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Archive for category: Healthy Workplace

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Do You Listen to Music While You Work?

Music at work… a distraction or a helpful part of your working environment?  The following article care of Inc Magazine discusses the science behind how music affects the brain and provides insight into the best times to play some tunes, and the circumstances where a quiet environment is more beneficial.

Inc Magazine:  What Listening to Music at Work Does to Your Brain (It’s Pretty Amazing)

We want to hear from you… do you listen to music while you work?  And… do you find it helpful or distracting? 

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Protecting Client Confidentiality in Public: Laptops and Phones

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

My recent blog Confidentiality in a Coffee Shop:  Conducting Business in Private Places” highlighted the things professionals need to keep in mind when having private conversations in public spaces.  But the issue of privacy does not just include conversations that can be overheard.  It also includes using our electronics to carry out business anywhere where our screen could be visible to others. 

I was at two conferences recently where I was able to clearly see the work of others who were multi-tasking.  At one, a psychologist was sitting beside me and was editing reports with his computer on his lap.  His screen was fully visible. I could see everything he was doing including client names, claim or personal identifiers, and the written account of each individuals’ psychological assessment.  Of course, I had no business reading the material so I glanced away, but had I been interested, I could have clearly obtained information that was not meant for me, and information that a client did not consent for me to have.  In another conference example, a professional was sitting in front of me at another table.  She too was working on her laptop and I was able to see, even one table over, what she was doing.  She was not writing reports, but I did see her managing some personal financial material which I am sure she didn’t realize was visible.  As a close colleague, I reminded her at the break to be careful with her computer and what she was working on.

I am also often on the GO train venturing in and out of Toronto.  That is a hotbed of people working while they commute – on both their phones and their computers.  In my interest about this topic of privacy, I have noticed that some people have found ways to protect the privacy of their devices.  With some help from a trusted techy-friend, I wanted to provide some of these strategies to you, in case you are using your computer or phone to manage confidential or private information in public places:

APPS

On Andriod devices (sorry iPhone users) there are applications (apps) you can download that will put a filter on your device that allows you to only see the screen head-on, leaving those at different angles unable to clearly see your information.  Some of these helpful apps are:

EXTERNAL PRODUCTS

Products exist to put over computer monitors, laptop screens and phones that will distort the view from different angles.  For example, take a look at the complete line of privacy screen protectors from 3M3M offers an entire line of screen protectors that work on multiple devices and offer varying levels of protection.

The big picture is that the protection of privacy is everyone’s business, but this is especially true in health care.  Taking steps to conceal devices and screens is just as important as storing other confidential information properly.  The more portable our work-life becomes the more we need to safeguard the information we possess.

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What’s Your Love Language… And Why Does it Matter?

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

I have a few online Goddesses I follow.  Women entrepreneurs who have built an empire educating other women on how to be successful.  Much like my own blog, they are comfortable sharing their stories of success and failure and want others to benefit from the knowledge they have.

In watching my online videos I will occasionally stumble upon a gem.  A piece of knowledge, a book to read, a way of thinking, or an exercise that truly moves me forward.  I recently had one of those experiences.

The video, by my career-crush and woman with the best hair in the world Marie Forleo (www.marieforleo.com), was on ways to appreciate and be appreciated.  Be it your spouse, children, parents or colleagues at work, we all strive to be loved and appreciated by those that matter to us, and to demonstrate this in return.  Marie was suggesting that in work and life it is helpful to understand how people experience and interpret love and appreciation so the efforts you make towards them can truly have an impact.  While a bit unorthodox, her suggestion was to engage people in the test of their Love Language.  She mentioned that this really helped her and her team know how to work together and ultimately appreciate each other best.  So, I took the test.  And my husband took the test.  And my children.  And my team.  The results were fascinating and helpful.

In my own family, our languages are different.  Personally, I appreciate it most when people take things off my plate.  My mind is a web of things to do so one less thing to think about is hugely valuable and appreciated by me.  Be it “I grabbed the kitty litter, put that envelope in the mail, or will send that email” – it resonates and helps me feel loved.  And call me cold, but I don’t resonate with physical touch (recall MC Hammer “Can’t Touch This”).

My girls are all different.  While most of them ranked “quality time” as their # 1, some prefer “words of affirmation” and one “physical touch”.  Not surprising, my physical touch kid is the one that is always asking for hugs and snuggling up to me on the couch.  Of great interest to me was that the one whose highest score was “words of affirmation” is also the kid that has a really hard time with conversations about things she did wrong or ways she let us down.  That makes sense now as people with this love language “thrive on hearing kind and encouraging words” and can be “shattered by insults”.  While we would never intentionally insult her, indicating that her school work is sloppy will make her feel unloved.  Good to know.  After we took the test and talked about it as a family, I took all of our ratings and put these in a chart by the door where we come and go.  I wanted these to be in plain sight and a regular reminder that our Love Languages are different and this matters when we want or need to be loved and appreciated by one another.  In a chaotic family of 6, this understanding is essential.

So I then took this experience a step further.  I asked the very important women I work with to also take this test.  The results again were interesting.  While my business partner and I tend to use small gifts as a way to show them appreciation, none of them ranked this as important.  Most would rather have unsolicited compliments (“words of affirmation”) then a surprise Edible Arrangement.  Some also prefer “acts of service” or being given “quality time” to feel valued.  At work, we can easily implement appreciation actions by offering to help them complete a burdensome task, providing unsolicited compliments, or making sure they have our undivided attention when they need it.

I consider the masterpiece that is myself to be always “under construction” and as such, I am repeatedly interested in ways to be better, do better, and spread love.  Love does not need to be considered romantic and according to 5 Love Languages, can be cast over all we meet with through simple gestures, kind words, a pat on the back, a small token of appreciation, or by sparing some time from a packed schedule.  Take the test here and see how you interpret love and appreciation and share that knowledge with those around you.

 

Originally posted July 2015

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Is the Goal of Achieving Work-Life Balance Stressing You Out?

What is your impression of work-life balance? Is your goal to create this ‘balanced lifestyle’ actually increasing your stress level?  A lot of people find work-life balance a completely unrealistic goal that is impossible to achieve. Many find life demands are simply keeping them too busy to take time to relax.

As we have discussed before, stress can cause heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and immunity issues. Statistics Canada says that 1 in 4 adults reported high stress in 2013, and high stress means that your mental and physical health are declining.

The good news is that this is preventable. We simply need to change how we define “work-life balance” and create plans that will help reduce stress based on our individual situations.  The following video from our OT-V (Occupational Therapy Video) series will help shed light on how to create a healthy balance without increasing stress or guilt if this balance is not achieved every day. 


Remember Occupational therapists know the evidence behind de-stressing, and which activities give you the most bang for your buck when you’re low on time.  Contact an OT if you need help de-stressing and creating balance in your life. 

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Confidentiality in a Coffee Shop? Conducting Business in Non-Private Places

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

In many ways, the local coffee shop has become the new “mobile office”.  Grab a beverage and maybe food, the WiFi is free and available, and no one needs to pay rent or worry about booking a reservation.

I was grabbing a tea the other day and while in line there were two women at a table beside me having a meeting.  I got the sense that the one woman was providing a service to help the other woman find her birth parents.  Within minutes I knew where the one woman was born, her date of birth, birth name, the people that adopted her, date of her adoption, where she grew up, current address…probably enough information for identity theft (if I was into that), but definitely more than I needed or cared to know, and probably more than what this woman would want strangers to overhear.

I have a client that likes to meet in a coffee shop.  He prefers that to his house where he has family that can overhear our delicate conversations.  Before agreeing to meet him there I reminded him that confidentiality is difficult in a public place, and there is no guarantee that people won’t overhear or listen to our conversation.  We discussed alternatives, but in the end, he accepted the privacy risks and continues to request a public place as our meeting spot.

As health professionals we are, or should be, always cognizant of personal privacy and information protection.  We need to safeguard our clients from potential information breaches by keeping our paper and electronic records safe and secure, but by also being very aware of our surroundings and the likelihood of our services and conversations becoming public.  Even in hospitals where there are ward rooms and open treatment areas, busy hallways and nurses’ stations: privacy and confidentiality, while difficult to maintain at times in these public forums, must be maintained.

I recently had a medical appointment at a hospital.  I had forms that I needed to bring.  When I arrived, a volunteer took my forms and in the open waiting area began summarizing these with me.  I was quiet and asked her if our conversation needed to be public.  She was an older woman and seemed startled by my question.  But honestly, not only was I uncomfortable talking to a volunteer (who is not bound by the same privacy and confidentiality rules as health professionals) about my appointment, but my discomfort was heightened when she was reviewing my personal papers openly.

The risk of personal information and privacy breaches are significant.  The media is constantly sharing stories of our information being sold, hacked or otherwise being “gathered” for purposes we don’t often consent to.  I guess the most important thing to consider is that we are mindful and aware of the information we provide about ourselves, to whom we provide it, and the presence of others in these discussions.  A coffee shop might be a suitable place to conduct some business, but I would argue not all, and that anyone engaging in conversations in public places, health professionals or not, need to be mindful and aware of their surroundings.  Consent is key, and it is important to draw people’s awareness to the location and to ask them for their permission to have sensitive or otherwise private conversations in non-private locales.

 

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The Cognitive Job Demands Analysis: Your Brain at Work

Many employers know that a Physical Job Demands Analysis involves a health professional outlining the physical aspects of a specific job position.  These are common in manufacturing or production industries where jobs can be heavy, repetitive, or require high physical demands.  But these reports are seldom helpful if an employee suffers a brain injury, cognitive or emotional impairment and their return to work issues relate to cognitive or psychological changes and not necessarily physical impairment.

A Cognitive Job Demands Analysis is an objective evaluation of the specific cognitive, emotional and psychological skills required to perform the essential job duties of a given position. As mentioned, traditional Job Demands Analysis typically address only the physical components of the essential job duties.  Yet, jobs are multifaceted and performance at work depends on the interplay of human physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral and environmental factors.  As such, having a cognitive job demands analysis in conjunction with a physical job demands analysis is ideal, or these can be completed as a standalone assessment if required.

Cognitive job demands analyses can be helpful in providing a baseline measurement tool against which an individual’s cognitive and psychological capacities may be compared, such as when hiring new employees, developing and implementing training programs, or to assist in return to work post injury or illness. These comprehensive and detailed assessments can be utilized when any health condition (cognitive, physical, or emotional) impacts an employee’s thinking, cognition and/or their interpersonal processes and abilities.

Much like with a physical job demands analysis, a cognitive job demands analysis involves an on-site observation of a worker(s) completing the job in question and usually includes objective measurements, and sometimes interviews with employers and co-workers. Some of the more specific aspects examined include:

  • Hearing, vision and perception
  • Reading, writing and speech
  • Memory, attention, and higher level cognitive abilities, like problem solving, insight and judgement
  • Safety awareness
  • Work pace
  • Self-supervision
  • Deadlines and work pressure
  • Interpersonal skills required for the job
  • Self-regulation and the need to work independently, with supervision, or in a group

A comprehensive job demands analysis should include comparisons of the information obtained to standardized classification data related to occupations, such as those outlined by the National Occupational Classification 2011 proposed by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. After a report is generated, recommendations and interventions for consideration can be developed.

Do you feel that your organization has positions that need to be outlined via a cognitive job demands analysis? Do you have more questions on how a cognitive job demands analysis can be used in the return to work process? If so, seek out the services of an Occupational Therapist, or contact us for a free consultation.

For additional informative posts on workplace health and wellness please refer to our Healthy Workplace page.

Resources

Haruko Ha, D., Page, J.J., Wietlisbach, C.M. (2013). Work evaluations and work programs. In H. McHugh Pendleton and W. Schultz-Krohn (Eds.) Pedretti’s Occupational Therapy Practice Skills for Physical Dysfunction (337-380), St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier Mosby.

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The A to Z of OT: W is For… Workplace Wellbeing

There are many ways that Occupational Therapists promote wellness and wellbeing for those in the workplace.  From ergonomics to accessibility; injury prevention to return to work programs, OTs assist in the workplaces in many facets.  We are going to focus on an important way that Occupational Therapists can assist employees and employers at work – by improving mental health.  Learn more about how OT’s can provide essential information and assistance to enable the support of mental wellness at work in our OT-V video below, or in our post,  Promoting Mental Wellness at Work.

 

October is Occupational Therapy Month and to celebrate we will be sharing a new series called the A to Z of OT.  In our attempts to further educate the public about what Occupational Therapists do we will be highlighting twenty-six of the awesome ways OTs provide Solutions for Living.  

We encourage you to follow along and to add to the discussion by highlighting other awesome things OTs help with for each corresponding letter!

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The A to Z of OT: R is For… Return to Work

The process of returning an injured worker to their previous job or a modified position needs to be handled properly to reduce re-absenteeism and employer risk.  Getting the employee back to their previous job duties and regular hours is the goal, which is tackled carefully to reduce re-injury. Much like getting an injured athlete back in the game, return to work coordination involves an individual approach and is a thorough process to ensure the future success of the employee and company.

Learn how Occupational Therapists work with an injured worker and their place of employment in our post, Returning to Work After Illness or Injury:  OT Can Help!

 

October is Occupational Therapy Month and to celebrate we will be sharing a new series called the A to Z of OT.  In our attempts to further educate the public about what Occupational Therapists do we will be highlighting twenty-six of the awesome ways OTs provide Solutions for Living.  

We encourage you to follow along and to add to the discussion by highlighting other awesome things OTs help with for each corresponding letter!

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The A to Z of OT: J is For… Job Demands Analysis

A physical (and cognitive) demands analysis goes beyond the standard job description, as these typically only define the job to be performed in terms of duties and roles. In contrast, a physical and cognitive demands analysis digs deeper into the job and clearly outlines all the different demands that will be placed on that worker in that position.

Physical components such as lifting, carrying, walking, and fine motor skills, along with cognitive demands like visual and perceptual skills, attention, and memory are important to understand and document.  Then, when hiring workers, these reports serve as a reference point for ensuring the right hire, and are also essential in making solid decisions about someone’s ability to return to a job after injury or illness.

Learn more about Job Demands Analysis in our post, The Physical Demands Analysis – Risk Reduction for Employers, Employees and Physicians

 

October is Occupational Therapy Month and to celebrate we will be sharing a new series called the A to Z of OT.  In our attempts to further educate the public about what Occupational Therapists do we will be highlighting twenty-six of the awesome ways OTs provide Solutions for Living.  

We encourage you to follow along and to add to the discussion by highlighting other awesome things OTs help with for each corresponding letter!

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The A to Z of OT: E is For… Ergonomics

What is ergonomics?  Ergonomics is a catch-all phrase for the process of ensuring the body is in an appropriate position when completing daily tasks. Sitting, standing, bending, lifting – all these movements require the proper ergonomic position of the legs, spine, and arms to promote comfort and productivity, and to reduce the risk of physical injury.  Proper ergonomics is often most important at work, as this is where you spend the majority of your time.

Everyone deserves to be comfortable at work – from the front line staff to the CEO. When people are comfortable they are happier, more productive, feel valued and supported, and are less likely to leave work due to physical injury from poor office ergonomics.

Below is our informative video, Ergonomics at Work, showing how an Occupational Therapist can help in your office by keeping people at work, enhancing productivity, reducing costs, and promoting employee morale and satisfaction.

For more information check out our post, Workplace Ergonomics, Laws for Work.   You can also download our free e-book, Cost-Effective Ergonomic Solutions.

 

October is Occupational Therapy Month and to celebrate we will be sharing a new series called the A to Z of OT.  In our attempts to further educate the public about what Occupational Therapists do we will be highlighting twenty-six of the awesome ways OTs provide Solutions for Living.  

We encourage you to follow along with The A to Z of OT and to add to the discussion by highlighting other awesome things OTs help with for each corresponding letter!