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

By |2012-02-10T22:09:57-08:00February 10th, 2012|balanced life, caregiving and work, eldercare, employee absenteeism, Employee Assistance, employee mental health, wellness, work, work relationships|Comments Off on Caregiving Employees

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.

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

 

By |2011-12-14T23:48:35-08:00December 14th, 2011|balanced life, Employee Assistance, employee mental health, healthy balance, Human Resources, mental health, Small Business, work, work relationships|Comments Off on Stress Management Tips for the Holiday Season

PTSD in the Workplace

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.

1. Re-experiencing symptoms which include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Scary and recurring thoughts

2. Avoidance symptoms

  • Staying away from certain situations or places
  • Feeling emotionally numb, guilty or depressed

3. Hyperarousal symptoms

  • Easily starled
  • Feeling tense
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Angry outbursts

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.

 

 

Employee Engagement and Retention

I attended an HR Roundtable sponsored by Resourcefulhr in Seattle today.  A group of HR professionals met to discuss challenges and ideas for enagaging and retaining employees.

The major topics that we discussed included:

  • Finding certain specialized talent in the high tech fields where the larger companies are able to entice employees with large salaries, benefits and the prestige of the big name corporations.
  • Retaining employees in companies where the hourly salary is very low due to economic constraints.
  • Engaging employees and keeping them loyal and happy.
  • Dealing with generational differences including things like social media, work ethic, expectations and more.
  • Work life balance.

Research has shown that unless the salary is very low, financial incentives are not always the way to reach the hearts and minds of employees.  Appreciation, acknowledgement, and recognition will go a long way towards keeping employees motivated to perform. A sense of belonging to the community in which they work, feeling valued and supported by their employer are important to keep employees loyal to. Low- cost benefits like health club membership discounts, wellness and worklife programs and employee assistance programs can be implemented for a great return on investment.

The members of the roundtable discussion offered some great ideas that worked for their workplaces. Some of these included:

  • Hosting a community garden which provided a place for employees to plant, tend, weed and water flowers and vegetables and then reap the rewards of the garden by picking flowers for the workplace or making a salad with the fresh picked vegetables.
  • A monthly theme such as wellness or “stress less”, where speakers, massage therapists and other professionals were brought in to assist with the theme and provide benefits for employees.
  • A “Rock Star” program where decorated rocks with positive sayings would be passed to deserving employees who were nominated for certain acts of kindness, good performance or when they were going through a tough time.
  • A book club meeting weekly to read and discuss books relevant to the workplace or personal interests.
  • Webinar trainings or onsite trainings on new technologies such as Linked in, Facebook and Twitter, for the older generations to help bridge the generational gap.
  • Social media policies to clarify the use and time spent on social media in the workplace.
  • Nominating employees for exceeding performance, helping others, etc and then entering the nomination into a monthly drawing for a prize.
  • Host meetings to listen and hear employee concerns and to solicit ideas for improvement, change, etc.

All of these are fabulous ideas for keeping employees engaged. We all know the cost of recruitng and retraining new employees, so we need to be sure we keep our current employees happy.

Do you have any other ideas to contribute to this list?  We would love to hear from you!

 

Prepare Your Employees and Your Workplace for a Disaster

Since it is hurricane season, we thought this article might be timely.
Barely a day goes by when the news isn’t covering a horrific national or local disaster. Survivors are interviewed looking for loved ones, possessions and shelter. Some things can be learned from their experiences, such as a disaster can strike suddenly and without warning and what a person can do to prepare in advance. Below are some steps you can follow to prepare your company for a disaster:

Determine what kind of disasters are common to your area from the local Red Cross. For example if you live in Alaska, you don’t have to worry about hurricanes but you should be ready for an earthquake. In the Northwest, we should all be prepared for an earthquake, especially after seeing the devasting and catastrophic effects of the earthquake in Japan.
Designate an out of state partner or branch company you can use to deseminate information to family members, clients or customers about your status.
Be sure employees know where fire extingushers are and how to use them if you don’t have an overhead sprinkler system.
Have an evacuation plan and assign a company individual to bereponsible for the plan and it’s a good idea to conduct a drill ocassionally so everyone is aware of the plan and procedures.
Stock emergency supplies, water and a first aid kit; enough for all employees for at least two days. Replace these items before the expiration date.
Have employees bring in extra medications, foods they eat, eye glasses or extra contact lenses and and a warm sweater and pair of gloves.
Have members of your company learn first aid and CPR.
Be aware that some individuals may be very traumatized especially if they have experienced a previous traumatic event or if they lose their homes or loved ones.
After a disaster, employers can provide critical incident debriefings conducted by the EAP. Some companies will provide meals and other services to employees in the short term to help them recover and get back on their feet.
The EAP can be a helpful resource both before and after a disaster. Preparation is key!

 

By |2011-08-25T16:57:11-07:00August 25th, 2011|balanced life, disaster preparedness, Employee Assistance, employee mental health, Human Resources, Small Business, Worklife|Comments Off on Prepare Your Employees and Your Workplace for a Disaster

Why Should a Small Business Have an EAP?

While smaller companies have fewer employers and therefore lower utilization of an EAP program, small employers with employee problems may suffer the effects   of  those problems more. Decreased performance and productivity will hurt a smaller employer’s bottom line faster.  Workplace negativity can spread like wildfire in small company and if employees leave on masse, a small company could be damaged beyond repair.  As a result, an employer that provides a high quality, personalized, full service EAP (Core-Technology EAP)  can help both the employer and employee by decreasing liability and risk, reducing accidents and improving employee morale and loyalty.  Employees who feels supported by their employer will be far more enagaged. The EAP helps a small employer decrease the stress small business owners encounter when managing a lot of responsibilities with little support.  Small businesses with a high quality EAP will find the EAP is a partner in helping them with issues such as change, lay-offs,  employee personal and work problems and potential serious employee problems such as intoxication on the job, recipients of domestic violence, threats of workplace violence, allegations of sexual harassment, death or serious injury at work and more.  No business is immune from human problems, regardless of their size.

The Core-Technology EAP that deals with employee problems, (and those employees who may have problems with management), is often the first to learn of an employee’s intent to sue their employer.  They may tell the EAP counselor, “I am upset with my supervisor because…and I am thinking of suing”.  If handled properly, the EAP can be a front line defense against employment claims and related lawsuits.  Professional EAP counselors help employees to seek alternate solutions to personal problems and more constructive alternatives to meet their needs.  Some options would be to refer them to human resources, provide mediation or conflict resolution services or other dispute resolution channels.   When employees have a safe, confidential place to process their anger or feelings they can be defused enough to work toward a resolution or in some cases, the employee can be coached to pursue employment elsewhere which may be the best course to avoid the pursuit of a lawsuit, while making the employee happier.

EAP’s can help save employers money by preventing lawsuits including harassment, wrongful termination and hostile workplace allegations. When the EAP is well promoted and troubled employees are encouraged to contact the EAP in order to get their needs met in appropriate ways, they are less likely to sue.  In addition, managers should be taught to consult with the EAP as soon as they are aware that an employees is disgruntled or troubled.

Employee assistance programs that prevent Employment Practices Liability and loss prevention may far exceed health insurance cost containment.  According to  Dan Fuerst,  www.workexcel.com, the average jury award for wrongful termination is $500,000 with out of court settlements averaging $100,000.  The low cost of a fee per employee based program is so minimal compared to the potential risk employers face by being sued by their employers.

The Core-Technology EAP is one that is not a “free” program that is embedded in an insurance or disability program but one that not only provides assessement, referrals, counseling and case management, but also provides training, management coaching and consultation and ongoing support to both the employer and employee.

For more information about how we can work with small businesses, contact us at audreyr@fee-eap.com

By |2011-08-16T21:58:16-07:00August 16th, 2011|Employee Assistance, employee mental health, Executives, harrassment, Human Resources, mental health, Small Business|Comments Off on Why Should a Small Business Have an EAP?

Employee Assistance Programs Lead to Healthier, More Productive Employees

EmployeesMorneau Shepell, the largest Employee Assistance firm in Canada, released a new study that said that intervention through employee assistance programs leads to improved employee mental health and higher productivity, as well as a reduction of 25 percent in costs due to lost productivity.

The study collected data to measure four specific outcomes: general health status, mental health status, productivity, and absenteeism.  Here are some of its findings:

  • Employees rated their mental status 15 percent higher after receiving EAP support.
  • EAP intervention resulted in a 34 percent reduction in costs related to lost productivity.
  • Before EAP intervention, decreased productivity and absence was costing organizations almost $20,000 per employee per year.

75 percent of North American businesses have an employee assistance program and they are a key component of employee benefit plans.  The Morneau Shepell study made two key recommendations:

1. Organizations should develop a more strategic partnership with their EAP provider as a first step in reallizing the return on investment.  The provider can recommend strategies to optimize the use of the EAP as a preventative measure with the objective of saving costs on the bottom line and using the EAP to support the organization’s health priorities.

2. Organizations should consider a strategic approach to absence management, cost management and strategies related to employee engagement and retention.

For more information about this study go to http://bit.ly/kZ2Xx1

While 75 percent of employers may have an EAP, all programs are not alike.  Employers should investigate their vendors to be sure they are meeting the needs of their company. The company contact or HR representative should have a good relationship with their EAP provider, with the ability to consult or to seek management assistance on a range of personnel issues.

Your EAP should be your partner in assisting with your employees’ emotional health.  The more the employee assistance program is supported by management and  promoted and marketed to employees, the more it will be used.

Healthy, happy and engaged employees will save their employers thousands in lost productivity,  morale issues, performance problems and health insurance claims.   Employees who feel supported by their employer will be loyal in both good and bad economic times.

By |2011-07-09T04:59:12-07:00July 9th, 2011|balanced life, Employee Assistance, employee mental health, Executives, healthy balance, Human Resources, Small Business, Uncategorized, wellness, Worklife|Comments Off on Employee Assistance Programs Lead to Healthier, More Productive Employees