If you are a current employee client: 1-800-648-5834 | 425-454-3003
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.

 

 

10
Feb

Caregiving Employees

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 audreyr@fee-eap.com

20
Jan

EAP’s Help Reduce Absenteeism

All employers know that employee absenteeism is a big problem. It reduces productivity, morale and the company bottom line.  The ever present challenge is how employers can prevent and reduce absenteeism. CCH, a leading provider of human resources and employment law information (hr.cch.com) conducted an unscheduled absence survey in 2005  and found that the  average per employee cost of absenteeism is $660 with some larger companies losing more than $1 million per year.  What is of great concern to employers is that almost two out of three employees who call in sick are not physically sick. Personal illness accounted for only 35 percent of unscheduled absences and 65% were due to other reasons including family issues (21 percent), personal needs (18 percent) entitlement mentality (14 percent) and stress (12 percent).

Companies with low morale saw higher rates and costs of unscheduled absences. 78% of human resource managers feel that the main cause of absenteeism is the belief that those who skip out of work believe they are entitled to time off.  The other reason cited by human resource managers is  a lack of supervisor involvement as a catalyst to discourage employee absenteeism. When managers understand the causes of absenteeism and use the EAP as a resource for assisting employees, they can play a big role in reducing absenteeism.

When employees are faced with stressful everyday life situations, it has an impact on their ability to be present in their jobs. Stressful situations include family and relationship problems, physical illness, addictions,  financial difficulties including foreclosure, bankruptcy, identity theft, debt and unemployment by a spouse. If employees have a confidential, employer sponsored way (the EAP) to obtain assistance with these difficulties, they are more likely to address their problems earlier and resolve them quicker. Additional worklife and wellness programs as part of the EAP can be very helpful for employees trying to manage the stress of balancing work and family issues.

The EAP can also train managers on how to recognize and identify personal problems before they have begun to effect performance. When managers can coach employees on how to use the EAP, they stay out of the middle of their personal problems, while still offering a way to get help. Once personal problems have begun to effect performance or absenteeism, they can refer the employee to the EAP as a supervisor referral for peformance based issues.  In addition, when employees know they are valued and given a free, confidential resource to address their personal problems, they feel appreciated by and more loyal to their employer.

Employers should also create incentive programs that  can improve both attitude and attendance rates. This works for several reasons. Some employees may lack the internal motivation necessary to keep their spirits up and give them the drive and desire to show up to work every day. These people may need the external motivation that incentives provide.

Additionally, incentives tend to promote certain goals, which can be beneficial for employees with attendance problems. The company can create an incentive program that is specifically linked to attendance. Examples of this type of program include:

1) The ability to cash-in unused sick days at the end of a specific period

2) Allowing employees to leave early one Friday per month of perfect attendance

3) Bonus pay for periods of perfect attendance

4) Gifts such as savings bonds or gift cards for periods of perfect attendance

5) Paid time off programs which allow for personal issues, vacation and sick time all in one bank of hours so employees can use what they need when needed.

Of course employers do need to be clear with employees that if they are legitimately sick, they should stay home so that no one else at work gets sick and so they can take the time they need to get better.  When the workplace culture is one that does not allow people to be ill, then it will create resentment and poor morale.

Do you have any good suggestions for preventing absenteeism? If so, we would love to hear your ideas.

Fully Effective Employees offers assistance with drug testing, management training and consultation, and confidential assistance to employees and their families with personal and work related problems.

24
Jan

New Year, New Services- Enhanced Worklife Program

We are very excited to offer a variety of new services to our Employee Assistance Program for 2011. I will describe each new service in a separate blog.
Our Worklife Program is now enhanced and we are renaming it Work-Life Solutions. This program provides resources and referrals for every stage of someone’s life, from birth to death and all the life events in between. Now more than ever, employees are finding they are stressed with financial worries, increasing demands from their jobs, pressure to balance work and family, and coping with dependent children and aging parents. Our program can help address employees’ personal and work/life needs including:
* Balancing Work & Family
* Resources and Referrals
* Child and Elder Care needs
* Adoption Services
* Health & Wellness
* Academic Searches
* Disaster Recovery & Relief
* Interactive Tools and Videos
* Training and Calculators
We now also offer coaching to help clients cope and plan for life events such as job changes, new parenting, dealing with aging parents and retirement. Our program will help clients think more strategically and plan for the future with realistic goals and help them to manage their personal lives while attending to loved ones’ care needs.
The program also includes an online wellness program with dozens of health risk assessments, articles, videos and information about many diseases and health related issues. Individuals can assess themselves for the risk of various health concerns and then put a plan into action to take care of themselves.
Essentials of daily life management provides over 200 interactive tools, quizzes, videos and articles on mental health topics and personal growth and training.
We have a searchable database of over 800,000 national child and eldercare providers.

Our Work-life Solutions program can help build a more productive work environment by:
* Assisting employees to successfully balance their work and family responsibilities
* Decreasing employee absenteesim due to child and eldercare responsibilities
* Increasing job satisfaction by decreasing the pressure of working while trying to locate and manage dependent care issues.
* Saving employers money due to lower health insurance claims when employees have access to a health and wellness program for both emotional and physical health.

This program is available as a stand alone product and does not have to be part of the Employee Assistance Program.

For more information about our very affordable Work-Life Solutions program, please call us at 425-557-0907 or email us at audreyr@fee-eap.com

12
Nov

The EAP is an Insurance Plan

insurance

During difficult economic times, many employers opt to eliminate their Employee Assistance Program benefits or to reduce their EAP services to cut costs.
It is important to understand that an EAP is not just about counseling or the number of “free sessions” an employee or family member can receive from the plan. A quality EAP is also an HR partner, assisting employers and employees when crises occur.
What if an employee suddenly dies? How are your employees impacted? For some, they may deeply mourn the passing of a close co-worker. For others, they may be reminded of previous losses or other unresolved issues. How will these people cope at work in the coming days and weeks?
What if there is a fatality or serious injury at your workplace? Will your employees be afraid to return to work? Will they be angry at their employer for “letting” the accident happen?
What happens if your best employee comes to work drunk? Do you have a drug and alcohol policy? How do you have him assessed and able to return to work?
Did one of your employees get assaulted by a domestic partner last night? In a situation like this her safety may be in jeopardy but your other employees could be at risk if the offender comes to work to find the victim. It’s a tough balance to assist with the employee’s safety, be sympathetic to the employee’s personal issues while ensuring the essential functions of the job are still being met.
Is someone at your company harrassing or threatening a co-worker? As an employer you must investigate and provide safety for your workers.
These above examples are all situations that happen to employers every day. Without a good, service oriented employee assistance program, you are left to your own devices. The cost of legal fees to deal with the aftermath of any of the above scenarios is far more expensive than the cost of the EAP. Not to mention, expenses related to reduced performance, absenteeism, morale, safety, Labor and Industry claims and medical insurance premiums.
Having an Employee Assistance Program in place is analogous to any insurance program. It is there if you need it – for a crisis, consultation, advice, support, training and counseling. So, EAP’s that just provide a session model without all the support to management are not always the best choice for companies. Having no EAP at all, does not make good business sense. You wouldn’t drive your car without insurance would you?
For information about Fully Effective Employees, please email us at audreyr@fee-eap.com or call 425-557-0907.

16
Jun

Calls Rise to Employee Assistance Programs

An article in our local paper, The Seattle Times, last Sunday caught my attention because it isn’t often that I see articles about Employee Assistance. The author, Michelle Goodman wrote: “Calls Rise to Employee Assistance Programs”. She quotes Harris Rothenberg International (HRI) a national recruiting and EAP consulting firm’s study that reported calls to the EAP rose 14% from 2008 to 2009 and they continue to rise. In 2009, the number of emergency calls to EAP hotlines rose a whopping 75%. According to HRI, this means that despite workers’ through the roof stress levels, “they are delaying calling for help until they reach a crisis stage.”
The number of workers who took advantage of the legal or financial services offered by their employers skyrocketed from 2008-2009. Requests for foreclosure support rose by 137 percent, help with mortgage issues by 95 percent and assistance with bankruptcy issues by 75 percent.
At Fully Effective Employees, we continually remind employers to refer employees who are stressed and troubled to the EAP for confidential assistance. Early intervention is the key- employees should contact the EAP sooner, before waiting until a crisis point, when problems are more manageable. In the past, employees would call us with one issue, such as a marital problem, now we are seeing employees calling with three or four significant issues.
Program promotion by employers is very important because sometimes employees don’t even know our program exists or they don’t think to call us. In addition to providing assistance with personal, relationship, family, emotional, work and addiction issues, we also have comprehensive worklife and legal and financial assistance programs. Our financial and legal program has been expanded to include assistance with bankruptcy, foreclosure, debt consolidation and credit counseling, identity theft and more. It also includes a comprehensive website with hundreds of articles and “do it yourself forms”. Speaking of program promotion, we can also assist employers with setting up a benefits fair. If it is too difficult to have employees participate in on-site trainings, we can help invite vendors to a benefits fair where employees can learn about all the benefits and services you offer them and to help them learn more about our employee assistance program.
Now that the economy is showing signs of improving, employers are beginning to increase the range of benefits offered to employees. Super-stressed, unhappy employees are also unproductive employees. Offering the EAP makes good business sense.

2
Mar

Balancing Work and Family

As a business owner and working mother of two school age boys, I know first hand the demands of balancing work and family. My boys attend different schools with different spring breaks which fall on consecutive weeks this year.  I find myself wondering how in the world I can manage to work for two weeks in a row while each of them is off school, needing to be occupied, entertained and kept away from twelve hours a day watching tv or playing video games.

 I am one of the lucky few who has the opportunity to work a flexible schedule.  What about the many thousands of other of working parents who have their kids off from school for spring break, professional development days and various other “no school days” while they have to work?  Parenting is a full time job.  Keeping track of sports practices, games, homework, playdates and doctors appointments can make a family schedule more complex that a work calendar and if you are a single parent or a dual income family, juggling family responsibilities with a full time job can be a challenge, if not downright overwhelming. 

With the increase in technology including voice mail, email, Blackberries, iphones, laptops and the like, employees are often asked to be available anytime, anywhere.   Now, more than ever, employees feel they must prove themselves and work harder so they can increase their value and escape layoffs.  When there are fewer employees to do more of the work, it can be  awfully hard to separate work from family obligations. 

So how can you cope with the demands of family and work? 

Here are the following tips we offer our clients:

1.  While at work, try to focus only on work and if you must deal with family responsibilities, like corresponding with the teacher, arranging snack for the sports team or booking doctor’s appointments, try to do it on your lunch hour so you can be more productive and avoid distractions. 

2.Try to give yourself time to separate and unwind from work on your way home. Listen to music, get caught up on personal phone calls (with a headset of course!)  or plan your evening in your head.  Turn work off.

3. Take a few minutes to take care of yourself before you jump into family mode. Change clothes, go for a walk around the block, take a quick shower,  or flip on the news for 5 minutes

4. Prepare and plan meals ahead of time so all you need is last minute preparation when everyone is tired and hungry.

5. Try to multi-task by throwing in laundry while preparing dinner.  Make cleaning up a family time with everyone pitching in to give you more time together in the evening.

6. Delegate chores and responsibilities so you are not doing it all.

7. If you must work at home, try to do it for a set period of time, preferably when they kids are in bed and but not right before you go to bed so you can relax before sleeping.  Make at least one night or a part of the weekend, work-free times.

8.  If you are overwhelmed, stressed or having difficulty balancing work and family, contact the EAP for professional assistance.

We have a wonderful worklife program as an optional part of our service.  Our worklife website is full of articles and resources on ways to balance work and family.  Our counselors can refer clients to resources for childcare, eldercare and families anywhere in the U.S