All employers know that employee absenteeism is a big problem. It reduces productivity, morale and the company bottom line. The ever present challenge is how employers can prevent and reduce absenteeism. CCH, a leading provider of human resources and employment law information (hr.cch.com) conducted an unscheduled absence survey in 2005 and found that the average per employee cost of absenteeism is $660 with some larger companies losing more than $1 million per year. What is of great concern to employers is that almost two out of three employees who call in sick are not physically sick. Personal illness accounted for only 35 percent of unscheduled absences and 65% were due to other reasons including family issues (21 percent), personal needs (18 percent) entitlement mentality (14 percent) and stress (12 percent).
Companies with low morale saw higher rates and costs of unscheduled absences. 78% of human resource managers feel that the main cause of absenteeism is the belief that those who skip out of work believe they are entitled to time off. The other reason cited by human resource managers is a lack of supervisor involvement as a catalyst to discourage employee absenteeism. When managers understand the causes of absenteeism and use the EAP as a resource for assisting employees, they can play a big role in reducing absenteeism.
When employees are faced with stressful everyday life situations, it has an impact on their ability to be present in their jobs. Stressful situations include family and relationship problems, physical illness, addictions, financial difficulties including foreclosure, bankruptcy, identity theft, debt and unemployment by a spouse. If employees have a confidential, employer sponsored way (the EAP) to obtain assistance with these difficulties, they are more likely to address their problems earlier and resolve them quicker. Additional worklife and wellness programs as part of the EAP can be very helpful for employees trying to manage the stress of balancing work and family issues.
The EAP can also train managers on how to recognize and identify personal problems before they have begun to effect performance. When managers can coach employees on how to use the EAP, they stay out of the middle of their personal problems, while still offering a way to get help. Once personal problems have begun to effect performance or absenteeism, they can refer the employee to the EAP as a supervisor referral for peformance based issues. In addition, when employees know they are valued and given a free, confidential resource to address their personal problems, they feel appreciated by and more loyal to their employer.
Employers should also create incentive programs that can improve both attitude and attendance rates. This works for several reasons. Some employees may lack the internal motivation necessary to keep their spirits up and give them the drive and desire to show up to work every day. These people may need the external motivation that incentives provide.
Additionally, incentives tend to promote certain goals, which can be beneficial for employees with attendance problems. The company can create an incentive program that is specifically linked to attendance. Examples of this type of program include:
1) The ability to cash-in unused sick days at the end of a specific period
2) Allowing employees to leave early one Friday per month of perfect attendance
3) Bonus pay for periods of perfect attendance
4) Gifts such as savings bonds or gift cards for periods of perfect attendance
5) Paid time off programs which allow for personal issues, vacation and sick time all in one bank of hours so employees can use what they need when needed.
Of course employers do need to be clear with employees that if they are legitimately sick, they should stay home so that no one else at work gets sick and so they can take the time they need to get better. When the workplace culture is one that does not allow people to be ill, then it will create resentment and poor morale.
Do you have any good suggestions for preventing absenteeism? If so, we would love to hear your ideas.
Fully Effective Employees offers assistance with drug testing, management training and consultation, and confidential assistance to employees and their families with personal and work related problems.
While most of our blog posts are geared toward Human Resource Managers and company owners, we feel this blog has tips that can be useful for employees as well. While the holiday season can be a time of joy and celebration, it can also be an extremely stressful time of year for others. While some people can celebrate and engage in parties and family get togethers, others struggle with depression, addiction, financial difficulties or family problems that can be intensified over the holidays. Some employees may have suffered a loss of a loved one or gone through a divorce during the year which can make the holidays very difficult. Employers should be sensitive to theses issues and ensure that employees are aware of the Employee Assistance Program which can offer them resources, brief counseling and support during tough times. If you feel stressed out by the thought of holiday chores, obligations, and the clan dropping in for a spell—or if this year’s circumstances make the holiday season difficult for whatever reason—start preparations now to manage your holiday stress.
The following tips were written by Dan Feerst, LICSW-CP of WorkExcel.com .
Holiday Myth Busters —Along with good tidings come high expectations based on the commercialization of the holiday season, past childhood memories we may long to duplicate, and the expectations of others.
If family members count on your “holiday magic” to make every year special—the cooking, cleaning, baking, decorating, and gift-wrapping—you face a bigger challenge letting go or finding balance.
Here’s how to cope better with expectations, demands, and added pressure during the holidays.
We wish all of our clients and their families a very Happy Holiday Season.If you are interested in learo
Decision Time —Make a decision to take charge and tackle holiday stress. This mentally prepares you to enjoy the time while facing demands of the season with better endurance.
Your Priorities —Decide on your priorities to make the season meaningful. Did you miss the tour of homes last year because the Waltons next door had their open house on the same day? The idea here is to plan a few “non-negotiable” events for yourself.
Now the Rest —What activities are important to your brood this year? Seek to trim the “idea tree” to reduce stress from trying to fit it all in. A family meeting to gather ideas can work, and chances are activities you thought everyone still wanted are no longer of interest.
Avoid the Rush —Are holiday lights on the house critical? If yes, go for it, but if it seems more like a “chore” than a pleasurable task, that’s a clue about its priority and importance to you. Activities that feel like chores get delayed. Pay attention to procrastination. It is insight to help you decide whether it’s thumbs up or down on something that seems desirable.
Fight the Blues —If the holidays are a sad time of year because of difficult memories or because a loved one can’t be there, then develop a personal intervention strategy. Volunteering for a local charity is an interactive experience, and those who’ve tried it claim it works to lift one’s mood. You’ll feel empowered and more positive, and the experience of helping others anchors you to a memory that lasts.
Navigating Family Conflict —If you can’t avoid holiday gatherings with family members who experience feuds and conflicts, try discussing with kin your desire to avoid conflict. Be up front and ask that differences be set aside. Older adults criticizing teenagers is a famous trigger. So are statements from in-laws that appear critical, interfering, or meddlesome. Self-awareness is power, so you stand a good chance of at least minimizing this behavior.
Take Care of Yourself —What improves your mood—exercise, positive affirmations, alone time? During the year, have you been promising to do something for yourself, but keep putting it off? Do it. The holiday season is a perfect time to reaffirm your love, not only for those you care about but also for yourself.
EAP Can Help —Holiday stress affects everyone differently, so suggestions here may not match what’s unique for you. Don’t face the stress alone. Instead, call Fully Effective Employees, assistance program. The EA professional will help you find the resilience and strength you need to face any challenge the holidays may bring.
We wish all of our clients and their families a very happy holiday season and all the best for the coming year.
If you would like to learn more about how Fully Effective Employees can help your business and your employees, please contact us at email@example.com or 425-557-0907
Copyright 2011 WorkExcel.com
As the holiday season quickly approaches, many businesses are starting to plan their holiday social events. Many employers use the holidays as a time to reward their employees, to socialize and to provide a positive experience for everyone. The majority of companies serve alcohol at holiday parties and events. Individuals who drink too much during a company event can do things to jeopardize their health, safety and their careers. When people drink, their inhibitions decrease and they may do and say things they would never dream of during a regular work day when not under the influence of alcohol. Employers should also consider that not everyone drinks; some choose not to drink, some are under age,and others may be in recovery from addictions and be particularly vulnerable to temptation during the holidays. Employers should be aware of the issues that can arise as a result of office parties where alcohol is served.
The U.S Department of Labor Working Partners for an Alcohol and Drug Free Workplace offers the following tips to minimize the negative consequences of alcohol consumption at your holiday party.
1. Be honest with employees. Make sure employees know your workplace substance abuse policy and that the policy addresses the use of alcoholic beverages in any work related function.
2. Post the policy. Use every communication vehicle to be sure your employees know the policy. Before an office party, use break room posters, payroll stuffers and email to communicate your policy and concerns.
3. Reinvent the office party concept. Try something like an indoor carnival, volunteer opportunity or group outing to a sporting event or amusement park.
4. Make sure employees know when to say “when”. If you do serve alcohol, make sure all employee know they are welcome to attend and have a good time but that they are expected to behave responsibly.
5. Make it the office party of choice. Be sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages.
6. Eat.. and be merry! Avoid serving lots of salty, greasy or sweet food, which tend to make people thirsty. Serve foods rich in starch and protein- that stay in the stomach longer and slow down the absorption of alcohol in the bloodstream.
7. Designate party managers. Remind managers that even at the office party, they may need to implement the company’s alcohol and substance abuse policy.
8. Arrange alternative transportation. Anticipate that some partygoers may drink too much to drive safely. Make special transportation arrangements in advance (ie shuttles or taxis to public transportation). Encourage all employees to make use of this service.
9. Serve none for the road. Stop serving alcohol before the party officially ends. Employers should review their policies regarding alcohol consumption and enforce these policies at all company celebrations.
PTSD stands for post traumatic stress disorder. According to the National Center for PTSD, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur after a person has been through a traumatic event. A traumatic event is something horrible and scary that one witnesses or is involved with. During this type of event, the individual may think that his life or others’ lives are in danger. He may feel afraid or feel that he has no control over what is happening.
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, symptoms are grouped into three main categories.
2. Avoidance symptoms
3. Hyperarousal symptoms
While many mililtary vets have PTSD, it can occur in non-military employees as well. They may have been in an accident, witnessed a fatality or serious injury at work, or been a victim of a natural disaster or war. Due to the nature of the profession, PTSD tends to occur more in the medical field, fire fighters, police officers, and the construction industry.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employees are not required to disclose a diagnosis of PTSD, however they are required to disclose their condition, if or when they need accomodation to perform the essential duties of the job. PTSD can negatively impact memory, concentration, time management and organizational skills and more.
The Job Accomodation Network is a great resource that provides suggestions for employers to consider when accomodating employees.
While some employees have been diagnosed and are being treated for PTSD, others may not be aware they have it. If you are concerned about an employee who may be displaying or experiencing some of the above symptoms, it is a good idea to refer them to the EAP. If there are no performance issues, you can suggest they contact the EAP and emphasize that all contact with the EAP is confidential. If however, there are performance issues, you should refer the employee to the EAP for the performance problem and you can certainly share your concerns about the possiblity of PTSD or emotional issues with the EAP counselor who will conduct a thorough assessment.
If a traumatic event such as a sudden death, injury or serious accident occurs at work, you should contact the EAP about the possiblility of conducting a critical incident debriefing. Allowing employees the opportunity to discuss what they saw and their reactions to the event, can help them process their feelings and prevent PTSD. The EAP also offers education about the symptoms of trauma and helps normalize their reactions to an abnormal event.
Practice the following six relationship skills and you’ll be a happier, healthier and more productive employee: investment skills, receptivity skills, connective skills, impression skills, empathy skills and repair skills.
1. Investment skills build up or nurture workplace relationships. These can include telling others they did a good job, praising your co-workers, or including them in social events.
2. Receptivity skills include being a good listener; maintaining eye contact;asking for opinions;thanking coworkers for feedback;acknowledging that a co-worker helped save you time, energy, embarrassment, etc.
3. Connection skills include telling coworkers you appreciate them, encouraging coworkers, or hooring others; choices or deferring to that they want or would like to do.
4. Impression skills get you rememebered. They are positive behaviors others don’t particularly practice. These can include sending a hand written thank you note; taking the lead to a birthday; or sharing a skill or resource to elevate the effectivementss of a co-worker, even if you create your own competition.
5. Empathy skills include the ability to recognize others’ emotions and identify unmet needs- need for a break, need for recognition, need for validation, need to be heard, or even a need for a helping hand.
6. Repair skills include the willingness to discuss your relationship, cear the air or :check in” to address misunderstandings and obstacles that prevent feeling good about the relationship.
Source: Frontline Employee reprinted with permission
I attended an HR Roundtable sponsored by Resourcefulhr in Seattle today. A group of HR professionals met to discuss challenges and ideas for enagaging and retaining employees.
The major topics that we discussed included:
Research has shown that unless the salary is very low, financial incentives are not always the way to reach the hearts and minds of employees. Appreciation, acknowledgement, and recognition will go a long way towards keeping employees motivated to perform. A sense of belonging to the community in which they work, feeling valued and supported by their employer are important to keep employees loyal to. Low- cost benefits like health club membership discounts, wellness and worklife programs and employee assistance programs can be implemented for a great return on investment.
All of these are fabulous ideas for keeping employees engaged. We all know the cost of recruitng and retraining new employees, so we need to be sure we keep our current employees happy.
Do you have any other ideas to contribute to this list? We would love to hear from you!
Morneau Shepell, the largest Employee Assistance firm in Canada, released a new study that said that intervention through employee assistance programs leads to improved employee mental health and higher productivity, as well as a reduction of 25 percent in costs due to lost productivity.
The study collected data to measure four specific outcomes: general health status, mental health status, productivity, and absenteeism. Here are some of its findings:
75 percent of North American businesses have an employee assistance program and they are a key component of employee benefit plans. The Morneau Shepell study made two key recommendations:
1. Organizations should develop a more strategic partnership with their EAP provider as a first step in reallizing the return on investment. The provider can recommend strategies to optimize the use of the EAP as a preventative measure with the objective of saving costs on the bottom line and using the EAP to support the organization’s health priorities.
2. Organizations should consider a strategic approach to absence management, cost management and strategies related to employee engagement and retention.
For more information about this study go to http://bit.ly/kZ2Xx1
While 75 percent of employers may have an EAP, all programs are not alike. Employers should investigate their vendors to be sure they are meeting the needs of their company. The company contact or HR representative should have a good relationship with their EAP provider, with the ability to consult or to seek management assistance on a range of personnel issues.
Your EAP should be your partner in assisting with your employees’ emotional health. The more the employee assistance program is supported by management and promoted and marketed to employees, the more it will be used.
Healthy, happy and engaged employees will save their employers thousands in lost productivity, morale issues, performance problems and health insurance claims. Employees who feel supported by their employer will be loyal in both good and bad economic times.
One of the Human Resource Managers I work with as an EAP provider, is a gifted author and a woman who is also a recovering alcoholic. Amy Hatvany’s new book, Best Kept Secret is being released on June 7, 2011. The book tells the story of Cadence, a recently separated mother of a five year old boy who struggles with a painful divorce and making ends meet. Cadence descends into alcoholism and loses custody of her son in the process. This book tells a heartbreaking story of a women’s alcoholism and path of recovery. For many alcoholics, giving up their painful secret is the first step towards recovery. I asked Ms. Hatvany the following questions:
1. What made you decide to write the book?
I began writing the story as a direct result of my own emotional experiences as a professional woman, mother and recovering alcoholic. While the characters and plot are fiction, Cadence’s emotional turmoil during her decent into addiction and her journey back toward sobriety are largely based on what I went through. As I worked on the emotional side of getting sober, it became clear to me that there is a special, intense kind of shame that accompanies being a woman who was drunk in front of her children. It’s that shame that forces so many of us to keep our addiction secret, for fear of what might happen if we tell someone the truth. We are terrified of the stigma and possible consequences, but keeping this secret, can have devastating – even deadly – results.
2. How does it relate to your own life and that of other professional women you know?
I think as women in our culture – whether or not we are mothers – we are certainly driven by perfectionism. We are told we can do it all, be it all, have it all. Of course, we can’t – at least, not “perfectly” – so I wanted to portray how as a result, many women experience profound levels of shame and self-loathing, even as we smile brightly and tell ourselves that we can’t expect to always be perfect at everything in our lives. But deep down, perhaps subconsciously, I think we still believe that we “should” be. So we reach for behaviors that drown our shame out, at least temporarily. And then we become ashamed of the behavior and the vicious cycle emerges. I’m not just talking about alcohol, here. Eating disorders, shopping, gambling, sex – even our careers can serve as an escape from the pressure.
3. How is alcoholism perceived in the workplace?
Unfortunately, I think it’s perceived the same way the world perceives it: as some kind of moral failing. I believe the key misconception is that the alcohol itself is the problem, when really, drinking is really just the symptom of much deeper physiological, and emotional issues. Simply stopping drinking is not going to resolve a person’s problems. There is a saying in recovery, that when you remove the alcohol from the alcoholic, you are left with”ick”. Certainly an alcoholic needs to heal from the physical side of addiction, but learning how to sift through the “ick” – negative thinking patterns, emotional reactivity, etc, – is the true work of recovery.
4. HR Managers deal with performance and personal issues with their employees every day. How does this impact an HR manager who may be going through her own issues?
I’d have to say that being in recovery has certainly made my job in HR easier! I used to be a bit of an emotional “sponge” but I have learned healthy ways to set boundaries and not absorb the chaos that can surround me on any given day in my job. I can’s speak for any other HR professional, but for me, I have gathered so many tools to manage my own performance or personal issues, and I’ve found that sharing some of these tools – which are universal, not recovery specific – has been greatly appreciated by many of the people I work with. I think in order to be an effective HR manager, I need to be aware of my own baggage, so I can hopefully keep it from coloring my interactions with employees. Of course, my generally cheery, positive outlook can irritate the heck out of people too, but it helps me immensely to understand their response is not about me.
5. What is the best way in your opinion for an employer to deal with an employee who is suspected of having an alcohol problem, from the recovered person’s perspective?
That’s a tough question, because as a professional, I know I need to manage it – from a performance level. Monitor the employee’s attendance patterns, lack of productivity, etc., and discipline as necessary. We all know the dangers of labelling anyone as an alcoholic, or even intimating that they might be one, so clearly, I don’t recommend that. But if an employee comes to you and communicates they are afraid they might have a problem with alcohol, I would certainly refer them to your EAP for help and guidance. I would let them know if your health plan covers treatment for substance abuse. I would recommend finding ways to educate your management team about the disease of alcoholism. But at the end of the day, if an employee refuses to seek help, and his or her performance continues to decline, sometimes the best thing to do is follow your progressive discipline procedures based on a well-documented case for not being able to perform their job, and terminate. Nursing an active alcoholic along, making concessions and exceptions and excuses doesn’t do them any favors. It only enables their disease to destroy them more quickly.
6. What message do you hope this book will leave your readers with?
Overall, I hope that women, especially, are able to see the similarities they share with Cadence, rather than the differences. I hope that the story widens the readers’ understanding and compassion, and perhaps makes them re-evaluate any preconceptions they might hold about women who suffer from alcoholism and mothers who don’t have primary custody of their children. I also hope that any woman in the throes of active addiction sees herself in Cadence’s story and finds the courage it takes to reach out for help.
For me, that’s the inherent beauty of books – each person will walk away with something different from a story. My hope as an author is that readers will find a need met perhaps one they weren’t aware they had to fill.
I highly recommend Best Kept Secret. It is a wonderfully well written and heart wrenching story that portrays the struggles that women alcoholics face, especially if they are also mothers.
To purchase a copy visit Amazon.com or www.amyhatvany.com
National Workplace Wellness Week is April 5-11, 2011. It’s a good time for employers to assess the health of their workforce and make plans to improve it. “Workplace wellness programs are critical to improving employee health, increasing productivity, reducing absenteeism and lowering health care costs,” says Dr. Craig Thorne, spokesperson for the American Heart Association.
Medical research reports that 145 million American adults are overweight and 74 million are obese, making more than a third of the working-age population at risk for chronic illness. Obesity-related health conditions cost employers about $30 billion per year, according to some studies.
Wednesday has been marked as “Walking Day,” and the groups are encouraging employers to take advantage of free wellness programs, such as Start! and National Start! Walking Day. The programs push employees to walk before, during and after work.
“Getting your employees to walk briskly for just 30 minutes a day can help lower chronic disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure,” says Thorne. “Educating them about basic cardiovascular disease prevention and developing health education programs that focus on lifestyle behavior change is a huge investment that will increase any company’s bottom line,” he adds.
Companies that create opportunities for employees to improve their health while on the job create a culture of wellness that unltimtely generates the best results. Employers who promote and support wellness, tend to have successful programs. While it is difficult to measure a wellness program stictly on the bottom line but it can be evaluated by the cost of health care and absenteeism. Some employers are finding that a successful program can allow them to move to a high-deductible health insurance plan which can significantly cut their annual health premiums. Under these plans, employers can help pay the deductibles and still save money. Some companies allow employees to earn points for participating in healthy activities which can be used to reduce their share in annual health insurance costs.
The Healthy Workforce Act (S.803/H.R.1897) is a bill to improve the health of America’s workforce which would provide a tax credit to businesses to supprt comprehensive workplace wellness programs. It would provide employers with the means to implement evidence-based strategies for improving the health of workers by addressing causes of chronic disease including obesity, physical inactivity and tobacco use.
If you would like to implement a wellness program for your company, we have a very low cost on-line program or a very comprehensive program tailored to fit your company’s needs.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are very excited to offer a variety of new services to our Employee Assistance Program for 2011. I will describe each new service in a separate blog.
Our Worklife Program is now enhanced and we are renaming it Work-Life Solutions. This program provides resources and referrals for every stage of someone’s life, from birth to death and all the life events in between. Now more than ever, employees are finding they are stressed with financial worries, increasing demands from their jobs, pressure to balance work and family, and coping with dependent children and aging parents. Our program can help address employees’ personal and work/life needs including:
* Balancing Work & Family
* Resources and Referrals
* Child and Elder Care needs
* Adoption Services
* Health & Wellness
* Academic Searches
* Disaster Recovery & Relief
* Interactive Tools and Videos
* Training and Calculators
We now also offer coaching to help clients cope and plan for life events such as job changes, new parenting, dealing with aging parents and retirement. Our program will help clients think more strategically and plan for the future with realistic goals and help them to manage their personal lives while attending to loved ones’ care needs.
The program also includes an online wellness program with dozens of health risk assessments, articles, videos and information about many diseases and health related issues. Individuals can assess themselves for the risk of various health concerns and then put a plan into action to take care of themselves.
Essentials of daily life management provides over 200 interactive tools, quizzes, videos and articles on mental health topics and personal growth and training.
We have a searchable database of over 800,000 national child and eldercare providers.
Our Work-life Solutions program can help build a more productive work environment by:
* Assisting employees to successfully balance their work and family responsibilities
* Decreasing employee absenteesim due to child and eldercare responsibilities
* Increasing job satisfaction by decreasing the pressure of working while trying to locate and manage dependent care issues.
* Saving employers money due to lower health insurance claims when employees have access to a health and wellness program for both emotional and physical health.
This program is available as a stand alone product and does not have to be part of the Employee Assistance Program.
For more information about our very affordable Work-Life Solutions program, please call us at 425-557-0907 or email us at email@example.com