Top 5 January 2024 Completed LocalGovU Courses

Want to know what other North Dakota local governments learned about this past January? Check out the January top 5 most frequently completed LocalGovU courses below:

*Course names and descriptions by LocalGovU (accessed Feb. 20, 2024, from www.LocalGovU.com/NDIRF)

1. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

In previous eras, people often became caught in an “either/or” situation because employers were not always cooperative when individuals needed time for personal matters. Employees ran the risk of losing their jobs and benefits if they made the choice of putting their family first. Fortunately, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to take the time they need to handle life events. We will go over the FMLA in detail to help you understand the basic provisions and how the FMLA can benefit you.

2. Successful Customer Interactions

There is a strong correlation between customer satisfaction and the success of a business or department. Welcoming customers means working to create satisfied customers from the inside-out. When local government creates satisfied customers, we create empowered and informed citizens. In this course, learners will discover how to interact as co-workers and service providers. We will also cover understanding the customer goal and how to create goals that will lead to successful customer interactions.

3. Defensive Driving Basics (Tied)

This course will dive into the basics of defensive driving, including its definition, purpose, and importance, as well as the factors that play an important role from the driver’s perspective. We will also discuss the equipment and judgment necessary for driving safely, as well as review the types of impairment that should be avoided to increase driver safety.

3. Advanced Defensive Driving Techniques (Tied)

This course concentrates primarily on advanced defensive driving techniques. You will be given instruction on how to drive defensively in adverse conditions including heavy rain, snow, and ice. We will further discuss how to share the roadways with other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

4. Anti-Harassment in the Workplace (Tied)

Harassment in the workplace is a serious issue that requires a thorough understanding to promote awareness and ultimately prevention. Improper behavior in the workplace may have significant consequences for those involved, for yourself as an employee, and your employer. Recognizing the various types of harassment will help you to identify potential warning signs and take the necessary steps to report harassment.

4. Ethical Behavior for Local Government (Tied)

In this course, we will define ethical behavior, provide examples of work situations where a thorough understanding of workplace ethics may be applied, and ways in which you can determine if your decisions and behavior are meeting the appropriate standards.

5. Discipline and Termination (Tied)

In every organization, employees are let go for various reasons. The decision to discipline or even terminate an employee is not one that should be taken lightly, and there is a right and wrong way to approach the situation. In this course, learners will explore ways to appropriately address issues before termination is necessary, be able to terminate employees confidently if discipline fails, and for employees to understand the need for a disciplinary process and the rules and expectations that inform them.

5. Interviewing Skills for Managers: Conducting an Interview (Tied)

This course is designed to provide managers with the knowledge and skills to recruit and onboard the right talent. Behavioral interviewing is a proven hiring technique that will allow you to hire candidates who have the necessary skills to perform at the highest level on a job. This technique has a higher percentage than traditional interviewing processes for predicting the future of job candidates.

If your entity is interested in learning how the NDIRF’s LocalGovU online training platform can support employee training initiatives, reach out to our Director of Member Services Corey Olson at Corey.Olson@ndirf.com. LocalGovU is offered free to NDIRF members.

Register today to start your LocalGovU professional development journey at www.NDIRF.com>Member Benefits>Online Training.

Recording, Slides from Feb. 7 The Essential Functions of a Job Description Webinar

Thank you for attending the NDIRF-sponsored webinar The Essential Functions of a Job Description hosted by the North Dakota Association of Counties and presented by Attorney Brian D. Schmidt of Smith Porsborg Schweigert Armstrong Moldenhauer & Smith.

To view this webinar’s recording, go here: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/jjca86zb7bvg90ay6t3rk/Identifying_Essential_Functions_Job_2024.mp4?rlkey=3ugsdbu1g3tv9ah8rev8dt91n&dl=0.

To view this webinar’s presentation slides, go here:
https://www.ndirf.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/20240207_PResentation-Slides_The-Essential-Functions-of-a-Job-Description.pdf.

Here is a summary of this webinar:

Accurate and complete documentation of employee performance is vital to support your employment decisions. An updated, accurate, and thorough job description explaining the essential functions of a job is the first step to ensuring your employee documentation will withstand scrutiny. Clearly conveyed expectations will likely lead to a better workplace and can also be an employer’s best defense against a wrongful termination lawsuit. This session will address why clear communication about job expectations and performance will not only save you from headaches in day-to-day operations, but also may be your best friend if your political subdivision is sued. 

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2023 Top 10 LocalGovU Courses

Giving your political subdivision’s employees opportunities to grow their professional knowledge and further hone their skills is “can significantly enhance employee buy-in. In fact, studies indicate that 94% of employees are more likely to stay with an organization that offers professional development pathways” (Goodbread, J., Five Strategies for Driving Employee Engagement, www.Forbes.com, accessed 3 Jan. 2024).

Whether you have an existing internal training program or you’re looking for a place to start, the NDIRF’s online training platform LocalGovU can help! LocalGovU gives you access to thousands of online local government training courses for every department within your political subdivision – from HR and professional development to road maintenance and equipment safety, and even POST certified law enforcement courses.

Any of your political subdivision’s employees can access these courses at no cost through your entity’s NDIRF membership. Registration takes only a few minutes, and you can even set up a curriculum specific to your employees’ needs, complete with automated email reminders. Think “set it and forget it!”

Join the North Dakota political subdivisions today who are already using LocalGovU to provide their employees with self-paced, online training courses that feature the latest information and industry trends.

To demonstrate the variety of courses LocalGovU offers, check out the top 10 courses NDIRF members completed in 2023:

*Course summaries provided by LocalGovU (www.ndirf.localgovu.com, accessed Jan. 3, 2024).

  1. Workplace Bullying
    When we think of bullying, we immediately associate it with the school yard, certainly not something we face as an adult. Unfortunately, bullying in the workplace occurs more often than you think. In fact, there are various forms of bullying, from overt forms to those which are quite passive. Workplace bullying may have significant consequences for those involved, for yourself as an employee as well as your employer. A thorough understanding of workplace bullying will help promote awareness and ultimately prevention.
  2. Defensive Driving Basics
    This course will dive into the basics of defensive driving, including its definition, purpose, and importance, as well as the factors that play an important role from the driver’s perspective. We will also discuss the equipment and judgment necessary for driving safely, as well as review the types of impairment that should be avoided to increase driver safety.
  3. Advanced Defensive Driving Techniques
    This course concentrates primarily on advanced defensive driving techniques. You will be given instruction on how to drive defensively in adverse conditions including heavy rain, snow, and ice. We will further discuss how to share the roadways with other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.
  4. Anti-Harassment in the Workplace
    Harassment in the workplace is a serious issue that requires a thorough understanding to promote awareness and ultimately prevention. Improper behavior in the workplace may have significant consequences for those involved, for yourself as an employee, and your employer. Recognizing the various types of harassment will help you to identify potential warning signs and take the necessary steps to report harassment.
  5. Ethical Behavior for Local Government
    In this course, we will define ethical behavior, provide examples of work situations where a thorough understanding of workplace ethics may be applied, and ways in which you can determine if your decisions and behavior are meeting the appropriate standards.
  6. De-Escalation and Minimizing Use of Force
    In this course, students will learn to identify techniques for de-escalation, plan for minimizing use of force, explain the importance of training officers for these encounters and, lastly, apply these strategies to de-escalate volatile situations. Students will be better equipped mentally to make the critical decisions under stress necessary to de-escalate crisis situations and to minimize the force used when use of force becomes necessary.
  7. Successful Customer Interactions
    There is a strong correlation between customer satisfaction and the success of a business or department. Welcoming customers means working to create satisfied customers from the inside-out. When local government creates satisfied customers, we create empowered and informed citizens. In this course, learners will discover how to interact as co-workers and service providers. We will also cover understanding the customer goal and how to create goals that will lead to successful customer interactions.
  8. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
    In previous eras, people often became caught in an “either/or” situation because employers were not always cooperative when individuals needed time for personal matters. Employees ran the risk of losing their jobs and benefits if they made the choice of putting their family first. Fortunately, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to take the time they need to handle life events. We will go over the FMLA in detail to help you understand the basic provisions and how the FMLA can benefit you.
  9. Children and Law Enforcement
    The abuse, disappearance, or loss of a child is hard, not only for the family but also on the officer involved in the case. This one-hour training block will touch on tools and resources available to law enforcement in the event of a child related crime as well as the importance of helping officers involved in a case where the death of a child has occurred.
  10. Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
    Improper behavior in the workplace may have significant consequences both for yourself and your employer. If you are a victim of sexual harassment, this may create a hostile work environment which takes a toll on your career, your personal life, and your health. Recognizing what sexual harassment is, both the subtle cues as well as the overt advances, will help you to identify potential warning signs and take the necessary steps to report sexual harassment.

Contact Director of Member Services Corey Olson at Corey.Olson@ndirf.com or (701) 751-9107 or visit www.NDIRF.com>Member Benefits>Online Training to learn more about LocalGovU and get started today!

Three circles lined up. The first red circle shows a sad face, the middle yellow circle shows a neutral face, and the last blue circle shows a happy face.

How to Support Workplace Mental Health

Workplace stress is a common phenomenon that can have a significant impact on an individual’s well-being and productivity. According to the American Psychological Association’s Work in American Survey: Workplaces as Engines of Psychological Health & Wellbeing, “77% of U.S. workers reported stress at work in [November 2023], with 57% reporting negative health effects as a result” (US Workplace Stress at All Time High, Survey Says, www.InsuranceJournal.com, accessed 3 Jan. 2024).

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes workplace stress can “make it more difficult for workers to get their tasks done; threaten their productivity, happiness, and well-being; and lead to burnout (www.OSHA.gov, accessed 3 Jan. 2024). Your entity can support its employees’ mental health by finding “ways to alleviate or remove stressors in the workplace to the greatest extent possible, build coping and resiliency supports, and ensure that people who need help know where to turn” (www.OSHA.gov, accessed 3 Jan. 2024).

On its website, OSHA also shares examples of employers’ approaches to help reduce workplace stress and highlight mental health supports within the workplace, including:

The six following examples were originally published on www.OSHA.gov, accessed 4 Jan. 2024.

  • Promote self-care, mindfulness, and general mental well-being. Organizations are implementing strategies to educate workers about self-care and mindfulness activities to help them cope with stress. Employers and supervisors are encouraged to engage their workers to determine what strategies may be most supportive in their workplace. Examples include:
    • Providing access to mobile apps that aim to build emotional resilience and improve sleep habits.
    • Offering “Mindful Moment” meditation sessions for workers multiple times a week or full web-based meditation or yoga classes.
    • Identifying internal staff who can lead self-care activities for the entire company (e.g., weekly, virtual, guided meditation sessions).
    • Implementing structured wellness challenges centered on self-care activities to encourage employees to engage in wellness activities.
    • Hosting virtual yoga classes or virtual workouts.
    • Supporting mental health awareness campaigns.
    • Providing information on Employee Assistance Programs.
  • Support an attitude of gratitude. It is important to make a concerted effort to be positive, identify and praise workers’ achievements, and encourage staff to look for the good that still exists around them. For example, consider launching an “attitude of gratitude” challenge that focuses on the positive, or an employee recognition program to highlight workers (via social media, articles, and live Webcasts) who have taken action to support each other or their broader communities. Keeping it simple, creating a virtual gratitude board for workers to share what they are grateful for can be beneficial.
  • Promote a culture of safety and health in the workplace. To promote compliance, top leadership and managers within the company should lead by example and consistently reinforce safety practices and look for opportunities to get workers involved. Employers can alleviate concerns by ensuring that workers are supplied with necessary protective gear and implementing other protective measures that will keep them safe and healthy, at no cost to workers.
  • Educate workers about the organization’s existing safety precautions and ask for their feedback. The absence of information can cause worries to fester. To prevent this, employers should communicate with their workers regularly in a language they understand to explain what protection measures they have implemented to protect them. More importantly, employers should then ask their workers for feedback on those measures to determine if more can be done to make them feel safe, such as implementing new procedures or helping to enforce protective measures among co-workers and customers. OSHA has created a sample list of questions that employers can use to gauge their workers’ perception of existing protective measures. With this feedback in hand, employers can either implement additional protective measures to reduce workers’ concerns, or at least explain why a certain course of action has been taken.
  • Regularly provide safety and health training that includes a focus on mental health and ask for worker feedback. Education and training are important tools for informing workers and managers about workplace hazards and controls so they can work more safely and be more productive. Employers should ensure mental health and workplace stress are included in trainings. Trainings should always be done in the language the workers understand. Employers should underscore their business model succeeds when workers stay healthy and finish the day and go home safely. Workers feel trusted when employers ask them for ideas or improvements and follow-up on suggestions. When possible, provide them time during work hours, if necessary, to research solutions.
  • Protect workers from workplace violence. Conflict is stressful, both when it occurs and when workers anticipate that it might. Employers must find ways to help de-escalate and prepare for these stressful situations, such as having workers approach non-complying customers in teams of two; training them on threat recognition, conflict resolution, and nonviolent responses; and providing backup support in the form or managers, security, or law enforcement. See OSHA’s workplace violence webpage for additional resource here: www.OSHA.gov/workplace-violence.

An additional idea is to highlight your entity’s employee assistance program (EAP) available through your health insurance provider or other organization. Regular EAP communication helps to ensure the program’s availability is top-of-mind for your entity’s employees and that information about the program is easy to access. For example, one North Dakota government entity makes its EAP provider information highly accessibly by placing business card-sized materials throughout its buildings, allowing employees to discreetly pick one up if they’re interested in obtaining EAP services.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to support workplace mental health at your entity, visit www.OSHA.gov/workplace-stress.

A pink piggy bank holding a car key sits on the hood of a blue car

Mileage Rate Increase Effective Jan. 1, 2024

The following article was published Dec. 14, 2023, on the IRS’s website here: IRS issues standard mileage rates for 2024; mileage rate increases to 67 cents a mile, up 1.5 cents from 2023 | Internal Revenue Service.

IRS issues standard mileage rates for 2024; mileage rate increases to 67 cents a mile, up 1.5 cents from 2023

IR-2023-239, Dec. 14, 2023

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2024 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2024, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 67 cents per mile driven for business use, up 1.5 cents from 2023.
  • 21 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes for qualified active-duty members of the Armed Forces, a decrease of 1 cent from 2023.
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations; the rate is set by statute and remains unchanged from 2023.

These rates apply to electric and hybrid-electric automobiles as well as gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles.

To continue reading this article, visit the IRS website here: IRS issues standard mileage rates for 2024; mileage rate increases to 67 cents a mile, up 1.5 cents from 2023 | Internal Revenue Service.

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