Mental Health Problems and the Workplace

October is Mental Health Month. Recently there has been bigger mindfulness of the impact of mental health problems on individuals and the workplace. The economic impact is realized through direct treatment costs to the health care system as well as indirect costs, such as reduced or lost productivity due to absenteeism.

Mental health problems account for about half of employee absences due to illness each year in Canada for example, 3.5 days lost per employee per year are due to mental health problems. It is estimated that mental illness results in 35 million lost workdays each year in Canada.’

Employees living with mental health problems may feel and behave out of character at home and work. There may be feelings of things not quite right, yet they are unable to pinpoint the problem. Their co-workers, supervisors and family members may start to notice a change in mood and behaviour.

 

 Signs that indicate an employee or colleague may have a mental health problem are:

·      Regular late arrivals or often absent

·      Lack of teamwork or an over-all disinterest in working with co-workers

·      Lower output

·      Increased mishaps or safety problems

·      Numerous complaints of exhaustion or unexplained pains

·      Difficulty focusing, not being decisive or forgetting things

·      Making apologies for missed deadlines or poor work

·      Decreased attention or involvement in one’s work

·      Working excessive overtime over a prolonged period

·      Expressions of outlandish or grand ideas

·      Displays of irritation or pointing the finger at others

 

It is important to highlight that people behaving in these ways may be just having a bad day or week or dealing with a difficult situation in their personal life that may be temporary. A pattern that continues for a more extended period, however, may point to an underlying mental health problem.

 

Stress is a consistent part of life and work, and it can be positive or negative. Unwarranted hurtful stress through life events, including workplace issues, can contribute to mental health problems. Work itself can be expected to generate a certain level of stress associated with meeting deadlines and expectations, the need to feel valued and the loss of control over one’s time.

 

There are many causes of workplace stress. One key to effective stress management is maintaining awareness of the potential stressors and readiness to address them before they become problematic. Some of the most critical sources of work-related stress are listed below.

·    Poor communication

·    Incongruity in work demands, individual ability and amount of control over working practices

·    Work overload and work underload

·    Shift work and/or night work

·    Segregation, isolation and/or unstructured support for home workers

·    Short-term contracts

·    Role conflict, uncertainty and changing roles

·    The uneven weight assigned by management to consultation, support and control

·    Lack of training for managers in communication and people skills

·    Idleness

·    Uncomfortable physical workspace

·    Introduction of new technology, if not planned and gradual

·    The culture of presenteeism, in which an employee feels the need to be seen working at all times

·    Work-life imbalance

·    Home-based stresses that support or feed off of work-based stresses

 

Managing workplace stress can include training for employees to raise awareness about the causes and effects of stress, as well as to learn skills for coping with stress at work and in their personal lives.

 

Research has shown that some job stressors are worse than others, such as jobs that continuously involve imposed deadlines over an extended period and give individuals little control over the day-to-day organization of their work (high demand/low control). These jobs can lead to more than double the rate of heart and cardiovascular problems. As well as significantly higher rates of anxiety, depression and fell of being undermined. High demand/low control jobs also lead to substantially higher alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter drug use, and a significantly higher susceptibility to infectious diseases.’

 

Jobs that require high physical or mental effort but offer little in the way of compensation, status, financial gain or career enhancement (high effort/low reward) also affect employee stress levels. These jobs are associated with triple the rate of cardiovascular problems and significantly higher rates of depression, anxiety and conflict-related problems

 

The health of workers does not have to be compromised by stress. Changes to the workplace can make for a more mentally healthy workplace, especially when employees feel adequately rewarded and have greater control of their work.

 

Mental health problems can seriously affect someone’s ability to work. If left untreated and the mental health problem worsens, the employee may need to stop working altogether.

 

On the other hand, employees may try to continue to work knowing that they are not performing to their usual standards. If mental health problems are acknowledged early, and proper treatment is obtained, most people can quickly return to their regular performance at work, and much unhappiness and suffering can be avoided.

 

Monika B. Jensen Ph.D
TEL: 905-683-9953

WEBSITE: www.aviarygroup.ca
PRINCIPAL
FAX: 905-683-9912

 

 

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The answers municipal governments have been looking for?

Municipal governments are facing multiple, growing, and overlapping challenges. Yet, there are tools available to address these challenges that are not being used to their full potential. Market-based policies such as well-designed user fees can help reduce traffic, cut water use, and improve solid waste management, while generating revenue that can be used to fill financial gaps.

These challenges include:

  • Municipal infrastructure is aging and faces a growing investment gap;
  • Municipalities have limited ability to raise revenues. Only so much can be raised from property taxes. They also often face constraints on debt financing; and
  • To attract people and investment, livability is key: cities must provide job and recreational opportunities, ensure affordability, make it easy to move people and products, and protect clean air and water.

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Cyber threats and how to protect your municipality

Brad Pinch – Director of Municipal Needs at AccessE11

 

Often, when we hear about securing online systems against cyber-attacks the first thought is to invest time and energy into cybersecurity software. While this is important, and should not be downplayed, did you know that software alone will only defend against a small percentage of cyber-attacks?

Hacker Image

 

The easiest way for someone to breach your security infrastructure is to employ the unsuspecting assistance of your users.

According to PhishMe’s 2017 Enterprise Phishing Resiliency and Defense Report, 91% of all cyber-attacks are a result of people who fall prey to Phishing Attacks. Of the remaining 9% of cyber-attacks, more than 75% are the result of other forms of “human failure” to secure information.

Phishing is an attack that begins with a very targeted email sent to your staff (and perhaps yourself), that often impersonates a service provider, colleague, family member or friend and entices you to click on a link or open a document. This action may include a request for private information that provides the perpetrator with the means to launch a secondary cyber-attack or it may launch an attack directly through the download of malicious software. Attacks can be in the form of spyware, malware, and increasingly ransomware and data theft.

Wombats Security’s – State of the Phish 2018 report– suggests that phishing attack frequency from 2016 to 2017 increased by 48%; phishing is on the rise because it continues to work. Hackers have quickly learned that it requires less energy to trick users into giving them access than it does to circumnavigate the sophisticated security systems deployed today.

6 simple steps that a municipality can do to protect themselves

Here are a few steps a municipality can take to minimize its chances of security breaches and cyber attacks.

  1. Stay Informed and educate your team

Much of the battle against phishing and spear phishing (personalized phishing) attacks is getting users to understanding what this type of attack looks like, so they are less likely to be duped. Phishing relies on basic human conditions:

  1. information overload and shortcuts our brains take to process the information,
  2. a desire to help those we care for and trust of information that (seems to) come from them,
  3. curiosity for new information.

These traits are well known to attackers and are exploited in order to get victims to click on a link or open a document. Emails look like they’re from legitimate sources: Microsoft 365, Google, Dropbox, PayPal, Adobe account, LinkedIn, credit card company and many more.

There is a great infographic called don’t get hooked: how to recognize and avoid phishing attacks from the Digital Guardian. Print it out and post it for all to see.

  1. Keep your software up to date

Malware is being created all the time and is designed to take advantage of newly discovered vulnerabilities in our general use software. Vendors are quick to update their software, but you must update your version in order to be secure. You should regularly, or ideally automatically, update your software:

  1. Browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc)
  2. Operating Systems (Windows, MacOS)
  3. Office Software (Outlook, Word, Adobe)
  1. Call before you click

Any email from a bank or colleague can usually be responded to directly, rather than via a reply or by clicking on a link. If there is ever any doubt, call your bank on the phone (using published numbers, not one in the email), or log directly into their website directly – not from the link in the email. By not taking the shortcut, fraudulent links can be avoided.

  1. Install anti-virus software and activate the Anti-Phishing toolbar if available

Antivirus software is designed to guard against known vulnerabilities. Even though today’s operating systems are more secure than ever, security tools look for malicious content in real time and provide an extra layer of scrutiny. And make sure you keep it updated as well.

Internet browsers can also be extended with anti-phishing toolbars. Such toolbars run quick checks on any site you visit and compare it a to lists of known phishing sites. If you stumble upon a malicious site, the toolbar will alert you about it. This is just one more layer of protection against phishing scams, and there are many that are completely free.

  1. Implement Secure Password Policies

As hard as it is to believe, the 10 most common passwords in 2017 were:

  • 123456, 123456789, qwerty, 12345678, 111111, 1234567890, 1234567, password123, 123123, 987654321

It won’t take a hacker long to break these codes.

Equally important though – do not use the same password for everything: If you do, and someone gets access to one system, they can often get access to them all. If you struggle to remember passwords (who doesn’t) there are many excellent tools that can assist:

These programs store an encrypted version of your passwords on your computer and conveniently provide them when you need them. This means remembering only one password.

  1. Beware the Unknown Storage Devices

It is possible the free USB drive that is received from a tradeshow, or the one you found in the parking lot has a virus on it. Sites that sell marketing USB drives unwittingly provide ones that have viruses installed from the source in China, Russia, India, Korea and other countries (yes including the UK, US, and Canada). These were likely never checked by the company who put their information on the drive to give to you.

If a data storage device is not bought by your company or municipality from a reputable source then it should not be allowed on one of your computers, ever!

These are only a few ideas to help better protect your organization from cyber-attacks. The common element in each remains the same; people and their behavior represent the greatest risk but also provide the best defense against cyber-attacks. Any user can open the door to intruders, so ensuring everyone understands the risk and remains vigilant is critical. Investment in the human factor will pay off quickly and be more cost-effective than any other action.

For More Interesting Articles on Issues that Municipalities are facing please visit us at https://www.accesse11.com

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How Your Online Presence Could Be Hurting Your Job Search

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. And, in this day and age, it is very often your online presence that will make that first impression for you. If you’re currently in the market for a new job, it is very likely that potential employers are checking you out online before even considering you for an interview. The strength, or weaknesses, of your online presence, can make or break you. Don’t let them keep you from getting the job that you want!

job search

Even though you are applying for a professional position, your personal social media will still be under scrutiny. Now might be a good time to review the persona that you are presenting, as well as your privacy settings. Even the tightest profiles can be subject to security glitches, so you need to assume that everyone can see EVERYTHING that you post, like, share or comment. We have all heard stories about people losing their job over an inappropriate tweet or an off-colour Facebook photo, not to mention scathing posts about a former employer. Don’t sabotage yourself before you even get started.

 

When tending to your professional online presence, consistency is key. Make sure your name is the same on all your profiles, including your Candidate profile on muniJOBS, by avoiding nicknames, etc. It will make it easier for employers to search you out. Make sure you are sending the same message on each of your profiles. If your muniSERV profile presents you as a well-qualified consultant, your LinkedIn profile should do the same. Ensure that all profiles are fully up-to-date with any new skills, training courses, or achievements. This might also be the time to call in some help from a pro. A dynamic biography with a summary of your strengths and experience can go a long way, especially when written from an outsider’s point of view. Consider it an extension of your CV or cover letter and outsource it to a professional for best results.

 

Some experts predict that online presence will make the resume obsolete in the next 5-10 years. In an already competitive market, this will only lead to an even larger talent pool being available with full information readily available. This is even more reason to make sure that your personal and professional profiles are in line with the image that you want to project. Increase your chances of being found by municipal decision-makers with a CAO or Consultant profile on muniSERV and/or with a Candidate’s profile on muniJOBS. Contact us for more information and get started today.

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9 Essentials to Honing Your Leading Edge and Boosting Team/Culture Performance

Many leaders feel they can’t do much to change behaviors and culture. But overwhelming research shows that’s not true. Leaders have a major impact on “the way we do things around here.” A team or organization’s culture ripples out from its members and leaders. The single biggest key to transforming a team or organization’s culture starts with its leaders defining and developing their behaviors.

Teams and department/divisions with exceptionally strong leaders build thriving peak performance local cultures even if the bigger culture they’re part of, and leader they report to, are weak. Organizational culture exists simultaneously and independently at three levels: the unit/team, department/division, and entire organization, and those micro or main cultures can be enriched at any level.

Nine elements especially stand out from this latest review of best leadership and team/culture development practices:

  1. Lead, Follow, or Wallow – highly effective leaders make critical choices to proactively change, grow, and develop rather than being changed
  2. Strong Leadership Cuts Through the Management Maze – team/organization performance is dramatically improved when good managers learn how to become great leaders
  3. Yield of Dreams – highly effective leaders tap into this infinite and renewable energy source
  4. The Heart Part – courageous conversations, two-way communications, and openness, come from, and expand, trust
  5. Coach Diem – outstanding leaders seize key coaching moments to up everyone’s game
  6. Making Teams Work – too often managers build a “scream team.” Extraordinary leaders build dream teams by boosting collaboration, cooperation, and coordination
  7. Three Core Questions Defining Your Team or Organization’s Culture – too many vision/mission/values statements are lifeless gibberish and generate a high “snicker factor”
  8. Hitting the Shift Key – the best leaders and teams act on their understanding that their culture ripples out from what they do, not what they say
  9. Setting the Culture Compass – failing to map a route through the many swamps and sinkholes of team and culture change are why 70% of these efforts die out

Rate yourself on this checklist. How’s your leadership? How’s your leadership team?

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Practical Ways Leaders Can Model Culture Change

A department, division, or organization’s culture ripples out from its leadership team. A team that wants to change “them” needs to start with a deep look in the mirror to change “us.” Organizational behavior reflects leadership team behavior. This is much like an old parenting adage, “children are natural mimics; they act like their parents despite attempts to teach them good manners.”

In their 10-year global study of leadership and culture development (published in their book Beyond Performance: How Great Organizations Build Ultimate Competitive Advantage), Scott Keller and Colin Price report, “programs in which leaders model the desired changes are four times more likely to be successful. In an organizational context, the key elements of role modeling are transformation among senior leaders, symbolic acts, and developing a cadre of ‘influence leaders.’”

Here are just a few ways leadership teams can model the behavior they want to see rippling throughout their culture:

  • Bring customers, customer advocates (salespeople are excellent ones) and front line service deliverers to key planning and operational sessions.
  • Put on an apron or pick up the phone and serve customers without being introduced as top leaders. You’ll be sending important signals. And might even learn something.
  • Serve your producers and servers. Continually ask them what the leadership team can do to help them provide higher levels of service/quality. Hold managers accountable for serving their teams.
  • Overlook weaknesses unless they’re clearly causing problems and must be addressed. Develop and nurture strengths that align with the individual’s passions and what the organization needs from him or her.
  • Celebrate, honor, cheer, applaud, reinforce, laud, praise, extol, and otherwise reinforce all behaviors that exemplify your core values and desired culture.
  • Ensure leaders are first in line for leadership and key skill development. Model those skills in meetings, coaching activities, and team decision making and planning. And having senior leaders deliver those sessions to the next level of managers infuses the training with a whole new sense of priority.
  • Search out and destroy all executive status symbols, perks, or privileges that contribute to the “we/they” gap.
  • Agree on three or four Strategic Imperatives that will strengthen your culture. Establish cross-functional teams to lead those changes and set a rigorous follow through process with regular updates to the leadership team.
  • Get unfiltered and anonymous feedback on your leadership effectiveness with 360 assessments. Build personal and team development plans around that feedback that leverages strengths and addresses any “fatal flaws.” Involve others in your personal and team development process.
  • Hold regular meetings with team members in groups and individually to discuss your leadership and culture development progress.

The most effective communication is face to face. The most believable communication is behavior.

You can watch our recent Executive Team Building and Culture Development webinar for a deeper look.

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Coaching Matters: Are You a DIY Manager Choking Growth and Development?

Good managers often have strong technical expertise and analytical skills. They love to jump into the details and resolve tough problems. Effective leaders resist the quick-fix, I-can-do-it-better-myself temptation. He or she knows such do-it-yourself projects reinforce the upward delegation cycle (“Hey, boss. Here’s another one for you to solve”). This leads to him or her becoming ever busier while team members’ growth is stunted, and the organization slows down to the pace of the stressed-out manager.

The sad story of hard driving entrepreneurs or upwardly mobile and ambitious managers choking their organization’s growth is an all too familiar one. These entrepreneurs and managers become the barrier to the organization reaching its next level of growth. These managers don’t make the transition from running operations to building a team that runs operations. Their own stunted leadership growth prevents them from making the critical transition from driving and directing to coaching and developing.

Countless studies show leaders with highly developed coaching skills have a huge impact on their team or organization’s results. For example, less than 15% of employees with leaders rated in the bottom ten percent of coaching effectiveness rate their work environment as a place where people want to “go the extra mile.” However, when leaders are rated in the top ten percent of coaching effectiveness, “going the extra mile” leaps to nearly 50% — a threefold increase. A MetrixGlobal survey found that “business coaching produced a 788-per-cent return on investment and significant intangible benefits to the business.”

This month’s Harvard Business Review features an article on “The Best Leaders Are Great Teachers.” Management professor and author, Sydney Finkelstein, (his new book is Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Manage the Flow of Talent) reports,

“…the best leaders I studied were teachers through and through. They routinely spent time with employees, passing on technical skills, general tactics, business principles, and life lessons… and it had a remarkable impact: their teams and organizations were some of the highest-performing in their sectors.”

A manager sees people as they are. And they’re often a growth choke point. A leader sees people as they could be — and nurtures that potential through strong coaching and development.

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Communicating and Listening Non-Judgmentally: Tools for Dealing with Mental Health Issues in the Workplace

I am finding as I train, coach and mediate that the issues in the workplace are becoming more complex. In recent events, some high profile individuals have come to the attention of the media as a result of their actions. We are finding mental health issues are more of a concern and the means to address them is less easy. In this article, I am attempting to share some tools you may want to engage in when speaking with your colleagues or employees.

Communication is not just saying words; it is creating correct understanding. Active listening is an essential skill in the communication process. Dr Marius Pickering from the University of Maine identifies four characteristics of empathetic listening.

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Announcing New CAMA/muniSERV Partnership!

This is an exciting new partnership for both muniSERV’s professional and municipal members!

Our professional members immediately get more exposure for their professional profile and for their ads on muniSERV – and our municipal members who are CAMA members get access to more resources and discounts off muniSERV’s paid services. 

Here’s CAMA’s Official Release:

CAMA Announces New Partnership with muniSERV.ca

CP News Release – Released on: May 29, 2018

Municipal association partnership with muniSERV.ca will benefit members nationwide

FREDERICTON, New Brunswick, May 29, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) is pleased to announce a new partnership with muniSERV.ca – Canada’s leading online platform to connect municipalities and the businesses that serve them – that will benefit its members nationwide.

The partnership will allow CAMA members easily to find qualified consultants specializing in municipal matters, post a Request for Proposal, bid or tender, find a CAO, post a CAO job, see and submit events of interest to municipal administrators, and even sell surplus equipment.

The partnership also provides for some great discounts to other special services, including the following:

  • muniLEARN – an end-to-end collaborative learning management system platform with access to over 900 accredited digital courses for any size municipality and
  • muniJOBS – coming soon is the only online career and recruitment platform in Canada with a 100% municipal focus that provides candidates with both matching and searchable job postings.

Registration is free for CAMA members, and it takes less than a minute to join. Once a municipality is registered, any member of the team can also join and access the services available.

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Media Contacts:

CAMA: Stacey Murray, 506-261-3534, admin@camacam.ca

muniSERV: Susan Shannon, Founder & Principal, muniSERV.ca, 855.477.5095, sshannon@muniserv.ca

About muniSERV.ca

muniSERV is Canada’s leading online solution for helping municipalities and professionals connect.  We help municipalities save time and money searching for the consultants & CAOs they need, while offering professionals the opportunity to showcase their profile and services to get found and grow their business. www.muniserv.ca

About CAMA

The Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) is a national, non-profit association open to all Chief Administrative Officers / City Managers and any person employed in a senior management position that reports directly to a CAO. With a membership of over 600 senior municipal employees from all parts of Canada, CAMA collectively represents more than 70% of the nation’s population. www.camacam.ca

 

 

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7 Ways to be Seen as a Leader

7 Ways to be Seen as a Leader

Municipalities Need CAO Candidates with Strategic Thinking Skills, Political & Business Acumen, and Those Who Are Innovative.

Do you have what it takes?

 

Having a nice resume showing your relevant education and skills might land you the job, but you won’t be able to truly succeed as a CAO unless you have something more – strong leadership skills. There are many ways to be recognized as a leader without having to do something heroic like leading an army to war. Here are 7 ways to prove yourself as a strong leader in your municipal position:

 

COMMUNICATION

An open line of communication is vital in any relationship, especially a professional one. A good leader is always available for honest and open discussions and feedback with their team, but you must be ready to listen as much as you speak. In today’s digital world, effective communication also includes email, social media posts and nonverbal cues like body language and facial expressions.

 

LEADING BY EXAMPLE

If you aren’t committed to your job, why would you expect anyone on your team to be? A positive attitude can be contagious, but not as much as a negative one. How you approach tasks and situations will set the tone for those working with you so stay positive and enthusiastic as much as possible.

 

PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS

When things go wrong, and they always do, how will you react? A good leader will take ownership of any issues and work quickly to solve them, as well as prevent them from happening again.

 

RESPONSIBILITY

Everyone loves to receive praise, but how do you handle criticism and accept blame? A good leader needs to be able to accept the good and the bad without finger pointing and playing the blame game. Accept your mistake, find a solution and move on.

 

MOTIVATION

Most employees need more than a paycheque to stay engaged and interested in their job. A good leader will recognize their employees’ strengths, weaknesses and interests to make sure they feel valued, heard and appreciated. This can be as simple as a small reward for a job well done, mentoring a new hire or assigning additional responsibilities to increase involvement.

 

FLEXIBILITY
A good leader must roll with the punches. In today’s world of increased citizen engagement and councils’ need to periodically change community direction, you must be ready to change directions at the drop of a hat. Last minute changes, mishaps, covering for other employees … a leader must be able to take it all in stride and accept that nothing ever really happens when or how it is supposed to.

 

DELEGATION
If you try to do it all yourself, you are setting yourself up to fail. Some feel that assigning duties to their team shows weakness, but it is actually the sign of a good leader. Delegating tasks, while keeping your employees’ strengths in mind, gives you more time to focus on the important things.

 

The key to being a good leader can be found in the skills that you likely already have. Now it’s time to nurture and grow those skills and become the superstar you were always meant to be!

muniSERV is Canada’s leading online solution for helping municipalities and professionals connect.  We help municipalities save time and money searching for the consultants & CAOs they need while offering professionals the opportunity to showcase their profile and services to get found and grow their business.

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