Commentary: Taking Care of Yourself When Your Job Involves Taking Care of Others

Editor’s Note: This commentary originally appeared in the December 2020 Frontline Supervisor Newsletter published by the Washington State Employee Assistance Program. Cindy Guertin-Anderson, assistant director for workforce support and development shares she personal experience about how easy it can be to neglect taking care of yourself during emergencies like this pandemic.

Message from Cindy Guertin-Anderson, Asst. Director, Workforce Support and Development

Hello leaders! Over the last pandemic-burdened months, the EAP has provided you with encouragement and advice on how to take care of the employees you serve. Certainly, that’s critical. But here’s the other critical thing that you might be ignoring as outside pressures mount: Are YOU okay? When the EAP recently sent out an invitation for post-election support, a friend at another agency forwarded the email to me with the simple question: “But who supports the supporters? Hope you are hanging in there!” I answered jokingly to send an emergency supply of chocolate…but it’s a serious question, and I’m passing along that helpful question to you: Who or what is sustaining you? Are you, managers and HR professionals in your role as supporters, getting your own needs met?

At a recent state HR managers’ meeting, a participant raised the topic of compassion fatigue. And a litany of responses came into the chat—offers reaching out to chat 1:1, talk of creating a support group to process and debrief together with folks who understand what it’s like to be in their positions, desire for a space to refuel and connect together on their humanity. I’ve heard several people say that during team check-ins everyone else says they are doing just fine, “so I say I’m fine too…even though I’m not.” I’m in meetings with leaders who seem to be holding it all together perfectly well, but then I see a glimpse of their exhaustion, their despair. I see many of you—managers, leaders, human resource professionals—both going beyond the call of duty to lead in an ongoing crisis, but also beleaguered. Resilient yes, yet in some moments exhausted and with little or nothing left to give. I believe both can be true at the same time.

I received a letter from my doctor’s office reminding me that I was past due for my annual checkup. And it occurred to me that somehow amidst a pandemic that’s forcing us not to be out socializing, I had also neglected to go to the dentist (despite a minor toothache), neglected to get my eyes checked (despite the fact that I can no longer make out subtitles on my TV screen), and even neglected to keep up with my yoga practice at home (despite that year I spent in yoga teacher training). While I was busy creating wellness messages for the state workforce and trying to lead from a place of compassion, I wasn’t walking the talk. And so a few weeks later I found myself sitting in my doctor’s office for a wellness check. Her simple question, “How’s it going?” brought an unexpected cascade of tears. In other spaces I’ve been responding to that question with my standard, “Pretty well, all things considered,” but somehow in that moment I let my defenses down and I crumpled. I was not okay. I felt lonely and weary. She listened with kindness, told me what I was feeling was normal and expected, and recommended that I do something about it. What she recommended were obvious things, the things I preach but haven’t practiced. I found a counselor. I reached out to a colleague to talk. I made those neglected appointments.

My hunch is that many of you reading this are in a similar situation. You may be working overtime making sure your agency mission is achieved, while neglecting even the most basic of self-care. It’s not that you don’t know what you need to do to care for yourself; it’s just that it can feel overwhelming or exhausting to muster the energy to do it. Laura van Dernoot Lipsky in her 2018 book The Age of Overwhelm, says “Let us aspire to not allow overwhelm in the midst of suffering to leave us feeling powerless. There is always something we can do….It is never too late to start a new practice, merging the reality of insight about who you are—with an understanding of all you’ve got going on—with awareness of the choices you can make to help you sustain for the long haul. Do something. Every day.”

If you resonate with some of what I’ve shared so far, here’s a nudge for a few concrete actions you can take to combat compassion fatigue (either spend 15 minutes now, or find a 15 minute timeslot on your calendar this week and make an appointment to do the following):

  1. Think of a peer or colleague who might be in a similar hard spot right now, maybe someone at a different agency, and send them an email asking how they are managing these days. Invite them to meet for a virtual coffee break to chat. The person you reach out to probably needs connection just as much as you do.
  2. Grab a scrap of paper and jot down 3 things you did well in the past week, no matter how trivial. Read it aloud. Notice what happens to your mind and body when you acknowledge successes.
  3. Send a note of gratitude to someone—it can be the briefest of emails or a Skype chat—just to say “I was thinking of you and wanted to tell you that I’m glad you are in my life” or “Thanks for all you do – I feel lucky to work with you.”

And if no one has said it to you recently, I’ll end with this. Thank you for all you have done to support employees in the past 9 months. You are doing a great job. You need and deserve support too. What choice will you make today to sustain for the long haul?

PS: If you missed the October State HR Lunch and Learn on Workplace Resilience featuring Dr. Kira Mauseth from the WA DOH Behavioral Health Strike Team, give it listen. It’s well worth the hour.

Resource: Webinar: How to Build Resilience When Your Job Involves Helping Others in Crisis The EAP has an upcoming webinar from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday Dec. 7. You can register here or visit the EAP website for on-demand recordings of this webinar topic.

ICSEW is Recruiting a New Executive Chair

ICSEW logo

The ICSEW is recruiting for a new executive chair.

As executive chair of the ICSEW, you will have the opportunity to use your leadership skills to guide a dynamic committee made up of diverse state employees.

Responsibilities include presiding over general membership and executive board meetings, communicate recommendations to the governor, appoint positions to the ICSEW executive board, serve a designated spokesperson for ICSEW in public forums and provide other duties as needed.

The ICSEW’s mission is to better the lives of state employees by advising the governor and agencies on polices that affect state-employed women. Its vision is enriching lives through advocacy, outreach and opportunity. The major focus of the ICSEW to identify and advocate issues faced by state-employed women. As chair, you will be supporting the work of eight subcommittees that work on projects related to the ICSEW values of wellbeing, advocacy, leadership, integrity, fostering growth and empowerment.

How to Apply

The position of ICSEW executive chair is appointed by the governor. The term will begin in January of 2021. The executive chair serves at the pleasure of the governor, and does not have a term limit.

To apply for the executive chair position, you must complete the online application.  Applications are due by close of business Dec. 21.

People of all backgrounds and levels of experience are encouraged to apply. Support and training will be provided.

Applicants must be ICSEW representatives or alternate representatives in good standing. 

Difficult Conversations

Photo by Pixabay on

How to Respectfully Decline Invitations to Group Gatherings

This week Gov. Jay Inslee announced new month-long lockdown restrictions due to a rapid uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Health officials are recommending residents celebrate Thanksgiving with immediate household members only. But how do you have the difficult conversation when you have to decline invitations for get-togethers? The Washington State Department of Health offers some tips.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared on the DOH’s Medium blog.

Difficult conversations. This week, we released the latest… | by Washington State Department of Health | Public Health Connection | Nov, 2020 | Medium

This week, we released the latest statewide situation report (PDF) on COVID-19 transmission. It shows that COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across Washington. Both the number of people who get COVID-19 and the number of people who need to be hospitalized for it have increased across the state.

Increasing spread of COVID-19 makes planning for the holidays difficult. No one wants to risk getting people they love sick. If you will be seeing extended family members or friends in person for Thanksgiving, make it safer by staying home now. For the next two weeks until Thanksgiving, essentially quarantine yourself and leave your house only for the most essential reasons. And ask your family to do the same to protect you.

Difficult conversations. This week, we released the latest… | by Washington State Department of Health | Public Health Connection | Nov, 2020 | Medium

Even with these precautions, an indoor, in-person gathering is risky. It’s completely reasonable — and safer — to decide to celebrate Thanksgiving with just your immediate household this year. Making that decision is hard, and it can be even harder to tell your family what you have decided!

But during COVID-19, saying “no” to some events can be an act of caring, especially if our loved ones are at high risk of getting very sick.

So, how can you say “no” to an event or get-together in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings? Try these tips:

Be clear

Saying no effectively starts with just that — saying no. A simple, direct “no” is the best way to make yourself understood and closes the door for negotiations.

Offer alternatives

Ask if there is another way to connect with the person who invites you to a gathering. Acknowledge you really want to see them but want to keep everyone safe. “I wish we could get together, but I don’t want to do anything to risk you or my family/myself getting sick.” Maybe start planning an opportunity to see each other when the weather lets us be outside.

Be honest

Excuses are tempting, but they can easily backfire when your convenient excuse is met with an equally convenient solution. For example, telling someone you can’t go to an event because you don’t have anyone to watch your children leaves the door open for them to invite your kids as well.

Don’t feel pressured to keep the conversation going

Your “no” is enough. If you get pushed for more reasons or are accused of being unkind or selfish, you aren’t obligated to reply. It’s ok to say something like “I’m sorry you’re upset, but this is my decision and I need you to respect it” — and leave it at that.

For more questions, answers and tips on how to share celebrations safely in the coming months, check out our Safer Gatherings website.

Practice compassion

One of the best gifts you can give your family and friends during the coming months is to not make them feel guilty about saying “no” to an invitation. We all need to make the best decisions we can for ourselves and for our families this year. Accepting those decisions with a simple “I understand — hope we can do it next year!” makes it easier on everyone.

More information

Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday — Friday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday — Sunday. Language assistance is available.

Please note that this call center cannot access COVID-19 testing results. For testing inquiries or results, please contact your health care provider.

News from the Latino Leadership Network

latino leadership network logo

Editor’s note: The information contained here was originally provided by the Latino Leadership Network’s Nov. 10 update.

Latinos Broke Ballot Box Expectations

Political pundits and others wondered how Latinos could have possibly voted for Trump. National Public Radio’s Audie Cornish spoke with Julio Ricardo Varela, of the In the Thick podcast, about Latino voter turnout this year in which Varela shared insightful observations about Latino voters.
Listen or read the news report  

Professional Development: Join frank dialogue about race and racial disparities

November 18 | 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Cost: $59 | Details & registration

The People’s Gathering, a dialogue-based event series focusing in-depth on the topic of race, will include a keynote speech from Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

The People’s Gathering is a professional and personal development learning experience that provides a supportive space for participants to engage in frank and open dialogue about race and racial disparities systemically present in work, school, and everyday life. Speakers and facilitators invited to participate include local and national leaders from indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Black, Hispanic, and Latino communities. 

This fall’s virtual convening is in anticipation of the impact of the upcoming U.S. presidential election, COVID-19, and recognizing that this will be an important time to be organized in conversation as a community. Regardless of the election outcome, this is a supportive space to talk, listen, and heal” said Melannie Denise Cunningham, director of multicultural outreach and engagement, and producer for the event for Pacific Lutheran University.

First time: Seattle TED Talks online and free

Event promotphotoSaturday, Nov. 21 | 9 a.m.
Details & registration TEDxSeattle 2020: Other Sides will feature thought-provoking new ideas from a diverse array of speakers and visionaries, including neuroscientists, cultural experts, architects and more as they challenge you to rethink the other side. Don’t expect the same Zoom panels you’re used to from conferences in 2020, this event will present you with angles you haven’t seen and perspectives you haven’t heard.

Take time to recognize the first Americans

Thursday, Nov. 19 | 3-4 p.m.
Link to join the meeting

In recognition of Indigenous Heritage Month, join a live WebEx presentation that will feature three compelling speakers who will share their lived experiences:

  • Terri Butler – “Journey to Me”
  • Janet Gone – “My Story”
  • K’Ehleyr McNulty – “We Have Always Been Here”

The event will also feature an educational segment of history and current issues about missing and murdered indigenous women and the history of the Skokomish Tribe. 

Note: There is no preregistration. The link above allows you to join the event once it begins. 

How to snuff that work-from-home burnout

stock photoMonday, Dec. 14 | 1-3 p.m.
Cost: $49 | Details & registration Are you feeling burnout at work, at home, or both? If so, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, stress levels in American workers are at an all-time high. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Sponsored by the Interagency Committee of State Employed Women (ICSEW) this workshop will explore burnout– what causes it, how to prevent it, and how to overcome it. You will leave with a personalized toolkit to prevent and overcome burnout and help others do the same. Due to limited capacity, it is recommended you register early to ensure you get to attend.

Disability Inclusion Network Meeting is Nov. 12

Disability Inclusion Network logo

Senior Microsoft Attorney, Representatives from the Rainbow Alliance and Inclusion Network Will Speak

The Disability Inclusion Network (DIN) is inviting you to attend its monthly membership meeting on Thursday, November 12th, from 9:00-12:00 pm.

November’s meeting we will have guest speakers Jasper Marino and Lou Thompson from the Rainbow Alliance and Inclusion Network (RAIN). They will discuss the work that RAIN has been doing around the use of gender pronouns. Stuart Pixley from Microsoft will speak about Microsoft’s disability Employee Resource Group (ERG).

About Stuart Pixley: Stuart Pixley has been a senior attorney at Microsoft for nearly 12 years where he currently supports the Azure Quantum Computing and Silicon Solutions teams.  Prior to joining Microsoft, he worked for over 10 years for several large law firms in New York City and the Silicon Valley handling intellectual property and technology transactions. Pixley has also been deeply involved in disability diversity in the legal field. He is a former leader and current member of the Washington Attorneys with Disabilities Association, is the former president and founding board member of the National Association of Attorneys with Disabilities, is a former commissioner of the ABA Commission on Disability Rights, has served on the Committee for Diversity for the Washington State Bar Association and is an active member of the Microsoft Legal Affairs’ Disability Diversity Team which he helped inaugurate in 2012.

Born with cerebral palsy, he has significant hearing and vision loss and travels by electric wheelchair.  He believes he owes his success in navigating challenges as a professional to foundational experiences growing up and a belief that diversity and disability community must be leveraged to achieve disability inclusion.

This meeting is 100% Virtual and American Sign Language Interrupters (ASL) and CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation) will be provided. You can attend this meeting by clicking on the  ZOOM link or by calling 253-215-8782 Meeting ID: 823 2880 4191 and Password: 966139

If you have any questions about the meeting you can email DIN@OFM.WA.GOV

 Attached Documents 

Washington State’s Disability Inclusion Network (DIN) business resource group exists to create an environment where individuals with disabilities have equitable access to opportunities and resources through recruitment, hiring, training, development, retention, and promotion so that individuals with disability can fully participate in all aspects of the workplace.

To learn more about DIN please visit our website Disability Inclusion Network or email us at Come Like us on Facebook Washington State Disability Network or follow us on LinkedIn Disability Inclusion Network.

Upcoming Training: Prevent and Overcome Burnout

The ICSEW is sponsoring a training with Amy Leneker.

Prevent & Overcome Burnout

December 14, 2020

1:00 – 3:00 pm via Zoom

Facilitated by Amy Leneker

Cost: $49

Click here for more info and to register

About the workshop:

Prevent and Overcome Burnout (sponsored by ICSEW) Tickets, Mon, Dec 14, 2020 at 1:00 PM | Eventbrite

Are you feeling burnout at work, at home, or both? If so, you’re not alone! According to the Center for Disease Control, stress levels in American workers are at an all-time high. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

We will explore burnout– what causes it, how to prevent it, and how to overcome it. You will leave with a personalized toolkit to prevent and overcome burnout, and help others do the same.

Course Objectives

Through a pre-assessment, facilitated workshops, and group coaching, participants will learn to prevent and overcome burnout.Participants will learn to:

1. Assess your current energy and burnout level.

2. Understand how to prevent burnout in the workplace.

3. Build personal and organizational resilience – you will design an individualized resilience plan to overcome burnout.

Intended Audience

This class is intended for anyone who is interested in learning how to prevent and overcome burnout and to help others do the same. This class is also great for supervisors, managers and HR professionals who help others in the workplace.


– Two hour faciliated workshop

– Assessment of energy level and burnout level

– Template to build burnout resilience plan

– Access to resources

About the Facilitator

Amy Leneker is on a mission to inspire you to lead a life you love™. She is a Leadership Consultant and a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator. Amy was born and raised in the Midwest where she learned to work hard, tell the truth and be kind. Although Amy left Ohio long ago, those Midwestern values are still very much a part of who she is and how she works. With over two decades of experience in leadership development, Amy has trained thousands of leaders and practitioners from all over the world. She and her husband have two wonderful kiddos and three wacky dogs and make their home in the Pacific Northwest.

Post-Election Support Resource Guide

drawing of US capitol
Image from

This week, the Washington State Employee Assistance program is offering a special series of live post-election support sessions. One per day on weekdays starting the day after Election Day through Monday, November 9. The EAP is also offering several webinars on keeping up on your mental health and wellbeing. Below are the details from the director of the Employee Assistance Program:

A message from Darrow Brown, Director of the Employee Assistance Program:

In the midst of a pandemic, civil unrest, racial discord and household financial insecurity, we have now arrived at Election Day 2020 – a day that has certainly heightened the stress, worry and anxiety for many.  To support you and your employees, the Washington State Employee Assistance Program offers the attached resource guide.  Note, the list is not an exhaustive one, but should help to provide you and your employees support and a way forward during the coming days.  Please be sure to send the guide to your employees.

Post Election Support Sessions

In the guide, you’ll see that the EAP is offering live, supportive post-election sessions starting Wednesday 11/4.  At present, there will be one session per day on Wednesday 11/4, Thursday 11/5, Friday 11/6 and Monday 11/9.  We will assess the schedule and frequency, based on requests and feedback in the coming days.  To see a list of dates and times and to register, you and your employees can visit our Webinars page.  We here at the EAP understand the potentially precarious and emotionally-charged nature of these sessions.  The intention is to provide a guided, facilitated and supportive response that attends to employees’ emotional and behavioral needs. The underlying EAP approach is to “do no harm”, including not inviting and/or allowing discussions of a political nature.

Thank you for the continued support of The Washington State Employee Assistance Program and for your dedication to employee wellness.

Recognizing Native American Heritage Month in November

By Taja Blackhorn, Department of Labor and Industries and Member of the Kahodasi People

Pictured Above: Members from four Alaskan Tribes, Photo from US Bureau of Indian Affairs

November is Native American Heritage Month

Beginning in 1990, November was designated Native American Heritage Month, a time to pay tribute of the rich history and culture of the American Indian tribes.

All the verbiage surrounding that initial recognition seemed to place Indigenous people and Indigenous culture into a past tense.  

But we are still here

November is a wonderful time to recognize, honor, and celebrate Indigenous peoples and identities past, present, and future.

In order to properly respect and honor the original inhabitants, it is important to learn about the Indigenous People whose land this is.

Because you don’t know what you don’t know

Washington state alone encompasses the traditional homelands/ancestral lands of 29 federally recognized indigenous tribes as well as many unrecognized indigenous communities.

In addition to the Indigenous peoples whose traditional homelands exist within the modern state boundaries, numerous indigenous peoples of the Americas have made Washington state their home.

Learn more about Washington State Tribes

Because you don’t know what you don’t know

  • There is no pan-Indian culture. There are many Indigenous peoples each with our own language, customs, and lifeways
  • We are still battling against of 550 years of genocide, discrimination, erasure of our languages/cultures/beliefs.
  • We are still working on decolonizing how we are seen, both through internal and external lenses. 
  • When it comes to urban Indians [from federally or non-federally recognized tribes] we often exist outside the government-to-government power structure.
  • One way to think of Indigenous identity is one is Sovereign and one is Racial/Ethnic. Both are Indigenous.

November is also National Veterans and Military Families Month

Did You Know?

  • 18.6% of the American Indian & Alaskan Native population has served in the post-9/11 period
    • and at higher percentage than veterans of other minorities at 18.6% vs. 14%.
  • There are currently 31,000 American Indian & Alaskan Natives on active duty
  • There are currently 140,000 living American Indian & Alaskan Native Veterans and 11.5% are women

During World War I:

Although Native Americans were not considered to be US Citizens until 1924, they were required to register for the draft during WW I

 6,500 Native men were drafted, and about 5,000 more enlisted, eager to carry on the warrior traditions of their tribes.

  • 10,000+ in the Army
  • 2,000+ in the Navy
  • 14 American Indian women served in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

As their tradition dictated the Onondaga and Oneida Nations declared war against Germany, so they could enter battle honorably

Choctaw and Cherokee Code Talkers

The Choctaw code talkers were a group of Choctaw Indians from Oklahoma who pioneered the use of Native American languages as military code.

Photo from US Army Archives

For many years, the code talkers’ work remained classified. Then on June 18, 2002, Congress passed the Code Talkers Recognition Act to recognize the important part that these Soldiers played in “performing highly successful communications operations of a unique type that greatly assisted in saving countless lives and in hastening the end of World War I and World War II.” The act further states that the code talkers operated “under some of the heaviest combat action … around the clock to provide information … such as the location of enemy troops and the number of enemy guns.”

Congress recognized the remarkableness of the code talkers’ achievements, despite societal discrimination against them. The act states that at “… a time when Indians were discouraged from practicing their native culture, a few brave men used their cultural heritage, their language, to help change the course of history.”

During World War II:

Did You Know?

An estimated 44,000 Native Americans served in the United States military during World War II

  • 21,767 in the Army
  • 1,910 in the Navy
  • 874 in the Marines
  • 121 in the Coast Guard
  • Several hundred Native American women served as Nurses

These three are members of the U.S. Marine Corps. They are [left to right] Minnie Spotted Wolf of the Blackfeet, Celia Mix, Potawatomi, and Violet Eastman, Chippewa.

Photo from US Marine Corps Archive

Navajo Code Talkers of World War II

Photo gallery 1. Collage of Navajo Code Talkers from World War II 2. Photo of last of the 29 original Navajo Code Talkers. Photo from

They devised a hundred-word dictionary of military terms, including ‘‘two-star chief ’’ for major general, ‘‘eagle’’ for colonel, ‘‘turtle’’ for tank, ‘‘sewing machine’’ for machine gun, and ‘‘pregnant airplane’’ for bomber. The main beneficiary of the code talkers’ unique ability was the Fourth Infantry Division, which assigned two Comanche soldiers to each regiment with others at division headquarters. Subsequently other code talkers joined the army program from the Chippewa, Fox, Hopi, Oneida, and Sac tribes.

The last of the original 29 Navajo code talkers who developed the code, Chester Nez, died on June 4, 2014. Three of the last nine Navajo code talkers used in the military died in 2019: Alfred K. Newman, died on January 13, 2019, at the age of 94. On May 10, 2019, Fleming Begaye Sr., died at the age of 97.

Keeping Traditions Alive During a Pandemic

Social Distance Powwow

In the time of COVID-19 traveling & performing during Pow Wow Season is impossible and dangerous. So, the Indigenous Community came up with a way share and participate through Facebook:

Social Distance Pow Wow

Roc Your Mocs

Traditional Native Moccasins. Tribe unspecified. Photo from

First established in 2011, the worldwide Rock Your Mocs events calls for American Indians and Alaska Natives to wear their moccasins on November 15 as part of Native American Heritage Month. Watch the tag #RockYourMocs on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to see how people celebrate across the country.

Taja Blackhorn, a member of the Kahosadi People from southern Oregon, has engaged in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion outreach and education for more than 30 years, and has recently added Native Land Acknowledgements and Lunch and Learns for state agencies to her efforts.

Accommodations for Employees with PTSD

This article was originally distributed by the Washington State Disability Inclusion Network (DIN) Business Resource Group.

Disability Inclusion Network

The Disability Inclusion Network would like you to join us in celebrating October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Be on the lookout for the rest of the month on ways you can help celebrate.  

Workplace Accommodations for Employees with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

“Dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at work can be stressful. Navigating flashbacks, panic attacks, and hypervigilance is difficult in any setting, but managing these symptoms in a workplace can feel impossible. When you’re constantly worrying about judgment from your coworkers and peers, it can be hard to focus on the job at hand.

Being in close proximity with coworkers can be stressful for someone with PTSD for a number of reasons. While other workers might not mind cramming into a small break room or meeting room, many people with PTSD don’t like their personal space to be invaded. The average worker might find loud conversations and background chatter in the office to be a minor annoyance, but those types of distractions could be tough for someone with PTSD to handle.”

What accommodation must an employer provide for PTSD?

Once informed of its employee’s PTSD, the employer must provide a reasonable accommodation. All accommodations are based on the circumstances; there is no one-size-fits-all accommodation. To determine the proper accommodation, the employer must engage in the “interactive process” with the employee. (The Kaufman Law Firm)

Questions to ask:

  • Has the employee with PTSD been consulted regarding possible accommodations?
  • What limitations is the employee with PTSD experiencing, and how do these limitations affect the employee’s job performance?
  • What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
  • What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems?
  • Do supervisory personnel and employees need training regarding PTSD and workplace accommodations?

 Accommodation Ideas:

Here are some accommodations for PTSD symptoms that are typically very easy to implement:

  1. Flexible scheduling
  2. Noise canceling devices, i.e. headphones
  3. Written instructions and requests
  4. Allowing for phone calls to support persons during the work day
  5. Modifying break schedules
  6. Allowing assistance animals
  7. Modifying workplace lighting
  8. Repositioning desk, cubicle, or office location
  9. Disability awareness training for staff
  10. Organizational tools
  11. Time management training
  12. Allowing music or headsets
  13. Reducing non-essential job functions (i.e. Sunshine Committee, cleaning schedules)
  14. Regularly scheduled supervision/feedback
  15. Consistent shift scheduling
  16. Providing a mentor

 Also check Accommodation Ideas Ask Jan: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Job Accommodation Suggestions

Washington State Employee Assistance Program Offers Stress Management Resources for 2020 Election Season

drawing of the US Capitol building

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on the Washington State Employee Assistance Program Website

The upcoming presidential election may be a source of anxiety and disagreement for many people across the country. Additional hurdles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and tension from recent social unrest, present unique challenges not faced in years prior. The Greater Good Science Center reported that the election is a significant stressor for more than 2/3s of U.S. adults (according to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association), with another new report finding that nearly 70% of us worried about widespread violence erupting after election results are announced (from the nonpartisan organization More in Common).

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) has compiled some resources which to help provide support and guidance for employees, managers and leaders as we make our way through this election season. Here are links to the most helpful resources we’ve seen so far:

For employees –

For managers, leaders and HR –

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to EAP for support and guidance for yourself, your employees or your organization at 1-877-313-4455 or online.