Tag Archive for: HR Collaborative

Green and blue stage lighting against black background features the HR Collaborative logo. On the stage is a podium with a white front and showing the HR Collaborative's green and blue logo. The room is filled with round tables covered in a black tablecloth, and six people are seated at each table.

HR Collaborative Highlights Resilience at 2024 Conference

Nearly 170 North Dakota local government professionals attended the HR Collaborative’s April 17-18, 2024, biennial conference in Bismarck to learn about ongoing and emerging human resource trends. This year’s conference featured Platinum Sponsor NDPHIT, MetLife, and Brown & Brown and its ever-popular Building Your HR System Series led by Tanya Wieler, Dakota Dynamics Human Resources Consultant for Local Government.

“The HR Collaborative and the NDIRF are so thankful to those who attended and supported this year’s event, especially our Technical Assistance Committee who helped select the curriculum and manage the overall conference experience,” HR Collaborative Executive Director Joanna Drennen said.

The Technical Assistance committee is comprised of local government HR professionals and includes NDACo Professional Development Manager Alisha Adolf and Operations Director Genny Dienstmann; Williams County Administrator Helen Askim; Bismarck Parks and Recreation Administrative Services Manager Julie Fornshell; NDSBA Member and Marketing Specialist Taylor Lassiter; NDIRF Administrative Services Manager Nancy Reis; NDLC Member Services and Office Manager Carissa Richter; Dakota Dynamics Human Resources Consultant for Local Government Tanya Wieler; and consultant Kathy Hogan.

This year’s conference theme was Resilient HR, inspired by its opening keynote speaker Jackie M. Stebbins, lawyer, mother, wife, and autoimmune encephalitis (AE) survivor. Stebbins’s presentation walked attendees through her path of “SuRvive, Recover, and Rebuild” as she and her family navigated her AE diagnosis, a rare brain illness in which a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy brain cells. The illness, if not promptly diagnosed and treated, can cause irreversible destruction to a person’s brain and, in some cases, can be fatal.

Today, Stebbins lives in Bismarck and speaks across the nation about her AE diagnosis and recovery journey. She has penned a book about her experience called Unwillable: A Journey to Reclaim My Brain and writes frequent updates on her Unwillable blog available at www.JMStebbins.com/blog.

Stebbins’s presentation set the tone for the conference’s remaining presentations which included additional keynotes about how to strengthen wellbeing, resilience, and immunity from physical therapist and worksite wellness consultant Melanie Carvell, and the science of resilience by Tara Feil, PhD, Clinical Psychologist. Feil’s presentation reviewed current psychology and neuroscience research on resilience, providing attendees with strategies to further enhance their resilience in the face of adversity.

In between keynote presentations, attendees were given the option to attend one of two breakout tracks. One track offered courses about employee attraction and retention, implementing AI within a modern workplace, and de-escalating and defusing tense conversations and interactions, and the other track was Wieler’s Building Your HR System. In her four-session series, Wieler reviewed key HR functions and government public processes, recruitment/selection and compensation and benefits, employee and performance management, and seasonal and part-time employee management and onboarding.

“The HR Collaborative is so incredibly lucky Tanya returned to lead our Building Your HR System series,” Drennen said. “She works exclusively with North Dakota local government HR professionals every day, so her knowledge, insight, and experience are directly applicable to our attendees and provides tremendous educational value.”

As it has in the past, the conference concluded with its Keeping it Legal panel, which featured NDACo Executive Director Aaron Birst, NDSBA General Counsel Amy De Kok, and Vogel Law Firm Attorney KrisAnn Norby-Jahner.

A BONUS+ session was offered during the send-off lunch by Platinum Sponsor NDPHIT, MetLife, and Brown & Brown, featuring its Senior Vice President Randy Johnson who provided information about healthcare trends, employee benefit impacts, and strategies to enhance employee benefit engagement.

“Much of the feedback we’ve already received from this year’s event has been positive, and many attendees shared they are already looking forward to our next event,” Drennen said. “We’ve already started planning for the 2026 conference, and we hope to build on this momentum to make it even bigger and better for the benefit of our state’s local government HR professionals.”

Upcoming HR Collaborative Events

The HR Collaborative program, which as of January 2023 is managed by the NDIRF, is hosting a May 15 webinar on youth employment featuring Director of Operations for the Department of Labor and Human Rights Jessica Juma. For more information and to register, visit www.NDIRF.com>Events.

The program will also host its popular Six-Session Summer Virtual Series set to kick off in June 2025, and has already announced its next in-person conference April 23-24, 2026, in Bismarck.

To stay up-to-date on all things related to the HR Collaborative, visit www.NDIRF.com>HR Collaborative>Join Now to become a member. Membership is free and open to all North Dakota local government employees.

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:

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. 

HR Collaborative logo, featuring a teal "H" that swoops and fades into a green "R". Below the HR letters is Collaborative in teal.

Save the Date for the HR Collaborative’s Biennial Conference, April 17-18

Mark your calendar for the HR Collaborative for Local Government’s Biennial Conference, happening April 17-18, 2024, at the Bismarck Hotel (Bismarck, N.D.)! This conference is designed to support local government employees who perform human resource-related functions within your entity, including HR professionals, supervisors, and those interested in employee management and growth. All local government employees are welcome to attend.

This year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Jackie Stebbins, lawyer, mother, wife, and autoimmune encephalitis survivor, who will kick it off with a powerful message about resilience.

Led by subject-matter experts, the conference’s breakout sessions will discuss emerging and trending human resource management topics, including mental health, attracting workforce, employee retention, AI and more! This conference will also include our popular Building Your HR System series to help you refresh your knowledge on public processes and human resource management topics.

 New! HR Collaborative Web Page

Learn more about the HR Collaborative on our new home at www.NDIRF.com>HR Collaborative!

Further conference details, including registration and cost, will be shared on this web page. Conference registration will open Feb. 1.

If you have any questions regarding our upcoming conference, please reach out the HR Collaborative at HRCollab@ndirf.com.

We look forward to seeing you April 17-18, 2024, in Bismarck!

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.

Tag Archive for: HR Collaborative

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