Shoes are not just an expression of style — they can have a major impact on a person’s health. When researching comfortable business shoes for a customer recently, I was astounded to learn that the projected time off work for a procedure such as a bunionectomy can be several weeks depending on how much lifting, standing and walking a job requires, according to the MD Guidelines.1
Sandy Johnson could write her blog posts in French if the mood strikes her.
She says she spent her 20s “finding herself,” and along the way she “found” degrees in French, speech pathology, and guidance and counseling. Also a travel lover, Sandy has been to France, England, Mexico and Italy.
She also learned how to work with substance abuse clients, assist injured workers and design ergonomic training programs for supervisors. When she’s at home base she takes those skills and applies them to her disability and productivity consultant position with The Standard. By meeting with employers and understanding their culture and needs, she matches on-site specialists with employers. She oversees services that help injured and ill employees stay at work or return to work as soon as possible. Sandy’s even got the stamp of approval to do it all – as a certified rehabilitation counselor.
When she’s not planning her next trip or studying French phrases, Sandy likes to bury herself in a good mystery novel or crossword puzzle, as well as create homemade greeting cards and jewelry.
Posts by Sandy Johnson
When it comes to modifying jobs, employers are often more comfortable dealing with physical illness and injures rather than mental illness situations. For example, if an employee has a shoulder problem, you’d be inclined to ask about reaching and overhead lifting restrictions. In contrast, when it comes to mental health problems, many employers respond with the “deer in the headlights” reaction. You might be wondering if the employee is fit to work.
I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way. Mental health conditions can be addressed the same way physical conditions are addressed.
I have been a certified rehabilitation counselor for nearly 30 years. During that time, I have helped numerous employees go back to work. After three decades of experience, it’s clear to see that getting involved sooner rather than later is critical for success.
To understand the importance of early involvement, I think it’s best to look at the perspective of the employee and the employer in a typical claims process.
When a worker suffers a severe traumatic injury, it’s so easy to give up. If the job demands climbing ladders and walking on rough terrain and the employee undergoes an amputation, most people would think it would be impossible for the employee to return to work. But it is possible with the right attitude, support and determination.
Sometimes an employee’s poor performance has nothing to do with lack of motivation. Often we find that appropriate assistance is all he or she needs.
Take the case of a librarian. She had worn hearing aids for years but recently had more and more difficulty hearing in certain situations. For example, she struggled to hear the school’s public address system and had trouble during staff meetings.
School administrators had to send e-mails to the librarian or call her cell phone for emergency announcements. Additionally, staff meetings were moved from the library, which featured an open floor plan with high ceilings and columns, to a classroom. Even still it was difficult for her to hear.
Let’s face it: Sometimes saying “no” is a lot easier than saying “yes.” When it comes to workplace modifications – modifying manual lifting and handling tasks specifically – it’s easy to fall into the “no, we can’t” trap. Far too often, employees who perform tasks at the expense of knees, backs and shoulders fade away into disability when those body parts fail or degenerate.
It’s time to remove barriers to productivity and shift our mind-set to “yes, we can.”