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Human Resources

30
Dec

Domestic Violence: The Secret in Your Workplace

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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

 

17
Jun

Preventing & Coping With Employee Suicide

Stressed BusinesswomanFor 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:

  • Vocal and visible leadership that can emphasize the importance of suicide prevention while modeling mental wellness and self-care;
  • Policies and procedures that promote a mentally healthy workforce- including fair and compassionate reintegration policies, life skills promotion, and a culture of belonging.
  •  Suicide prevention training for the workforce that help employers  to identify warning signs and risk factors; to know how to ask about suicide; and to confidently refer high risk people to the appropriate resources.
  • Screening the workforce for early signs of depression and other mental health conditions, so that these illnesses do not become life threatening.
  • Access to quality mental health services to ensure that those who need help receive appropriate highly qualified care with few obstacles.
  • Means restriction that place barriers between high risk people and lethal means of suicide (e.g restricting high roof access on tall office buildings, securing lethal chemicals, etc)
  • Crisis response and longterm postvention that seeks to stabilize a grieving and traumatized workforce and to honor bereavement needs.

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:

www.carsonjspencer.org

www.suicidepreventionhotline.org

www.save.org

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.

16
May

Combating Workplace Negativity

Businessman Looking Suspiciously Over His ShoulderNegativity 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:

Customer complaints

Errors and poor work quality

Increased employee turnover

Absence and tardiness

Pesonality conflicts

Poor morale

Loss of loyalty to the organization

Decreased creativity

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.

 

 

9
Mar

EAP and HR for Small Businesses

Business HandshakeEmployee assistance services are available for small businesses through our EAP and HR Partnership Program. 

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:

  • Performance issues
  • Attitude problems
  • Absenteeism, tardiness
  • Poor moral
  • Personal problems
  • Drug or alcohol issues  and more…

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:

  • Creation or revision of your employee handbook
  • Assistance with forms, procedures and compliance issues. 
  • Assessment of your company’s needs
  • Assistance with recruitment, difficult terminations

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 audreyr@fee-eap.com

 

 

19
Nov

Decriminalization of Marijuana in WA State- Will it Affect You?

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 audreyr@fee-eap.com

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10
May

Do Your Employees Have Financial Problems?

While there are signs the economy is improving, people continue to experience unemployment, foreclosure, bankruptcy and credit card debt. Many Americans live well beyond their means and survive from paycheck to paycheck.  Financial problems create stress, anxiety, relationship issues and depression. As a result, employees may have a difficult time keeping their financial problems separate from their work lives.  Stress and emotional difficulties can lead to absenteeism, accidents and performance issues which will affect an employer’s bottom line.

Although the economy has been the primary source, there are other reasons employees may be experiencing financial difficulties.

These include:

  • Gambling
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Shopping addiction
  • Depression
  • Poor money management
  • Divorce

The following are some signs that employees may be experiencing financial difficulties:

  • Requesting paycheck advances
  • Requesting an employer loan
  • Often volunteering to work overtime
  • Taking out 401K loans or discontinuing contributions
  • Calls to verify employment or wages by lenders
  • Garnishment of wages
  • Change in work peformance, attitude or behavior
  • Frequent phone calls
  • Overly emotional behavior

Employers can take a proactive approach to help employees with personal and financial problems by providing a good employee assistance program.  You can actively encourage the confidential use of  the program for employees and their families by distributing promotional materials, linking the EAP website to the company’s Intranet, and reminding workers about the EAP in meetings, company newsletters and emails.  Fully Effective Employees provides an optional legal and financial assistance program which allows employees the opportunity to speak with an attorney or CPA about their financial situation.  We can also arrange to have financial planners provide financial seminars at no additional cost.

If personal problems have begun to affect performance, you should refer the employee to the EAP for the performance issue and if you suspect financial issues may be the reason,  you can share that information with the EAP counselor.  Investing in your most important asset- your employees makes good business sense.

 

 

12
Apr

Ten Reasons to Have an Employee Assistance Program

Most employers retain the services of an Employee Assistance Program to help employees and their families with personal and work related problems. If employees function well at work, they contribute to the well being of an organization as a whole.  Most EAP’s help with a wide range of problems including stress, depression, anxiety, family or relationship difficulties, work issues, financial, legal, worklife, work problems and more.  An EAP can be highly effective at reducing employee problems and increasing the bottom line.  However, there are many choices in the EAP market and like all services, it is important to understand what you need and what you are receiving from your current or potential vendor. The following is a list of the top ten reasons to have an EAP:

1. Increase productivity

When employees are faced with personal problems, their concentration, focus and motivation are all negatively impacted so an EAP can help them deal with these issues which will improve productivity. An EAP reduces absenteeism, accidents and turnover, thereby making employees more productive.

2. Reduce Company Costs

Employee problems are costly.  Troubled employees take more sick days, have more accidents, and make more health insurance claims. When employees suffer emotionally, their work and productivity also suffer.  An EAP will improve work peformance and help increase the bottom line.

3. Confidentiality

When a third party company provides EAP services,  employees are more likely to seek help, when they know their employer is not privy to their confidential personal information. Employers are not put in the position of assisting employees with personal problems when they are not trained or equipped to do so. They are able to manage people but not their problems.

4. Aids in the Recruitment and Rentention of Valued Employees

An EAP is a value-added benefit for employees and their families which provides confidential access to counseling and resources they might not otherwise have. It builds morale and loyalty when employees know their employer supports their physical and emotional well being.

5. Resolution of Work Related Problems

EAP’s help employees deal with personal problems that have begun to affect work peformance which will hopefully prevent termination and get the employee back on track. The EAP can also help the employee  to develop skills to deal with work related stress and problematic work relationships.

6. Assistance in Getting the Right Help

When left to their own devices, employees may be confused or overwhelmed about how to access services, treatment or counseling in their own community or may not even know where to turn.  The EAP counselors sort out the issues and assist with appropriate referrals and resources for ongoing support and problem resolution.

7.  Management Assistance

Managers and supervisors may need help confronting and dealing with problematic employees or workplace situations. The EAP provides management training, coaching and consultation. The EAP can also assist with drug testing, harassment and potential workplace violence.

8. Drug Testing Programs

The EAP can assist employers with their drug testing programs by providing assessments, referrals, case management and assistance with Return to Work Agreements when employees test positive for drugs at work. Drug testing prevents serious accidents, injuries and fatalities and the EAP can help employees get back on track without losing their jobs.

9. Training

The EAP can provide online and onsite training to employees and supervisors on a range of topics. Training also increases awareness of the EAP. Most EAP’s also provide critical incident debriefings after a traumatic event has occured at the worksite.

10. Resourcs and Referrals

The EAP can be a wealth of information for employers, employees and their families. Not only can the EAP counselors assist with the pyschological well being of employees, they can also assist with legal issues, childcare and eldercare referrals, treatment programs, community resources, human resource assistance and much more.

For information on how Fully Effective Employees can help your company, contact us at audreyr@fee-eap.com

 

 

 

1
Mar

Managing the Workplace After the Death of an Employee

As a manager, one of the most difficult situations you may face in your career is managing the aftermath of the death of an employee and the multiple repercussions that may affect your work group or department. Because a critical incident of this nature may be traumatic for co-workers of the employee, it is recommended that you, or your Human Resources support person contact your Employee Assistance Program to assist you. It is helpful to schedule a debriefing session after news of the employee’s death has been received. Your EAP specialist will be available to facilitate the session once it can be arranged. Research has shown that early intervention with the affected work group, within 24 to 72 hours after the word of a death arrives, reduces the stressful impact of the news. Co-workers have the opportunity to volunteer expressions of grief and time to share thoughts in remembrance of the person. Plans for gestures of condolence to family members can be completed and satisfy the general need to do something to commemorate the loss. Effectively managing what may be an extremely emotional situation for you and your work group may mean delegating certain duties associated with the death to those who are more detached from the situation.

Because an incident of this nature can result in a traumatic stress response, it is recommended that you or Human Resources contact the EAP to facilitate a debriefing session for all affected employees within 24 to 48 hours after learning of the death. Research has found that early intervention with a work group reduces the possibility of delayed stress responses and enables the work group to return to their normal level of productivity sooner. Another benefit of the debriefing is that the organization and its management staff are viewed by employees as responsive and caring people.

Since each member of the work group may grieve the loss of their co-worker in individual ways, it makes sense to recognize that need. Provide ways for these emotions to be channeled and recognized. There is a wide range of normal and appropriate reactions to grief and loss.

When you contact the EAP, you will be asked to provide whatever relevant information is available regarding the death of the employee and your assessment of the work group’s reaction to the situation. A one to two hour debriefing session or meeting for employees should be scheduled as soon as possible. This meeting should be voluntary; interested employees are encouraged to attend. Individuals may choose to speak or not speak. There may be individual employees, identified by you or by the EAP counselors, who may need one-on-one attention, due to the severity of their grief reaction.

Listed below are subject areas to be considered when trying to effectively manage this kind of workplace situation. You will not be able to think of everything or meet every need – this is an unusual work situation where there are few protocols. You will, however, want to thoughtfully consider the following steps:

First Things First

Get all of the assistance you feel you will need to effectively manage the situation. Assess your own reaction to the news in order to anticipate the need to involve other resources within the organization.

Staff Notification

There is no way to anticipate how you will learn of the death of one of your employees. You may be the first to know from the family, but often the news will travel a more circuitous route and another employee may alert you. No matter how you learn of the incident, react quickly by notifying immediate staff and close work friends directly, and the rest of the company through written communications, such as an email or memorandum. Remember to contact staff who are away or on leave. Share whatever information you have and explain that more details will be forthcoming.

Attending the Funeral or Memorial Service

Arrange time for your staff to attend the funeral or memorial service if they would like to do so. You may need to hire a temporary worker to answer phones for a few hours so that everyone can attend. Attending the memorial service is an important part of the grieving process.

Remembering the Deceased Employee

The relationship the employee had with co-workers will often determine how the workplace decides to remember the deceased. Examples of work group responses include: creating a memorial bulletin board with photos and other meaningful images, holding a workplace event such as a luncheon or reception to honor the deceased employee. Invite family members and close friends outside of work to share their memories with the group. You might also: create a memory book filled with stories and sentiments from co-workers to give to the family, have a fundraiser to give a financial donation to a chosen charity organization, or write an article about the employee for the in-house newsletter.

Other Workplace Issues

Some of the more concrete issues which you, as the manager, will need to address are:

Desk and personal belongings.

Family members or a close work friend may want to handle the task of boxing up the in dividual’s personal belongings.

Changing the voice mail message, retrieving messages (voice mail and email), handling inquires intended for the deceased employee.

These tasks could be shared or rotated among staff to ease the emotional burden of having to tell callers that the employee has died. Prepare a brief statement to assist those who reply to calls.

Staff coverage for unfinished or future work assignments.

A temporary, short-term plan can be put into place until a more permanent decision can be made. It is best to put a temporary plan into action as soon as possible to lessen the level of anxiety that is already present among the staff. Make it clear what is needed and who is responsible.

Office space.

It is best not to make any abrupt moves in regard to space changes; people need time to grieve the loss of their co- worker before seeing his or her workstation dismantled. In a month or so, there will be more acceptance of the changes which come from the loss of the co-worker.

The replacement employee.

Under the best of circumstances, a new employee needs to be prepared for possible negative comparisons with the deceased employee. If the deceased was particularly well-liked, the transition will be even more difficult. It is advisable to give staff notice of the new employee’s start date, relevant work background and to prepare them for the change. It is a normal part of accepting a loss to welcome someone new.

Loss of work productivity and motivation.

As the manager, expect the death of an employee to result in lower productivity and motivation for a brief time. The debriefing held soon after the announcement will ease the impact of loss, but it cannot be avoided entirely. Eventually, the work unit will return to its normal level of functioning.

Referring to the EAP.

If one to two months pass and you notice that one of your employees has not returned to his or her normal level of functioning and appears to still be grieving, talk to that employee, give them feedback on what you have observed and share your concerns about them. You may suggest that they seek counseling from your EAP. Often, a loss in one area of someone’s life, as in the loss of a co-worker, triggers unresolved feelings about previous losses or anticipated losses. This person may need extra assistance in coping with these feelings.

This article was written by Nancie Bowes Kenney, M.S.W. Edited by Mary McClain Georgevich

CopeLine is published by: COPE, Inc. 1120 G Street, NW Suite 550 Washington, DC

Additional Resources

Necessary Losses, The Loves, Illusions, Dependencies, and Impossible Expectations That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Grow, Viorst, Judith, Fireside, 1998. Section IV, Chapters 16 through 20 are particularly significant in regards to loss and grief.

Death and Dying, Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth, Scribner, 1997.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Kushner, Harold, Avon, 1997.

 

16
Jan

EAPs Can Help Employers Reduce Workers’ Compensation Costs

Many employers may see their Workers’ Compensation premiums increase for 2012.  Fully Effective Employees, employee assistance program can help employers reduce their liability while preventing expensive claims and reducing the amount of time an employee is off work. Prevention is key- offering support to employees and awareness for employers of the causes of increased WC claims will go a long way to reduce costs. Behavioral risk factors including, attendance, performance issues, depression and drug and alcohol abuse are all known to be associated with workplace accidents, injuries and even fatalities.

The first step employers can take is to provide a drug testing program. Research shows that employees who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in on the job accidents and 5 times more likely to injure themselves or someone else.  They are also five times more likely to file a worker’s compensation claim.

When employees are impaired, their judgment, response time and reflexes are also impaired. Letting all employees know that your company will be conducting pre-employment, random and post-accident drug testing will discourage drug users from working for you.  Over the years, we have found that the companies with the highest compensation rates are the ones that don’t drug test. Obviously, more drug users work for companies that don’t drug test.

Next, employers should use their EAP to help all employees who test positive for drugs.  The EAP can assess the client, refer him for treatment if indicated, and monitor his progress in treatment. The EAP will continue to provide support once treatment has been completed when he is at the greatest risk for relapse.

Employers could also refer all employees to the EAP when they are injured.  The client can choose to confidentially discuss issues related to the injury, including relationship and communication issues with co-workers and family members.  The EAP counselor can assess whether there are pre-existing issues or if the employee is at risk for malingering, depression, or drug abuse due to prescription medication or untreated substance abuse issues that occured prior to the claim.  The EAP counselor can assist the employee with a return to work plan, preparing him or her for a change in job function or an adjustment to work as soon as possible.  The result of working with the EAP is that  injured employees may be more likely to return to work sooner and be less likely to abuse the WC benefits.  The EAP would also provide follow up and support to the worker after he has returned to work.

The back to work plan is essential.  Supervisors should be encouraged to avoid conflicts with employees via telephone or by email with injured workers. Research has shown that supervisor and co-worker conflicts figure prominently in increased injury recovery times and protracted absenteeism of injured workers. In addition, a zero tolerance policy should be implemented for harassing employees on light duty.  If a medical doctor has approved an employee to return to work on light duty, co-workers should not be permitted to guilt, influence or intimidate a recovering worker to participate in unapproved work activities. (www.workexcel.net)

Our staff at Fully Effective Employees will meet with your company safety or human resources manager to discuss the role the EAP can play in helping you to prevent and reduce your WC claims.  We can discuss your risk exposure, safety plans, training, and assist with a drug testing program.  These services are all part of our program to provide both an employee and employer assistance program. Once you have implemented this plan, you should be able to provide evidence of your program to prevent and reduce WC claims ,which should result in lower rates for the following year.  The added bonus is a safer workplace and healthier, happier or more loyal employees.

 

14
Dec

Stress Management Tips for the Holiday Season

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 audreyr@fee-eap.com or 425-557-0907

Copyright 2011 WorkExcel.com