While 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.
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
A co-worker stays late every day even where this nothing to do, a sales associate appears tired and distracted, a manager offers to travel frequently to get out of town. These employees may all be experiencing domestic violence- which is physical, sexual, verbal or emotional abuse by an intimate partner. While domestic violence is a criminal issue- we know that almost one in 3 homicide victims is killed by an intimate partner; it is also a social, health and business issue. Domestic violence leads to reduced productivity, increases absenteeism and increases health care costs. Unless employers are trained to understand it and look for it, domestic violence in the workplace will generally go unnoticed. Some employers are also reluctant to get involved. They may think it is a personal issue, fear retaliation from the offender, or feel ill equipped to handle the situation.
Nearly a quarter of employed women have reported that domestic violence has impacted their work performance at some point in their lives. This is a staggering statistic! This means that chances are right now, in your workplace, there are people who are experiencing violence in their intimate relationships and you are probably not aware of it. In the U.S. 24 percent of adult women and 14 percent of adult men have been assaulted buy a partner at some point in their lives. It is the most common cause of injury in women ages 18-44. Domestic violence leads to chronic disease. Abused women are 70 percent more likely to have heart disease, 80 percent are more likely to experience a stroke and 60 percent are more likely to develop asthma.
Domestic violence costs $8.3 billion in annual expenses- a combination of higher medical costs ($5.8 billion) and lost productivity ($2.5 billion). Addressing this issue could save thousands of lives and billions of dollars. As long as the symptoms and consequences of domestic abuse go undetected, nothing changes.
Since employees spend the majority of their waking hours at work, employers are ideally suited to recognize the symptoms of domestic violence and intervene. Providing assistance and support should be a requirement of the responsibility of all employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace. In addition, employers need to ensure that domestic violence doesn’t spill into the workplace where a violent partner could seek to harm the victim or co-workers at work. Employers can take action by raising awareness, training managers and supervisors to recognize symptoms and behaviors in victims. They can provide resources and support as part of the company’s requirement to maintain a safe work environment. Information about domestic violence and resources for help should be posted in common areas and shared at every employee orientation. Domestic violence is a complex issue. Many times a victim will reconcile with the abuser many times, despite the help of others. It can be very difficult to leave an abusive relationship for many reasons including financial, fear of being killed, lack of support or resources or self esteem issues. Oftentimes, a victim is most at risk for harm after he or she leaves the relationship. Employers need to address this issue with respect and compassion, without judgment or the threat of job loss for coming forward.
The EAP can offer trainings about domestic violence awareness. Employers can assist employees with restraining orders, changing their work locations or schedule and a safety plan, as well as alerting co-workers if a victim’s partner should come to the workplace. Feel free to consult with the EAP about ways we can assist you with awareness, education and assistance for all employees who may be facing violence in their intimate relationships.
For more information visit nomore.org
Information for this blog was taken from the article “Domestic Violence the Secret Killer that Costs $8.3 Billion Annually” by Dr. Robert Pearl from Forbes.com Dec. 5, 2013
An EAP helps increase your bottom line while building morale, and support for employees and their managers.
According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, anxiety and depression rank among the top five reasons for absenteeism. The National Mental Health Association reports this problem costs American companies more than $200 billion each year. Stressors such as family problems and financial crises are often at the very core of these concerns. A high quality EAP can provide a multifaceted approach to improving the life of employees and by doing so, employers can save significant amounts of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, turnover and poor performance.
Fully Effective Employees provides the following employee assistance services:
There are a lot of companies that offer Employee Assistance services, so why choose Fully Effective Employees?
An Employee Assistance Program offers an excellent return on your investment.
Contact us for more information!
For every two homicides in the U.S there are three suicides and the majority occur within the working population, yet few employers address this public health issue. When an employee has a mental health crisis at work, it affects the financial and social functioning of the workplace.
The Carson J Spencer Foundation has created a model for suicide prevention to help workplaces develop strategies that address prevention, intervention and postvention.
These key strategies involve:
If you are concerned about an employee, call Fully Effective Employees for confidential assistance. If an employee makes a suicidal threat, it should be taken very seriously and a family member should be contacted or the employee should be taken to the nearest emergency room for an assessment.
For more information about these strategies, visit:
Source: Journal of Employee Assistance 3rd Qtr 2011
If an employee does commit suicide, it can have a profound impact on the workplace and it can be very helpful to utilize the EAP for consultation and support. We can provide a critical incident debriefing onsite to assist co-workers who were directly involved with the employee. The debriefing can help co-workers process their feelings and reactions to the news and to educate them about the normal symptoms they may be experiencing as part of their reaction to an abnormal event (trauma). There may be feelings of guilt for those that may have known the individual was suicidal. For others, it may surface unresolved loss or trauma in their own lives and even their own suicidal feelings.
Sometimes family members may not want the cause of death discussed at the workplace even though co-workers may be suspicious or know the cause. Employers may wish to set up a memorial fund, have a brief memorial or send a card to family members. This provides some closure to the surviving co-workers and reinforces the support of the employer.
It is extremely important that employers encourage employees to seek professional help for emotional problems without stigma or judgment and if they are approached by an employee who may be depressed or suicidal, that they maintain the utmost confidentiality. If you have questions about how the EAP can help with potentially suicidal employees or with the aftermath of a suicide at your workplace, please contact us.
Negativity is a habit. It is contagious and quite common in many workplaces and can easily become part of a company’s culture. Negativity can include gossiping, poor morale, badmouthing management or the company, lack of enthusisasm, bullying, harassment, and lack of loyalty to the employer. Restructuring a negative workplace can take years. Therefore, it is better to prevent negativity from occuring in the first place and when it does arise, recognize it and nip it in the bud.
According to Cheryl DeMarco http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Cheryl_DeMarco, some business consequences of workplace negativity can be:
Errors and poor work quality
Increased employee turnover
Absence and tardiness
Loss of loyalty to the organization
Negativity has a tremendous impact on a company’s bottom line. It will also affect the worker, emotionally and physically and when employees work in a negative environment, it is hard not to take it home with them.
As a manager, be consciously aware of someone’s attitude when determining if you wish to hire them. Look for hints of negativity and if you pick it up, listen to your gut and don’t hire that person. Also, carefully listen for negativity when requesting references. If you have an employee who has become negative, react quickly. Meet with the employee and discuss your observations and concerns. Sometimes the reasons may be justifiied and you should acknowledge that and help find ways to resolve the cause, if possible. Help this person take responsibility for their negativity. Even if there are valid concerns for one’s feelings it is not appropriate to express them negatively at work. You may not be able to change someone’s point of view but you can influence behavior during work hours. Describe exactly what you expect. Tell the employee exactly what you have observed and how if has affected the company and co-workers. Help the employee replace negative behaviors with more positive ones. Negative behavior is a performance issue and it may be very approprate to refer the individual to the EAP as a management referral. When you use the EAP as a partner with management, you can monitor an employee’s motivation to improve and their progress, while staying out of the personal issues or details.
If the behavior has been ocurring within a group of employees, it would be advisable to consult with the EAP about how to handle the situation. Depending on what is happening and the causes for the negativity, it may be appropriate to meet with the group together or to meet with individuals separately.
Unfortunately, sometimes you will have no choice but to fire a really negative person. As a leader, you model by example and if you allow a negative or inappropriate employee to remain, it sets a bad tone. Be the change you want to see.
For information on preventing or dealing with negativity in your workplace and how the EAP can help, contact us at 425-557-0907.
“Free” employee assistance programs have become more and more prevalent. EAPs are often included as part of other core services such as health insurance, disability carriers and even payroll companies. These providers and the employers and benefit brokers they market to rationalize “why not throw in a free EAP?” However, as a consumer of employee benefits, employers must understand what they are getting. First of all, nothing is really free- the cost of the EAP services are covered by the carrier and as a result, often the cost is embedded and passed onto the purchaser of these services. Second, do you know who your provider is and just what you are getting?
Ron Holman wrote an article titled “Free Employee Assistance Programs, You Get What You Pay For” in the California Broker back in 2003 as free EAP’s were just emerging. It appears as though “free” is here to stay. However, many of these providers offer very little. Holman wrote “When a company chooses to offer its employees a “Free” EAP, they may not be invested in who utilizes the plan since they are not paying for the EAP. However, one very important quality of the EAP is the ability to detect any patterns within the employee population regarding drug and alcohol use, personal problems, legal or financial problems and issues with childcare and eldercare and to identify any necessary assistance…. Because many “free EAPs” do not provide employers with utilization reports, company executives are not able to understand their employee’s needs.”
The more employees use the EAP, the more it costs the provider. Therefore most free EAPs are not motivated to promote and provide awareness of the program because it costs them. As a result, some employers don’t even know the name of their EAP company and rarely use it. Usually on site services, critical incident debriefing, management consultation and management referrals and case management are either not provided or rarely used. All of these services are essential elements of a high quallity EAP which are also required under the “Standards and Guidelines for EAPs” according to the Employee Assistance Professionals Association.
Employee assistance programs that are offered as stand alone services are far more beneficial to employers. Many companies change their insurance providers frequently based on the most favorable rates they can obtain. If the EAP is included, it too will have to change which can be confusing and may discourage use by employees. If cases are managed for a long time then they will need to be transferred mid-stream to another provider that is unfamiliar with the case, which can be especially problematic for positive drug tests, management referrals and complex cases.
As an employer, you should be looking for a locally based EAP provider; one that knows the treatment facilities, the community resources and the nuances of your company. Your EAP provider should be able to assist you with the specific needs of your company and have regular contact with you. It should be able to provide trainings, management consultation, critical incident debriefings, assist with management referrals and drug testing policies. It should provide yearly utilization reports and assist you in promoting and increasing, rather than avoiding utilization of the program.
If you have a free EAP or one that is not meeting your needs, it may be time to evaluate what you need now. For more information contact Fully Effective Employees at 425-557-0907.
It is very difficult for small employers to obtain quality, personalized EAP services because the majority of Employee Assistance Programs cater to the larger employer.
We have developed a program to assist very small employers (10-25 employees). For one low flat rate, we will provide one (1) face to face counseling session for clients who reside within the Puget Sound, WA area. If clients are outside our local area, we will provide a comprehensive telephone assessment with one of our in-house professionally trained EAP staff members. We also provide unlimited management consultations, telephone counseling and support to employees and their dependents and access to our password protected website. Our comprehensive website includes self-assessment tests, articles, resources, newsletters and much more.
The cost of this program is very minimal and can provide peace of mind to employers who have concerns about how to handle difficult employees or situations. It is always more cost effective to help current employees than to replace, recruit and retrain a new one.
If you have employees with:
We can help! The EAP can increase employee loyalty and performance. It will improve your company’s bottom line with reduced health care costs, workers’ compensation claims and reduced absenteeism and turnover.
Because we do all the EAP work ourselves, we get to know the key players within our clients companies and we understand the company culture. If you are a small business owner, you have may have questions about how to handle difficult employees and may need a professional to consult with about a certain employee or problematic employment situations. We can advise you on assisting employees with personal and or performance related issues.
If your company is too small for your own HR staff, we can refer you to our Human Resource partner who can provide you with some of the following:
If warranted, we can also refer you to employment attorneys and we will provide ongoing case management with difficult situations.
Examples if situations where we can help small business are:
1. A long term employee died over the weekend. Since the group of 12 co-workers had worked with this individual for many years, they were all very upset and had a tough time getting their work done. In addition, this employee had a specialized position that no one else could do. Our EAP provided a critical incident debriefing to the whole company to help them process their reactions and grief. We met with the company owner to allow her to process her grief, to help her plan a memorial for the employee and to make plans to replace the position that was difficult to fill.
2. An employee tested positive for drugs after a pretty serious workplace accident. We were able to provide an initial drug and aclohol assessment and then referred him to a treatment agency where he was able and willing to enroll in so that he could keep his job. We assisted the employer with a return to work agreement and monitored the employee’s progress in treatment. We have been following up with him for the past year and he has remained clean and sober and is thankful that his employer offered the EAP for help.
3. A long-term highly skilled supervisor had been accused of harassing and intimidating a subordinate. The subordinate employee complained to management. In the course of the investigation, the employee informed management that two previous employees had left because of this supervisor. The supervisor was very hesistant to reprimand the supervisor because his position was so difficult to replace. We consulted with management, helped them document the issues and they referred the employee to the EAP as a management referral. We referred the employer to our HR partner for one on one harassment training with the supervisor and she assisted the employee and employer with a performance improvement plan. We also provided support to the subordinate employee.
For more information about how we can help your small business, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Retirement coaching is an important employee benefit. Making the decision to retire can be very difficult for many employees. Sometimes life doesn’t give us much choice about when to retire. An injury at work or a serious illness might force some to leave work early. While these people may not be able to perform the same job, they may need to continue to make money or keep busy. These troubled economic times have forced many to work longer than they had planned just so they can continue to make contributions to their dwindling retirement accounts. Others have lost considerable value in their homes or other investments and consider extending their working years, a necessity. These workers may be just “doing time”, feeling burnt out or resentful that they cannot leave work as early as they had planned. You may not be getting the same productivity or enthusiasm from these employees as you had in the past.
As an employer, you may be facing the need to downsize or encourage employees to take an early retirement. These employees may not be ready to stop working or to leave their jobs, either financially or emotionally. As an employer, how can you help them make a transition to retirement?
For a large number of employees, work is a big part of their identity. Who someone is may often be a relection of what they do. Work provides social interaction, a sense of community and creates structure and routine in our lives. Many of us have worked with those who have little else in their lives besides work. For these people, retirement can be downright scary. These individuals may be able to retire financially but not emotionally. They need to replace the function that work plays in their lives with new hobbies, interests or a different kind of work.
What happens for people when they retire before they are ready or prepared? For men, the number one malady in retirement is depression. When leisure activities are always available, they may be less pleasurable and most people need more in their lives to keep them happy and busy. Couples may face a difficult adjustment to spending more time together and they may not agree on how and where they want to spend their retirement years.
The people who retire “successfully” tend to share the following characteristics:
We can help you prepare your employees for retirement. We offer group sessions for small groups of employees as well as individual coaching. Our progam includes a retirement readiness assessment and then we work with clients on the areas that may need some focus. Retirement coaching is a great return on investment. When employees can feel positive about entering the next phase of their lives, they will be more productive during their last few months or years as an employee.
For more information contact Audrey at email@example.com
Anger is a normal human emotion. However, when it is expressed inappropriately or when it involves threats, intimidation or acts of verbal or physical aggression, it is a significant workplace and societal issue. Often the first response an employer may take with an angry employee is to refer him or her for anger management counseling. However, each situation should be assessed individually to determine how an employer should proceed. An employer must determine if the individual is prone to outbursts of anger at work or if, believe it or not, the person may have significant anger issues that may be protected by various laws, if the anger is caused by or related to a medical condition.
Some employees may have angry outbursts that are not directed at anyone but they are still intimidating and inappropriate. Others may be harassing or bullying co-workers. This behavior may have been occuring for a long time because co-workers are afraid to come forward for fear of retaliation.
Workplace bullying as defined by the Workplace Bullying Institute is …”repeated, health harming mistreatment of one or more persons… one or more perpetrators… in the form of verbal abuse, offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating or work interference-sabotage- which prevents work from getting done.” Obviously, this definition covers someone who behaves badly at work but also may describe someone with a serious psychological problem.
So, what should an employer do?
First of all, someone who has an inappropriate or unpleasant demeanor at work should be confronted as soon as possible to prevent escalation in the future. The longer an employee is permitted to get away with negative behavior, the harder it will be to confront. It is crucial that employers have zero tolerance policies for harassment, bullying, threats, or acts of physical or verbal aggression toward anyone at work. Clear expectations should be given about interpersonal interactions and behavior at work. Consequences for failing to improve negative behavior should also be addressed. If an employee makes threats of violence, these threats should always be taken seriously and investigated immediately. It may be necessary to call law enforcement or remove the individual from the workplace until the investigation or assessment has been completed.
It is also not advisable to refer an employee for specific treatment, anger management or counseling because creating a diagnosis or the inference of one, could trigger certain issues and protections with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). According to Sara J. Fagnilli, an attorney with Walter & Haverfield LLP in Cleveland,OH, requiring an employee to obtain counseling could be found to be equivalent to requiring a medical exam. In order for an employer to avoid a violations of the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAA), it must demonstrate that such an exam (or counseling) is job related and a business necessity.
We are always available to consult with you about angry employees and to assist you with a management referral to the EAP based on performance. In certain situations, we may advise you to consult with legal counsel early in the process.
Stay tuned for our in-person harassment training in early February!
On November 6, 2012, Washington state voters passed Initiative 502 which regulates and taxes sales of small amounts of marijuana for adults. Under the soon-to-be implemented Washington state law, adults in the state may now possess up to an ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana products and 72 ounces of liquid infused marijuana products. The initiative passed with a 55 to 45 percent margin.
Because of the obvious conflict between the federal Controlled Substance Abuse Act and the new Washington and Colorado laws, we can expect more developments shortly as these newly authorized state-regulated marijuana markets begin to take shape. Although the Administration (e.g., the Attorney General, etc.) remained silent on the marijuana-legalization initiative throughout the election cycle, it has opposed legalization in the past.
A legal challenge to the Washington and Colorado laws is expected.
How does this affect employers? Neither initiative changes the ability of employers to maintain their current employment policies, nor does it prevent them from creating whatever policies they see fit. If employers do not currently allow off-site marijuana use by employees, they can continue to prohibit it. Neither requires employers to accommodate the use of marijuana by their employees. A recent Washington State Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Teletech, clearly stated that Washington State employers didn’t even have to accommodate workers with a doctor’s authorization to use marijuana under Washington’s Medical Use of Marijuana Act (MUMA).
Does this affect your current drug testing policy? No. The drug testing that your company and millions of employers around the world have been doing for decades was never based on the assumption that the user was doing something illegal under a criminal law – instead it has always been based on SAFETY and the efficiency of your workforce. No one who has failed an employment drug test has been reported to the police or charged criminally. Nothing changes after I-502 or Amendment 64 as far as workplace drug testing. You may be interested in reading this synopsis and legal review “Don’t Fear The Reefer: Legalization of Marijuana To Have Little Effect on WA Employers”
Here are some additional reasons why you should continue prohibiting the use of marijuana and continue drug testing for marijuana (THC):
1. If you are subject to the federal drug testing requirements – nothing has changed. The Dept. of Transportation, Department of Defense, Department of Energy drug testing programs still require that you prohibit the use of marijuana and continue to test for marijuana.
2. If you have or want to be eligible to receive federal contracts or grants, the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 still applies to you – and this includes most state and local government agencies, school districts, etc. This Act requires that your written policy must prohibit ALL illicit drug use as defined by the federal Controlled Substance Act. There is no exception for “medical marijuana” or any other marijuana use. The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989, declares that colleges or schools that allow illegal drugs on campus face the possibility of losing federal funding. Many different states have similar laws which will apply to you if you want to work or do business in those states.
3. Smoking pot doubles the risk of serious crashes.”Cannabis consumption – Motor Vehicle Collision Risk”
4. Because you are concerned about liability and risk management, you are probably aware of various courts and Supreme Court decisions that say an “employer can be held liable in such cases if it failed a duty to prevent foreseeable injury”. So, since everyone knows that marijuana use can severely impair, if you allow these people to work at your company or on your job sites, expect to be held responsible for injuries, accidents, and deaths that they cause – basically it’s the same logic as to why you don’t let someone work under the influence of alcohol, even though alcohol is a legal drug.
Every employer should have a drug and alcohol policy. The responsibility to provide a safe workplace and the potential liability from negligent hiring and retention require that employers be aware of and take steps to control work-related substance abuse. The components of a drug-free workplace program, especially drug testing of employees, may raise legal issues with a risk of legal liability if conducted improperly or in violation of federal, state or local laws. Recommendations given are intended to provide reasonably accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is furnished with the understanding that we are not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought.
This article was written reprinted with permission by Tom Pool, Executive Director, Drug Free Business. If you would like more information about drug testing, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org