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
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.
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
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.
The following are some signs that employees may be experiencing financial difficulties:
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com
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.
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.
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
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.
As our aging population grows, the number of working caregivers does as well. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates there are 10 million caregivers for those affected by this disease, and most of these caregivers are in the workforce, and this is for Alzheimer’s only! Many times during the workday, a caregiving employee may need to drop everything to deal with a loved one’s health crisis. A friend of mine has gotten 3 calls in the last month from the emergency room regarding her mother, each time she was at work and had to leave to address the emergency. Luckily she has a flexible job. We have talked about some things she can do to be more pro-active with her employer.
As an employer, the following are some things you can share with your employees;
1. Talk to your employer about the situation, familiarize yourself with company leave policies and state/federal laws for family leave. If appropriate also discuss with co-workers as oftentimes, your workload may fall to them in your absence.
2. Since you cannot predict a crisis, make sure that you are up-to-date on your assignments, maybe work longer hours in anticipation of leaving suddenly, and also communicate with your co-workers anything that will involve them.
3. Have medical and contact information at the ready. This will allow for smooth admissions and access to services.
4. Set boundaries! Know yours! Oftentimes, caregivers will take on more than they can handle. Overdoing it can leave caregivers feeling overwhelmed and quite honestly, not doing everything well.
5. Have backup plans- while some elderly parents may deteriorate quickly or require acute care due to a sudden serious illness or fall, others slwly decline and may need caregiving for a longer time. If so, it would be a good idea to have respite care, other family members or family friends who can share the work and information on nursing homes or other facilities if you can no longer do it on your own.
6. Take care of yourself- if you don’t you won’t be good to anyone. Be sure to balance your work and personal responsibilities. Take time to rest, exercise, eat well and do some enjoyable activities.
7. Seek profesional assistance if needed- sometimes the stress of caregiving, work and other family responsibilities can be too much. If you find yourself being irritable, depressed or not doing as well as you should, contact a professional counselor or the EAP for confidential assistance.
In addition to the above tips, the employee assistance program can be an invaluable help to your employees. The EAP can provide the needed emotional support, and assist with resources and referrals. If you don’t have it already, consider adding the Worklife Program to your EAP services. The additional program provides a well of information, resources, and referrals for all aspects of caregiving and dealing with ill or aging family members.
For more information about Fully Effective Employees or our services contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
This week we were asked to conduct critical incident debriefings for two different companies, after both had an armed robbery in the same week. The event reminded me how important a message it is to employees that their employer cares enough to give them time and resources (the EAP counselor) to process their feelings about these traumatic events.
A critical incident can be defined as a situation beyond a person’s usual realm of experience that overwhlems his or her vulnerability and lack of control. This event can cause changes in a person’s emotional, behavioral and cognitive functioning. In general, most people feel that work is predictable and safe but when that sense of security is shattered by a violent act, serious accident or even a fatality, it can have a significant emotional impact on the lives of employees.
A critical incident debriefing allows individuals impacted by a critical incident to process their thoughts and feelings with others who have experienced the same thing. We remind individuals that their reactions are a NORMAL reaction to an ABNORMAL event. The critical incident debriefing also provides education about the signs of cognitive, behavioral and emotional symptoms commonly experienced after a traumatic event. The EAP counselor will also discuss self-care techniques and when to determine if professional help is necessary.
Some people have unresolved personal losses or traumas that can surface at the time of a critical incident which can make their reactions to the new event even more intense. The EAP counselor can also provide individual counseling if needed. Allowing employees the opportunity to share their feelings and reactions in a confidential environment which is supported by the employer, can prevent individuals from experiencing post traumatic stress disorder and allows employees to feel validated, supported and loyal towards their employer.
Critical incident debriefing is an important part of the employee assistance program. The EAP counselor can help the employer determine if it is appropriate to conduct a debriefing or if other forms of intervention may be more beneficial.
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