Four Ways We Can Be Sensitive to Trauma at Work

management Oct 13, 2021

By Shanna B. Tiayon, PhD

Before the pandemic, a client hired my employee consultancy firm, Wellbeing Works, to support a team shaken by the abrupt firing of a key member.

In the run up to the firing, we discovered, the team member’s performance had dropped rapidly and he developed tense relationships with colleagues. Though the organization tried a performance improvement plan before termination, we found out that it never addressed the root trouble with the employee‘s performance: depression and anxiety arising from a problem in his personal life.

Nobody in the organization thought to offer this employee support, Employee Assistance Program information, or grace. Instead, his behavior was viewed based only on impact to work output.

More frequently, our work connects us with clients who want to proactively support their employees. For example, a client in the non-profit sector was about to undergo a large reduction in staff due to funding issues (just before the pandemic...

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When You Should Help Your Coworkers—and When to Think Twice

workplace behaviors Aug 23, 2021

By: Shanna B. Tiayon, PhD

 

When was the last time you helped a colleague at work?

Helping in the workplace can take various forms—for example, training an intern, comforting a colleague in distress, or taking on extra work to complete a team project.

If your organization has a competitive work culture—or if you’re anything like the 35 percent of working Americans who feel overwhelmed by their workload—helping others in the workplace may not be at the top of your priority list. However, research suggests that more helpful workplaces actually perform better; they produce better-quality products and have increased sales. And helping others at work feels good.

If you can’t recall the last time you lent a hand to a coworker, the three questions below may help you start thinking about your interactions at work and how you could be of more service to others in the workplace.

1. When are you most likely to help others at work?

Are...

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How to Avoid Doing Harm When You Discuss Race at Work

workplace behaviors Aug 23, 2021

By: Shanna B. Tiayon, PhD

 

The year 2020 has been a rough one, especially for Black Americans. The global coronavirus pandemic’s disproportional impact, combined with multiple police murders of unarmed Black people, cast a brighter light on systemic racism in the United States. In many instances, the killings were caught on phones and the images repeatedly replayed on social media and the news.

Somewhere around the end of May to early June, corporations sent out public statements en masse in support of Black Lives Matter. Ironically, in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdowns, a couple of months prior, job listings for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) roles had fallen by 60%, but increased by 50% as Black Lives Matter protests spread. Corporations started to hold DEI dialogues inside their organizations to complement their external messaging—perhaps because 69% of Americans believe that corporate messaging about racism is more about pressure...

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Work Before Wellness? Why We Sacrifice our Mental and Physical Wellness for our Jobs

workplace behaviors Aug 22, 2021

By: Shanna B. Tiayon, PhD

 

Throughout my career as a manager and human resources professional, I’ve seen countless examples of employees who sacrificed their wellness for their jobs.

Once, an employee had to have a triple bypass heart surgery. Within a day or two after the surgery they called their manager offering to work remotely during their recovery period!

Another time, I had to intervene when an employee received news that their father passed away, but they still came into work. They were visibly unfit to work, but decided to come in because they didn’t want to miss a deliverable!!

So as not to be the pot calling the kettle black, a few years ago my daughter was born early via an emergency C-section. One of the scariest days of my life. Thank God she was born healthy and is thriving today. Nevertheless, hours after her birth, still doped up on pain meds, I found myself in the maternity wing lobby on conference calls, continuing to work. Why? Because I felt...

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Mental Health Days are a Legitimate Use of Sick Leave

policy Aug 22, 2021

By: Shanna B. Tiayon, PhD

 

This might be a controversial statement but I wholeheartedly believe that mental health days are a legitimate use of employee sick leave.

To be clear a mental health day is not related to leave taken due to serious mental health disorders. Instead, it’s a day taken off from work for the sole purpose of mentally and physically recovering from work related stressors. Thinking of sick leave as only for physical illness or serious mental health disorders misses the original intention of introducing sick leave into employee benefits programs – to facilitate the wellbeing of employees.

Perhaps my perspective on mental health days is skewed, because growing up the concept was introduced to me at a very young age. Starting when I was in elementary school my mother would periodically let me stay home to “play hooky” from school. We called those days mental health days. On those days I spent my time watching T.V., playing games and...

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At Will Status is Not a Panacea: Instead Focus on Managing for Success

management Aug 22, 2021

By: Shanna B. Tiayon, PhD

DISCLAIMER: Before I start this post it’s important that I add the disclaimer that I am not a legal professional. Therefore, managers and organizations should seek the consultation of their in-house or external legal counsel for employment law advice.

What I can, however, offer as a Sociologist and Senior Human Resources professional is twofold: 1) my perspective on the confusion of some managers about what at-will status really means and 2) a suggestion of a more proactive management approach than focusing on at-will status.

At-will law does not condone all forms of treatment or dismissal of an employee.

Understanding At-Will Employment (The Cliffs Notes Version)

Let’s start with clarifying some of the confusion around at-will status. The barebones of at-will employment is that an employee can leave his or her job for any reason and without notice and an employer can likewise terminate an employee without cause or warning....

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