Service Animals in the Workplace

Service Animals in the Workplace

In 2020, many people with disabilities use the emotional and physical support provided by a service animal. This means that the workplace has seen an increase of these service animals over the last decade and therefore the workforce needs to be educated on this changing environment. Let’s take a look at what constitutes a service animal and the accommodation of such in the workplace.
Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides a framework of protections for people with disabilities in the workplace. Title I of the ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against potential candidates and employees with disabilities. In fact, Title I outlines that the workplace must make “reasonable accommodations” for this specific group of people. “Examples of reasonable accommodations include making existing facilities accessible; job restructuring; part-time or modified work schedules; acquiring or modifying equipment; changing tests, training materials, or policies; and providing qualified readers or interpreters.”
“Service Animals” Definition
According to the Department of Justice’s revised Title III of the ADA, a service animal is now defined under Title III as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability.” Currently, a “service animal” can also include another species of helper: a trained miniature horse. Of course, there are limitations to what a workplace can accommodate in terms of miniature horses and the employer would make those limitations known if approached with the need of a person with a horse as their assistant.
Accommodation Requests & Documentation
When an accommodation is requested on behalf of a disabled candidate or employee, the employer must consider the request. However, the employer is simply required to assess and suggest options for the reasonable accommodation for the employee. Some examples of job accommodations may include installing a ramp or modifying the layout of a workstation. Technology accommodations may be providing sign language interpreters at events or providing screen reader software. The ADA does not specifically address or require the inclusion of service animals in the workplace. So, if the employer has a no-animals-in-the-workplace policy and is asked to allow a service animal for an employee, the employer must consider modifying this policy but is not required to modify it. A “reasonable accommodation” for an employee does not always equal their “preferred accommodation.”
As for documentation for service animals in the workplace, the ADA does allow for an employer to request medical documentation for the need for the disabled person to need this accommodation. It also allows for the employer to request proof from the employee that the service animal is appropriately trained to assist them and that it is trained to not disrupt the workplace under normal conditions. It is worth noting that an “emotional support animal” is NOT classified as a “service animal” by the ADA unless it can perform a specific task, such as sense when an anxiety attack is about to happen in the case of someone with PTSD and the animal helps avoid or lesson that attack.
Conclusion
Every workplace should have written policies on reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. Of course, there is no way to include all possibilities and so the policies can include the language of consideration of requests on a case-by-case basis. The key to this policy is that those who are in charge of assessing accommodation requests must be willing to truly consider the accommodation of service animals.
Resources
Need help? Check out these resources on workplace accommodations for those with disabilities:
Office of Disability Employment Policy
FAQ about Service Animals and the ADA
Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion
Job Accommodation Network

Top 5 Learning Metrics to Watch

Top 5 Learning Metrics to Watch

How much job training equates to time wasted:  About 20%, according to one LinkedIn study.  That’s the percentage of learners who never apply their training to their job.  That same study says 67% of learners apply the lessons learned, but in the end, revert to previous habits.  Another study found 45% of training content is never applied.
For HR professionals designing or monitoring the Return on Investment of training programs, those are disturbing statistics, especially when you consider the decrease in productivity this causes and the cost of wasted money.
So, how do you mitigate or address the issue?
Learning Metrics
Gone is the day leaders make learning strategy decisions via gut and intuition.  Arrived is the day leaders look at learning data and statistics to make decisions and provide evidence for an action.
There was a time when the only metrics requested from learning and development officials were the number of people taking part in the training and the cost involved.  In other words:  basic effectiveness and efficiency.
As with everything, however, learning and development has evolved.  It’s now a business critical change agent.  It’s not enough, though, to measure inputs, the number of courses, and attendance.  Learning and development must look at the output and outcomes.
“We’re in the process of trying to become a learning organization, and to become a learning organization you have to be nimble.  You have to have a culture of leaders as teachers.  You have to have a culture of recognizing those things that contribute, and actually those things what lead to success,” Brad Samargya said.  Samargya is the Chief Learning Officer for mobile phone maker Ericsson.
All of the descriptions Samargya is using refer back to the content, specifically how it is delivered and is it of substance.  When both pieces are in concert, HR professionals should see an increase in quality around the metrics gathered.
Delivery
First, let’s focus on delivery.
Samantha Hammock is the Chief Learning Officer for American Express.  Her company employs a learning management system as part of their learning process.  Hammock says measurement is the company’s biggest need.
“If we’re going to mandate training, we had better be robust in tracking and reporting. Is the experience getting better, is the knowledge increasing. We have put it thru workforce analytics to slice and dice some of those metrics,” Hammock said.
Of course, learning management systems are not the only way to deliver learning.  Mobile learning for instance, makes content available on smartphones, tablets, and other devices.  Not only is the content accessible anywhere, but anytime.  Video learning is similar in that the content is available in the ever-popular YouTube format.  Gamification, or education by gaming, again delivers learning in a form much for attractive than your regular classroom format, and micro-learning, or the strategy of delivering learning content over a short amount of time.
None of those work without one specific ingredient, however:  the content.  Providing relevant content is key to a good learning strategy, good metrics, and  to ensure your learners are engaged and continue to come back for more.
The modern employee is distracted, overwhelmed and has little time to spare. Catering content to their needs is not only important – it’s critical.
The content presented to employees must be applicable and timely to help them with their daily duties, expand their mind, and provide them with quick takeaways that can immediately be applied.
Metrics to Watch
There are a handful of metrics derived for HR professionals to analyze.

  1. Completion rates – This metric is important because it indicates the level of learner engagement, motivation and participation. Low completion rates indicate employees aren’t investing in the material or how it relates to their jobs.  High completion rates show employees are invested.
  2. Performance and Progress – This particular metric is split into two categories: the individual and the group.  For the individual, metrics will give you a detailed look at how the employee is doing with the learning.  For the group, the metric will include the details around specific trends.  For instance, how the group is progressing through the material.  Both individual metrics and group metrics allow for the tracking of course effectiveness and engagement.
  3. Satisfaction and approval – This metric gives HR professionals some indication of how the employee or employees feel about the content. The is a powerful metric because it allows HR or learning managers to adjust current content or, if need be, create better content based on the needs of the employee.
  4. Instructor and manager ratings – This metric may not always be applicable as, in some cases, material is not presented by an instructor or manager but through a technology interface of some sort. If that is not the case, this will indicate how learners feel about the instructor or manager.  It can also be directly linked to the reason an employee or group of employees are not learning at the level expected.
  5. Competency and proficiency – Competency and proficiency metrics show HR professionals if employees have the knowledge and skills to achieve a desired outcome. If not, this metric allows for learning managers to adjust the material accordingly.  It also allows from some insight into an employee or group’s currently proficiency.

In summation
The challenges facing HR professionals when using analytics to transform the learning and development program are connected.  Before companies can actually engage with the transformation, data has to be present.  Whether it is realized or not, companies do have learning data available.  What may not exist is the ability to evaluate that data.
Data provides invaluable insight into the future learning opportunities of a company’s workforce.  Now, more than ever before, HR professionals have a real opportunity to do what all leaders and C-suite members want to do:  predict the future.  By leveraging and understanding the data generated by learning programs, HR professionals can better evaluate the content and their effectiveness.  It can lead to better outcomes both developmentally for the employee and financially for the employer.
By Mason Stevenson
Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

Celebrate the Season Safely

As the holiday season approaches, the economy is humming along, unemployment is low, and companies are enjoying the fruits of corporate tax breaks. Time to celebrate? Not so fast, according to the 2018 Holiday Party Survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas. The survey found that just 65 percent of companies are holding holiday festivities this year, the lowest rate since the 2009 recession.
While in 2009, holiday parties were skipped for financial reasons, the 2018 causes are more complex. Andrew Challenger, VP of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, speculates that the two biggest factors are #MeToo and an increase in the number of remote employees.
If your company is among those celebrating the holiday season this year, what can you do to avoid liability from sexual harassment, alcohol consumption, and other categories of risk?

Risk: Harassment Allegations

  • Communicate behavior expectations to employees ahead of time. Consider using this language to set standards of conduct. You may even choose to redistribute your sexual harassment policy. Be sure to emphasize that all employee policies apply at the party, even if it is off-site or after work hours. Racial or sexual jokes, inappropriate gag gifts, gossiping about office relationships, and unwelcome touching will not be permitted during the holiday party, just as they are not allowed in the office.
  • Do not allow employees to get away with bad behavior. Remind your supervisors to set a good example and keep an eye out for employee behavior that needs managing at the event.
  • Follow up immediately on allegations of inappropriate behavior and conduct a thorough investigation of the facts, even if the alleged victim does not file a complaint and you only hear about the behavior through the grapevine. If corrective action is warranted, apply it promptly.
  • Invite significant others or families. Employee behavior tends to improve at company events when spouses or partners and children are present. If your budget allows, include the entire family in the celebration. Be sure to review your liability coverage with your broker first.
  • Avoid incidents related to relaxed inhibitions by following the tips for reducing alcohol-related risks (see below).

Risk: Alcohol-Related Incidents

  • Take steps to limit alcohol consumption. If alcohol will be served, provide plenty of food rich in carbohydrates and protein to slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. You can also have a cash bar, limit the number of drink tickets, or close the bar early to deter over-consumption. Also have a good selection of nonalcoholic beverages or a tasty signature “mocktail” available. Make sure water glasses are refilled frequently.
  • Get bartenders on board. If you have underage workers or invite children of employees, be sure that servers ask for ID from anyone who looks under age 30. Ask servers to cut off anyone who appears to be intoxicated.
  • Make sure employees get home safely. Offer incentives to employees who volunteer to be designated drivers, offer to pay for ride shares or taxis, or arrange group transportation or accommodations. Planning for safe transportation can potentially minimize your liability if an employee causes an accident while driving under the influence.
  • Do not serve alcohol if your party is at the office and your policies do not permit drinking on company premises or during work hours. Deter employees from an informal after-party at a bar or restaurant where the alcohol could flow.

Risk: Workers’ Compensation Claims

  • Keep the party voluntary and social. Typically, workers’ compensation does not apply if the injury is “incurred in the pursuit of an activity, the major purpose of which is social or recreational.” If the carrier determines that the company party was truly voluntary and not related to work, you may not be liable for injuries sustained at the party.
  • Go offsite. Hosting your holiday party at an offsite location is a smart idea. Your employees will be thankful for the change in setting, and this could reduce insurance liabilities for your company, especially when it comes to third-party alcohol and injury policies.
  • Check with your broker before the party. Review your insurance policies and party plans to make sure you do everything you can to avoid risk and know how to handle any incidents that result from the party.

Risk: Perceptions of Unfairness

  • Determine how to handle pay issues in advance of the party. You’re not required to pay employees who voluntarily attend a party after hours. However, nonexempt employees need to be compensated if they are working the party or if attendance is mandatory. If the party is held during regular work hours, then all employees must be paid for attending the party.
  • Decide in advance whether and how to include remote employees, independent contractors, temporary employees, or agency workers. Be consistent in sending invitations, and if a category of workers will not be invited to the party, consider other ways to reward them for their hard work throughout the year, such as gifts.
  • Do not penalize employees who choose not to attend. The message may be misinterpreted and could create employee relations concerns. Be considerate of those who do not attend the event due to religious beliefs, sobriety, mental health issues, family obligations, child care conflicts, or any other reasons. Avoid religious symbols or themes as they could offend individuals of different faiths.

by Rachel Sobel
Originally posted on ThinkHR.com

Be the Boss You Want to See in the World

Be the Boss You Want to See in the World

An article in the Harvard Business Review suggests that the traits that make someone become a leader aren’t always the ones that make someone an effective leader. Instead, efficacy can be traced to ethicality. Here are a few tips to be an ethical leader.


Humility tops charisma
A little charisma goes a long way. Too much and a leader risks being seen as self-absorbed. Instead, focus on the good of the group, not just sounding good.

Hold steady
Proving reliable and dependable matters. Showing that—yes—the boss follows the rules, too, earns the trust and respect of the people who work for you.

Don’t be the fun boss
It’s tempting to want to be well liked. But showing responsibility and professionalism is better for the health of the team—and your reputation.

Don’t forget to do
Analysis and careful consideration is always appreciated. But at the top you also have to make the call, and make sure it’s not just about the bottom line.

Keep it up!
Once you get comfortable in your leadership role, you may get too comfortable. Seek feedback and stay vigilant.

A company that highlights what happens when leaders aren’t the ones to champion ethics is presented in Human Resource Executive. Theranos had a very public rise and fall, and the author of the article cites the critical role compliance and ethics metrics might have played in pushing for better accountability. The article also makes the case for the powerful role of HR professionals in helping guide more impactful ethics conversations.

One high profile case study of a company recognizing that leadership needed to do more is Uber. Here, leadership realized that fast growth was leading to a crumbling culture. A piece in Yahoo! Sports shows how explosive growth can mean less time to mature as a company. Instead of focusing of partnerships with customers and drivers, Uber became myopically customer-and growth-focused. This led to frustrations for drivers and ultimately a class-action lawsuit. New initiatives, from tipping to phone support to a driver being able to select riders that will get them closer to home, have been rolled out in recent months. These changes have been welcome, but, as the leadership reflected, could have been more proactively implemented to everyone’s benefit. The mindset of bringing people along will also potentially help Uber maintain better ties with municipalities, which ultimately, is good for growth.

Harvard Business Review Don’t Try to Be the Fun Boss” — and Other Lessons in Ethical Leadership

Yahoo! Sports – How Uber is recovering from a ‘moral breaking point’

Human Resource Executive – An Ethics Lesson
by Bill Olson

Originally posted on ubabenefits.com

Making a Remote Team Work

In a tight labor market, a candidate’s potential commute can make a job more or less attractive. HumanResources reports that a quarter of employees surveyed had left a job because of the commute. When looking at just Millennials, the number jumps to one third. Employees can be choosy, selecting a job that offers more of what they want, and that means less of a commute. Companies can work around this by offering transportation amenities, flexible scheduling or more remote working opportunities.

 Forbes has a recent interview with Tamara Littleton, founder of The Social Element, who’s successfully built a remote team at the social media management agency. She argues culture starts at the top. By treating people well, which includes offering remote opportunities, it sets a tone for the whole company. Creating opportunities for in-person meetings and gatherings balance any isolation that may happen. Then, more regular face-to-face communication, essential to build trust and teamwork, comes via video calls when email might otherwise be the default. Newsletters and webinars keep the team connected and ensure important messages aren’t missed. She can point to the success of her ideas with the hire of many senior team members, willing to sacrifice some pay for more flexibility. 

When implementing remote-friendly strategies, there are plenty of success stories to draw inspiration. Entrepreneur has some tips from Zapier, a company that has been on the forefront of offering alternative working arrangements. In fact, they offer a “de-location” package to encourage employees to move from the cost-prohibitive Bay Area. Tools like Slack facilitate real-time communication, with tools to find ideal meeting times across time zones and channels themed for non-work related conversations. Bots regularly and randomly pair up employees to get a chance to know one another during a brief call. A semi-regular retreat brings people together in person and impromptu video dance parties make slow days more fun.

The takeaway? Being proactive and creative to build remote work policies can get you the employees you want, wherever they may be.

HumanResources
Travelling to and fro office may drive your employees to quit
https://www.humanresourcesonline.net/travelling-to-and-fro-office-may-drive-your-employees-to-quit/

Forbes
How To Build A Culture Of Trust In A Large Remote Team
https://www.forbes.com/sites/brettonputter/2018/10/04/how-to-build-a-culture-of-trust-in-a-large-remote-team/#5d4e5d23188c

Entrepreneur
This Company Hosts Virtual Dance Parties to Help Its 170 Remote Employees Feel Connected
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/320411
by Bill Olson

Originally posted on ubabenefits.com

Ask the Experts: Service Dogs and the ADA

Question: We have a new employee in our call center who has a service dog. She came to her interview and trained without the dog, but is now asking if she can bring her dog to work. Do we have to accommodate her request?
Answer: The first step will be to determine whether the dog is a trained “service animal” as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or is an “emotional support animal.” A “service animal” is one that has been individually trained to work or perform specific tasks for an individual with a disability. The animal must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with the disability. Allowing an employee’s trained service animal is a form of reasonable accommodation.
However, pets used for emotional support are not considered service animals under the ADA as they are not trained to perform a specific task. Although some states and some local governments allow individuals to have emotional support animals in public places, the same may not hold true for allowing such animals in places of employment. You will need to contact your local government agency to see if such laws exist. If not, you may set a policy that prohibits pets in the workplace except for ADA-defined service animals.
Employers are limited on what they can ask an employee when it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal. Employers may only ask:

  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

In addition, employers are not permitted to ask for documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate the task, or inquire as to the nature of the disability. The ADA does not require that trained service animals wear certain vests or collars indicating that they are service animals. Further, the ADA does not require the service animals to have a certificate of training.
Opening a dialogue with your employee about her need for the dog will provide you with guidance as to whether you need to allow her dog to remain with her at work. If another employee notifies you that he or she is allergic to dogs or dog dander, you may notify the employee with the service animal that due to the allergies of another employee, you cannot accommodate her request. However, you must engage in the interactive process with the employee with the service animal to consider other accommodations that would allow the dog to be with the employee.
Check with the Job Accommodation Network for resources to guide you in accommodating employees with service animals. If you do allow this employee to have her dog with her at work, remind her that she is responsible to ensure that her dog is always under her control and does not create a disruption to the work environment.

Originally posted on thinkhr.com