Managing Stress

On my life stress inventory test I scored a 112 which means that I currently have a relatively low number of changes in my life which indicates a low susceptibility to a stress-induced health breakdown. 1 On the Coping & Stress Management Skills Test, I scored a 58, which indicates that I use problem-focused coping. According to Problem-Focused Coping by Science Direct “Problem-focused coping refers to efforts to alter the stressful situation itself. For instance, the stress and anxiety of an upcoming test can be minimized by studying for the test, thus eliminating the stress-inducing power of the test.” 2 However, this type of behavior tends to be when the stressor is controllable but ineffective in situations that can’t be changed or controlled. Lastly, my type A Personality Test results score was 46 which means I am impatient and irritable. These results say that my interactions with others are generally warm and tolerable but can sometimes be impatient and hostile. 1 

Problem-focused coping refers to efforts to alter the stressful situation itself. “

I learned that I need to work on managing my stress and learn how to control the things that upset me, especially at work when dealing with hostile patients. Patients often start yelling and can become abusive and this causes me to have hypertension and tachycardia. According to the CDC “Four of the 10 most costly health conditions for US employers—angina pectoris (chest pain), high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart attack—are related to heart disease and stroke.” 3 To mitigate these health conditions, programs such as the Workplace Health Promotion Program and Workplace Health Model have been implemented to support employee health.  

References:

  1. Psychology Today. 2021. Retrieved from: Type A Personality Test (psychologytoday.com)
  2. Franklin M. Zaromb, … Richard D. Roberts. Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology, Science Direct. 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/psychology/problem-focused-coping
  3. CDC. Workplace Health Promotion. How CDC Supports a Healthy, Competitive Workforce. 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/workplace-health.htm#:~:text=Four%20of%20the%2010%20most%20costly%20health%20conditions,health%20risk%2C%20ranking%20above%20physical%20inactivity%20and%20obesity.

Employment and Compensation

Several years ago I was working in the banking industry and became dissatisfied with my work. I spoke to my direct manager about this, but because I had not been in this position for a minimum of a year, I was not able to apply for other internal positions. I felt trapped in a job that I was unhappy with so I started to look for employment elsewhere. I recall I applied for a Caregiver position at Providence. The job description was vague, so I didn’t necessarily know what the work would entail. I was invited to participate in a phone interview where I learned more about the position, pay and benefits. A question that was asked was how comfortable I felt having to clean up after elder folks. This included bathing, cleaning them, and changing their undergarments that may have feces. The starting pay for this position was around $12.38. I was stunned to find about how significantly low the job paid for the work required. Accepting this position would mean I would be taking a pay cut of about $5-$6. My current job was fairly simple, it was a desk job where I had to perform collection-like work for past due accounts. This was a drastic change from the type of work I was doing. I didn’t feel that the type of work required was satisfied by the pay they were offering. I declined to move any further in the job application process because I did not want to lose the pay that I had earned through raises and promotions with my employer at that time. The compensation was significantly lower than what I was already getting paid, so I know that I would not have been satisfied here either.

Correcting Implicit Bias

I chose to take the Race Implicit Association Test which indicated that I have a slight preference for European Americans over African Americans. I was surprised by the results because I don’t feel more or less affection towards any race. This tests measures associations between concepts and finds that people respond quicker to items that share the same button that are more closely related to their mind. I am clearly participating in implicit bias because my mind is making connotations based on certain words presented on the test that are based on inaccurate information or stereotypes. This is concerning because according to the Kirwan Institute For the Study of Race and Ethnicity I could be making decisions that impact others due to my perceptions. 1 Implicit bias could impact the reliability or validity of a selection process because I could choose to hire someone with a European American background because I associate the word good more closely to them than with someone with an African American background. This mentality creates a barrier to any African American applying for employment because they are automatically disadvantaged and less preferred due to implicit bias.

Individuals can only work to correct for sources of bias that they are aware exist

According to the National Center for States court, the first step to prevent implicit bias is to know that they exist. “Individuals can only work to correct for sources of bias that they are aware exist.” 2 However, this isn’t enough to correct implicit bias, one must also seek training on implicit bias and participate in group exercises for experiential learning techniques. Another great way to counter implicit bias is to articulate your reasoning process, this can be done by writing your opinion so that others can understand your decision and thought process.

References

  1. Implicit Bias Module Series. Kirwan Institute For the Study of Race and Ethincity. The Ohio State University. 2018. Retrieved from: https://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/implicit-bias-training
  2. National Center for State Courts. Helping Courts Address Implicit Bias. Strategies to Reduce the Influence of Implicit Bias. 2012. Retrieved from: http://horsley.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/IB_Strategies_033012.pdf

Training Effectiveness

When I first started working at Kaiser Permanente as a Patient Access Specialist I was sent to attend a one day orientation to learn about the organization and it’s culture. Additionally, I had to go through a six week training. The training was conducted in a class setting and there were a total of 15 new hires attending. At the end of each lecture we completed a quiz on what we learned that day. Following the six weeks of training there was a final exam to test our learning and ability to perform the job. To pass we had to earn a score of 90% or higher, or you would be terminated for not passing since this meant you wouldn’t be able to perform the job. This was intimidating as there was no re-test option available. Concluding the exam, everyone passed well above the 90% goal. We all felt that we were highly prepared since the class was engaging and we did plenty of hands on work on a training environment system. We were able to practice the tasks we were learning immediately, so this helped solidify our learning. We also did on the job training where we could observe another representative working and ask questions.

On the contrary, now as a seasoned employee I no longer receive this type of hands on training, hence why sometimes errors occur. My training and updates are given by email and an occasional video. Many times after watching a training video I am not able to practice the task immediately because it won’t be implemented for several more weeks. This causes me to forget what I’ve learned and makes for ineffective training.

Ineffective Interviewing

I recently applied for a position at a hospital and was sent an email invitation for a phone interview. The phone interview was conducted by the Clinic Manager and the Director of the unit. They asked me several questions about my experience in the clinical setting and why I wanted to leave my current employer. After the interview concluded, the Director said she would be on vacation the upcoming week, so that I should expect to hear something from them that following week. A month went by when I remembered that I hadn’t heard back from them, so I figured that they must have selected a different candidate. A couple of days later, I received an email from the Clinic Manager asking for me to participate in a video panel interview. Immediately, I was disappointed that they had taken this long to reach back out to me after was expecting to hear back from them in a week. After thinking things through, I decided to withdraw from the position, so I replied to the email thanking them for their time and consideration; however, I never received a response.

Having to wait a month to hear back about the position made me feel that I wasn’t a valued candidate for the position or their organization. If I could provide advice to these interviewers on how to improve the effectiveness of their interviews, I would advise them to reach out to their candidates promptly. Additionally, if they are unsure of which candidate to hire or move forward on the interview process they can use selection measures such as predictive validity to measure applicants on an attribute they are looking for. This will aid them in their hiring decision and process.

Job Description Analysis

In my experience, job descriptions are usually generalized with a list of tasks that an employee may or may not need to do. I’ve worked jobs that said in the job description “must be able to lift 50+ lbs”, and while working there I never actually had to lift or carry anything. My conclusion to this is that employers or human resources prefer to add something to a job description than not, in the case that someone may need to perform said task. Reasons for this could be to cover their own end in case an employee objects to doing something because it is “not in their job description.” In reality, job descriptions should be carefully written and analyzed routinely as Job Worth Doing: Update Descriptions says “updating job descriptions should be an ongoing process anytime something significant changes.” They recommend that a job description be updated at minimum yearly; however, growing organizations may need to do this more often. Other good practices are to update them when doing employee performance reviews or when hiring for a position.

“Updating job descriptions should be an ongoing process anytime something significant changes.”

Job worth doing: update descriptions

Some challenges with developing and maintaining job descriptions are that often the person writing it or someone in human resources has never performed the role and may not know exactly what the job entails. To overcome this challenge, it may be helpful to observe an incumbent since they will be a good source of information about what they do in their role. Additionally, their supervisor should be able to provide details about the importance of the job that can be outlined in the job description.

Some challenges due to not having a job description are, that employees will be unaware of what their responsibilities at work truly are. Moreover, managers will have a hard time hiring if they don’t have a guide and are unsure which skills a candidate needs to make their hiring decision.

Reference

Tyler, Kathryn. Job Worth Doing: Update Descriptions. The basic job description is the foundation of nearly every HR function. SHRM Better Workplaces Better World. 2013. Retrieved from: https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/Pages/0113-job-descriptions.aspx

Best Companies to Work For

The companies that stood out to me the most from the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list are Cisco, American Express, and Veteran’s United Home Loans. First, the employees at Cisco say “I am given complete autonomy to do what’s best and if I need help, I have a strong support system. I love working for Cisco and hope to continue for a very long time. I also love the diversity in the executive leadership, which is unique.” It seems that at Cisco human Resources is doing a great job in managing diversity and making sure that people know that they matter. Additionally, they are allowing their employees to do what they do best. This highlights one of the key aspects of First, Break All The Rules and the Gallup question “At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?”

“I am given complete autonomy to do what’s best and if I need help, I have a strong support system. I love working for Cisco and hope to continue for a very long time. I also love the diversity in the executive leadership, which is unique.”

At American Express employees say “Incredible work life balance and respect for family. Birthing parents get 7 months leave; non-birthing 5. New mothers are empowered to put their families first.” Here employees cherish the work-life balance provided which makes them feel valued in their workplace and helps promote a positive organizational culture.

Lastly, at Veteran’s United Home Loans employees said “We are given a great deal of freedom to work and enjoy time with others. We are trusted and treated as adults. This freedom leads to a better work ethic.” Employees here are empowered and have a leadership team that doesn’t micromanage them.

Some of the functional Human Resources practices that these companies use are compensation and rewards to help motivate, reward, and retain employees. They also have good managers which result in a productive work environment.

The kind of manager I’d like to be is a fair one who listens to her employees, motivates them, and helps them succeed. The aspects of a manager that I feel are the most challenging are trying to please every employee when they request changes to policies or processes. A lot of times these things are beyond a manager’s control and can take a long time to implement these changes. This can frustrate employees and make them feel that their manager doesn’t care or isn’t doing anything about their concerns. Therefore, communication is another key aspect of being a good manager.

References

  1. Great Place to Work. Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.greatplacetowork.com/best-workplaces/100-best/2020
  2. Buckingham, M. & Coffman C. First Break All The Rules, What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently. 1999.