Posts Tagged Work environment
Many of us are aware that it is illegal for employers to discriminate based on the well-known key EEOC areas: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information, and disability. What some are not aware of is that some states, including Colorado, have made it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation. This 2007 amendment to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act is known as the Sexual Orientation Employment Discrimination Act (SOEDA). This amendment prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s orientation towards heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality, and transgender status (Federal Antidiscrimination Laws, 2011).
What considerations does the employer need to be aware of following the SOEDA Amendment? First of all, the employer should not inquire about the applicant’s sexual preference. Additionally, when advertising for an opening within the company, there should not be an expressed preference for a sexual orientation. It is prohibited for the company to have separate lines for progression or seniority status based on sexual orientation. Finally, the employer must allow employees to dress according to the gender in which the employee identifies with (Federal Antidiscrimination Laws, 2011).
Being aware and complying with this law is certainly important, but why not take it a step further and enhance the company’s support for LGBT by forming cultural norm? Did you know studies show that more than half of LGBT employees keep it a secret? This negatively affects morale and productivity! Here are just a few tips for your company to consider for showing acceptance for your LGBT employees (Anderson, 2011):
- Provide support inside and outside of the organization for LGBT through networking opportunities. This provides structured support which helps LGBT staff succeed within the organization.
- Ensure that information about partner benefits is clearly communicated to the LGBT staff. Often, LGBT employees are not aware of the benefits that their domestic partners may be eligible for.
- Using inclusive language often makes the LGBT employees feel more comfortable. For instance, if an organization is hosting a company party, encourage all employees to bring a “guest” rather than their “spouse.”
- Support LGBT events, either through donations or involvement of the organization in events.
- Highlight senior management support of LGBT employees. When senior management discusses the importance of diversity, it sends a strong and positive message when they include LGBT as well!
Dani Kimlinger, MHA, PHR
The State of Colorado. (2011). Federal Antidiscrimination Laws. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobheadername1=Content-Disposition&blobheadername2=Content-Type&blobheadervalue1=inline%3B+filename%3D%22Non-discrimination+Policy.pdf%22&blobheadervalue2=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1251741381222&ssbinary=true
Anderson, Melissa J. (2011, October 11). 1o Tips to Create an LGBT Supportive Workplace on National Coming Out Day [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.evolvedemployer.com/2011/10/11/10-tips-to-create-an-lgbt-supportive-workplace-on-national-coming-out-day/
HR magazines everywhere cite statistics which link healthy employees to healthy workplace results. But whose responsibility is it to ensure that employees take care of their health, see their primary care physicians annually, exercise on a regular basis, eat the right foods, and get vaccinations? Although it is not the employers’ responsibility per se, there are some basic and easy ways to promote a healthy workplace which prove beneficial to both the employee and the organization.
- Promote a healthy organizational culture. There are some simple ways to do this. When ordering in meals for seminars and/or trainings, order healthy items – skip the unhealthy choices such as pizza, cookies, and chips. Involve your company in local 5ks and/or other exercise initiatives. This does more than get everyone out for some exercise; it’s the perfect environment for socializing!
- Encourage Preventative Care. This begins with offering health insurance; statistics provided by the White House show that the smaller the company, the less likely they are to offer health insurance. In fact, less than 50 percent of employers with less than ten employees offer health insurance. When selecting a health insurance company, it may be wise to ask about preventative care options such as vaccines, smoking cessation programs, and perhaps annual exams without charge. Be sure to advertise these benefits to your employees, encourage them to get physicals, and consider offering them time during the workday for preventative care (The White House, 2009).
- Consider Incentive Programs. Incentive programs in organizations are growing all over the United States. Programs that encourage employees to exercise, attend regular doctor appointments, get vaccinations, eat well, and overall take care of themselves have really jumped in popularity. Some incentives to consider may include bonuses, awards when they reach their goals such as certificates or fitness gear, and overall continued encouragement for the effort in which they put in!
Daniél Kimlinger, MHA, PHR
Human Resources Specialist
The Economic Effects of Health Care Reform on Small Businesses and Their Employees. The White House (2009, June 25). Retrieved August 22, 2011, from http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/CEA-smallbusiness-july24.pdf
I’m one of those few people who actually enjoy cleaning! I like the feeling of turning messiness into spaces that are neat, clean, and orderly. If you look in my closet you’ll notice that my clothes are organized by categories, such as formal, business, and casual wear. Within each category they are then organized by color and length. I guess you could say that I like household systems that are well thought out, run with efficiency, and therefore offer a certain amount of predictability. So, perhaps it’s not surprising that I became an “organizational” specialist.
There are some similarities when it comes to housekeeping, be it at home or in the workplace – though workplace “messes” are a lot more challenging to clean up! The typical messes that need to be cleaned up in work environments are usually created by unskillful behaviors; lack of clarity with respect to roles, accountabilities, and authority; or poorly designed systems. In order to do a good job “cleaning things up,” it’s important to have a good cleaning “solution” and the right tools to do the job. Any good organizational development specialist will have a tool box with various instruments (you can also think in terms of skill sets as tools) to create a better working environment. These tools can include, but are not limited to: the ability to develop appropriate assessment questionnaires, group facilitation, knowledge and expertise in human dynamics, understanding of systems issues and workflow efficiencies, ability to identify solutions to move teams forward, and the talent to effectively mediate conflicts.
When I get a call from a client about a particular “messy” situation at work, I need to find out how big the mess is and whether it’s contained or spilling over. I want to know how toxic the situation is and the cost that this particular “mess” is having on the organization in terms of lost productivity, poor morale, or increased risk for potential law suits. I need to ascertain the situation so I can determine what tools and skill sets are needed to get the job done and prevent the mess from reoccurring.
Fortunately, over the course of my career of working in a business psychology firm, I’ve had the opportunity to create a robust tool kit! My colleagues and I have helped clean up some substantial messes in the workplace. You know…the kind of messes that when you first learn about the situation – all the intricate details and how pervasive it is – the task of cleaning it up is seemingly impossible. And yet, with the right tools in hand and a plan for action, it’s amazing what can be done to remove the obstacles and clutter that bog people down at work. The end result is a creating a work environment that is “clean;” meaning people are freed up psychologically and emotionally so they can focus on their work and can then do their best within a well designed system.
Wouldn’t you know, I get the same deeply satisfying feeling and sense of pride when I work with a client and see that where there was once a huge mess, the work environment is organized and efficient as I do in a more traditional sense of housekeeping. Now, if only I could get my six year old son to embrace the fine art of housekeeping that comes from creating a clean space…