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Blog - Page 3 of 7 - Fully Effective Employees

10
Feb

Caregiving Employees

As our aging population grows, the number of working caregivers does as well.  The Alzheimer’s Association estimates there are 10 million caregivers for those affected by this disease, and most of these caregivers are in the workforce, and this is for Alzheimer’s only!  Many times during the workday, a caregiving employee may need to drop everything to deal with a loved one’s health crisis.  A friend of mine has gotten 3 calls in the last month from the emergency room regarding her mother, each time she was at work and had to leave to address the emergency.  Luckily she has a flexible job.  We have talked about some things she can do to be more pro-active with her employer.

As an employer, the following are some things you can share with your employees;

1. Talk to your employer about the situation, familiarize yourself with company leave policies and state/federal laws for family leave.  If appropriate also discuss with co-workers as oftentimes, your workload may fall to them in your absence.

2. Since you cannot predict a crisis, make sure that you are up-to-date on your assignments, maybe work longer hours in anticipation of leaving suddenly, and also communicate with your co-workers anything that will involve them.

3. Have medical and contact information at the ready.  This will allow for smooth admissions and access to services.

4. Set boundaries!  Know yours!  Oftentimes, caregivers will take on more than they can handle.  Overdoing it can leave caregivers feeling overwhelmed and quite honestly, not doing everything well.

5. Have backup plans- while some elderly parents may deteriorate quickly or require acute care due to a sudden serious illness or fall, others slwly decline and may need caregiving for a longer time.  If so, it would be a good idea to have respite care, other family members or family friends who can share the work and information on nursing homes or other facilities if you can no longer do it on your own.

6. Take care of yourself- if you don’t you won’t be good to anyone. Be sure to balance your work and personal responsibilities. Take time to rest, exercise, eat well and do some enjoyable activities.

7.  Seek profesional assistance if needed- sometimes the stress of caregiving, work and other family responsibilities can be too much. If you find yourself being irritable, depressed or not doing as well as you should, contact a professional counselor or the EAP for confidential assistance.

In addition to the above tips, the employee assistance program can be an invaluable help to your employees.  The EAP can provide the needed emotional support, and assist with resources and referrals.  If you don’t have it  already, consider adding the Worklife Program to your EAP services. The additional program provides a well of information, resources, and referrals for all aspects of caregiving and dealing with ill or aging family members.

For more information about Fully Effective Employees or our services contact us at audreyr@fee-eap.com

20
Jan

EAP’s Help Reduce Absenteeism

All employers know that employee absenteeism is a big problem. It reduces productivity, morale and the company bottom line.  The ever present challenge is how employers can prevent and reduce absenteeism. CCH, a leading provider of human resources and employment law information (hr.cch.com) conducted an unscheduled absence survey in 2005  and found that the  average per employee cost of absenteeism is $660 with some larger companies losing more than $1 million per year.  What is of great concern to employers is that almost two out of three employees who call in sick are not physically sick. Personal illness accounted for only 35 percent of unscheduled absences and 65% were due to other reasons including family issues (21 percent), personal needs (18 percent) entitlement mentality (14 percent) and stress (12 percent).

Companies with low morale saw higher rates and costs of unscheduled absences. 78% of human resource managers feel that the main cause of absenteeism is the belief that those who skip out of work believe they are entitled to time off.  The other reason cited by human resource managers is  a lack of supervisor involvement as a catalyst to discourage employee absenteeism. When managers understand the causes of absenteeism and use the EAP as a resource for assisting employees, they can play a big role in reducing absenteeism.

When employees are faced with stressful everyday life situations, it has an impact on their ability to be present in their jobs. Stressful situations include family and relationship problems, physical illness, addictions,  financial difficulties including foreclosure, bankruptcy, identity theft, debt and unemployment by a spouse. If employees have a confidential, employer sponsored way (the EAP) to obtain assistance with these difficulties, they are more likely to address their problems earlier and resolve them quicker. Additional worklife and wellness programs as part of the EAP can be very helpful for employees trying to manage the stress of balancing work and family issues.

The EAP can also train managers on how to recognize and identify personal problems before they have begun to effect performance. When managers can coach employees on how to use the EAP, they stay out of the middle of their personal problems, while still offering a way to get help. Once personal problems have begun to effect performance or absenteeism, they can refer the employee to the EAP as a supervisor referral for peformance based issues.  In addition, when employees know they are valued and given a free, confidential resource to address their personal problems, they feel appreciated by and more loyal to their employer.

Employers should also create incentive programs that  can improve both attitude and attendance rates. This works for several reasons. Some employees may lack the internal motivation necessary to keep their spirits up and give them the drive and desire to show up to work every day. These people may need the external motivation that incentives provide.

Additionally, incentives tend to promote certain goals, which can be beneficial for employees with attendance problems. The company can create an incentive program that is specifically linked to attendance. Examples of this type of program include:

1) The ability to cash-in unused sick days at the end of a specific period

2) Allowing employees to leave early one Friday per month of perfect attendance

3) Bonus pay for periods of perfect attendance

4) Gifts such as savings bonds or gift cards for periods of perfect attendance

5) Paid time off programs which allow for personal issues, vacation and sick time all in one bank of hours so employees can use what they need when needed.

Of course employers do need to be clear with employees that if they are legitimately sick, they should stay home so that no one else at work gets sick and so they can take the time they need to get better.  When the workplace culture is one that does not allow people to be ill, then it will create resentment and poor morale.

Do you have any good suggestions for preventing absenteeism? If so, we would love to hear your ideas.

Fully Effective Employees offers assistance with drug testing, management training and consultation, and confidential assistance to employees and their families with personal and work related problems.

16
Jan

EAPs Can Help Employers Reduce Workers’ Compensation Costs

Many employers may see their Workers’ Compensation premiums increase for 2012.  Fully Effective Employees, employee assistance program can help employers reduce their liability while preventing expensive claims and reducing the amount of time an employee is off work. Prevention is key- offering support to employees and awareness for employers of the causes of increased WC claims will go a long way to reduce costs. Behavioral risk factors including, attendance, performance issues, depression and drug and alcohol abuse are all known to be associated with workplace accidents, injuries and even fatalities.

The first step employers can take is to provide a drug testing program. Research shows that employees who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in on the job accidents and 5 times more likely to injure themselves or someone else.  They are also five times more likely to file a worker’s compensation claim.

When employees are impaired, their judgment, response time and reflexes are also impaired. Letting all employees know that your company will be conducting pre-employment, random and post-accident drug testing will discourage drug users from working for you.  Over the years, we have found that the companies with the highest compensation rates are the ones that don’t drug test. Obviously, more drug users work for companies that don’t drug test.

Next, employers should use their EAP to help all employees who test positive for drugs.  The EAP can assess the client, refer him for treatment if indicated, and monitor his progress in treatment. The EAP will continue to provide support once treatment has been completed when he is at the greatest risk for relapse.

Employers could also refer all employees to the EAP when they are injured.  The client can choose to confidentially discuss issues related to the injury, including relationship and communication issues with co-workers and family members.  The EAP counselor can assess whether there are pre-existing issues or if the employee is at risk for malingering, depression, or drug abuse due to prescription medication or untreated substance abuse issues that occured prior to the claim.  The EAP counselor can assist the employee with a return to work plan, preparing him or her for a change in job function or an adjustment to work as soon as possible.  The result of working with the EAP is that  injured employees may be more likely to return to work sooner and be less likely to abuse the WC benefits.  The EAP would also provide follow up and support to the worker after he has returned to work.

The back to work plan is essential.  Supervisors should be encouraged to avoid conflicts with employees via telephone or by email with injured workers. Research has shown that supervisor and co-worker conflicts figure prominently in increased injury recovery times and protracted absenteeism of injured workers. In addition, a zero tolerance policy should be implemented for harassing employees on light duty.  If a medical doctor has approved an employee to return to work on light duty, co-workers should not be permitted to guilt, influence or intimidate a recovering worker to participate in unapproved work activities. (www.workexcel.net)

Our staff at Fully Effective Employees will meet with your company safety or human resources manager to discuss the role the EAP can play in helping you to prevent and reduce your WC claims.  We can discuss your risk exposure, safety plans, training, and assist with a drug testing program.  These services are all part of our program to provide both an employee and employer assistance program. Once you have implemented this plan, you should be able to provide evidence of your program to prevent and reduce WC claims ,which should result in lower rates for the following year.  The added bonus is a safer workplace and healthier, happier or more loyal employees.

 

14
Dec

Stress Management Tips for the Holiday Season

While most of our blog posts are geared toward Human Resource Managers and company owners, we feel this blog has tips that  can be useful for employees as well.  While the holiday season can be a time of joy and celebration, it can also be an extremely stressful time of year for others.  While some people can celebrate and engage in parties and family get togethers, others struggle with depression, addiction, financial difficulties or family problems that can be intensified over the holidays.  Some employees  may have suffered a loss of a loved one or gone through a divorce during the year which can make the holidays very difficult.  Employers should be sensitive to theses issues and ensure that employees are aware of the Employee Assistance Program which can offer them resources, brief counseling and support during tough times. If you feel stressed out by the thought of holiday chores, obligations, and the clan dropping in for a spell—or if this year’s circumstances make the holiday season difficult for whatever reason—start preparations now to manage your holiday stress.

The following tips were written by Dan Feerst, LICSW-CP of WorkExcel.com .

Holiday Myth Busters —Along with good tidings come high expectations based on the commercialization of the holiday season, past childhood memories we may long to duplicate, and the expectations of others.

If family members count on your “holiday magic” to make every year special—the cooking, cleaning, baking, decorating, and gift-wrapping—you face a bigger challenge letting go or finding balance.

Here’s how to cope better with expectations, demands, and added pressure during the holidays.

We wish all of our clients and their families a very Happy Holiday Season.If you are interested in learo

Decision Time —Make a decision to take charge and tackle holiday stress. This mentally prepares you to enjoy the time while facing demands of the season with better endurance.

Your Priorities —Decide on your priorities to make the season meaningful. Did you miss the tour of homes last year because the Waltons next door had their open house on the same day? The idea here is to plan a few “non-negotiable” events for yourself.

 Now the Rest —What activities are important to your brood this year? Seek to trim the “idea tree” to reduce stress from trying to fit it all in. A family meeting to gather ideas can work, and chances are activities you thought everyone still wanted are no longer of interest.

Avoid the Rush —Are holiday lights on the house critical? If yes, go for it, but if it seems more like a “chore” than a pleasurable task, that’s a clue about its priority and importance to you. Activities that feel like chores get delayed. Pay attention to procrastination. It is insight to help you decide whether it’s thumbs up or down on something that seems desirable.

Fight the Blues —If the holidays are a sad time of year because of difficult memories or because a loved one can’t be there, then develop a personal intervention strategy. Volunteering for a local charity is an interactive experience, and those who’ve tried it claim it works to lift one’s mood. You’ll feel empowered and more positive, and the experience of helping others anchors you to a memory that lasts.

Navigating Family Conflict —If you can’t avoid holiday gatherings with family members who experience feuds and conflicts, try discussing with kin your desire to avoid conflict. Be up front and ask that differences be set aside. Older adults criticizing teenagers is a famous trigger. So are statements from in-laws that appear critical, interfering, or meddlesome. Self-awareness is power, so you stand a good chance of at least minimizing this behavior.

Take Care of Yourself —What improves your mood—exercise, positive affirmations, alone time? During the year, have you been promising to do something for yourself, but keep putting it off? Do it. The holiday season is a perfect time to reaffirm your love, not only for those you care about but also for yourself.

 EAP Can Help —Holiday stress affects everyone differently, so suggestions here may not match what’s unique for you. Don’t face the stress alone. Instead, call Fully Effective Employees, assistance program. The EA professional will help you find the resilience and strength you need to face any challenge the holidays may bring.

We wish all of our clients and their families a very happy holiday season and all the best for the coming year.

If you would like to learn more about how Fully Effective Employees can help your business and your employees, please contact us at audreyr@fee-eap.com or 425-557-0907

Copyright 2011 WorkExcel.com

 

5
Dec

Hosting Safe Holiday Parties at Work

As the holiday season quickly approaches, many businesses are starting to plan their holiday social events.  Many employers use the holidays as a time to reward their employees, to socialize and to provide a positive experience for everyone.  The majority of companies serve alcohol at holiday parties and events.  Individuals who drink too much during a company event can do things to jeopardize their health, safety and their careers.  When people drink, their inhibitions decrease and they may do and say things they would never dream of during a regular work day when not under the influence of alcohol.  Employers should also consider that not everyone drinks; some choose not to drink, some are under age,and others may be in recovery from addictions and be particularly vulnerable to temptation during the holidays.  Employers should be aware of the issues that can arise as a result of office parties where alcohol is served.

The U.S Department of Labor Working Partners for an Alcohol and Drug Free Workplace offers the following tips to minimize the negative consequences of alcohol consumption at your holiday party.

1. Be honest with employees.  Make sure employees know your workplace substance abuse policy and that the policy addresses the use of alcoholic beverages in any work related function.

2. Post the policy. Use every communication vehicle to be sure your employees know the policy. Before an office party, use break room posters, payroll stuffers and email to communicate your policy and concerns.

3. Reinvent the office party concept.  Try something like an indoor carnival, volunteer opportunity or group outing to a sporting event or amusement park.

4. Make sure employees know when to say “when”.  If you do serve alcohol, make sure all employee know they are welcome to attend and have a good time but that they are expected to behave responsibly.

5. Make it the office party of choice. Be sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages.

6. Eat.. and be merry!  Avoid serving lots of salty, greasy or sweet food, which tend to make people thirsty. Serve foods rich in starch and protein- that stay in the stomach longer and slow down the absorption of alcohol in the bloodstream.

7. Designate party managers.  Remind managers that even at the office party, they may need to implement the company’s alcohol and substance abuse policy.

8. Arrange alternative transportation. Anticipate that some partygoers may drink too much to drive safely.  Make special transportation arrangements in advance (ie shuttles or taxis to public transportation). Encourage all employees to make use of this service.

9. Serve none for the road. Stop serving alcohol before the party officially ends.  Employers should review their policies regarding alcohol consumption and enforce these policies at all company celebrations.

 

16
Nov

PTSD in the Workplace

PTSD stands for post traumatic stress disorder. According to the National Center for PTSD, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur after a person has been through a traumatic event.  A traumatic event is something horrible and scary that one witnesses or is involved with.  During this type of event, the individual may think that his life or others’ lives are in danger.  He may feel afraid or feel that he has no control over what is happening.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, symptoms are grouped into three main categories.

1. Re-experiencing symptoms which include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Scary and recurring thoughts

2. Avoidance symptoms

  • Staying away from certain situations or places
  • Feeling emotionally numb, guilty or depressed

3. Hyperarousal symptoms

  • Easily starled
  • Feeling tense
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Angry outbursts

While many mililtary vets have PTSD, it can occur in non-military employees as well. They may have been in an accident, witnessed a fatality or serious injury at work, or been a victim of a natural disaster or war.  Due to the nature of the profession, PTSD tends to occur more in the medical field, fire fighters,  police officers, and the construction industry.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employees are not required to disclose a diagnosis of PTSD, however they are required to disclose their condition, if or when they need accomodation to perform the essential duties of the job.  PTSD can negatively impact memory, concentration, time management and organizational skills and more.

The Job Accomodation Network is a great resource that provides suggestions for employers to consider when accomodating employees.

While some employees have been diagnosed and are being treated for PTSD, others may not be aware they have it. If you are concerned about an employee who may be displaying or experiencing some of the above symptoms, it is a good idea to refer them to the EAP. If there are no performance issues, you can suggest they contact the EAP and emphasize that all contact with the EAP is confidential. If however, there are performance issues, you should refer the employee to the EAP for the performance problem and you can certainly share your concerns about the possiblity of PTSD or emotional issues with the EAP counselor who will conduct a thorough assessment.

If a traumatic event such as a sudden death, injury or serious accident occurs at work, you should contact the EAP about the possiblility of conducting a critical incident debriefing. Allowing employees the opportunity to discuss what they saw and their reactions to the event, can help them process their feelings and prevent PTSD.  The EAP also offers education about the symptoms of trauma and helps normalize their reactions to an abnormal event.

 

 

3
Nov

Critical Incident Debriefing

This week we were asked to conduct critical incident debriefings for two different companies, after both had an armed robbery in the same week. The event reminded me how important a message it is to employees that their employer cares enough to give them time and resources (the EAP counselor) to process their feelings about these traumatic events.
A critical incident can be defined as a situation beyond a person’s usual realm of experience that overwhlems his or her vulnerability and lack of control. This event can cause changes in a person’s emotional, behavioral and cognitive functioning. In general, most people feel that work is predictable and safe but when that sense of security is shattered by a violent act, serious accident or even a fatality, it can have a significant emotional impact on the lives of employees.

A critical incident debriefing allows individuals impacted by a critical incident to process their thoughts and feelings with others who have experienced the same thing. We remind individuals that their reactions are a NORMAL reaction to an ABNORMAL event. The critical incident debriefing also provides education about the signs of cognitive, behavioral and emotional symptoms commonly experienced after a traumatic event. The EAP counselor will also discuss self-care techniques and when to determine if professional help is necessary.
Some people have unresolved personal losses or traumas that can surface at the time of a critical incident which can make their reactions to the new event even more intense. The EAP counselor can also provide individual counseling if needed.  Allowing employees the opportunity to share their feelings and reactions in a confidential environment which is supported by the employer, can prevent individuals from experiencing post traumatic stress disorder and allows employees to feel validated, supported and loyal towards their employer.

Critical incident debriefing is an important part of the employee assistance program. The EAP counselor can help the employer determine if it is appropriate to conduct a debriefing or if other forms of intervention may be more beneficial.

25
Oct

Dealing With Breast Cancer at Work

A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying and overwhelming on many levels.  The employee must determine her medical benefits and treatment options as well as define how her treatment may affect her work.  It can be very difficult to share the news with one’s  boss and co-workers.  There is no correct way to disclose the diagnosis of breast cancer and it is important for employees to choose the way that feels best for them. Remember that while supervisors have a legal obligation not to disclose confidential employee information, co-workers do not.  Employees may wish to inform management first, while other times, they are the last to know. While telling co-workers is not necessary, they can be a source of support both emotionally and with personal assistance.  Some colleagues organize meal prepartion, asisstance with chores, fundraising or donating their sick days to the individual who has breast cancer.

Employers are required by Federal law to provide “reasonable accomodations” for anyone with a disability.  According to the Americans wth Disabilities Act (ADA) cancer qualifies as a disability when the disease or its effects of treatment hinder an individual’s “major life activities”.  These accomodations can vary greatly, depending upon a person’s need.  According to the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), examples of accomodations include:

  • Time off for physician appointments and to recover from treatment
  • Short breaks during the work day to recover
  • An altered work schedule
  • Temporarily assigning some job tasks to another employee
  • Changes to the workplace environment, such as temperature changes or workstation changes to insure comfort
  • A work-from home arangement

According to the EEOC, the word REASONABLE is key. Employees with breast cancer can’t make requests of their employer that would cause them “undue hardship”. The term “undue hardship” is different for every company. Smaller companies who have more difficulty operating without a key individual for a period of time and someone with unique or very specific skills who is not able to be at work regularly could pose a problem for some employers.  However, most employers are willing to provide accomodations as much as possible.

Under the ADA, cancer qualifies on a case by case basis.  The act protects individuals from losing their jobs due to disability and sets guidelines for employers regarding required accomodations.  The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also protects the jobs of people with a cancer diagnosis, however not everyone qualifies under FMLA.  An employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months prior to the FMLA request and have worked more than 1250 hours in that calendar year. In addition, employers who have fewer than 50 employees do not have to follow FMLA regulations.

Source: About.com

If you have an employee with breast cancer, it may be very helpful to ask her what she needs or wants. Does she want her colleagues to know? Does she want to take time or off or work reduced hours? What kind of accomodations does she need? As treatment progresses, she may have a better idea of how she feels or if she is responding to treatment. Employers need to be flexible with the plan whenever possible as the employee’s needs may change. The EAP can also be a great resource for the employee both by providing emotional support and brief counseling and also locating other resources to help her.

Sometimes an employee does not respond to treatment and the disease spreads or becomes very aggressive. Some employees choose to work until they are very ill, others do not. At this point, co-workers may be very upset about a friend and colleague’s deteriorating condition and may begin anticipatory grieving if she is terminally ill.  While it can be very helpful and healing to meet as a staff group to process feelings, employers should be careful how this is handled.  A group meeting could either be very helpful to the ill employee or perceived by her as inappropriate and make her very uncomfortable.  It may be helpful to consult with the employee assistance program about the best course of action depending upon the situation.  If an employee does pass away, the EAP can be very helfpful by assisting with a grief group and helping employees process their feelings in a confidential and safe environment.  The EAP can also help the employer reach out to the family and plan a memorial at work if desired and appropriate.

 

10
Oct

Six Bomb Proof Workplace Relationship Skills for Employees

Are you a master at managing workplace relationships so they become valuable resources rather than sources of irritation, frequent conflicts or personality clashes that derail a good day?

Practice the following six relationship skills and you’ll be a happier, healthier and more productive employee: investment skills, receptivity skills, connective skills, impression skills, empathy skills and repair skills.

1. Investment skills build up or nurture workplace relationships.  These can include telling others they did a good job, praising your co-workers, or including them in social events.

2. Receptivity skills include being a good listener; maintaining eye contact;asking for opinions;thanking coworkers for feedback;acknowledging that a co-worker helped save you time, energy, embarrassment, etc.

3. Connection skills include telling coworkers you appreciate them, encouraging coworkers, or hooring others; choices or deferring to that they want or would like to do.

4. Impression skills get you rememebered. They are positive behaviors others don’t particularly practice. These can include sending a hand written thank you note; taking the lead to a birthday; or sharing a skill or resource to elevate the effectivementss of a co-worker, even if you create your own competition.

5. Empathy skills include the ability to recognize others’ emotions and identify unmet needs- need for a break, need for recognition, need for validation, need to be heard, or even a need for a helping hand.

6. Repair skills include the willingness to discuss your relationship, cear the air or :check in” to address misunderstandings and obstacles that prevent feeling good about the relationship.

Source: Frontline Employee reprinted with permission

23
Sep

Employee Engagement and Retention

I attended an HR Roundtable sponsored by Resourcefulhr in Seattle today.  A group of HR professionals met to discuss challenges and ideas for enagaging and retaining employees.

The major topics that we discussed included:

  • Finding certain specialized talent in the high tech fields where the larger companies are able to entice employees with large salaries, benefits and the prestige of the big name corporations.
  • Retaining employees in companies where the hourly salary is very low due to economic constraints.
  • Engaging employees and keeping them loyal and happy.
  • Dealing with generational differences including things like social media, work ethic, expectations and more.
  • Work life balance.

Research has shown that unless the salary is very low, financial incentives are not always the way to reach the hearts and minds of employees.  Appreciation, acknowledgement, and recognition will go a long way towards keeping employees motivated to perform. A sense of belonging to the community in which they work, feeling valued and supported by their employer are important to keep employees loyal to. Low- cost benefits like health club membership discounts, wellness and worklife programs and employee assistance programs can be implemented for a great return on investment.

The members of the roundtable discussion offered some great ideas that worked for their workplaces. Some of these included:

  • Hosting a community garden which provided a place for employees to plant, tend, weed and water flowers and vegetables and then reap the rewards of the garden by picking flowers for the workplace or making a salad with the fresh picked vegetables.
  • A monthly theme such as wellness or “stress less”, where speakers, massage therapists and other professionals were brought in to assist with the theme and provide benefits for employees.
  • A “Rock Star” program where decorated rocks with positive sayings would be passed to deserving employees who were nominated for certain acts of kindness, good performance or when they were going through a tough time.
  • A book club meeting weekly to read and discuss books relevant to the workplace or personal interests.
  • Webinar trainings or onsite trainings on new technologies such as Linked in, Facebook and Twitter, for the older generations to help bridge the generational gap.
  • Social media policies to clarify the use and time spent on social media in the workplace.
  • Nominating employees for exceeding performance, helping others, etc and then entering the nomination into a monthly drawing for a prize.
  • Host meetings to listen and hear employee concerns and to solicit ideas for improvement, change, etc.

All of these are fabulous ideas for keeping employees engaged. We all know the cost of recruitng and retraining new employees, so we need to be sure we keep our current employees happy.

Do you have any other ideas to contribute to this list?  We would love to hear from you!