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

Another Reason to Drug Test

Legal pictureEmployers who don’t drug or alcohol test cannot prove that an employee’s injury was caused by his intoxication if a drug test is not offered.
In the case of McKinley v. Klein Steel, Inc., No. 09-CA-930 (La.Ct. App. 03.23.10), the Louisiana Court of Appeal upheld the award of temporary total disability benefits, attorney’s fees and penalties.

The summary: while carrying a stair railing at work, the employee stumbled and hit his head. The employer sent him to a nearby hospital where he was treated for a scalp laceration and released without a drug test and the employer made no effort to have him tested. He later underwent two spinal surgeries as a result of the accident. The employer’s insurer refused to pay workers’ compensation benefits, claiming the employee was intoxicated at the time of the accident, that he refused a drug test and provided false information to the hospital. The Court of Appeals upheld the award of benefits, finding that the employer failed to reasonably controvert the claim. It also awarded the employee penalties and attorney’s fees.

The court explained that a presumtion of intoxication arises when an employee affirmatively refuses a drug test. But because the hospital never offered a drug test, and one was never required by the employer, there was no opportunity for the employee to refuse one, nor was any other evidence of intoxication presented. The court also rejected the contention that the employee gave false information to the hospital to prevent them from verifying his workers’ compensation status. The employee correctly identified his employer to hospital staff but gave the incorrect contact name and number for the employer, being unaware that the individual no longer worked for the employer. Source: www.riskandinsurance.com

This court case emphasizes how important it is to have a drug testing policy which also includes post accident testing. If the employer could prove the employee was in fact intoxicated, they would have saved a lot of money.

By |2011-05-04T20:49:42-07:00May 4th, 2011|Alcoholism, Drug Testing, Employee Assistance, Human Resources, Pre-employment, Small Business, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Another Reason to Drug Test

The EAP is an Insurance Plan


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.

By |2010-11-12T17:15:46-08:00November 12th, 2010|Alcoholism, Drug Testing, Employee Assistance, Human Resources, Small Business, Uncategorized|Comments Off on The EAP is an Insurance Plan

Workplace Drug Testing

Say No to Drugs

Workplace drug testing makes good business sense and can have a significant impact on an employer’s bottom line. Drug testing reduces accidents and injuries, thereby reducing workers’ compensation and unemployment claims. Drug testing reduces absenteeism and health insurance claims and it increases performance, morale and productivity.
A typical “recreational drug user” in today’s workforce is:
*2.2 times more likely to request early dismissal or time off
*2.5 times more likely to have absences of eight or more days
*3.6 times more likely to be involved in an accident off the job (which in turn affects attendance or performance on the job)
*5 times more likely to file a workers compensation claim
*7 times more likely to have wage garnishments
*1/3 less productive
Based on these statistics, a single drug user in WA state will cost a company upwards of $14,946 per year!!
The key components of a company drug testing program include a clear policy which states the reasons and process for testing and the consequences for failure and it includes a good employee assistance program that posseses a clear and comprehensive understanding of drug and alcohol problems in the workplace.
While some employers choose to terminate an employee who tests positive, often a “last chance agreement” is best. It offers the employee a chance at rehabilitation and can potentially save a good employee who can return to high quality and productive performance once he or she is clean and sober.
Some companies offer only pre-employment drug testing while others also include post-accident, for cause (reasonable suspicion) and random testing. This is the best way to ensure a drug free workplace rather than just conducting pre-employment testing.
When the EAP works in conjunction with the employer or union as part of their drug testing program, we can conduct an initial drug and alcohol assessment, refer the employee for a second opinion assessment if needed, and then refer to a treatment program if required. If the employee is not found to require treatment, the employer will be notified that he is able to do a return to work test and then return to work. Usually, he will also sign a last chance agreement so if he tests positive again, he will be terminated. If the employee attends treatment, when ready, he will also do a return to work test and sign a last chance agreement. The EAP counselor will monitor his progress in treatment and after treatment is completed, for up to two years.
Often, the greatest chance for relapse is once the employee has completed treatment and loses the consistency of ongoing support. Our EAP ensures the employee is given as much support as needed to maintain sobriety.
We gave partnered with Drug Free Business, a non-profit company that provides drug testing at a very affordable rate, assistance with policies and third party management. For more information contact www.drugfreebusiness.org.
Employees are an employer’s most important asset. Drug testing can ensure a safe, productive workforce and a last chance agreement is a fair way to offer those with a drug problem, a chance to get help and save their job.
For more information about how your EAP can assist with drug testing, send us an email.

By |2010-10-08T16:22:56-07:00October 8th, 2010|Alcoholism, Drug Testing, Employee Assistance, Executives, Human Resources, Pre-employment, Small Business, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Workplace Drug Testing

AA Marks 75th Anniversary

For the past 75 years, Alcoholics Anonymous has been transforming lives through its 12-step recovery program. There are now more than 2 million members. AA was started in 1935 when two alcoholics- Dr. Bob, an Akron, Ohio doctor and Bill W., a New York stockbroker, created a confidential way for alcoholics to come together, share their stories and support each other. One of the bylaws included keeping confidentiality in order to make is safer for alcoholics to admit they had a problem and as a result, first names are only used. The famed “12 steps” to recovery is followed by members and has been a model for many alcohol treatment groups.
While chapters in different cities go by different names and specialize for certain populations such as women, men, sexual orientation, race, religion or profession, the message is the same: acceptance, anonymity, support, accountability and relying on a higher power.
Other 12-step groups have formed as offshoots from AA. These include NA (Narcotics Anonymous), DA (Debtors Anonymous) Alanon (for family members of alcoholics) as well as many more.
The belief in a higher power does not have to be a religious view, but rather the recognition of a kind of power higher than the self. The higher power referred to in AA could also be the complex dynamic of human interaction- the power of many over the power of one.

Founder, Bill W. believed that when addicts reach their “bottom”- job loss, financial ruin, legal difficulties. loss of a relationship, etc, he or she reaches a “softened” state of mind. It is this stage in their lives when addicts are willing to consider that they have become powerless over their use of addictive substances. At this point, their lives have become unmanageable and they have lost control.

Employers can have a profound impact on an employee’s recovery. If your company drug tests and they receive a “last chance agreement” requiring them to follow the recommendations of the Employee Assistance Program, this act may well be their “bottom”. As the employer, you are giving the employee the motivation to seek sobriety. Enabling or excusing addictive behavior allows the problem to increase. If you suspect an employee may have an alcohol or drug problem and your company does not do random or for cause drug testing, consult with the EAP. We can help you determine if there are performance issues and if so, you can refer the employee to the EAP for a performance issue and we can conduct an assessment to determine if there is also an addiction.
Employee safety should always be a primary concern so if an employee appears to be under the influence at work, have the employee removed from the job, tested or assessed and be sure they have a safe way to get home.

In over 35 years of providing EAP services, we have seen many employees lead sober and productive lives after attending AA meetings and/ or treatment programs. We know that despite the anger, resistance, excuses and denial, addicts live in a world of pain. Choosing to remain sober is the best choice an addict can make.
We will provide consultation, support and case management to employers and ongoing support to your employees throughout their journey towards recovery.

By |2010-08-19T21:34:21-07:00August 19th, 2010|Alcoholism, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AA Marks 75th Anniversary

Preventing Workplace Violence

Every employer, regardless of their size or industry can be susceptible to workplace violence. Almost every week in the news, we hear about someone who committed a violent act at work. These are usually major incidents which cause serious injury or death. However, as EAP counselors we also hear about more frequent and less severe situations which if left unresolved, can evolve into much more serious situations. It is never a good idea to ignore or avoid uncomfortable situations with employees because employers are afraid to confront a potentially violent employee or a fear of making the problem worse. Many employees who have committed violent acts again their employers have admitted that they did try to complain or express their feelings but felt they were not being heard so they took more serious action.
Two employees argue in the break room and idle threats are made; someone shoves another on the line; an employee finds an anonymous hostile note on her desk; an abusive partner shows up at the workplace looking for his spouse. These situations are some examples of potential workplace violence which should be addressed by employers to avoid serious injuries or death at work.
One of the most important parts of violence prevention is training. When employees and supervisors are aware of potential warning signs, they can intervene early and violence can be prevented. Too often, we hear after an incident that there were warning signs but no one took them seriously. Our message to employers is to take every threat seriously and to investigate all situations thoroughly. Companies should have a zero tolerance policy for weapons at work, threats or physical altercations.
Training should include learning to recognize early warning signs, identifying behavioral patterns of potentially violent employees, understanding the types of workplace violence to minimize the risks, and proactive steps to take to prevent violence as well as a crisis plan for dealing with the situation, should it occur.
The EAP is an important part of a company violence prevention plan. We can assist with training employees about the warning signs of potentially violent employees and together with your human resources or security department, we can help educate employees about how to report or intervene in certain situations. We can assist with mandatory referrals to the EAP and facilitate referrals for fitness for duty evaluations. If a violent incident should occur we can provide a critical incident debriefing for those who were involved.
While no one ever wants to think about violence at work, it is very important to have a prevention and response plan in place.

By |2010-08-04T21:01:03-07:00August 4th, 2010|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Preventing Workplace Violence

Employee Engagement

While we are supposed to be recovering from the “Great Recession”, most of us have not felt the positive effects yet. Unemployment still remains around 10% and while employers may not be laying any more employees off in large numbers, they are still cutting back on expenses. These cutbacks include furlough days, reduced benefits, frozen salaries, hiring freezes and the list goes on. Companies continue to be cautious and risk adverse.
Many employees are happy to have a job but the resentment may be building. Approximately 25% of employees have lost their engagement to their companies and will be a flight risk when the job market picks up. Now is the time to focus on talent so that when the economy improves, you will not lose your best employees.
Many business and human resource consultants recommend creating an Employee Value Proposition to align your workforce with your mission and brand, differentiate your organization to attract and retain talent and get the most out of investing in rewards programs.
Employers should begin to focus on a rewards program, opportunities for career advancement and increasing the availablity of virtual workplace opportunities. In order to be engaged and loyal to their employers, employees must feel connected, valued, respected and supported.
The economy will improve and at some point, we will have a shortage of well trained, high performing talent. The tme too focus is now!
Source: Towers Watson 2009-2010 rewards study

By |2010-05-12T04:24:00-07:00May 12th, 2010|Employee Assistance, Executives, Human Resources, Small Business, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Employee Engagement

The “Free” EAP

Now, more than ever before, employers are looking for ways to cut back on all of their costs including reducing valuable benefits such as the employee assistance program.  At the same time, more and more corporations including life and disability carriers, payroll companies and health insurance providers are wrapping “free”  EAP’s into their services.  Employers who are already reducing expenses, may choose to eliminate the stand-alone EAP they are currently paying for, especially if they are now getting a “free” EAP.

As an employer you should have all of your facts when choosing an EAP as part of a package deal with your other benefits. First of all, nothing is really FREE and you are paying for this program as part of your other plans. Secondly, the old saying, “you get what you pay for” almost always holds true for employee assistance programs.  You may be getting a basic referral service, either a telephonic program or a referral program, whereby an employee calls for a referral and gets a certain number of sessions with a counselor for free.  But often, employees are  left to their own devices to call a number of counselors to see if they have an opening.  Often they are given nothing more than a few phone numbers and no follow-up with the client is ever made to ensure that their needs were being met.  In addition, often there is only a minimal assessment of the clients situation before they are referred out.  Supportive telephone counseling on the first contact can make all the difference for clients in distress.

As an employer, ask yourself the following questions:

1.  Does your EAP conduct management consultations?

2. Do you get regular utilization reports?

3. Does the EAP have staff counselors answering the phone twenty-four hours a day?

4. Is your EAP able to see clients the same day?

5. Does your EAP provide case management services, including crisis management,  assistance with performance problems and drug and alcohol testing?

6. Do the EAP counselors provide ongoing follow-up for up to two years?

7. Does your EAP have expertise with drug and alcohol issues with in-house addiction counselors?

If you can’t answer affirmatively to the questions listed above, you may want to consider switching to a more full service EAP with a low yearly rate.  By providing a personalized, high quality, yet affordable EAP, you will be receiving a solid return on youchecklistr investment while retaining valuable employees, increasing morale and performance and ensuring your employees are receiving the help they need.

If you are interested in learning more about our program, please feel free to contact me for more information.

We have 34 year of experience and our only business is employee assistance.

By |2010-03-27T23:27:22-07:00March 27th, 2010|Employee Assistance, Human Resources, Small Business, Uncategorized|Comments Off on The “Free” EAP