Occupational Wellness

Occupational workplace wellnessOccupational Wellness

Because people spend so much time at work, occupational wellness is a particularly important component of overall well-being.  It includes job satisfaction, the ability to use one’s talents and skills at work, and ambitions for professional growth and change.  People with good occupational wellness find their work rewarding, have good relationships with co-workers, and find positive ways to handle workplace stress, all while also finding a good work-life balance. 

Occupational Wellness Resources

What Will Work-Life Balance Look Like After the Pandemic?
From Harvard Business Review – During this COVID-19 pandemic, employers are seeing that workers can’t function well without accommodation for their family responsibilities. Will that lesson last after the crisis is over? There have been many calls for restructuring how work is done, including making more room for our families and questioning the real value of the eight-hour (or more) workday. Now is a time for companies to step back and reexamine which traditional ways of working exist because of convention, not necessity. We have an opportunity to emerge from this crisis with both healthier employees and better performing organizations.

Options for Telework-Eligible Employees with Caregiving Responsibilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic
U.S. Office for Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have received numerous questions regarding the circumstances faced by telework-eligible employees who have care-giving responsibilities due to closure of schools and/or unavailability of care providers as a result of locally-directed precautions for COVID-19. This page discusses options available to agencies dealing with employees in these circumstances. For example, agencies are encouraged to establish flexible work schedules that provide expanded zones of time during which employees may perform telework to facilitate the performance of work despite care-giving responsibilities. 

5 Ways to Support Remote Workers with Disabilities
From Viscari Center.org – Workers with disabilities have been advocating for opportunities to work remotely for years. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic, many employers are being forced to think about how to ensure all of their employees, including individuals with disabilities, have the support they need to succeed in a virtual workforce. This article offers five tips to help you support your employees with disabilities who are working remotely.

Let Employees Know They Aren’t Alone
From Total Wellness Health.com – There’s no doubt that Coronavirus is stressful. From unexpected layoffs to heightened anxiety about avoiding public places, research shows individuals everywhere are mentally on edge. For those already dealing with mental illness, Coronavirus has likely amplified emotions and set off triggers. That’s why connecting employees with the right resources, offering support, and encouraging self-care during this time is essential.

Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – The interim guidance may help prevent workplace exposures to COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings. To prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace, use only the guidance described on the site to determine risk of COVID-19 infection. Employers should plan to respond in a flexible way and be prepared to refine their business response plans as needed. 

COVID-19 Has My Teams Working Remotely: A Guide for Leaders
From Gallup – The coronavirus has turned the world into a work from home global office.  Without much preparation, managers have had to learn how to coach employees remotely. The key to success include the following:
– Individualization – The best managers have always individualized their coaching to the worker, but doing so at a distance requires greater intentionality.
– Setting expectations early and clearly – About half of all U.S. employees — remote or not — don’t know what’s expected of them at work. That’s a bad beginning, and it’ll get worse for employees working from home without good guidance.
– Communication – Employees who are accustomed to working on-site may feel cut off from the resources, information or relationships they need to do their jobs well. Managers will need to plan for more conference calls, and be sure to add time for socializing.

Don’t Micromanage During the Coronavirus
With the workplace in turmoil amid the coronavirus pandemic, company leaders may feel the urge to over-manage telecommuting staffers. The message from management experts? Resist the urge to hover virtually.

Employee Mental Health During and After COVID-19: 2020 State of Workplace Empathy Study Reveals Leaders Must Act
Increased focus on mental well-being was an important workplace issue even before the pandemic, but it’s now front and center as our entire workforce deals with unprecedented pressures on our health, finances, and more, all of which can impact mental health. Businessolver’s fifth-annual State of Workplace Empathy Study reveals that employees, CEOs, and HR professionals alike continue to place significant value on supporting mental health and they believe employers need to take action to improve overall employee well-being. Despite that agreement, only 69% of employees believe that all levels of their company are empathetic towards employee mental health. The need for increased understanding between all coworkers, added resources from employers, and more visibility of existing programming is clearer and more urgent than ever. 

Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 (pdf)
From US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration – This guide is intended for planning purposes. Employers and workers should use this planning guidance to help identify risk levels in workplace settings and to determine any appropriate control measures to implement.

Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans With Disabilities Act [PDF version]
From the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – Guidance that can help employers implement strategies to navigate the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace. This pandemic publication, written during the prior H1N1 outbreak, is still relevant today and identifies established ADA and Rehabilitation Act principles to answer questions frequently asked about the workplace during a pandemic. It was updated on March 19, 2020 to address examples and information regarding COVID-19; the new information appears in bold. The EEOC’s materials only address COVID-19 as it impacts the anti-discrimination laws enforced by the EEOC.

What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Updates – Includes FAQ on topics such as employers administering COVID-19 tests, confidentiality, pandemic-related harassment, etc.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Discrimination by Type
Learn about the various types of discrimination prohibited by the laws enforced by EEOC. Site also provides links to the relevant laws, regulations and policy guidance, as well as fact sheets, Q&As, best practices, and other information.

Your Home Office and Your Health
From Very Well – If you’re working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a good chance that you were not fully prepared to move your entire office and workspace to your house. Spending a few hours properly assessing your workspace and setting up an ergonomic home office may be necessary to keep you happy—and healthy.

Taking Care of Us: Inreach for Library Staff
Recorded webinar (approx. 75 minutes) sponsored by National Network of Libraries of Medicine
Stressed out? Notice you are taking more sick days than usual or have less enthusiasm or energy than normal? Whether you are knotted up over work, personal issues, climate change, or politics, it seems like there are plenty of reasons to feel overwhelmed. Library director, yoga teacher, and physical literacy researcher, Jenn Carson, teaches you how to de-stress at your desk, maintain proper posture, avoid injury, and regulate your emotions through breathing, stretching, and other techniques. Participants will learn an easy self-care routine that will help to reduce stress at work and leave you feeling recharged instead of drained.

Microaggressions and How to Fight Them

8 Tips for Fighting Back Against Microaggressions

 Wellness Strategies for Those Experiencing Microaggressions Plus Workplace Stress recorded webinar – Session held April 30, 2019

People from diverse social identity groups frequently experience microaggressions — verbal and non-verbal messages that are invalidating or demeaning. These could be experienced in addition to workplace stress. Situations like these can take their toll on a person’s emotional, psychological, and physical health, as well as decrease workplace engagement. Navigating microaggressions and workplace stress means being able to identify and name the experience, having the words and skills to call attention to these, and having strategies to achieve wellness for those experiencing them.  In this webinar,  two librarians and a counselor educator shared strategies for personal responses by individuals, allies and up-standers, and discussed ways to change workplace culture.

Work-Life Balance Fact Sheet 
A nice general overview from the Canandian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, with links to other, question-and-answer fact sheets

LibraryWorklife Newsletter Archive of Articles on Work-Life Balance
A publication of the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA), LibraryWorklife is a monthly electronic publication about issues that concern all library workers.

Work Life Balance Toolkit
Created by the National Health Service of Wales, this is a resource for goal setting and provides suggestions for relaxation, managing stress, and creating more balance in your health and work life.  (PDF Document)

The Greater Good Science Center
Based at the University of California, Berkeley the GGSC studies different aspects of well-being. At their site, you can find educational resources, study information, videos, and podcasts on general well being and work-life balance.

Worksite Health Scorecard
A tool for assessing workplace implementation of science-based health promotion and protection interventions related to a variety of health problems like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.  Designed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Total Worker Health Webinars
A series of archived webinars on a variety of topics like Advancing Working Family Well Being, Sedentary Work, and Workplace Stress. Created by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Quality of Worklife Questionnaire
A survey you can use for workplace wellness assessment at your own workplace.  Designed to help study longitudinal changes, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) selected 76 questions dealing with a wide assortment of work organization issues. These include (but are not limited to) hours of work, workload, worker autonomy, layoffs and job security, job satisfaction/stress, and worker well-being.

Drug-free Workplace Toolkit from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
This toolkit can be used to support drug-free workplace policies and programs and includes information on assessing your workplace, developing policies, providing education and support for employees, and more.

Workplace Wellness Pathfinder
Start researching better workplace wellness with this tool created by former ALA President Loriene Roy’s Workplace Wellness Task Force.

Workplace Wellness Inventory
Use this form to assess workplace wellness and perceptions of workplace wellness at your library. (PDF document)

Library Workplace Wellness Surveys
In 2007-2008 the ALA-APA surveyed library workers on their thoughts and attitudes concerning work-life balance issues and workplace wellness initiatives in libraries.  These are the summaries discussing the results and the conclusions drawn from them.

LibraryWorklife Newsletter
A publication of the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA), LibraryWorklife is a monthly electronic publication about issues that concern all library workers, including wellness-related issues like work-life balance, career advancement, salaries, etc.

Recommended Reading

Occupational Workplace Wellness book recommendation

Dealing with Difficult People in the Library by Mark Willis (2012)

In this second edition of this book, Mark Willis shares strategies for managing problems posed by patrons and staff.