

    Every workplace should have written policies on reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. Of course, there is no way to include all possibilities and so the policies can include the language of consideration of requests on a case-by-case basis. The key to this policy is that those who are in charge of assessing accommodation requests must be willing to truly consider the accommodation of service animals.


    Resources

    Need help? Check out these resources on workplace accommodations for those with disabilities:

    Office of Disability Employment Policy

    FAQ about Service Animals and the ADA

    Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion

    Job Accommodation Network

  • In Depth: The Future of Work Part 2

    August 4, 2020

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    The future of work is now. You’ve probably heard that being said since the onset of COVID-19 and the growth of remote work. Well, it’s true and as the nature of how work gets done changes, so too does the way HR’s function plays out.

    In part 1, we took a look at current trends, spoke to experts and focused on the learning and development arena when it comes to the future of work. In part 2, we’ll dive into other HR specialties and consider how they are changing as well.

    Talent Acquisition

    In addition to talent acquisition, there are other areas that need some transformation. That includes human resources itself.

    “It’s absolutely critical to put in the time to learn new things, especially when it comes to HR Technology. Don’t let fear of the unknown, or a lack of understanding about technology scare you away,” Tracie Sponenberg, Chief People Officer of the Granite Group said.

    And the statistics are certainly on her side. According to a report by Harris Interactive and Eightfold.ai, those companies adopting HR are 19% more effective in reducing the time HR spends on administrative tasks.

    While we’ve seen continued changes to the profession as a result of technology, we’ve also seen a real need for HR practitioners to focus on employees at the same time. HR automation/robotic process automation (RPA) provides the ability for the focus to be shared and making sure goals are met. Some of those administrative tasks include benefits management, form processing and even employee questions related to policies and procedures. Chat bots are helpful in this particular instance.

    Additionally, automation with the help of provided data can reduce pain points and drive change across the business. For instance, in a manual process, there is some level of human error that can happen. While errors in automation do occur, it is at a much lower rate. Automation can be used to automate forms and workflows that avoid printing, signing and scanning. It can also automate the dissemination of those documents to ensure they are delivered to the appropriate people. And, it can also help in pulling data, filling out systems and databases and elevating manual data entry.

    “If HR takes the time to automate the routine day-to-day tasks and ‘paperwork,’ we can be free to really dig into strategy and people development – coaching, training and developing our team members to be prepared for the future of work – whatever that may mean to our individual industries and companies,” Sponenberg said.

    Remote Work

    In addition to being prepared for the future of work as Sponenberg said, HR must keep an eye on where work is going to be happening. There aren’t many places where it’s happening in office buildings anymore. It’s happening in home offices and public spaces that can accommodate social distancing. It’s likely to stay that way as more and more workers have embraced flexible scheduling and remote work.

    Remote work has quickly become a reality for many different industries, but that trend was already occurring before the pandemic. There had already been a 173% increase in people working remotely since 2005. Additionally, 75% of workers say they’re more productive at home.

    Some of the reasons given include fewer distractions and less commuting. This presents a fair amount of challenge. A big one centers on engagement. Remote workers aren’t that much different from brick-and-mortar employees and the concerns are similar. Remote workers, just like those sitting in the office, are at risk for leaving the organization within the first year and even leaving to pursue other opportunities to advance. That means they need just as much attention when it comes to engagement. In some instances, more attention is necessary.

    Stemming the Tide

    To solve issues related to the retention of remote workers, first think about setting expectations. The whole point of remote work is not having to go into the office. As such flexible work scheduling is typically a piece of the overall remote working strategy. To be more to the point – workers probably aren’t working a 9-to-5 shift if they’re off-site. That being said, managers can set particular expectations such as times the employee is expected to be “on the clock.” Some people refer to these as “busy hours” or “office hours.” It’s during this time remote workers should be expected to be prompt in their responses to emails and phone calls as well as be available to collaborate with the team.

    Secondly, these workers must be included and that requires attention-to-detail and technology. If a team is meeting at the office to discuss strategy or anything for that matter, remote workers should be allowed to participate. They should actually be expected to do so. With tools such as Zoom and Skype available, there’s no reason they should not be included in the conversation.

    Finally, think about rewards. There’s a misconception that remote workers don’t work nearly as much as those people sitting in an office. That is very far from the truth. In most instances, remote workers work longer hours than those in the office; about 46 hours a week. That being said, it’s important to reward these workers. If they are hitting their goals, that needs to be recognized. That naturally ties into productivity.

    There is some real concern remote workers, in addition to allegedly working less, aren’t nearly as productive as their in office counterparts. Again, that’s a misconception. Look to CTrip, China’s largest travel agency. A professor from Stanford studied whether or not remote work was “beneficial or harmful for productivity.” It took two years to complete the study and what the professor found is a profound increase in productivity for a group of remote workers over their in-office counterparts.

    It wasn’t all “sunshine and rainbows”, however. Those remote workers did report an increase in feeling lonely and many reported they didn’t want to work from home all the time. In the end, the recommendation was to create a hybrid of sorts; one that balanced working from home and in the office.

    Words of Advice

    There is no stopping the future of work. In fact, as this report has explained it’s already here. While it is a concern for every HR professional working today and those who are about to enter the practice, there are words of encouragement to be shared.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • Employee Engagement in a Post-COVID Workplace

    July 27, 2020

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    “When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” – Simon Sinek

    The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us many things. First, it has taught us that empathy and kindness goes a long way. We’ve learned that as individuals, communities, and as a nation, that we can do hard things when we work together. Finally, this pandemic has taught us that the relationship between employer and employee is a valuable one. How much the employee feels valued by their employer is called “engagement.” And this feeling of value is one that more and more companies are investing in in a post-COVID environment.

    Employee engagement is when an employee feels “high levels of involvement (passion and absorption) in the work and the organization (pride and identity) as well as affective energy (enthusiasm and alertness) and a sense of self-presence.” Let’s dive in and look at some fast facts on this subject and how to increase engagement in this new workspace we have found our world occupying.

     

    BY THE NUMBERS

    • 34% of employees and 35% of employers stated they felt engaged in their work in a 2019 Gallup poll.
    • 38% of employees now say they are “highly involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace” via a May 2020 Gallup poll.
    • This is the highest reported engagement since Gallup began measuring this topic in 2000.

     

    BOTTOM LINE

    • Unengaged employees lower productivity, innovation, and the bottom line.
    • Engaged employees have lower absenteeism and lower turnover.
    • When an employee believes that they are being heard and seen as a valued investment, they feel empowered to do their best work.
    • Teams that report being engaged in the workplace have 21% higher profitability than those who report being unengaged.

     

    HOMESCHOOL

    • One way to create engagement in the workplace is to promote learning opportunities at home for employees. This can be done in virtual workshops for remote workers.
    • If a company’s investment is in learning and development, this shows the employee that their employer sees their future as important.
    • Positive results of investing in workforce education include increased employee engagement, more innovation, and increased understanding of the company’s goals.
    • Remote employees who participate in a company’s virtual training report that beyond the educational benefit they receive, they also feel as though they are being equipped with new skills for handling stressful situations once they are able to return to work.

     

    RESOURCES

    There are numerous blogs and articles and creative educational interaction sites to keep employees engaged and learning while remote. Below are some fun and creative sites to help you create your own engagement campaign for your organization.

     

  • 5 Tips for Building Trust When Employees Return to Work

    May 6, 2020

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    The day where people return to normal routines around work doesn’t seem as far off today as it did just a few weeks ago. As politicians itching to “re-open” the world look at ways to revive normalcy, companies now have to do the same as they consider operational needs and employee safety.

    As the work environment shifts back toward what it was, what HR teams will find is that a new normal must now exist. Procedures that were once an afterthought, such as how the break room was cleaned, are now top of mind for everyone from entry level employees to the C-suite. Having the trust of your employees that the workplace is safe for them to return to is paramount to productivity.

    And it isn’t just during a period of time when the virus subsides temporarily. The lasting impact of the coronavirus pandemic is that even after a vaccine is developed, it will alter the way people view the cleanliness of public spaces and the amenities at their disposal for things such as washing their hands or cleansing shared surfaces, be it a meeting room table or door handles.

    There is a lot more to consider than simply reassuring everyone that the facilities are clean and that the company is doing the best it can to assure everyone’s health. There are cultural aspects of day-to-day business to address as well as implications for the organization’s reputation to consider. As an article from the Society for Human Resource Management notes, job candidates interviewed in the future will ask how the company handled this situation and “about the organization’s business continuity plans, pandemic-specific plans and other coronavirus-oriented practices.”

    HR departments have a significant challenge ahead, but not one they should shy away from or feel overwhelmed by.

    “I think this is the beginning of the most exciting period we’ve ever been part of,” Eric Torigian, Vice President and Assistant General Manager of Global HR for Akebono Brake Corporation USA told us on a recent episode of the HR Exchange Network podcast. “People are going to figure out how to pour their passion into it. The world has been getting ready for this for a while. We’ve been moving to an online world, a gig economy, toward remote work groups. In the next 20 or 30 years, this world is going to change a lot and people are going to come back to this time and ask ‘who were the people that made the difference?’ I think they’re going to look at HR people and say they’re the ones who led us through this.”

    Leadership Considerations

    To help you manage current and future employee expectations, here are 5 tips for managing your teams’ return to the workplace.

    1. Get the Timing Right

    The government telling everyone to get back to work isn’t likely to inspire faith in a lot of people given how things have been handled so far and the fact that social distancing has been as effective as it has. There are many people who would hesitate to return to a normal working environment in the near future and rushing them back early will likely undermine any good will accrued in facilitating remote work and establishing improved engagement practices during this period.

    The first thing to consider is the situation in your local area. The number of new cases in the city and state will drive perception among your employees. Even if numbers are on the decline, a return may be seen as jumping the gun, particularly for large companies with bigger personnel footprints.

    Once you decide to put things in motion, spend time discussing team needs with managers to determine which teams can remain remote and which ones are required to return. Then, assemble your operations staff and develop a plan to create safer physical spaces.

    Finally, engage with your employees to find out how they’re feeling about a possible return to the office through surveys and town halls. Doing so and incorporating their concerns into your strategy will go a long way toward building the type of trust necessary to maintain a good reputation with your employees.

    1. Facilitate Social Distancing

    Social distancing isn’t going anywhere any time soon. This means restaurants will likely have to re-think seating arrangements, cleanliness practices and personal protective equipment and testing for staff before they can re-open. That may mean limiting the scale of business and changing the way people flow through the every part of the building.

    Offices will have to consider whether desks spaces are separated enough to comply with social distancing standards and retail operations will need to continue limiting the flow of people into their stores for the time being.

    How companies react and commit to this new normal is going to determine how well they maintain morale and what the reaction of returning workers to physical locations will be. For new hires, seeing a commitment to social distancing will reassure them that they’ve joined an organization which has their health and wellbeing top of mind.

    1. Culture of Cleanliness

    There is always a lot of talk about culture in HR, and in the wake of this pandemic, that is likely going to have to change as well. But as Torigian noted in our discussion, teaching people how to be responsible around each other and avoid the spread of the virus is a challenge for both organizations and society as a whole.

    “That’s not just something that’s good for business, it’s something that is going to be required in the new world,” Torigian said. “We’ll learn how to do it and we’ll get really good at it.”

    This means changing social norms. For example, banning handshakes in favor of greeting techniques that respect personal space and safety.

    Beyond that, HR teams have to consider what mechanisms are in place to ensure cleanliness, such as hand-washing stations and requirements for different roles. Which employees require personal protective equipment, for example, is a key consideration.

    Additionally, using company resources to ensure safety will help employees feel the organization is doing everything in its power to prioritize their health and therefore, will be more dedicated to doing their part. Care packages with cleansing wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves, tissues and other items they can use to stay safe is one small act that could go a long way toward inspiring confidence.

    1. Career Transitions

    Businesses are bound to operate differently from here on out and with that comes some new realities. People who have traditionally been in office may no longer be required to be there and some, unfortunately, will not be required at all. That, however, does not mean those people must be cut loose.

    Now is an ideal time for companies to engage in career mapping exercises to better understand the capabilities and interests of their employees. There is already talk of mass efforts by some in government to retrain much of the workforce for positions that can be done remotely and for careers that offer different prospects going forward than what they’ve experienced in the past, but that is something that may be better led by HR professionals than government programs.

    1. Invest in Employee Wellness

    It may seem an invasion of privacy at first, but given the implications for your staff as a whole, monitoring on-site employees’ health and wellness is a matter of public safety. Some public health experts say that office buildings and public spaces such as bars and restaurants cannot be re-opened until there are testing methods that can be done quickly and accurately to determine if someone is carrying the virus.

    We’re likely a ways off from that being a possibility for many businesses, but others are already putting measures in place to conduct temperature checks at entrances and getting creative as they find solutions for social distancing buzzers and one way routes through shared spaces so that people don’t cross paths or come face-to-face with one another.

    As an article from Bloomberg noted recently: “The way we work, shop, travel and eat in 2020 – and probably beyond – is being plotted out in boardrooms around the world.”

    Meanwhile, office spaces may have to be redesigned, moving away from the open floor plans that have been trending for several years and toward cubicles with high walls so that employees have more isolated spaces.

    To get ahead of these issues, now is the time for organizations to begin discussing what their path forward is and consider how much risk they are willing to take on in bringing employees back to work. What improvements need to be made to sanitation procedures, ventilation systems and the structure of the workplace are all things that need to be evaluated.

    By HR Exchange Network Editorial Team

    Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • The Cause of Disengagement | California Employee Benefits Group

    April 13, 2020

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    For decades, employee engagement has been the gold standard in measuring the way employees interact with the business.  In today’s world, especially where the coronavirus is concerned, it’s not just about the interaction but also the level of commitment to the company.  While all human resources professionals would like to believe their employees are committed to their organization, the statistics simply don’t paint that type of picture.

    Over the last two decades, Gallup reports the percentage of employees disengaged at work has averaged 70 percent.1  And it’s been costly.  Disengaged employees have 18 percent lower productivity with profitability being 15 percent lower.2  When put into dollars and cents – “an actively disengaged employee costs their organization $3,400 for every $10,000 of salary, or 34 percent. That means an actively disengaged employee who makes $60,000 a year costs their company $20,400 a year!”3

    So, what’s the answer to increasing engagement across the enterprise and, in doing so, increasing productivity and profits?

    Disengagement and Engagement

    The Causes

    Defining what employee engagement is, in reality, is critical to understanding its benefits and its challenges.  Generally speaking, every HR professional has a different definition but all include the basic component that an engaged employee is one who commits to the organization and gives of him or herself freely to the success of the company.

    Engagement

    But what causes employee engagement?  Let’s take a psychological approach.

    The term was first coined by psychologist William Kahn in a 1990 study titled Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work.4  In the piece, Khan studied two different workplaces:  a very structured and formal architecture firm and a casual summer camp.  From his observations, he defined engagement as “the harnessing of organization members’ selves to their work roles; in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances”.

    Additionally, Kahn outlined three psychological conditions that allow engagement to exist:

    1. Meaningfulness – Is the work meaningful enough to the employee that he/she engages with their full-self?
    2. Safety – Is the work environment such that a person can bring their full-self without fear of criticism?
    3. Availability – Is the employee mentally and physically able to express their full-self in the work environment?

    Kahn further stated those individuals who are fully engaged with the organization will take ownership of their work and will be loyal to the organization.  Additionally, he said engagement isn’t a constant.  Any number of experiences can cause engagement to change.

    Of course, Kahn’s original definition has changed somewhat over the three decades since it was first coined.  As previously mentioned, engagement has become more about the employee’s willingness to go “above and beyond”5 to benefit the organization.

    “People are wanting to feel that investment from their organization and that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a massive thing, but they want it to feel like it’s a two-way street,” Christopher Lind said.  He’s the Head of Global Digital Learning for GE Healthcare.  “It’s not so much a ‘you’re here to serve the employer’ thing.  People are looking for that partnership. ‘I’m here to serve you.  You’re here to serve me.  And how are we meeting in the middle?”

    Disengagement

    Understanding how engagement works is only half the battle.  For HR to move the needle and make significant improvements, there needs to be an understanding of what can cause disengagement.

    A key indicator of disengagement is apathy.  Other factors occur when there is a lack of:

    • Autonomy
    • Communication
    • Flexibility
    • Development
    • Trust
    • Personal and/or Workplace Challenges

    While it’s not an exhaustive list, it is a very real possibility one or more of these can exist within an organization.  The challenge lies in trying to figure out how best to address each consistently and constantly.

    If we were to rank these factors on a spectrum of difficulty where 10 is the most difficult and one is the least difficult, it might look something like this:

    As you notice, not a one of the factors is easily overcome.  Personal and/or workplace challenges are difficult because some of those situations are not internal.  They are external and companies are in a limited position of power when it comes to impacting those factors.  Apathy isn’t far behind, but it is often a symptom of those perceived challenges.  If a person is having an issue at home, it may present itself as a lack of interest or enthusiasm at work.

    Now, that’s not to say human resources or leadership can’t offer some ways of dealing with these issues.  In some instances, a wellness benefit can be of use i.e. counseling of any type be it emotion or legal.

    When it comes to autonomy, there is often a disconnect about what this actually entails.  It is not:

    • Working in isolation without supervision.
    • Allowing employees to do whatever they like, but rather employers creating guidelines that put boundaries around employee autonomy.
    • Working without a net, but rather employers providing a picture of what success looks like and tips on how to achieve it.

    It’s more about providing the means by which employees have the latitude to make their own decisions and employers provide both the tools and the guidelines to help employees succeed.  Success often leads to engagement.

    Autonomy is often the result of trust.  Leaders who trust their employees allow them to be more autonomous.  But trust goes both ways.  From a disengagement standpoint, the employee who feels they are not trusted by leadership at any level will be less likely to give of themselves.  Trust within this context can also mean the employee does not feel the company has his or her best interest at heart; that they are seen as nothing more than a number rather than a person.

    Communication ranked lower than some might consider, but its difficulty lies in the messaging.  Anyone can send an email, make a phone call or share something on social media.  It’s the context of the message; what are you as a company, as an HR professional trying to convey to the employ?  How is the employee perceiving that message and acting upon it as a result.

    From the employee perspective, it’s about communicating with the organization about any number of things be it needs or desires.  Sometimes that communication is of a sensitive nature.  How is that communication handled?  If it is handled poorly, the employee will disengage.  If it is properly handled, the translation is often an increase in engagement.

    Flexibility presents unique challenges as it is often related to scheduling and working environment.  Can an employee work different hours to complete his or her job and function at the same productivity levels as other members of the team?  Flexibility is also critical in today’s environment especially when considering work-life balance.  Can a parent still get their child to soccer practice on time and provide great service to their employer?

    Finally, we come to development.  Development is not easy.  Not by any means.  The challenges often lay in meeting people where they are, but also what they desire.  There are also challenges in making sure that learning presents a return on investment.

    Impact on the Business

    Employee engagement continues to be one of the most important metrics an organization can track.  It is, after all, not just a check box issue.  It requires constant and consistent attention.  Otherwise, human resources runs the risk of seeing gaps in engagement leading to an increase in disengagement.

    Employees aren’t simply looking for a 9-to-5, Monday through Friday job.  They want to be involved, committed and enthusiastic.  An organization that creates the right environment can continuously feed those employee needs.  In return, the organization sees continued growth and success within their industry.

     

    by Mason Stevenson
    Originally posted on HR Exchange Network

  • Employee Burnout in 2020

    March 10, 2020

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    For a long time, employee burnout has been dismissed. In some instances, it’s been written off as employee laziness or simply an employee being contrary. That, however, is no longer the case.

    In 2020, HR professionals are going to have to deal with it as a realized syndrome and one that is becoming more prevalent in the workplace. By going unmanaged, it has become an issue for companies all over the world. And if the trends are to be believed, it’s going to continue to go as a problem in the years to come. The impact is overwhelming. According to one article, in 2019 there was an increase in stress and burnout incidents reported. The result had an impact on workplace cultures actually causing them to decline.

     

    Employee Burnout
    Impact on Workplaces

    Employee burnout cases have increased to the point where the World Health Organization has officially recognized it as an occupational phenomenon. In fact, the WHO has included it in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases. The handbook describes burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

    “As work becomes more intertwined with technology and work becomes more portable, the boundaries of personal time and work time are getting blurred,” Vishal Bhalla said. He’s the Chief Experience Officer for Parkland Health and Hospital System. “It’s important HR doesn’t puff its chest up and pretend it doesn’t exist and actually address it.”

    Why? Bhalla says it can impact so many things in the workplace and outside of it.

    “Burnout impacts safety issues. It impacts turnover. And there are many social effects because individuals who experience burnout tend to numb themselves by indulging in things one should not indulge in and they eventually end up hurting themselves or others,” Bhalla explained.

    Gallup recently surveyed more than 7,500 full-time employees about burnout. 23 percent of those workers said they felt burned out more often than not. An additional 44 percent reported feeling burned out sometimes. To put that into context, nearly two-thirds of full-time workers are dealing with burnout at some point while at work.

    As a result, those employees were nearly three times as likely to start looking for another job. Additionally, Ginger, an on-demand behavioral health provider, says 50 percent have missed at least one day.

     

    Causes of Burnout
    Bhalla said any number of things can lead to an employee experiencing burnout. Sometimes, it has to do with the relationship between the employee and his or her manager. It can also be tracked back to instances of bullying or discrimination. Another big component to employee burnout is the employee doing more than his or her fair share of work. Bhalla says this relates to, for example, the time it takes for the company to replace a member of the team that was promoted, left the organization or was terminated. In most situations, the team is expected to pick up the slack. That can lead to stress which can ultimately translate into burnout.

     

    Conclusion
    So how does HR solve for the problem?

    “We can leverage technology. We can leverage culture work. We can leverage engagement because the other end of the spectrum is an engaged team member,” Bhalla said. He also pointed to design thinking as an option.

    “It’s more incumbent on HR to take care of their people well. There are a lot of resources that are available for us to be able to impact burnout.”

    Creating a workplace where an employee is excited to come to work can help curb the possibility of an employee developing burnout. In reality, no one is immune, but creating an environment where employees feel happy, engaged and motivated along with having the tools they need to succeed goes a long way.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • Service Animals in the Workplace | California Benefits Advisors

    February 24, 2020

    Tags: ,

    In 2020, many people with disabilities use the emotional and physical support provided by a service animal. This means that the workplace has seen an increase of these service animals over the last decade and therefore the workforce needs to be educated on this changing environment. Let’s take a look at what constitutes a service animal and the accommodation of such in the workplace.


    Americans with Disabilities Act

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides a framework of protections for people with disabilities in the workplace. Title I of the ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against potential candidates and employees with disabilities. In fact, Title I outlines that the workplace must make “reasonable accommodations” for this specific group of people. “Examples of reasonable accommodations include making existing facilities accessible; job restructuring; part-time or modified work schedules; acquiring or modifying equipment; changing tests, training materials, or policies; and providing qualified readers or interpreters.”


    “Service Animals” Definition

    According to the Department of Justice’s revised Title III of the ADA, a service animal is now defined under Title III as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability.” Currently, a “service animal” can also include another species of helper: a trained miniature horse. Of course, there are limitations to what a workplace can accommodate in terms of miniature horses and the employer would make those limitations known if approached with the need of a person with a horse as their assistant.


    Accommodation Requests & Documentation

    When an accommodation is requested on behalf of a disabled candidate or employee, the employer must consider the request. However, the employer is simply required to assess and suggest options for the reasonable accommodation for the employee. Some examples of job accommodations may include installing a ramp or modifying the layout of a workstation. Technology accommodations may be providing sign language interpreters at events or providing screen reader software. The ADA does not specifically address or require the inclusion of service animals in the workplace. So, if the employer has a no-animals-in-the-workplace policy and is asked to allow a service animal for an employee, the employer must consider modifying this policy but is not required to modify it. A “reasonable accommodation” for an employee does not always equal their “preferred accommodation.”

    As for documentation for service animals in the workplace, the ADA does allow for an employer to request medical documentation for the need for the disabled person to need this accommodation. It also allows for the employer to request proof from the employee that the service animal is appropriately trained to assist them and that it is trained to not disrupt the workplace under normal conditions. It is worth noting that an “emotional support animal” is NOT classified as a “service animal” by the ADA unless it can perform a specific task, such as sense when an anxiety attack is about to happen in the case of someone with PTSD and the animal helps avoid or lesson that attack.


    Conclusion

    Every workplace should have written policies on reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. Of course, there is no way to include all possibilities and so the policies can include the language of consideration of requests on a case-by-case basis. The key to this policy is that those who are in charge of assessing accommodation requests must be willing to truly consider the accommodation of service animals.


    Resources

    Need help? Check out these resources on workplace accommodations for those with disabilities:

    Office of Disability Employment Policy

    FAQ about Service Animals and the ADA

    Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion

    Job Accommodation Network

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