If you are a current employee client: 1-800-648-5834 | 425-454-3003
20
Nov

Alone During the Holidays?

Alone during the holidaysHolidays can be a lonely time for some. If you find yourself alone during the holidays this year, there are a lot of creative ways to overcome feelings of isolation.

People end up alone during the holidays for a variety of reasons. Some live far away from family or have jobs that require they work the holiday. Those who are grieving sometimes choose to spend the day alone. Others have dysfunctional families that can turn a happy holiday into a depressing day of drama that they would rather avoid. No matter the time of year or season, develop life skills to avoid and overcome loneliness, because research shows it can have adverse effects on health.

If you find yourself alone and without holiday plans and wish to celebrate, take action. Plan now and create action steps. Doing so can help you avoid “depression triggers” that can throw you into a rut. Grab a calendar and plan concrete steps in writing that you will take when the holiday period arrives. Will you open your home to other single friends? Will you seek volunteer opportunities nearby? What about helping feed the homeless or perhaps singing carols at a nursing home? These activities are tried-and-true intervention steps others have used to overcome loneliness and experience gratitude.

Check the newspaper, and begin your to-do list of events, special “me-time” treats, day trips, and new and unusual ways to fill the days. Look to your community for creative opportunities, such as spending the day with military members stationed in your town or baking cookies and taking them to your city’s first responders. A quick way to find ideas to alleviate loneliness is to search online “alone during the holidays.” It’s nearly guaranteed that you will find ideas appropriate for your situation.

 Social media can contribute to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression, especially during the holidays. Consider limiting your time online. At the very least, remain aware of its potential to show you an unrealistic view of life—friends usually post only the good.

The secret to lifting your spirit is engagement with others. Enjoy the holidays whether you are with others or alone. However, be sure you experience daily interactions with people to safeguard your health during the holiday season and throughout the year. You will feel more uplifted, experience less negative self-talk, and have accomplishments you will look back on with fond memories.

 

Excerpted from WorkExcel.com

7
Nov

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace – What Employers Need to Know

sexual harassmentAccording to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) it is unlawful to harass a person, whether an employee or an applicant, because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government.

Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.  Sexual harassment can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex, so it is illegal, for example, to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

The EEOC states that, although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in the victim being fired or demoted.

Prevention is the best way to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to have anti-harassment guidelines and clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.

Here are important steps to take:

  • Write an anti-sexual harassment policy and be sure to review Title VII and your state law to make sure that you are including all applicable behaviors.
  • Encourage reporting of sexual harassment incidents and lay out clear steps on how to report claims. Identify several individuals within the company whom employees can choose to report to.
  • Your policy should be in your employee handbook. With sexual harassment currently front and center in the news, now is a good time to email the guidelines to every employee.
  • Train supervisors and all levels of management to spot, prevent, and punish sexual harassment and train employees in the correct steps to report sexual harassment. Conducting at least once-a-year trainings for employees and management is a good idea, and some states even require it by law.
  • Throughout the year, talk to your employees and managers about the work environment and look around your workplace for anything offensive and/or suggestive.
  • If someone complains about sexual harassment, act immediately to investigate the complaint.

Fully Effective Employees provides basic sexual harassment training and consultation, and for more comprehensive trainings and investigations, we work with our HR partner, Fit HR.  For more information please contact us at Fully Effective Employees .

 

16
Sep

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

suicide prevention awareness ribbonSeptember is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Every year, approximately 44,000 people die by suicide, making it the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. According to a newly released study published in JAMA Psychiatry, suicide attempts among U.S. adults are on the rise. Middle-aged adults (aged 45-64 years) had the highest suicide rate and young adults (aged 21-34 years) had the biggest increase in suicide attempts. And, while suicide attempts were higher among women than men, more men completed suicide.

While suicide is preventable, it is a topic that many feel uncomfortable talking about, even with family and friends. It is important to know that family members, friends, coworkers and others can play an important role in recognizing when someone is at risk or in crisis and connect that person with the most appropriate sources of care. Here are the major warning signs to be aware of:

Signs of Acute Risk:

– Threatening to hurt or kill him or herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; and or,

– Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or,

– Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary.

Expanded Warning Signs:

– Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use

– No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life

Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time

– Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out

Hopelessness

Withdrawal from friends, family and society

– Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge

– Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking

– Dramatic mood changes

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month reminds us that suicide deaths can be prevented. According to the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, for every one person who dies by suicide in the U.S., there are approximately 278 people who move past serious thoughts of suicide and nearly 60 who have survived a suicide attempt. The overwhelming majority of these people will go on to live out their lives.

If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis or thoughts of suicide, help is available 24/7 through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, or go to your nearest emergency room.

For more information about counseling and resources contact the EAP at 425-454-3003 or 1-800-648-5834.

8
Sep

Employer Resources for Coping with Forest Fires and Other Natural Disasters

When natural disasters strike, employees often look to Human Resources for answers to their questions. Disasters can create havoc, uncertainty and logistical problems within a company if there are not procedures already in place.

With forest fires raging in the West and hurricanes simultaneously lashing the Gulf and East Coasts, emergency management and disaster response are front and center on many people’s minds right now. To help employers cope with whatever disaster strikes next, here are some valuable resources we found on the HRHero.com website and are sharing with their permission:

If any of your employees are experiencing trauma from the current forest fires or other natural disasters, the EAP can help. Contact us at 1-800-648-5834 or locally at 425-454-3003.

1
Aug

Depression in Teens and How to Help

Depression in teens has become extremely common. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, research indicates that roughly 3 million adolescents ranging from ages 12 to 17 have experienced at least one major depressive episode within the past year. Teen depression is a mental health problem that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. It can affect how your teenager thinks, feels and behaves, and it can even cause emotional, functional, and physical problems.

Issues such as peer pressure, academic expectations, and changing bodies will inevitably bring ups and downs. Yet, for some teens, the lows are more than just a fleeting emotional state. Depression in teens isn’t a weakness or something that can be overcome with willpower and “tough love.” Serious cases can require long-term medical treatment and threaten dire consequences. However, for most teens that are beginning to chronically “feel low,” depressive symptoms can greatly improve with the help of weekly therapeutic counseling.

For parents attempting to approach the challenging and delicate task of raising a teen who struggles with depression, it can be helpful to keep these six guide rules in mind:
•Be Genuine – Engage in “real talk” with your teen, both about struggles and ambitions.
•Give Space – Teens need space to grow and gain independence from parents.
•Be Curious – Pay attention and show interest in your teen’s life and inner workings.
•Reserve Judgement – Don’t show anger first, display compassion and concern instead.
•Don’t Delay – If you think your teen might need help, talk with a counselor soon.
•Family Effort – Depression can’t be cured on an island. Familial support is a must.

If your teen is exhibiting signs of depression, contact the EAP for further assistance.

by Drew Thomas, MACP, CMHS, LMHC

12
Jul

Legalized Marijuana Expands in the U.S.

Marijuana plantMore states legalized marijuana in the last election, with the states of California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts, joining early adopters Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Colorado in legalizing adult recreational marijuana. Washington, DC also legalized the use in 2015.

In addition many states expanded or voted to approve the use of medical marijuana. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam. More states are expected to vote in favor of legalized marijuana in 2017.

According to Tamara Cagney, the president of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association, the important focus for Employee Assistance professionals is that marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, which means that it is neither lawful to use or possess as a matter of federal law. None of these new legalization efforts aim to change state employment law, employers in the affected states will no doubt be faced with a chorus of questions about how the changes will affect enforcement of their workplace substance abuse policies. If you have concerns about how this impacts your company policies, contact an employment attorney with knowledge about drug testing policies.

If you are a current client with employees who test positive, the EAP can help with a Return to Work Agreement, assessing and referring employees for treatment if needed, and monitoring them for up to two years.  If you would like more information about drug testing in general, contact us at 1-800-648-5834 or locally at 425-454-3003.

16
Jun

How Employers are Managing Prescription Drug Abuse in the Workplace

Close photo of prescription bottle for Oxycodone tablets and pills on wooden table for opioid epidemic illustrationThe opioid epidemic has arrived at work with employers evolving their benefits offerings to help fight prescription drug abuse in the workplace, according to a new survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Benefits: 2016 Survey Results reports that one in four employers (26%) have conducted a prescription drug claims analysis to identify possible abuse, and nearly that many (24%) are considering a claims analysis.

Employers are supporting workers who are dealing with substance abuse by providing a number of treatment options. Of organizations providing substance abuse treatment benefits, 89% cover outpatient in-person treatment sessions, and 85% include inpatient hospital or clinic treatment. Other commonly provided options include prescription drug therapies (67%), inpatient residential treatment centers (67%), outpatient telemedicine treatment services (55%) and referrals to community services (41%).

A third of employers (33%) say that prescription drug addiction is at least somewhat prevalent among their workforce and the majority (67%) believe that substance abuse challenges are greater now than five years ago.

If your company is experiencing problems with employee substance abuse, please call the EAP for help and guidance.

From the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

17
May

Discussing Politics in the Workplace

The 2016 Presidential election continues to be a topic of great debate whether it is at home, in the community or at work. Sometimes differing opinions can create conflict, tensions and downright hostility. These issues can arise when discussing politics in the workplace and can affect productivity, morale and performance.

The American Psychological Association recently published the results of their 2017
Work and Well-Being Survey with a special focus on politics. Here are some of the key findings:

According to the survey, 26 percent of full-time and part-time employed American adults said they felt tense or stressed out as a result of political discussions at work since the election, an increase from 17 percent in September 2016 when they were asked about political discussions at work during the election season. More than one in five (21 percent) said they have felt more cynical and negative during the workday because of discussing politics in the workplace, compared with 15 percent before the election.

Half of the post-election survey respondents (54 percent) said they have discussed politics at work since the election, and for 40 percent of American workers, it has caused at least one negative outcome, such as reduced productivity, poorer work quality, difficulty getting work done, a more negative view of coworkers, feeling tense or stressed out, or increased workplace hostility. This is a significant increase from the pre-election survey data, when 27 percent reported at least one negative outcome.

Nearly one-third (31 percent) said they had witnessed coworkers arguing about politics, and 15 percent said they have gotten into an argument themselves. More than 24 percent said they avoided some coworkers because of their political views. About one in six experienced strained relationships as a result of political discussions at work since the election: 16 percent said they have a more negative view of coworkers; 16 percent felt more isolated from coworkers; 17 percent said team cohesiveness suffered; and 18 percent reported an increase in workplace hostility.

If your employees are experiencing conflict at work and political debates are affecting work performance, the EAP can provide confidential assistance.

From the American Psychological Association.

27
Apr

Rude Behavior in Workplace is Contagious

Rude behavior at work tends to have a contagious effect and spread from one employee to another, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Incivility can leave employees feeling mentally fatigued, thus reducing their self-control and leading them to act in a similar uncivil manner.

Researchers also found that rude behavior is more common in workplaces that are perceived as political, defined as employees doing what is best for themselves and not the organization. In highly political environments, motives and actions are less clear so employees have to try and figure out why they are being targeted and how to respond. This mental fatigue saps energy and makes it difficult to control negative impulses. Other situations may also contribute to rude behavior such as workload, industry competitiveness, and whether employees have enough time to do their work. Even when employees want to be civil with their co-workers, rude behavior can make these employees lash out, as well.

Rude behavior qualifies as a performance problem. To help stop condescending behavior, the study’s authors suggest offering staff clear feedback on acceptable behavior in either a formal or informal manner. For more information about dealing with this issue at your workplace, please contact us.

7
Dec

Handling Holiday Stress

holiday-stressWhile the holidays can be a time of joy, celebration and connection with family and friends, it can also be a very stressful season. There is a lot of added pressure during this time of year, from social obligations and expectations, to worries about finances and strained family relationships. If you are having difficulties coping with holiday stress, the following are some tips from WebMD.

Know your spending limit. Lack of money is one of the biggest causes of stress during the holiday season. This year, set a budget, and don’t spend more than you’ve planned. It’s okay to tell your child that a certain toy costs too much. Don’t buy gifts that you’ll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off.

  • Give something personal. You can show love and caring with any gift that is meaningful and personal. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. Or use words instead of an expensive gift to let people know how important they are to you. Make a phone call or write a note and share your feelings.
  • Get organized. Make lists or use an appointment book to keep track of tasks to do and events to attend.
  • Share the tasks. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Share your “to do” list with others. Spend time with friends and family while you share tasks like decorating, wrapping gifts, and preparing the holiday meal.
  • Learn to say no. It’s okay to say “no” to events that aren’t important to you. This will give you more time to say “yes” to events that you do want to attend.
  • Be realistic. Try not to put pressure on yourself to create the perfect holiday for your family. Focus instead on the traditions that make holidays special for you. And remember that just because it’s a holiday, family problems don’t go away. If you have a hard time being around your relatives, it’s okay to set limits on your time at events and visits.

If you will be alone for the holidays or feel depressed, stessed or anxious, it might be a good time to seek professional help. Here are some resources for assistance and if you are interested in providing an Employee Assistance Program, we can definitely help your employees who are having difficulty this time of year.

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
Veterans Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255
Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233