Tag Archives: Health

HR and cooking with onions

An HR metaphor.   

This may sound crazy, but I think the metaphor works.

Sometimes,  working with people reminds me of cooking  with onions.

  • Some people have very thin skin.
  • Some people are sort of sweet and spicy, but every once in while you get one that is just plain stinky and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
  • Dealing with people problems is exactly like peeling  an onion.  You have to keep peeling away the layers, never quite sure when you are going to be done.
  • It’s inevitable that  some of them will bring you to tears.

Why can’t working in HR be more like eating bacon anyway?

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Highballs and Heineken at Work

Drinking in the workplace

A Kranz (wreath) of Kölsch beer.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think it’s time that I come clean.  I’ve been drunk at work more times than I care to remember, and none of it was my fault. Seriously…. No, this isn’t one of those posts where I tell you haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks because I was in rehab, or something like that.  I’m going with a different angle altogether.

 Alcohol plays a positive role in the workplace / Alcohol plays a destructive role in the workplace.

Both arguments have merit.

Alcohol is destructive at work

It’s difficult to argue with the statistics about the bad effects of alcohol in the workplace.    According to data published on the web by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, alcohol is the single most used and abused drug in America.  According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), nearly 14 million Americans (1 in every 13 adults) abuse alcohol or are alcoholics. Corporations drop millions annually fighting battling this workplace scourge through their benefit plans and employee assistance programs.   Estimates on the costs of alcoholism and alcohol abuse range from $33 billion to $68 billion per year.

Alcohol is positive at work

Many business leaders spend even more time and effort encouraging drinking as part of the workplace culture.  In fact, there is a strong informal culture that encourages drinking to be in the club.  According to a recent story in the New York Times on being pressured to drink at work, when it comes to proving your part of the team or closing the  deal, having a drink may be more important to the process than even the time honored game of golf.

The first time I ever got drunk at work was I was in college.  I was a short order cook at a place called The Clock Restaurant, which was a 24 hour coffee shop place.   I was working  a twelve hour shift on a Friday, 4 PM to 4 AM.    One of the cooks coming in at midnight brought some beer in a cooler in the trunk of his car, and it was on.  We made frequent trips outside, and all the cooks working “bar rush” were just as drunk as many of the customers.  This became a regular thing for that entire summer.   No one ever caught on, or cared enough to say so if they did.

In my first job in human resources, it wasn’t unusual for our division VP to round up a few managers and head down to the Knight Cap for a  long boozy lunch, several times a week.  

At another company, the owner expected his management staff to show up in his office around 5:30 pm to do drink scotch with him for an hour or so before heading home. I was a reluctant participant in these adventures, but I went along back in the early days of my career.  There was more than one night in the 1980’s where I made the twenty mile drive home when I probably shouldn’t have.  

 I would have thought things were different today, but maybe not.

What’s your experience with drinking at work? 

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Death by Infographic

Workplace Safety Infographic 

There is no great commentary with today’s post, just a link to an interesting infographic, if you like that sort of thing.

The topic of the infographic is “The Deadliest Job Isn’t What You Expect“. It’s worth checking out even if like me, you aren’t a workplace safety engineer.

There is a typo in the infographic as well, which I found humorous, and pointed out. I’m curious if they will fix it.

Last thought/question: infographics, love them or hate them? Let me know!

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The Yin and Yang Approach to attending the #SHRM12 Conference

Harmonize your #SHRM12 experience 

Yin Yang - Symbol
Yin Yang – Symbol (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

My latest post from the #SHRM12 Buzz Blog. I’ll be in Atlanta all next week atttending #SHRM12 as part of their social media team.  Here’s some advice on attending the conference and extracting the best value for your time and buck!

Whether you are a first time attendee or a veteran of many SHRM Conference, one of the great things about attending these events is the opportunity to catch up on the latest information and trends in human resources.   There’s a ton of information available, and it is difficult to get caught up on everything

Some of my blogger colleagues have written great posts filled with great tips to help your first conference experience rock, or maximizing your conference investment.   If these ideas don’t suit, then you might want to try my yin/yang approach to conference going.

Practicing the art of yin yang conference going is simple.  Just break out the schedule of concurrent sessions and start selecting session this way:

  1. Half the sessions should reinforce or update your areas of strength.  For me, this would mean picking sessions that would boost my knowledge in labor relations and social media.
  2. Half the sessions should be stretch sessions – topics that aren’t in your professional wheelhouse or areas of daily responsibility.

Go ahead, grasshopper. Explore the balance of yin and yang at #SHRM12.  It’s sure to make your conference experience more harmonious and valuable.

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Back in the digital saddle again

The Six Million Dollar Man
Image via Wikipedia

 Technology will make me better, faster, stronger

Just a quick update to let everyone know that I am back on my feet literally, and back to work.  I was released from the hospital on Monday, July 11. 7-11, my lucky day, I guess.  It was nice to go home.  It was also time to start accepting some new realities in my life.   Also time to start working on that #TR30 list, but I need to spend a little reflection time on that before sharing it with you.

 Here is a quick update on what has gone on with me.

  1.  I was in the hospital because I had a DVT (blood clot) form in my leg, which later became a pulmonary embolism when another clot formed in my lung.
  2. I had a short simple procedure to install an IVC filter in my vein. The filter is designed to keep a clot from breaking off and getting into my lungs, heart or brain and causing incredibly bad stuff to happen.
  3. I spent a week in a hospital bed not feeling bad, but facing a potentially life threatening condition. This is a very strange sort of paradox.
  4. I am lucky enough to have receive a warning shot without much impact.

Here is what I am going to do in the very near future:

  1. I need to lose some weight. I had already started that process before this situation, so I can report with some glee that I have lost 20 pounds. I wore a shirt to the office the day I came back that hasn’t fit me for a year. I am going to keep this effort up.
  2. Regular exercise will begin as soon as possible. I need to wait on this to let the medicine do its job on my leg.
  3. I am starting a new Tumblr blog to report on this progress, so most of my personal stuff related to this will be at Bionic Mike, and not here on HRH.  

 Why Bionic Mike?  Because like the $6 million man, my doctors have the technology to make me stronger, faster, better – but without incurring the big budget hit.

Your help in making some of this work as I go froward is truly appreciated.

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This was the week that almost wasn’t

A deep vein thrombosis of the right leg. Note ...
Image via Wikipedia

 Being in the hospital slows you down

I have been in the hospital as a patient twice in my life.

(The picture attached is NOT me!)

The first time was in 1985 when I went into a little clinic/hospital in Madison Heights, Michigan to have a partially torn ligament in my right ankle repaired.   It was an overnight stay.  My clearest memories are of a surly orderly doing a physical exam, and of my surgeon talking about his failed attempt to make bouillabaisse as I went to sleep from the anesthetic I had been given.     I remember thinking my last thought would be ….. “Shit, I may be killed by a guy who can’t even cook fish stew.”

Somehow, I survived, and went more than 25 years before becoming a hospital patient again.   The odds finally caught up with me last week.   I went into the hospital on Tuesday, July 5th, and I am still there, writing this from my hospital bed.   It has been a weird experience to say the least.

I am here because I had a blood clot form in my leg.  I woke up on Tuesday morning after having worked all weekend on my Facebook launch project, only to discover that my left leg was badly swollen and nearly twice the size of my right leg.   This was kind of alarming..  So of course, I went to work to take of a post weekend social media launch recap meeting with my team.    I couldn’t get into the doctor until 11:30 am anyway, right?

When I got to the doctor’s office, they immediately sent to get a radiologic ultrasound on my leg, focusing on the veins.  Turns out I had extensive clotting, and a diagnosis of Deep Vein Thrombosis, a very serious condition.    Blood clots form in your legs, and if they break loose, can go to your lungs and heart resulting in strokes or even death.  I am going to have to make some lifestyle choices as a result of this.  I will probably be using social media and the #TR30 challenge approach to help with this.

My doctor sent me directly to the emergency room, and I have been here since Lakeland Regional Medical Center ever since.  My sentence is now going on day 6.

They treat this illness by giving you controlled doses of rat poison via IV, and by installing filters in your veins to prevent the killer clots from getting to your brain to carry out their mission of death.   I have sat here in a hospital bed, watching television, clinging like death to my cell phone, and praying for anything that might distract me.    Most of my care has been by the  nursing staff, or from the staffers who come around to take my food order which is then delivered bedside like room service when you requested.  To further ease my boredom, I have talked to the nurses about their work life.   Here is what I have learned:

  • This staff is very committed to providing good care to their patients.
  • Nurses generally appreciate it when you say thanks, and will make an extra effort to aid you if you treat them like human beings.
  • Many of the nurses here had left hospital care to work in private offices, and are now returning to work in hospitals in order to be closer to their patients.
  • They love the lifestyle flexibility offered by working 12 hour shifts.
  • Some medical people think that patients are being driven into the hospital due to the side effects of new prescription drugs that hit the market quicker today than in the past.

Random closing thoughts, best things on the room service menu are the meatloaf and tuna salad platter, but the wine selection sucks.

I thought red wine was good for you?

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Autism, Glass Children and Alicia Arenas

Please take 15 minutes and watch this extremely powerful and moving video of an amazing TEDx San Antonio presentation by my friend Alicia Arenas.   She talks about difficult choices she faced in childhood, and how her brother’s autism affected her.   Share it if you are moved by it.  I think you will be.

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HR Manager, heal thy stress (and your employees)

Today’ s post is one on a very popular topic this time of year—STRESS–from AmyK Hutchens, speaker, business strategist and executive coach.

AmyK has made 800 presentations worldwide to thousands on leadership and sales and has worked with Martha Beck (Oprah’s Life Coach, bestselling author and columnist for O), Keiser University System, Vistage (the world’s largest CEO membership organization), IBM, John Paul Mitchell Systems, Wells Fargo, Georgia State University-Int’l Business Alliance Prog., to name a few.  A former senior EVP of operations for a leading sales and marketing firm, director of education for Europe and Australia for a 900 million dollar consumer products company, and chosen member of National Geographic’s Educator Advisory Committee.  AmyK, CEO of amyK inc. (www.amyk.com) is the winner of 5 Telly Marketing Awards and the Summit International’s Award for Creativity (2008) and a featured guest on NBC, Fox and ABC for her brain-based commentary on current events.

Short Circuiting Stress

For every six minutes you experience a high state of negative stress it takes your immune system six hours to recover. That doesn’t stress you out does it?!

Experiencing a rotten, lousy, no good, stressful day creates a chronic cycle that wears your immune system down, leaving you exhausted, sick and feeling even more stressed. The goal, however, isn’t to get rid of stress… our brains are hard-wired for it, and we actually need some stress (called eustress) in order to function. The goal is to short-circuit the negative cycle.

Stress has been around since the first human tried to light a fire and failed, only to have his girlfriend show him how it’s done. Telling your brain that “not having enough time in the day” does not equate to “being eaten by a sabre-tooth tiger” doesn’t work. Attempting to convince your brain that the wooly mammoth in front of you is really just your boss or your mother-in-law is next to impossible. Your brain doesn’t distinguish the difference. You’ve got better odds teaching your brain that the saber-tooth tiger is actually a house cat and that your mother-in-law really doesn’t care that you can’t cook.

Seems simple. It is simple, it’s just not easy, especially when your mother-in-law sighs every time you look at your cookbook.

Stress starts in the brain and then spreads throughout your body. The part of the brain that processes your emotions also controls your immune system.  Ever experience a stressful week and then get a chance to take a few days off only to find yourself nursing a cold while on vacation?  Within seventy-two hours of a significantly stressful event your body manifests some type of physiological symptom. It’s as if you internally vent on your way home, your brain hears you and empathizes with you, and then gives you a migraine, or acne, or both! Really, your brain was just trying to prove you right, you are stressed, so voila, your body now proves it too!

Twenty percent of the oxygen of every breath you take goes straight to your brain. When we’re stressed, one of the first things that changes in our bodies is our breathing – it gets shallower and we take in less oxygen…so right now just breathe. Take a deep breath …inhale slowly, exhale slowly and repeat. Your brain thanks you, and, it will think more clearly for you, more rationally, thus preventing you from throwing that cookbook at a certain someone.

The mere thought of the holidays sends some people straight into stressed-out orbit.
The ubiquitous themes of time, not enough of it; money, not enough of that; food, way too much of that; and relationships, pleasing everybody, can cause extra anxiety.

This year, give yourself a present first: the ability to stop the stress cycle early, before it sends you to bed. And while it may seem like a great place to escape your boss and mother-in-law, there are better ways to spend the holidays.

Short Circuit the Stress Cycle

1. Prioritize & Simplify
Reducing stress is not about creating balance it’s about getting focused. Balance is a myth. Let’s get real – when it comes to life activities there is no such thing as balance, only priorities. If you strive for balance you’ll only add to your stress levels, not reduce them, but if you change your priorities, your focus, you will immediately start reducing your stress and feel more in control of how you utilize your time.

Successfully dealing with life’s pressures, demands, and hassles means you need to appropriately respond and manage the tasks at hand in order of priority. Create a list of what you value and need to accomplish over the next two days. (Don’t forget that YOU should and need to be on that list.) Assign each priority a chunk of time and then live within the parameters of that scheduled list. Follow up that time-framed list with another list of new priorities or re-prioritized activities. Every two days (or week) you can create a new list that outlines and accounts for all your responsibilities.

Simplify 1 thing each day. It may be a priority that you serve your family dinner tonight. It’s not a priority that you cook it. You can pick up take-out, or pull something out of the freezer. Choose 1 activity each day and find a way to reduce the time it takes, or the energy it requires of you to complete it.

2. Place yourself in time-out.
The purpose of putting a toddler in time-out is to re-set her attitude and improve her behavior. (If only we could use that with our colleagues.) Take some time to be silent and reflective, even if it’s just 3-5 minutes. There is scientific proof that doing so can decrease blood pressure, pulse rate, and improve blood circulation.  By removing yourself from a stressful environment or giving yourself a moment to biologically shift, you aid your immune system in getting back to healthy. A few deep breaths while you’re in time-out is an added bonus.

3. Get a giggle.
Laughter reduces your stress hormones and literally changes your body chemistry. Humor releases endorphins and antibody enhancers which aid your immune system. Schedule 30 minutes to watch a funny sitcom or read a humorous book. If 30 minutes just doesn’t exist today, then give yourself a five minute giggle and watch a youtube video. There are many short clips of truly funny comedians and silly people who will definitely give you a smile that will last awhile.

4. Put it in perspective.
Changing your perspective, your thoughts, is the most effective tool we have for reducing our stress and it’s the least used tool by people when they’re experiencing stress. When stressed out individuals scream, “I don’t have five bleep-ity-bleep minutes to watch a YouTube video!” there is one thought, one shift in perspective that helps a lot. “It’s only five minutes. Big bleep-ity-bleep deal.” There are 10,080 minutes in a week. Take 5 of them, so the other 10,075 minutes are more peaceful, more positive, more meaningful. Typically, upon hearing this news, these frenetic, time-obsessed totally stressed out individuals stop holding their breath and suck in a large volume of oxygen. It’s a great start!

The objective isn’t to fight circumstances. You’re not insane, just stressed. Sane people know that arguing with reality only creates more stress because reality always wins.  Let it win, and let it go. The goal is to change your perspective to less painful thoughts. Your boss may still growl and snarl, your mother-in-law may still sigh, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if you handed her the spatula and said, “I’m so glad you’re great at cooking. Please, by all means, my kitchen is su kitchen.” And with that, you have not only changed your perspective, you’ve simplified your life, and given yourself a thirty minute time-out to go watch that sitcom you’ve been wanting to watch all week. Life is good.

AmyK Hutchens, Founder and Intelligence Activist, AmyK Inc., is a speaker, trainer and business strategist. She is best known for helping business leaders capitalize on how the brain and human perception filters work to help them be more effective in business and their personal lives. Follow AmyK on Twitter @AmyKinc or visit at www.amyk.com. http://www.amyk.com <http://www.amyk.com/>

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The dope on drugs: Walmart, medical marijuana, iDosing, and fake pot

Me and the war on drugs
Image by thirstycactus via Flickr

More stuff on drugs and the workplace

Despite the best efforts of the government, and most employers, the issue of drugs in the workplace remains a challenging topic.  From the large expenses of traditional control methods to the cost of dealing with changing legal challenges that impact employment law,  your human resources office may be confronting these issues in the near future.

The War on Drugs

You’ve got your basic War on Drugs.  According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the U.S. federal government spent about $600 per second , or $19 billion dollars on the War on Drugs in 2003.

You’ve got the widely accepted perspective of most employers that testing for drugs is a positive thing.  Consider this example excerpted from the Employment Drug Testing website:

Most employers find that a drug-testing program will eliminate people with problem, and not good applicants. Drug tests for small to medium employers generally cost in the $50-$70.00 range, including collection of the sample, laboratory analysis, services of a Medial Review Officer, and communications of the results in the manner most convenient to the employer. Compared to the cost of even one employee with a substance abuse problem, most firms find eliminating the problem in the first place is well worth the time and money involved in a drug-testing program.

This policy position is widely supported by numerous government initiatives, including DOD contracting requirements, and worker compensations.   It is largely impossible to determine if there has been any ROI on these investments over the decades they have been in place, yet they remain a major part of employment policy in the United States.

Fighting against the War on Drugs

Resistance to existing drug law and employment policies seems to be on the rise.   Many states have passed laws legalizing marijuana for use by medical patients who obtain the appropriate prescription.   Despite the law, employer policies have not yet changed.   Consider this video, discussing the case of a Walmart employee who is suing Walmart for terminating him under company policy for failing a drug test under company policy, despite his compliant legal status under Michigan law.   Expect many more of these cases.

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by Newsy.com

Employers and Legal Highs

Another challenge to the government and employers is how they will deal with what seems to be a constantly evolving menu of new, so-called legal drugs, including methods such as iDosing and the use of so-called legal marijuana.

Wired magazine recently reported on the issue of iDosing by high school students in Oklahoma:

I-dosing involves donning headphones and listening to “music” — largely a droning noise — which the sites peddling the sounds promise will get you high. Teens are listening to such tracks as “Gates of Hades,” which is available on YouTube gratis (yes, the first one is always free).

Those who want to get addicted to the “drugs” can purchase tracks that will purportedly bring about the same effects of marijuana, cocaine, opium and peyote. While street drugs rarely come with instruction manuals, potential digital drug users are advised to buy a 40-page guide so that they learn how to properly get high on MP3s.

Synthetic marijuana is also widely available and is apparently growing in popularity, being sold under names like K2 and Spice.  Such mixtures are legal in most jurisdictions, and according to many news reports is largely undetectable, which means drug tests may not identify users.

A blend of herbs laced with synthetic marijuana known popularly as K2 is being sold openly in head shops and online, often sending people who smoke it to hospitals with symptoms ranging from soaring heart rates to paranoia to near-death experiences, according to health professionals.

From the ABC News site:

K2 is an herbal mixture product that offers the same high as marijuana.

“Whatever is being done is not being done fast enough,” Brendan Bickley, the clinical director of an addiction treatment center in Southern California, said. “It’s the perfect drug. It’s legal. It’s undetectable. It’s odorless. It’s cheap.”

Unions supports legalization of marijuana

Closing on a labor relations note, the Western District Council of the UFCW announced their support of a California state initiative that would legalize marijuana in the state.

The 200,000-member United Food and Commercial Workers, Western States Council, on Wednesday announced its support for Proposition 19, the initiative to legalize marijuana in California.

Ron Lind, international president of the union, and Dan Rush of its Local 5 also spoke out in favor of Proposition 19.

“The marriage of the cannabis-hemp industry and UFCW is a natural one,” said Rush. “We are an agriculture, food-processing and retail union, as is this industry.”

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The Mighty Men of HR

I am Mr. July

OMG, what have I done???

Take a look at the video below and you will quickly find out!

This video shows some of the “goods” that are part of the 2010-11 Men of HR Calendar, brought to you by TRU Events .  All proceeds from the calendar will go towards Haiti Relief and Orchid Cancer Appeal.

The Men of HR

They might not smile; they might be gruff
Their skin’s like leather; they act real tough.
They’d like you to think they’re media stars
But they’re just a bunch of softies…
They’re the Men of HR

The Men of HR from Geoff Webb on Vimeo.

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