Recognizing All of You for All That You Do!
WELCOME TO THE INAUGRAL EDITION OF THE DHHS HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL NEWSLETTER
Following the kickoff Town Hall Event in October, a record-breaking 255 people responded to our survey! This outpouring of energy reflects interests and engagement across a range of issues.
This inaugural edition of our newsletter is focused on some of the top informational requests we received from health care professionals throughout the Department.
As more work is completed, more in-depth requests will be addressed through this venue, as well as fact sheets and presentations for new content, and discussion groups to develop policy recommendations. We welcome your input and feedback, to Laura Hale, via email at email@example.com.
HUMAN RESOURCES INITIATIVES
The DHHS provides a variety of options to support our workforce that people want to know more about.
Deborah Harris, Deputy Administrator, Administrative Programs, provided an in-depth interview to answer some of our questions.
VARIABLE WORK SCHEDULE
The Variable Work Schedule has been around for a long time, but people may not know a lot about it.
Q: Do we know how many people utilize this?
A: Approximately 80 percent of employees in the Department have signed a variable work week agreement.
Q: What are some of the restrictions?
A: A variable work week agreement allows non-exempt employees to work more than eight hours in a day without entering overtime status, providing the employee does not work more than 40 hours in a work week.
Employees who choose and are approved for the variable work day may use this schedule with prior approval of the supervisor. Supervisors must have a signed agreement with the employee prior to scheduling and allowing the variable hours. The variable schedule must be worked within a 40-hour period beginning Monday and ending the following Sunday. Classes and positions eligible for a variable work week schedule will be subject to approval by the Division Administrator.
Q: How do people request a variable work schedule?
A: Employees are provided with the Variable Work Week agreement form in orientation. Forms are available in Division HR Offices if not elected at the time of hire.
Remote Work Options
Across all Divisions, the initiative that drew the most interest is Remote Work Options also known as Telecommuting. This is a great way to save staff from long or difficult commutes, and also to accommodate individual needs or preferences, while still meeting work obligations.
Q: How does management determine when it's appropriate for employees to telecommute?
A: Participation in a telecommuting arrangement is voluntary and is not an entitlement, benefit or right, and does not change the terms and conditions of employment. Telecommuting must be in the best interests of a Division or Agency, and its mission. DHHS supports telecommuting as an alternative work arrangement where appropriate, for eligible employees.
Advantages of a telecommuting arrangement may include:
- Improve agency and program efficiencies
- Improve employee productivity and effectiveness
- Reduction in commuting hours for employees
- Reduction in absenteeism
- Improve customer/client satisfaction.
- Improve recruitment and retention
- Impact on environmental issues, including traffic congestion, air quality and energy issues.
An appointing authority must make an informed assessment before approving an employee's telecommuting request. Approval of a telecommuting request, concept or proposal is discretionary.
Q: What are some examples of approval or denial?
A: There are many times when an employee works in the field for a preponderance of the time to perform home visits, surveys and/or audits. In this instance, the state may gain efficiencies and improve work output by allowing an employee to telecommute.
Conversely, if an employee is responsible for serving clients on Division/State premises, telecommuting would not be an option.
Q: Have there been any problems with this initiative?
A: No problems have been reported. If a situation becomes problematic, and assignment deliverables are not met, the Division can deny the telecommuting request at any time. The challenge to telecommuting is ensuring management and oversight.
Q: Are there measurable benefits from this initiative?
A: Telecommuting is still in the infancy stages and has not been fully implemented to the greatest extent possible. Instead, it has been implemented in less than a handful of situations.
Q: Is the policy available online?
A: The draft Department policy has not been finalized. Once the policy is finalized, it will be made available through each Division's Human Resources office.
Family Friendly Initiatives
People may know about maternity leave or family sick leave, but some other family friendly initiatives seem fairly new.
Q: What other options fall under this category and how did they come about?
A: Family Friendly Toolkits and Initiatives include:
- Breast feeding in the workplace
- Bring your Baby to Work
- Recovery - Friendly Workplace
- Tools for Aging Parents
- Therapy Animals in the Workplace
A family-friendly workplace or employer is one whose policies make it possible for employees to more easily balance family and work, and to fulfill both their family and work obligations. Most of these are representative of initiatives and tools we've seen promoted in other states, and based on the experiences of DHHS staff. Breast feeding work stations in the restrooms have been in place since 2010, and Bring your Baby to Work has been in place since 2010. There are occasional complaints, although the policy ensures a survey of each workplace is completed before the mother and newborn return to work. Employees must apply to participate in the program, in accordance with the policy.
The Recovery-Friendly Toolkit is in process. A toolkit for employees with aging parents, and a toolkit for therapy animals in the workplace will be initiated once the Recovery-Friendly Toolkit has been completed. A healthy toolkit/guide for the holidays for Department employees has been developed and will be announced prior to the start of the Thanksgiving Holiday this year.
Q: Have there been problems or complaints?
A: There are occasional complaints, although the policy ensures a survey of each workplace is completed before the mother and newborn return to work. Employees must apply to participate in the program, in accordance with the policy.
Q: What are the restrictions?
A: Restrictions vary from toolkit to toolkit. These family-friendly initiatives are designed to provide staff and their families with tools to utilize during challenging periods in their lives.
Q: Is there a single policy encompassing all of these options, or are there separate policies?
A: Separate policies have been and/or will be developed relating to family-friendly area, as we move from toolkit to implementation of some of the strategies and ideas, as identified.
It was interesting to hear a little about the Welfare Division's mentoring program at the Town Hall meeting. A lot of survey respondents would like to participate in a mentoring program.
Q: Is this available at other Divisions?
A: As I mentioned in the Town Hall meeting, the P2P Program (or Pathway to Promotion) is currently being piloted in the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services (DWSS).
P2P is a program designed to provide DWSS employees at all levels within the organization with the opportunity to obtain knowledge and skills to assist them in their career development within DWSS. This program combines preparation, education, observation and hands-on experiences along as P2P mentor to assist staff in acquiring an understanding of a desired position, as well as some basic skills specific to the job. The ultimate goals are to ready the employee for the application and interview process and to help them pursue promotion in an informed, prepared fashion.
Q: What are the next steps for people to participate?
A: Once the program has been successfully piloted and rolled out for 6 months, the success of the program will be evaluated for Department rollout.
Q: I didn't know there were job sharing options at DHHS. When did that start and how does it work?
A: Job sharing has always been available; however, unless two staff come forward with a proposal, it has not yielded positive results from a recruitment standpoint, i.e. difficult to fill.
The appointing authority can elect to allow employees to job share a position at any time. Successful job share incumbents are accountable to each other and must be able to effectively communicate, prioritize work and set goals to ensure assignments completion. The job sharers' skill sets and knowledge must complement each other and offer an effective combination of expertise which will benefit DHHS while allowing the employees additional work/life balance.
Q: Do all Divisions have this option?
A: Yes ---- positions can be shared at any time.
If a position is announced a 25%, 50% or 75%, all interested candidates may apply. The one caveat is that only one position can be budgeted at 51% or above and receive health insurance benefits. The other position incumbent at 49% or less would not be eligible for health insurance. All other benefits would be prorated/accrued based on hours worked, up to a maximum 40-hour work week, to include leave accruals, retirement, etc. An employee may also have to report time as a positive reporter instead of an exception reporter, since job sharing is non-standard.
Q: What are the requirements?
A: Interested staff should work through the chain of command to express his/her interest to the appropriate Manager, Deputy Administrator or Administrator.
Please submit your questions about Human Resource Initiatives to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line,
Dear Deborah, and responses will be emailed to you, and shared in the next edition of the DHHS Health Care Professional Newsletter.
LOAN REPAYMENT AND SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMS
There are multiple programs in Nevada to help health care professionals advance their formal training and education.
Scott Jones, the new Manager of the PCO, has recorded a slide presentation on the National Health Service Corps geared to behavioral health professions. Also, we will be featuring a new column in future editions to share the wealth, so please forward your questions to email@example.com with the subject Ask Dr. Jones.
There is also the Nevada Health Service Corps, which is administered under the University School of Medicine, Nevada State Office of Rural Health. This program is also funded by the national Health Resources and Services Administration, with matching state funds. For questions about this program, contact Keith Clark at (775) 738-3828, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another great resource is the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), which administers both the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP) Scholarship and Health Care Access Program (HCAP) Scholarship. The contact is Jeannine Warner at (775) 687-0991 or email@example.com.
Brian Sandoval Richard Whitley, MS
Nevada Department of Health and Human Services