May 15

Mental Health Awareness Month


There is a virus that infects many Americans all around the country. This is a virus that “causes people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control, prevents them from seeking help, and even takes lives.” Anyone can be exposed to it, but the cure is simple – compassion and understanding. Stigma is a “social virus” and this May – National Mental Health Awareness Month – the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) wants you to know there is a cure for Stigma. #CureStigma

Stigma is defined as a sign or sense of disgrace that sets someone apart from others. For the 60 million people in the United States that face the day-to-day reality of living with a mental illness, revealing their illness to others can be frightening, not knowing how their disclosure will be received. This fear can be especially present in the workplace where employees are afraid of discrimination and potentially losing their jobs.

Mental illness is the single greatest cause of worker disability in the United States. Less than one-third of workers with mental illness seek treatment, with the most often cited reason as “shame and stigma.” When employees do not receive proper treatment, their illness continues and impacts their productivity, absenteeism, and even safety on the job. Human Resource professionals, as leaders in their organizations, can have a great impact helping to curb the stigma that employees may fear.

HR Florida is continuing its partnership with NAMI Florida to promote the Stigma Free Florida campaign. Stigma Free Florida is a campaign aimed at business leaders and seeks to create stigma free workplaces through awareness and education. The Stigma Free Florida toolkit has information for business leaders, managers, and employees on mental health issues in the workplace and how to assist an employee who might be dealing with mental illness.

As an HR professional, there are a few things you can do to help your organization take steps to become Stigma Free:

  • Begin an open conversation. Start the conversation about mental illness and its prevalence. One in five Americans deals with a mental illness every year; many more are family members and care-givers to someone with a mental illness. Let employees know who to reach out to for more information should they have questions about medical benefits, accommodations, or an Employee Assistance Program. By beginning the conversation, employees might feel more comfortable asking about available resources and necessary accommodations.
  • Check your language. Words can be very stigmatizing to individuals with mental illness. Examples include, “With her mood swings, she must be bipolar.” “His OCD kicked in and he’s reorganizing the supply room.” “She’s just crazy.” These general statements referencing mental illness in a joking and often negative way can prevent someone from coming forward to say that they are dealing with a mental illness for fear that they too will be talked about. Make it known that your culture does not tolerate these types of comments.
  • Market your EAP. Having an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a wonderful employee benefit. However, most EAP’s are horribly underutilized. Market your EAP to your employees to keep it top of mind for employees. Ensure they know what benefits are available to them and how to access those benefits.
  • Take the Pledge. Pledge to do your part to stop stigma in your organization by signing the #StigmaFreeFlorida. Partner with NAMI Florida to bring educational resources into your organization to learn more about how you can help employees and their families. Educate supervisors on signs and symptoms, as well as steps to take for employees who do disclose a mental illness.

This Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s do our part to #CureStigma and create a #StigmaFreeFlorida.

For more ways on how you can promote a Stigma Free organization and to sign the #StigmaFreeFlorida Pledge, check out:

To learn more about the NAMI Cure Stigma campaign, and find out if you have been infected, visit:

*Statistics regarding mental illness from NAMI


Eve Sweeting is the Diversity Director for HR Florida. With over a decade of HR experience in private, public, and non-profit entities, Eve currently serves as an HR Analyst with a focus in performance management and workforce metrics. She believes that HR’s ability to impact the work environment for the better can benefit both workers and organizations.


May 06

Take Your Seat at The Table

Take Your Seat at The Table

As Human Resources (HR) professionals, we’ve all heard the phrase ‘seat at the table’; this notion that we must manage our careers in such a way to be included in senior-level business decisions in order to be considered successful. Many of us are over it.

Amy Lein, who is the Director of Human Resources at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, and currently serving a two-year term as President of the Greater Orlando Society for Human Resource Management (GOSHRM), is taking a much more meaningful approach to the phrase.

Encouraged by her faith, and her collaborative effort through The Gotham Fellowship, an intensive training program offered by The Collaborative Orlando, Lein is working to blend her personal beliefs with her professional life. “Using the parable of people being invited to a banquet table – a lesson about choosing where to sit, serves as a great analogy for HR’s desire to gain a seat at the table in the business world,” said Lein.

Lein is creating an environment to encourage HR professionals to pursue excellence, power and influence so that others might flourish. Do everything we can to get that seat at the table, not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others. Practically speaking, this might include introducing policies and practices that improve the workplace for all, or promoting a company culture so desirable so that employees don’t want to leave.

“We must care so much about our employees that we not rest until we’ve done everything we could to help both the employees and the business succeed,” said Lein. “Imagine the ripple effect on the communities in which we live.”

Lein said she can relate to the over-pursuit of being recognized for her contributions, but admits that isn’t the problem. It’s when that desire dominates your work and your motives, that you run the risk of losing the very thing you desire.

“My vision is to invite young, aspiring HR professionals to examine their work, their goals, and their opportunities as they progress in a career path,” said Lein. “In a variety of learning environments, we will dive into questions about the professional’s inspiration to pursue HR and how they might approach a leadership role with the passion of a servant’s heart.”

Lastly, Lein added that this approach isn’t just for HR pros, but admits the first audience is up-and-coming HR pros, especially members of GOSHRM where she continues to hear of the desire for a mentorship program to help navigate their careers.

“This is a perfect opportunity to offer a deeper examination of one’s motives and desires in this profession. As we refine the project, it will translate well to other professions,” said Lein.

To learn more, please contact Amy Lein at or

Nate Shannon is Founder/Sr. Human Resource Consultant at On The VERG, and can be reached at (407) 754-5108 or


Apr 06

Leadership & Mental Toughness


Leadership & Mental Toughness

By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified,

During my recent Bikram Yoga class, the yogi stated that stress doesn’t really exist. He said that the sensation of stress is something we allow to happen when we are not controlling our thoughts. Further, the disciplined mind controls what we think. The disciplined mind also controls how we act and what behaviors we exhibit. In sum, we are in control…..always. If we feel stress, it is because we choose to let outside influences dictate our thoughts, reactions, and eventual behaviors.

Leaders sometimes lose sight of just how much control they have over situations. Every situation. Likewise, it is all too common for team members to take on a victim mentality and believe they have no control. This is a great opportunity for leaders to inspire their people and help them understand how to own their performance. Effective leaders create a culture in which team members are empowered to make decisions, make mistakes, elevate performance, and think.

Leaders, seek to embrace the following four areas regarding increasing your mental toughness, and helping your people to take positive control of their work world.

1. Focus on the Right Priorities. Leaders today must possess the ability to cut through the noise associated with an increasingly fast-paced world that is connected 24/7, 365. Streamline the priorities of your organization to better mesh with the pragmatic bandwidth of your team. Sure, it’s easy to make a list of a thousand things that will elevate the performance of your team and organization. However, skillful leaders understand that success is about results, not the scope of the undertaking! If you and/or your team have more than six major priorities right now, the odds are good that people are overwhelmed and unsatisfactory results are being delivered. Look in the mirror. Be realistic about your team’s bandwidth and the timeframes with which you are dealing. Pare down your priorities to six and help your team focus. Also, help people craft meaningful action plans to achieve those priorities.

2. The Rigid Three. Having a rigid schedule for certain activities can build mental toughness. A commitment to specific activities causes us to fight through hurdles, head trash and procrastination that might otherwise undermine a positive experience. The first of the three areas in which I challenge you to be rigid is your personal exercise regime. Do you know a Marine? Pretty fit bunch. Rigid fitness schedule. Mentally tough as nails. They tend to accomplish a lot. Just saying. The second area is a personal aspect of your life. It may be family time, volunteer time, church or a spiritual commitment. You choose, but make certain it is part of your regular schedule. The third area is one element of work. It may be planning your day in a certain way. It may be scheduled time for MBWA (managing by wandering around). I know several leaders who take a nap every day from 1pm-2pm. They are highly effective and refreshed leaders. Whatever work item you choose, concentrate, schedule, and stick to your guns. By creating and adhering to The Rigid Three you will elevate your mental toughness and increase the respect you receive from your team.

3. Be Mindful of Decision Fatigue. All leaders experience decision fatigue to a greater or lesser extent. In sum, as the day goes on our ability to make crisp decisions diminishes. Leaders can better handle decision fatigue by arranging their day strategically, eating healthy, hydrating and getting enough sleep. The positive results of crushing decision fatigue include, but are not limited to making better and more timely decisions, creating additional time so that you can coach others, increasing team productivity, improving sales results, and positioning yourself as a decisive leader who can help others make sound decisions.

4. Think Positive, Praise Positive. Henry Ford famously said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” As his quote implies, we are what we think. And you know what? You are awesome! Think of yourself as awesome today, and every day. Put your head in the right place, and everything else will follow suit. Let’s face it, we live on a rock that is blasting through space – we are all miracles. Oh, and help your people know that they are awesome too. They may or may not choose to believe you, or to believe in themselves. That is their deal. Control what you can control, leaders. In the process, catch people doing something right and praise the heck out of it.

Bottom Line: The best leaders and top-performing team members understand that they are in control of their performance. They understand that the kind of thoughts they put in their heads will drive their behavior. For more on mental toughness and the head games that athletes (and leaders) play, check out the new book by Alex Hutchinson, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. And call Doug Van Dyke who will assist you and your team in achieving previously unimagined results. Be awesome today everyone. You have the power to make it so.

Until next time, be well.

Doug Van Dyke is a Certified Speaking Professional, Executive Coach, Leadership Development Expert, CEO of Leadership Simplified. He takes yoga classes on occasion and really connects with his inner Qi. Connect with Doug at or visit

© Copyright 2018. Leadership Simplified. All rights reserved.


1310 3rd Avenue West * Bradenton, Florida 34205 * (941) 776-1121


Mar 21

Compliance: Certain Federal Contractors and Subcontractors Must Enroll in and Use E-Verify

Federal contractors and subcontractors with contracts containing the E-Verify Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clause must enroll in and use E-Verify. New federal contractors and subcontractors with the E-Verify FAR requirement must provide their Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number during the E-Verify enrollment process. Existing E-Verify employers designated as federal contractors with the E-Verify FAR requirement will be prompted to enter their DUNS number into E-Verify when they update their company profile. For more information about verifying new and current employees, timelines, and other guidance, read the latest Supplemental Guide for Federal Contractors at

E-Verify offers many free resources to help you stay compliant and keep you up-to-date on the latest employment eligibility verification news:



Article provided by:

Dave Basham

Form I-9 and E-Verify Speaker
Outreach Branch, Verification Division
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Department of Homeland Security



Feb 27

Student Games 2018

A National SHRM survey and review found that college students wanted more job placement resources and networking events, and help connecting with local professional SHRM chapters. Traditionally, a National Student Competition event was held, but after discovering future HR professionals had a desire for a more local focus, State Councils were encouraged to offer statewide competitions.

The HR Florida State Council has embraced the need fully and paired the Student Games Case Competition with its Leadership Conference. The council’s  goal is to help students develop meaningful networking relationships and elevate the importance of their contribution to the future of the HR profession. The Leadership Conference is attended by more than 300 HR career leaders and trend setters who make up the leadership of the 28 local SHRM chapters in the state of Florida.

This year, the HR Florida Student Games attracted seven teams from Florida State University, University of Texas, University of Central Florida, Florida Institute of Technology (2 teams) and the University of South Florida/St. Pete College. All the students who participated are passionate about HR and, more notably, are the future of the profession.

Each team was challenged to respond with a solution to a case study regarding generational differences called “Generational Turbulence at Pioneer Airlines.” Teams were provided background information, research resources, guidance and coaching on how to put their HR learning into action, and how to perform a proper investigation and strategize plan needs. Upon completion, they present their plans to the judges.

This year’s judges included Eric Scott Bowers, VP of human resources/consultant at LassiterWare Inc. & Great Advice, Inc.; Wesley Paul,  assistant hospital administrator of LifeStream Behavioral Center; Lynda L. Rodriguez, east regional human resources manager for L&R Group of Companies; Heide Bostelmann, HR Consultant; Teresa Beckta, area human resource manager for the Lane Construction Corporation; and Jeffery E. Bryson, software and systems engineer for Northrup Grumman Corporation.

Tasked with reviewing the work of seven teams in only one day, the judges came early and stayed late during the first day of the leadership conference to ensure each team received full consideration. It was difficult to decide, but the panel of judges selected the top two teams – Florida International University and Florida State University.

Here is what the students had to say about the competition:

Florida International University

“It was amazing and we learned so much about HR during the process.  The judges were great and the questions were great.  Thank you so much for this opportunity.”






Florida State University

“It was really cool to have the opportunity to be around HR professionals, to have the opportunity to work on problems and to take our knowledge from the classroom and apply it into the role. People always say that you know you won’t survive in the boardroom without the experience you need to use theory, and practicing your knowledge to be successful; so this truly was an amazing opportunity. The case competition pushed us to use our skills, and talents. We had the opportunity to solve real-world problems and provide feedback. It has been awesome – thank you.”

Florida State University won the opportunity to present their solution during lunch on Saturday to the HR Leadership conference attendees. This honor placed these future HR pros directly in front of potential employers, and they were ready to impress as they presented their solution with ease and professionalism.


This year, the HR Florida State Council will make the call for participation in November for the 2019 games. The council strongly encourages student HR chapters sign up a team and be a part of the games. For more information, please visit

“Thank you to the judges and all other council members who helped make this competition possible – it is your support, guidance and knowledge that helps fuel the young minds of those who are already making a positive impact in the HR profession,” said Marty Bryson, secretary of the HR Florida State Council. “Additionally, I wanted to thank the students that participated in the competition. You inspire everyone you touch with your energy and bright ideas – I know you all are destined for greatness.”

Pictured above: the 2018 student games participants and Marty Bryson, HR Florida State Council secretary.


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