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14
Nov

An Employee Tested Positive for Drugs- Now What?

banner_22If your company does drug testing and one of your employees tests positive, it is important to know how to proceed.

First, you should follow your drug testing policy. Do you have a pre-employment policy? Do you have a “zero tolerance” policy, which means you would terminate the employee immediately? Do you offer a “last chance agreement”? Does your policy allow you to rehire the employee after a period of time once he has been terminated under zero tolerance? There are many things to consider when deciding how to handle drug use in your workplace.

As an employee assistance provider with over 20 years of experience working with employers, employees and drug testing programs, we strongly recommend the following:

  1. If you have a pre-employment policy, it is designed to rule out anyone who cannot stay off drugs long enough to test clean before they are hired. It does not ensure your new employee does not use drugs. It does however, tend to reduce the number of serious drug users or long –term marijuana users. This is why you definitely should use pre-employment drug testing and just don’t hire someone who tests positive! If someone knows they are being tested for drugs and tests positive anyway, why would you ever want to hire that person? Believe it or not, many companies still hire these people and then refer them to the employee assistance program under a Last Chance Agreement. We recommend that you NEVER hire someone who tests positive under a pre-employment test. Time and again, we have seen multiple problems arise with these folks.
  2. If you do have a zero tolerance policy, meaning you terminate if the employee tests positive, we do not believe you should rehire the employee after any period of time. Without proof that the employee has been abstaining from drugs, he may be able to test clean on a pre-employment test but will likely not remain clean through his employment at your company. It is just too much of a risk.
  3. If you do have a Last Chance Agreement, suspend the employee until he tests clean and has been assessed for chemical dependency and the need for treatment, and has followed through with that treatment. Once he has returned to work he needs to sign an agreement that he understands that if he tests positive again, he will be terminated. We recommend that you employ the services of an employee assistance program with expertise in working with drug testing programs. The EAP can help with a drug and alcohol screening, refer employees for an assessment to determine the need for treatment, and ensure the employee is following through with all recommendations. The involvement of the EAP keeps you out of the employee’s personal life and treatment process. It saves time and resources so you can be left to run the company while leaving the alcohol and drug treatment to the professionals. It also keeps things cut and dry- the employee knows the expectations and makes a choice as to whether to follow them or no longer be employed with your company. The EAP can help ensure long term compliance and sobriety by providing regular follow up and support to your employee. This creates a win-win for everyone. You retain a good employee which saves your company money, prevents accidents, and increases safety, thereby increasing your bottom line. The employee gets the help he needs to return to maximum productivity, keeps his job, and has the ability to live his life free from the grip of drugs.

If you are thinking about starting a drug testing program or engaging the services of an EAP, we can offer affordable, professional services for companies of any size. Contact us for more information. at 425-557-0907.

 

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

 

19
Dec

Reasons to Have an Employee Assistance Program

The primary purpose of an Employee Assistance Program is to maximize employee productivity while helping employees face life obstacles that can interfere with your business.  j0405586

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:

  • Comprehensive assessment of an employee or family’s member’s presenting problem
  • A referrals to reputable mental health and substance abuse resources
  • Brief, short term assistance with problem resolution
  • 24/7 telephone access to professional counselors
  • Legal assistance and referrals
  • Financial counseling and resources for debt management and financial concerns
  • Wellness coaching and programs for disease prevention and management, smoking cessation, exercise, weight loss, nutrition and stress management
  • Worklife services including referrals for eldercare, childcare, dependent care and pet care and referrals to community resources for social services
  • Extensive website with self-assessments, resources, articles and more
  • Webinars on a variety of social/emotional topics
  • Online interactive trainings with printable certificates of completion
  • Onsite brown bag trainings
  • Assistance with drug free workplaces
  • Employer assistance program- coaching and training on dealing with problem employees
  • Critical incident debriefing
  • HR consulting services and small business HR programs

There are a lot of companies that offer Employee Assistance services, so why choose Fully Effective Employees?

  • We have been providing EAP services to a variety of businesses since 1976.
  • In-house EAP trained professional counselors have been with the company an average of 13 years.
  • Expertise with small businesses, drug testing programs, training and HR issue
  • Personalized services tailored to meet the unique needs of your company.
  • Available for very small businesses
  • A local, Puget Sound based company with the capacity to work with national and international clients with an affiliate network of over 50,000 counselors.
  • Personalized, professional services tailored to meet your company’s unique needs.

An Employee Assistance Program offers an excellent return on your investment.

Contact us for more information!

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.