Tuesday, February 17, 2015

3 Tips For Supporting Survivor-Employees in the Workplace

It can be a tough task to deal with domestic violence in the workplace. We’ll be the first to admit it is not an easy or fun topic to discuss. But, as statistics show, it is a necessity.

According to studies, domestic violence victims lose 8 million days of paid work annually. The cost of those days exceeds $8.3 billion a year, according to the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

Further complicating matters for survivors, between 21 and 60 percent of them lose their jobs due to the violence they experience. And, even more disheartening is the fact that more than 140 women were murdered at work by their abuser in one five-year period.

So, what does this mean for employers? How can you safely manage the impact in your workplace?

First, and foremost, businesses can partner with domestic violence agencies to provide workplace seminars, trainings or health fairs. Training in the workplace can improve the understanding of domestic violence at work. While knowledge and education are good to have, multiple trainings or exposures to domestic violence information in the workplace will change behaviors.

Those behavioral changes are more aptly to happen if a domestic violence policy is also in place. Domestic violence policies can protect survivors if they include time-off for multiple court dates. Often, judges will extend court dates several times if the affected individuals do not show up in court. This requires the survivor-employee to take off work more days than permitted to move forward with potential restraining orders, divorce or custody cases.

These policies can be promoted in writing or poster form next to other required federal or state workplace posters.

But, taking the policy one-step further is when an employer knows of the employee’s abuse. Having a support network at the office can be an asset to any survivor. Other than encouraging help with proper resources, employers can also offer employee assistance programs, sometimes called EAPs.

If the survivor-employee has confided her abuse with another employee she is comfortable with, they may establish a code word to signal the abuse. If the employee calls-in sick and says, “My throat is tickling again,” or “Johnny has a teacher meeting today,” the responding employee can document the abuse signal.

Although such signals are used on occasion, employees can also have distress signals for immediate emergencies. If the survivor-employee is concerned for her immediate safety, she can call work and provide a distress signal established with a colleague, alerting the colleague to contact law enforcement.

These three tips can positively change the way survivor-employees work. Not only will the business experience greater productivity, but they will have a more loyal employee.

For other suggestions on domestic violence policies or hosting training sessions, employers are encouraged to contact Hope House at 816-461-4188 or visit our website hopehouse.net

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

New HHYP Board Member has a connection to Hope House mission

The Hope House Young Professionals Board is proud to welcome Carina Criger to the HHYP Board.

Carina is a card risk management officer at UMB Bank. As a board member of Hope House Young Professionals, she hopes to raise public awareness and give back to the community.

That drive comes from a personal experience dating back just a few years.

“My journey in learning about domestic violence is still rather new. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone’s family,” said Carina. “In 2011, however, the world became a scarier place. Our friend, classmate, and valedictorian of our high school - the girl we had all grew up with since preschool - was killed by her boyfriend.”

Domestic violence was something that happened in the “big city,” Carina graduated with 40 fellow students. The town of less than-2,000 was rocked by the event.

“This event opened my eyes to the challenges and difficulties women face each and every day,” said Carina. “The reality that domestic violence can happen to all types of individuals from all different backgrounds became more than just apparent.”

After graduating, Carina attended Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas where she earned a B.A degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting and Finance. She joined the UMB team and enjoys spending time with friends and family, cooking, reading, attending sporting events, and playing recreational volleyball.

But, Carina says domestic violence is something she cares about greatly.

“Groups like the HHYP provide the support, resources, and refuge to assist these women in overcoming these obstacles,” Carina said. “Each little bit of assistance is going to someone who faces similar struggles that my friend Laura did. I look forward to doing what I can to assist the HHYP in their mission.” 

Read more of Hope House's latest news at www.hopehouse.net