Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Opioids Abuse Education Awareness and Prevention

EAP presentation product for educating employees about the opioid addiction crisis.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Increasing EAP Utilization Hack #13: Ask for Referrals

increasing eap utilization and promtion Asking EAP clients to refer a friend is one of the most powerful approaches to increasing your EAP's utilization. Do you practice this promotional strategy?

Nothing is more convincing and influential than word of mouth referrals because they are tantamount to a walking live testimonials. Referrals from friends are trusted. If a good friend of yours says a restaurant is fantastic, it will motivate you more than a $5K full page display ad in the local newspaper. Clearly, this is a cost-beneficial EAP utilization improvement hack for you to consider.

The time to ask
for a referral is at the moment of positive excitement when your EAP client says, "Wow, thank you so much for helping me." This is your cue to speak up and ask the EAP client to refer a coworker if the opportunity arises. It's that simple. You aren't asking every client to refer, but take advantage of those who would be obviously willing.

When you have an employee-client spread the word about the EAP, a lot is happening at that moment, and all of it is quite synergistic.

The employee client is promoting your program effectiveness, improving its reputation, decreasing resistance of would-be clients, helping others overcome the fear of asking for help, and intervening with your most ferocious and negative force, concern among the workforce that the EAP is not confidential.

All EA professionals believe their program is confidential, but not all employees do. The reason is simple. Confidentiality is so important that the fear associated with it creates its own anxiety and "disturbance in the force." Let's call it "EAP confidentiality perception attrition."

This anxiety gets passed along to the workforce where it is propagated. This is also what makes EAP supervisor training so important. You must tell supervisors in EAP orientations to not repeat, disclose, or otherwise imply knowledge of an employee's EAP attendance or even suggest an employee has attended the EAP. This is also a legal issue, but you want to impress upon supervisors the impact on the program's integrity and how this can negatively impact the perception of confidentiality among employees. If you want to make a bigger impression, say that the most at-risk worker--the one that might go postal--just might not attend the EAP because of something the supervisor said. (You can embellish from there.)

Fighting the natural attrition of perception of confidentiality requires promoting confidentiality, and employees who refer friends or coworkers to the EAP are naturally assisting in this effort.

I routinely make mention that the EAP is confidential in Frontline Employee EAP Newsletter to help you boost your utilization. But since articles are editable, you should insert this where, and as needed. It's vital. You want lots of touches during the year on this key point.

Do you have
an EAP utilization improvement hack that you would like me to pass along or expound upon? Pass it along here at

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Happy World Mental Health Day!

Each year, on October 10th, World Mental Health Day is celebrated, which is a proclamation initiated
by the World Health Organzation. This year is a bit special: The theme is "The Workplace" (Did you know?)

Work is sometimes--often--a 24/7 experience for many employees in the Western hemisphere (and beyond.) Suffice it to say, that work is on our minds a lot!

Our mental health is directly affected by work, and our mental health affects the workplace, productivity, and the bottom line. It's a two-way street, and enhancing mental health wellness is crucial to human welfare.

Depression and anxeity affect well over 500 million people worldwide. And the cost to productivity is a cool $1 trillion dollars.
Celebrate today by bringing attention to the importance of any work organization's employee assistance program, and remind employees and managers that the EAP stands ready to assist them.

You will find more information about World Mental Health day at these links, and consider any of the tip sheets from to help you celebrate it -- they are always reproducible, editable, brandable, and web-usable.

Tip Sheets for Workplace Wellness
Catalog of Products

2-Page Catalog
EAP Newsletters
Training/Awareness for Employees

Training/Awareness for Managers
EAP Tools and EAP Resources

Daniel Feerst, BSW, MSW, LISW-CP
Email me:
Publisher 1-800-626-4327

Office Romances and Productivity: Information for Employees and EA Professionals

​Busier lifestyles have made finding romance more difficult today than in recent memory.
With communication technology often reducing human interaction to abbreviated text messages and shorthand emails, many find the office

Romance in the workplace, think twice before the plunge

to be a rare exception where they are still able to engage in meaningful, face-to-face interaction with others. Romance at work can be a natural consequence. And it can feel quite compelling.

Many companies suffer productivity losses from workplace romance issues, which is why policies against workplace romance sometimes exist. They are not illegal.

The following are the top concerns from a poll of HR practitioners according to research from the IRS Employment Review:

Saturday, September 9, 2017

EAPs Massively Overlooked as Customer Risk Reduction Tools by Property Casualty Insurers and Risk Managers

EAPs Massively Overlooked as Customer Risk Reduction Tools by Property Casualty Insurers and Risk Managers: Risk Managers overlook employee assistance programs as tools to reduce risk for insurance customers and enhance their marketing efforts

Property Casualty Insurance Markets: The One Resource Overlooked in Workforce Risk Reduction

Lew sat quietly in his office at the Chino Mines in the 1950's trying to find a solution to a
massive problem he was hired to fix. Lewis Presnall, D. Div.-- was a pastoral counselor hired by Kennecott Copper Corporation to deal with a massive alcoholism problem among workers and their associated problems placing the company at risk.

These problems included injuries, morale problems, insubordination, harassment, absenteeism, tardiness, property damage, stolen property, firings, conduct and attitude issues, violence in the workplace, and family members coming to work and bringing domestic squabbles with them. Kennecott Copper was at wits' end. Perhaps this Lewis Presnall could figure it all out and solve the problem. He did and his work is what truly led to the creation of broad brush comprehensive EAPs 20 year later. Read more.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Value Added EAP: Burnout Contagion and Employee Assistance Programming

In light of new research, EAPs may want to consider screening for burnout contagion in employee assessments, identify patterns emerging with the workforce, and proactively propose EAP programming to make a impact on the work organization with interventions that reduce risk.

Humankind is, collectively speaking, a social animal. We are aware of one another on certain levels, and if one was to make a map of the world solely based on how relate to one another, you would also be looking at the travels of shared ideas, sickness, love and hate.

We connect with one another through various means and ways, including empathy, emotion, success and defeat. These ribbons of relation changes not just day to day, but sometimes minute to minute.

Among those, though, is something that simply does not get enough credit: burnout.

A new study by Michigan State University education scholars are proving how the culture of an environment (such as the workplace an EAP may find themselves in) can contribute directly to a contagious spread of burnout.

Do consider the information presented here:

Burnout is a terrible affliction--an insidious slow boil process--that can strike in just about any workplace, especially in a workplace environment that is not keeping the employees health and well-being into consideration. Late nights, unfair workloads, time away from family and home - all of these are indicative of a ticking time bomb!  Eventually the human animal will break down, and pretending that such a thing will never happen to you can only bring harm to the workplace.

Consider, if you will, the fast-paced and emotionally charged setting of a hospital. RN’s bustling about, residents doing 20-48 hour shifts and worse. All it takes is one person to suffer from the various symptoms of burnout before it begins to spread like wildfire, causing mayhem within the personal lives and habits of the entire staff.

“Wherever there is smoke, there is fire,” or so it’s said. There are plenty of symptoms to be on the lookout for, and recognizing overpowering workload per person is one thing to keep in consideration. A culture that does not promote the mental well-being of their employees is one that will eventually suffer in quality of produced work and overwhelming turnover rates, costing a company in both time and money.

The modern day professional, no matter what level of employment they are at, should be aware and mindful of what kind of environment they are empowering within the workplace. Listen to one another, and hear one out. Pay heed to stressors and how they are affecting the workplace and the workers themselves.

Do consider such resources as found here:
The benefits of having such an employee awareness program will easily pay dividends and help counter burnout within your company! Stress management is more than an art form, it’s a daily awareness.

By recognizing stressors and how to properly manage them, paying heed to co-workers, employees, and employers alike one can certainly fight back against such a negative culture, creating a workplace that will positively affect output and production as well as the mental health and well-being of all involved. #burnout #eap

Monday, August 7, 2017

Yoga and the Treatment of Depression: Put this in the EAP Tool Box

eap newsletters, wellness newsletter
The statistically high rate of revitalization, flexibility, physicality, and an increase in mind-body connection is what describes Yoga. So, heck it should help depression right? Right.

Let’s talk about yoga and how it’s being proven to effectively reduce depression!

You know the types of tropes that get associated with yoga: upscale and overpriced coffee-drinkers, overly heated rooms, manbuns, yoga pants, and Hollywood’s love of showing how it can enhance those pelvic muscles.  The thing to consider, though, is the actual mentality inherently within yoga itself, the kind of oneness and personal exploration within one’s psyche promoted within the practices.

Studies have been produced at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association which notes how yoga can help with stress reduction, and can impact depression and the symptoms leading to it.

Whether it be bikram, hatha, or some other form of yoga, the increase in quality of life and physical health is noteworthy, and can surely be of use to one’s professional life as well as personal life.  Finding the balance in both is truly key in effective and efficient life management, and can affect the overall output and quality of your work.

EAP professionals guide employees in how to find solutions for personal problems, the kind which may not be easy to simply brush off once they cross that door towards the office. Depression is a common one, and while many resources are recommended, this one has been ignored.

Well, not anymore!  With more studies being produced showing how Yoga (of any known sorts) can help reduce stress and the symptoms of depression, it pays for the EA professional and wellness worker alike to give it a try and see how it can improve the overall health and happiness of the workplace.

It is suggested that you look up your local Yoga studios.  It’s easy to request a sit-in to see if it’s a good feel for you, and no matter the level of expertise of yogi or students, you should always hear that you can assume the easiest pose and simply rest while being mindful.

Mindfulness, stress reduction, and overall quality of progression on an extremely personal level are the hallmarks of a good yoga studio.

Follow these links for more information about "Understanding and Treating Depression: Education for Employees and the news on Yoga and its impact on treating depression.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

EAP Posters for Employee Assistance Programs: An EAP Utilization Power Tool

EAP poster example thumbnail.
A few EAPs asked about EAP posters, so I am using this blog post to explain the product.

We give you 18 EAP Posters to start, and instructions to edit the templates we provide with them in MS Word or MS Publisher. The gist: You can create your own EAP Posters forever!

The idea is to never buy another EAP poster and use your own great ideas to match the workforce issues and needs you are facing right now.

Here is the guarantee: You will witness management in awe over your targeting of key issues from morale to daycare from opioid addiction to stress management. And management will see how your EAP is better than managed care company which could never match the value you offer. This will reduce risk of your program from being given the boot in favor of an #800.

Now you can look as relevant as you actually are with the visibility you need, which produces awareness, and more importantly the ability for your program to be remembered!
Prompt more referrals with EAP posters and achieve better internal buzz about your employee assistance program (EAP). eap poster example 2Click here to jump to the product and download a free FREE EAP POSTER. If you want two, just email me.

Imagine creating your own workplace EAP posters or safety posters. Yes, you can use them for safety messages too. Why not?

Make EAP Posters serious, unique, or hilarious. You have ideas, so use them with the help of this kit. (Note, your best ideas will show up when you are taking a hot shower.)

An EAP Poster become invisible after 6-8 views by passers-by. After that, it's done. Gone. This means you must refresh your posters. Don't buy will lose a fortune. Instead, make your own like these:

The employee assistance program poster kit provides 18 editable posters, and we also send all the free posters we've sent to EAPs over the past five years.
Your work culture is unique. It has its own risk issues and concerns. Work climates differ and they change throughout the year. One way to prompt employee action is to use EAP posters to educate, inform, and increase utilization. Along with EAP newsletters, training programs, and other engaging tools, you can keep your EAP relevant as a key player in 
your organization's risk management strategy. 
eap poster example 3

EAP posters can deliver a laser sharp message on a specific topic or concern. This is what makes this product so powerful. Tackle topics like holiday stress, down-sizing, organizational change, summer accident prevention, going back to school, diversity awareness, alcohol awareness month--are you getting the point about how powerful this product actually is?

Your ideas are the limit. Make new posters appear refreshed all over the organization. We do not know of a more powerful EAP strategy to create top of mind visibility than our poster kit, except for FrontLine Employee newsletter.

You know how hard it is to find new EAP posters. They are often too general. And you can't reproduce anything out there for sale. You must buy the posters one at a time. This is not a good thing. The truth is--your ideas are better than the publisher of such a product, including us!

So, the best way to go is to make your own.

Come up with awesome ideas among your staff and put them into action. Have a contest that creates buzz for your program. In fact, have employees in the organization join in.

The EAP poster kit solves the problem of refreshing your EAP's visibility. It will increase your EAP referrals guaranteed. It will also help you reduce risk and remind everyone of your program's relevance to the organization. Other ideas: conflict resolution, family issues, fixing absenteeism issues, couples conflicts, worry and concerns over job security, improving relationships with the boss....any of these problems could lead to referrals of your riskiest employees.

–Did you know you that you can get free photos with no copyright restrictions from or even google if you select "no copyright restrictions" on their images. Call me to learn about this. It is difficult in text, but here is screen shot.

That's how much we paid for this cute dog you see shown in the free download here.

With professional photos and captions you will re-invent posters all the time. It's addicting we have to say, and it's fun to see people's reactions. (Here's a secret. Use animals as metaphors or household objects like tea kettles. You find awesome ideas in picture libraries online.)

You know your workplace best, and you are in the best position to know what employees will look at, read, and pay attention to. You can't buy posters for your specific workplace--you must create them. This is the only poster kit America for EAPs that let's you do exactly that.

After creating an EAP poster, email the PDF to locations of your host company. Get the names of few contacts, and ask these individuals to help you put the poster up in strategic locations you've identified. To make it stiffer, simply put a card stock behind it and you are done!
all the eap posters in a group that come with the product
If you are a consultant, safety services firm, or other provider of safety products, you now have the ability to create workplace safety posters for customers, make a PDF, print it, email it, and then get it up fast.

Here's an example to keep employees from jumping off a loading dock that one company created. Can you see how a really specific safety posters can make a point and reduce risk, save thousands of dollars, and lost work time?

What more can we say about this product?

We give you 18 EAP posters right away. Each one is editable. Simply edit the content on go. Phone me to make this purchase at 1-800-626-4327 to request this kit now. I will give the link to download it and invoice you later -- no problem.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fake IDs and Parenting: What's to Know?

Teens obtaining fake identification is nothing new. Although most states have made it more difficult to duplicate a driver’s license since 9/11, young adults can still purchase IDs that make them old enough to buy alcohol or get into a nightclub. What is new is that researchers have found that young adults with fake IDs are more likely to get into trouble with drugs and alcohol than their counterparts.

What researchers found was shocking. Teens and young adults with fake IDs were drastically more likely to binge drink, smoke marijuana and use more dangerous hallucinogens and narcotics. A fake ID also correlated with getting arrested. An older study cites that 56 percent of fake ID holders used alcohol the previous week, compared to 14 percent of under-age students who didn’t have fake IDs. Read more at Linkedin...

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Use Reproducible Tip Sheets from

People ask about our reproducible EA: tip sheets which are editable for EAPs and restrictions on use. Here is information to help you. I am posting this for clarification in event you have any questions.

All EAP workplace wellness tip sheets distributed by DFA Publishing and Consulting, LLC are originally authored. Free tip sheets we distribute online may be redistributed without limitation to anyone. The purchased tips sheets have limitations as discussed below. Any tip sheet, free or purchased, may be edited or amended as desired, however the copyright notice must remain. You may place your program’s name on tip sheets (free or otherwise), along with your phone number or your logo in promoting your services or program.

A live link to our Web site is appreciated because it helps search engines find us and makes the Web site more popular with searches...thanks! Purchased tips sheets at or  are for the purchaser’s internal use for distribution to employees and/or family members, or for internal or external employee assistance program providers unaffiliated with insurance or managed care organizations, with multiple work organizations that are contracted customers. Do not redistribute the editable format. Instead, create a PDF and use it.

Using tip sheets means you accept the following statement: Information in tip sheets is provided with the understanding that the author and the publisher are not engaged in rendering legal or other professional services, especially with regard to a specific person, problem, health, or wellness concern, circumstance, or topic. Information is for general informational purposes.

Tip sheet information is not a substitute for competent legal, EAP, or other professional advice. You should approve content of tip sheets before distribution to employees, customers, or other persons. If you are an EAP or other wellness professional, feel free to add you own input. This is why I created them--so you could advance your program with ready-made materials, but still include your expertise.

Purchased tip sheets may be posted on protected page of a customer’s Web site, but you may not post on the World Wide Web and make the content accessible to anyone in world who may stumble upon it. Free tip sheets do not have this restriction. Please use a embedded link to, if possible, as mentioned above. You can find all the topic listed here.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Respect in the Workplace PowerPoint Training with Supervisor's Role Module

Mastering the Respectful Workplace: 10 Tips to Boost Productivity and Morale
This course from gives you 10 tips to improve morale, attitude and performance at work by mastering the art of respectful behavior.

As much as employees try to show respect for others through their actions, some subtle (or not so subtle) misguided behaviors can sabotage any employee's reputation and your effectiveness.

In this program, employees learn to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behavior and gain awareness so they make all the right moves.

High-achieving professionals seek continual improvement in their work product and their ability to collaborate with others, and the 10 tips in this course will reinforce success in both areas.

When employees treat everyone with respect, their positive behavior influences others throughout the organization and positive work culture begins to form.

Conversely, disrespectful behavior can prove especially disruptive. Through what’s called the "bystander effect,” co-workers who witness another coworker's adverse actions may feel hurt, anger and lower morale.

Speaking of morale, there’s a connection between the impact of disrespectful behavior on an employer (in terms of productivity and financial under-performance) and the collective spirit of the workforce.

Engaging in harassment or ridicule--or simply violating others’ space--can trigger a downhill spiral that not only undermines one's credibility but harms everyone's work experience.

So this Respect in the Workplace PowerPoint course includes true-false questions to help employees apply what they learn.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Train and Educate Employees about Depression Using Multiple Touch Points: Video, DVD, Web Course and Handouts

Training and educating of employees that helps them consider their mental health needs may seem like something that has nothing to do with the employer's primary business purpose. Many managers and leadership staff are still vehemently against wandering into these areas of employee wellness, even though employee assistance programs have been around over 40 years. But they adopt this attitude at their own peril.

At a television set manufacturing facility, would a furnace with a leaking gas line, or a truck with worn out brake pads on in the parking, both which can lead to
Understanding and Treating Depression PowerPoint, Training, DVD, Video
a catastrophe, be the employer's business if the mission of the organization is primarily selling televisions? Of course it is their business. The furnace and the truck are resources possessed by the organization, and maintaining them requires attention to problems they experience so even bigger problems aren't experienced that literally in this case blow up the bottom line.Employees are an organization's most valuable resource, so let's talk about mental health and the problems employees can experience, and educate them to self-diagnose and motivate them further to seek help via the EAP. Depression . . .[read more ]

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Could Property Casualty Insurers Be the EAP Profession's Ship Coming In?

Certainly, you know that the Property Casualty (P-C) insurance is a world away from Health Insurance and their managed behavioral care partners, correct?

P-C insurers are folks like Lloyds of London, AIG, and Hartford who worry about a fire burning the building down where your EAP office is located. They also worry about things like lawsuits for wrong termination, automobile and truck wrecks, lawsuit payouts for sexual harassment, and workers' compensation payouts when employees prove they have been cheated. Lawsuits for trips and falls, employment practices liability, and theft of tools--yep, they insure against these types of losses too--almost anything other than employee behavioral health.

And workplace violence, when it happens, someone getting shot, and families suing over their grieved relatives...who pays? It's not United Healthcare. It's these big boys with P-C.

Now stick with me on this post.While managed behavioral health care wants one thing from an EAP--assessment and avoidance of access to the employee's insurance afforded by the behavioral health plan if possible, (thanks to an EAP's assessment and short term counseling skills within the core technology), a property casualty insurance company would want everything it could possibly wring out of your EAP in order to target as many behavioral risk exposures as possible in an effort to prevent insurable and compensable losses. (Please read that again and consider the implications.)

Human behavior in the workplace contributes to many liabilities and exposures, and all of these risks are born by insurance premiums. They also come with high deductibles--like $25-$50,000 for a lawsuit associated with sexual harassment.

Back injury and lengthy periods of time out of work, the P-C pays. Sexual harassment by a supervisor? Yes, the P-C pays.

And the $1 million out of court settlement instead of the risk of $5 million in a jury trial? Yes, again, the P-C forks over the cash.

Now imagine a well integrated EAP able to educate supervisors, detect emerging risks, and go anywhere within an organization necessary to engage and discover, educate, and train, assess and consult, and all with the purpose of reducing losses. How much might this sort of "human factors exposures prevention" be worth?

My guess is a lot, because the stakes are enormous. This is could also be a renaissance for EAPs. Am I wrong?

It's time to engage this tremendously financially liquid world of P-C. There are thousands of brokers nationwide. They know nothing about EAPs (other than the # on the back of their own insurance card in the event of an alcohol or psychiatric issue.)

There is a potentially wide-open avenue for EAPs to grow and flourish in ways that have not been seen for quite awhile, I think.

Write me at if you think I am off base about this. I wouldn't have written this much except for one thing. In 1993, I went to one of the most competitive EAP markets in the U.S. (Denver) and I engaged with a property casualty insurance broker there. I trained insurance agents all about EAPs in about three hours so they could offer these tools to customers. A week later, I returned and picked up three checks from three different companies averaging 100 employees each who had never had a comprehensive EAP. No lie.

I then flew to Baltimore, MD to the corporate headquarters of NSF&G Insurance, and within their boardroom made a presentation to talk them into beginning an EAP division and hiring real core tech pros. They listened, but their staff turned over, and I was full time employed at Arlington Hospital, and couldn't do it all myself at the time.. But this opportunity still lingers.

Mark Attridge's (hats off to him) awesome article in the Jan 2017 Journal of Employee Assistance discusses the obvious difference between a free EAP and a for-fee EAP, and the 400% improved utilization that one could expect from the latter. Mark shy's away from calling these managed-care driven programs. This is a disappointment and the elephant in the living room. But his research is solid content for EAPs seeking a new home in the risk world--one where they will be full appreciated. See my 2002 article on this topic here that discusses these issues more directly EAPs Help Limit Behavioral Exposures from the NATIONAL UNDERWRITER INSURANCE MAGAZINE

Monday, March 13, 2017

Increase EAP Utilization Hack #18: Ask Satisfied EAP Clients to Refer Others On Their Way Out the Door

This is the simplest and easiest way to increase EAP utilization--ask satisfied clients to refer coworkers or peers to the EAP as they leave your office. And for the booster tip: Tell your satisfied client to tell other employees that the EAP is confidential--really confidential to the fullest extent of the law. Short tip, but marketing confidentiality works better coming from a client who happens to disclose their EAP participation than it does from an EAP Poster. And, of course, this boosts EAP utilization rates.

Increase EAP Utilization Hack #14: Conduct Refresher Training for Supervisors in Using the EAP Properly

Let's continue with EAP Utilization Hack #17 (I accidentally skipped a number.) We are counting down ot #1. We're talking EAP refresher training. This is critical for EAPs, but few formally do it. It's guaranteed to boost utilization, both of self-referred employees and supervisor-referred employees. Refresher training is follow-up training that allows supervisors to examine their experiences in using the EAP over a defined period of time.

The goal of refresher training is to learn how to use the EAP effectively, manage difficult employees with greater ease, and clear up questions, misconceptions, or roadblocks common among supervisors that typically interfere with, or inhibit use of the program. Refresher training reduces risk to the organization because it increases the likelihood of employees with serious troubles getting referred.

Print brochure for "EAP Refresher Training" product.

For example, a supervisor meets with an employee and formally refers him or her to the EAP, but fails to phone the EAP first, send documentation, or request that a release be signed. The supervisor than hears nothing back, phones the EAP, can't get information because no release exists, experiences frustration concluding that the program is not very helpful.

When conducting refresher training, include lots of discussion around hypothetical referral scenarios, and education about common issues that interfere with referral:

Ideas for EAP Refresher Training! Put together your own program using these concepts below or consider use of materials.

1) Discuss the need to refer early and why. Discuss the ramifications and risk associated with delay
2) Discuss importance of communicating with the EAP before, during, and after the referral--not about the nature of the employees programs, but the the mechanics of communication, both when, why, and how all with the goal of helping the employee and salvaging valuable workers.
3) Explain the parameters and dynamics of the signed release
4) Clarify what is meant by mandatory referral, formal referral, informal referrals, last chance agreements, and firm choice agreements. Many supervisors confuse these terms and they all have different meanings and implications in the management of troubled employees.
5) Talk about reducing emotional involvement, unbridled anger, and power struggles with employees.
6) Talk about how to maintain control of the communication and verification process with the EAP.
7) Discuss manipulation to avoid referral and later employee failure to follow-up with EAP recommendations
8) See the products associated with refresher training at this link.

EAP Utilization Hack #15: Do Outreach with Post-Heart Attack Employees and Help Them Fight Depression to Prevent Premature Death

You have probably heard me encourage EAPs to look under every nook and cranny for real opportunities to identify unaddressed behavioral risk in organizations. New ways of applying the core technology can be spotted during the year if you pay attention and listen with the "3rd ear" while engaging with supervisors, counseling employee-clients, and participating in various work organization projects. Also, subscribe to a couple workplace wellness news feeds. Personally, I like -- it hits a lot of workplace related news that EAPs should pay attention to.

Today, I was scanning press releases on wellness, and spotted new research from Intermountain Medical Center in Colorado. Research conducted by this group shows that if you have a heart attack, your chances of dying over the next 10 years are higher if you suffer from depression after the heart attack, but rehabilitation can reduce this risk.

Can you guess what the opportunity might be for applying the core technology of EAPs to risk in this situation? The opportunity is encouraging employees and their family members to meet with the EAP after they leave the hospital following a heart attack. In your office, explain support services and screen for depression, encourage rehabilitation, follow up, and also refer them as needed to psychiatric help (med management) for clinical depression.

This is ripe territory for EAPs to make a difference, and the cost-benefit of this outreach can't be under-estimated in my view. So, I am declaring this an EAP Utilization Hack #15. (See prior posts for other EAP Utilization Hacks.)

In summary, the Intermountain Medical Center Heart research team (link shown below) compiled information from 7,550 patients who completed at least two depression questionnaires over the course of one to two years. These are patients who had heart attacks.

Patients were categorized based on the results of their survey as never depressed, no longer depressed, remained depressed, or became depressed. Following each patient’s completion of the last questionnaire, patients were followed to see if they had any major cardiovascular problems such as a stroke, heart failure, heart attack or death.

At the conclusion of the study, 4.6 percent of patients who were no longer depressed had a similar occurrence of major cardiovascular complications as those who had no depression at all (4.8 percent).

Those who remained depressed, however, and those who became depressed throughout the study, had increased occurrences of major cardiovascular problems — their rates were 6 and 6.4 percent, respectively. Treatment for depression resulted in a decreased risk of cardiovascular risk that was similar to someone who didn’t have depression.

So EAPs, the strategy is to talk more about depression, how's its treated, and educate people about this brain disease. Encourage self-referral, and follow up during the year. I suggest you read these heart-related research studies on depression and its impact on cardiovascular health. See if this avenue of EAP utilization improvement doesn't make your EAP one that has greater value, and hopefully one that is less easily contracted out to managed care. You may also save a few lives along the way.

Helping Employees Overcome Emotionally Challenging Workplace Incidents that Distract from Productivity and Contribute to a Deteriorated Workplace Climate

There is one topic that you should seek to include in your EAP newsletter to employees. These topics tackle "emotionally challenging workplace incidents and events.” For the most part, these are intra-psychic stress issues, but articles or content offered to help employees tackle them will be the most appreciated because they help relieve emotional distress and add resilience.

An example would be how to respond to a very disappointing performance review an employee did not anticipate. Another would be criticism from the boss that blind-sides an employee. A nasty interaction with a coworker in the staff kitchen can ruin the whole day, and others include difficulty accepting feedback from peers, struggling with triggers and angry feelings when ignored, and being ostracized, bullied, or passively "aggressed" against. Much of this is about incivility, but the scope of these events is much broader. They represent interactions with coworkers, for example, where their might be purposely withheld compliments about one's new dress. The silent treatment is another one. These actions and similar common emotional stress experiences in the workplace take a toll on productivity. Your EAP newsletter can masterfully target them.

Employees look for articles like these. They will anxiously await articles that help them conquer stressful undesirable emotional states. They are a life-ring that you throw to workers to help them find resiliency in the EAP's outreach. Consider the content of a recent article below, and you will get a very good feel for what I am referring to.

Although eagerly welcoming constructive feedback, employees who accomplish a lot on the job know their successes will sometimes rub others the wrong way. Not everyone will be quick to praise one's triumphs when they are cast into the limelight by supervisors or others who recognize your achievements. Sound familiar? Sometimes these achievements are met with criticism for whatever reason. Do you know how to cope with such experiences? Learning to detach from unhelpful criticism is a skill to help you stay motivated, adapt to change, and think more creatively about your job. Try these “inoculations” to beef up your immunity: 1) Remember that those who criticize don’t know the real you. 2) See negative criticism as possible validation that you are “on the right track.” 3) Accept criticism of your success as normal and part of life’s challenges. 4) Search for the truth in the criticism, if any. Something about it may be helpful despite the style of its delivery. 5) Let criticism inspire you to work with even more vigor toward accomplishing your dreams, rather than forcing you into retreat.

There are many issues employees face that create emotional distress. Targeting them with workshops, articles, handouts, and especially with your EAP newsletter will help employees in ways that they will appreciate most.
(Get copies of the last 2-3 issues of Frontline Employee or Work Life Excel by visit or for Work Life Excel, email me at I will send you Jan, Feb, and Mar.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Can Your EAP Change Employee Attitudes and Create a More Positive Workforce?

There is one thing seldom discussed as a powerful purpose for having an EAP employee newsletter authored by an EAP peer. In fact, I seldom mention in it my own promotional literature about Frontline Employee.

This one thing can improve productivity, reduce the risk of violence, reduce complaints to HR, and produce a more positive workplace. The topic is changing and creating more positive attitudes among employees. There are thousand ways to go with this topic, but your employee newsletter is a powerful vehicle for delivering this sort of change to your organization.

Don't forget this topic in your newsletter. I can't think of a more cost-beneficial reason to have a workforce wellness or employee newsletter. So, I decided to blog about. And, frankly, this is why I attend to this topic regularly in our content throughout the year.

Insert purposeful articles on this topic about 7-8 times per year. Doing so will cause your organization to reap powerful benefits as people think about the content and seek to apply it.

A positive attitude controls our lives. It enhances our relationships. And it impacts our productivity, both in quantity and quality. I discovered this years ago, and it is why I decided to write about this subject in our employee newsletters about 3-4 times per year.

Did you know that Stanford researchers are making the case that attitude is more important than IQ. Yes, this in addition to the whole emotional IQ discussion. This is good news, and there are a lot of implications for workplace productivity in this declaration. The good news? Attitude is easier to change than I.Q. and it has significant financial payoffs.

Start with helping employees understand “mindset.” Either you have a mindset that is “fixed” or your mindset is “growth-oriented,” says researcher, Carol Dweck, Ph.D. A fixed mindset means you’re not very open to change or willing to adapt to it. You don’t view mistakes as opportunities or stepping-stones to your success. People with a growth mindset do. Hey, this is not genetic. This is a learned behavior. Sure, this is also a habit, but habits are changed to the degree new beliefs are acquired, and your employee newsletter should therefore target these concepts. (We do. Click here to get three free back issues of Frontline Employee so you can see what I am talking about.) I will send you Dartmouth College's newsletter. We started writing Dartmouth's newsletter about ten years ago. They love us. If you need, I will refer to the EAP Director there for a testimonial.

One powerful article (try this idea) is helping employees look at Thomas Edison's attitude—he kept trying hundreds of times (actually about 1000) before the bulb finally glowed.

Also, help employees look at the idea of embracing challenges. Also, what does it mean to persist in the face of setbacks--discuss this idea, too. Help employees plot a path to mastery of a skill or ability that will advance their career. Help them see criticism as gift. (There's a biggie.) Learning from criticism to achieve something more really requires an open mindset. I won't digress too far, but this whole positivism idea flows over into improved workplace communication -- both more civility in communication and more of it. That's right. When attitudes are poor, some people communicate less.

Pose the question in the beginning of your article of whether the reader  has an open or closed mindset. You can find a deeper discussion about this topic if you purchase the book  “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” by Carol Dweck, Ph.D. - I quick skim will give you a bunch of ideas for articles associated with this topic.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

EAP Refresher Training for Supervisors Can Reduce Risk, Tragic Losses, and Perhaps Keep Your EAP from Getting "Farmed Out"

When was the last time your EAP conducted supervisor refresher training? Refresher training targets organization-specific questions and concerns supervisors have about using the EAP to manage troubled employees. It delves deeper into the work culture, examines nuances of the EAP policy, and allows discussion of "anecdotal issues" supervisors have faced (without any confidential disclosures) in their in use the EAP.

Although, you may complain about getting enough time to do first-time supervisor training, and the resistance management has in giving you face time, the following can help you paint an argument for getting the training time you need.

Here something that must be discussed: An impassioned argument does not guarantee that management will listen to your request to arrange supervisor training. And this is where you need understand the EAPs purpose. The degree to which your EAP "sells" its valuable purpose to the host organization a management tool instead of an "employee benefit" plays directly to the question of whether they will give you time to meet with supervisors. An EAP is communicated as an employee benefit to employees. But don't you look at an EAP this way. If you do, you will drift into an argument for losing your contract or program to a managed care 800#. You must market your EAP as a management tool (a pro-people, pro-organization program) and not a touchy-feely service. The latter will cause any organizational CFO to initiate discussion with the corporate board about having your program contracted out to a cheaper service delivery model.

If you can produce the results of a survey that demonstrates supervisors need what you have to offer, and with it show a direct connection to reduce risk to the organization, you increase the likelihood of getting stage time for supervisor training and re-orienting management's view of your program as something that can't be contracted out.

Consider constructing a survey of supervisors based upon the following questions and producing a report.

Please rate your knowledge in the following areas according to the scale below: 5 - I have a lot of expertise; 4 - I have a good grasp in this area; 3 - I feel adequate in this area; 2 - I feel rather weak in this area; 1 - I feel very inadequate in this area.

1. The policies, procedures and steps I would take to intervene with an employee who has
    alcohol on his breath. Comment: _______________________

2. The effects of alcohol and different types of drugs, prescription and illegal, and their effects of performance and behavior. Comment: _______________________

3. How to write an effective corrective letter to motivate an employee to improve performance or seek help for a personal problem. Comment: _______________________

4. How to make a supervisor referral to the employee assistance program. Comment: _______________________

5. How confront an employee with performance problems in such a way that might motivate them to seek help from the EAP. Comment: _______________________

6. How to write an effective performance improvement plan to resolve performance problems.
    Comment: _______________________

7. Managing interpersonal conflict between two or more employees.
   Comment:  _______________________

8. Feeling support from the organization for recommending and pursuing disciplinary action when
    necessary. Comment: _______________________

9. Writing effective and useful documentation that can support job actions or administrative
    recommendations in response to performance problems.
   Comment: _______________________

10. Giving clear, useful feedback on employees behavior. Comment: _______________________

11. Persuading and motivating employees to perform their best.
     Comment: _______________________

12. Feeling capable of responding properly to employees that may be potentially violent.  
     Comment: _______________________

13. How to monitor an employee who has been treated for a severe psychiatric condition or
     alcoholism/drug addiction. Comment: _______________________

14. The degree to which I feel an employee with an alcoholism problem has a disease, not a moral or psychiatric problem. Comment: _______________________

15. I am suspicious employees may be stealing, using drugs on the job, sleeping at work, or
stealing time, but I can't prove it. Comment: _______________________

Note that the comments section in a survey like this is critical. You will learn more this way. (Also, it will help you with questions and issues that you can send me to discuss in The Frontline Supervisor EAP Newsletter.
You may be able to think of more questions. These questions are only a starter. Once tallied, such questions argue on their own merits the need for training, but do not be afraid to analyze answers and make judgements yourself about what they mean. For example, if most supervisors think alcoholism is not a disease, but a psychiatric or moral issue, their attitudes are likely to interfere with their proactive use of the EAP.

Always consider the degree to which employee problems and supervisor attitudes increase the risk of lawsuits for employment practices liability. This area of discussion is a broad one and EAPs can play a significant role it educating supervisors about many issues and reducing this risk. For example, misapplication of discipline can create the grounds for a lawsuit that can cost an organization hundreds of thousands of dollars. Organizations pay close attention to such exposures, but only the truly insightful think about how to use their EAP as a prevention tool.

One last piece of advice. I know this sounds cynical, but let me say it anyway: Once you present a report to management that discusses risk and suggests what should be done about it, never let management return it to you. This is a technique used to later avoid knowledge of a risk issue if something the report predicted actually comes to pass.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

EAP Integration Redefined By Mark Attridge in EAPA Journal: Now Let's Run With It

"EAP Integration" should never have meant an EAP mixed with Behavioral Health Care Insurance Benefits. (This was likely an insurance company lexicon concoction from day one.) But, finally, one EAP author has redefined the term, and with some solid discussion of research, unwittingly caused a crack in the wall that could lead to an EAP renaissance.

Certainly, you know that the Property Casualty (P-C) insurance is a world away from Health Insurance and their managed behavioral care partners, correct? P-C insurers are rich--health insurance markets pale in comparison--folks like Lloyds of London, AIG, and Hartford. These folks worry about a fire burning the building down where your EAP office is located. They also worry about things like lawsuits for wrong termination, automobile and truck wrecks, lawsuit payouts for harassment, racial discrimination, and endless workers' compensation payouts. Lawsuits for trips and falls, employment practices liability, and payments for theft of tools--yep, they insure against these types of losses too. And workplace violence, when it happens, and families sue over their grieved relatives...who pays? It's not United Healthcare. It's these big boys with P-C. They have deep pockets, but they need people like, well, EAPs. And they need everything from the Core Technology that you can throw at them. There is only one problem: They don't know you exist!

Now stick with me on this post.

While managed behavioral health care wants one thing from an EAP--assessment and help with avoidance of access to the employee's insurance afforded by the behavioral health plan, a property casualty insurance company would want everything it could possibly wring out of your EAP in order to target as many behavioral risk exposures as possible in an effort to prevent payouts for insurable and "compensable" losses. Human behavior in the workplace contributes to many liabilities and exposures, and all of these risks are born by insurance premiums. They also come with high deductibles--like $25-$50,000 for a lawsuit associated with sexual harassment that the employer must pay first.

Back injury and lengthy periods of time out of work, the P-C pays. Sexual harassment by a supervisor? Yes, the P-C pays the $5 million out of court settlement--and the large jury awards when they happen. A lawsuit for ruining a career with a wrongful disciplinary action? P-C forks over the cash. Insuring Lady GaGa's for being suspended from the sky-ceiling of the Super Bowl (if permitted) -- P-C Insurance!

Now imagine a well integrated EAP able to educate supervisors, detect emerging risks, and go anywhere within an organization (integrated EAP!) necessary to engage and discover, educate, and train, assess and consult, and all with the purpose of reducing losses. How much might this sort of "human factors exposures prevention" be worth? This is REAL EAP folks.

My guess is a lot, because the stakes are enormous. This is could also be a renaissance for EAPs. After all, about 800 members show up at a typical International EAPA Conference, while over 3000 were showing up in 1986 over 30 years ago. The field is not progressing by this definition. ("I'm just sayin'.")

It's time to engage this tremendous and financially liquid world of P-C. There are thousands of brokers nationwide. They know nothing about EAPs (other than the phone number on the back of their insurance card in the event the member has an alcohol or psychiatric issue.) There is a potentially wide open avenue for EAPs to grow and flourish in ways that have not been seen for quite awhile.

Write me at if you think I am off base about all this. I wouldn't have written this much except for one thing: In 1993, I went to one of the most competitive EAP markets in the U.S. (Denver) and I engaged with a property casualty insurance broker there. I trained insurance agents all about EAPs for about three hours. A week later, I returned and picked up three checks from three different companies averaging 100 employees who had never had a comprehensive EAP. Yes, two weeks later - three company contracts for comprehensive EAPs.

I then flew to Baltimore, MD to the corporate headquarters of billion dollar NSF&G (they closed down soon after) and within their boardroom made a presentation to begin an EAP division. They listened, but their staff turned over, and my funding ran out. But this opportunity is still sitting out there for the EAP field to consider. At least, that is my belief.

Mark Attridge's (hats off to him) awesome article in the Jan 2017 Journal of Employee Assistance discusses the obvious difference between a free EAPs and a for-fee EAPs, and the 400% improved utilization that one can expect from the latter. Mark in my humble opinion appears to shy away from calling these "managed-care driven EAPs." This is a disappointment and the elephant in the living room that is stepping (squashing) the EAP field. Marks research is solid content for EAPs seeking a new home in the risk world--one where they will be full appreciated, as well as traditional EAP marketing. See my 2002 article on this topic here that discusses these issues more directly entitled, EAPs Help Limit Behavioral Exposures from the NATIONAL UNDERWRITER INSURANCE MAGAZINE.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Reasonable Suspicion Training, Attendance Patterns, and Intervention

Alcohol and drug using employees who have substance abuse dependencies may in the later stages of their illness demonstrate erratic attendance patterns that lead to their termination. One common pattern that you should discuss in reasonable suspicion training is the problematic performance issues of being absent on Monday, absent on Friday, and absent the day after payday. Alcoholics or drug addicted employees aren’t the only ones who experience this attendance pattern, of course.

Depression affecting employees, for example, can easily contribute to an absenteeism pattern. In fact, oddly, once had an EAP client with attendance pattern caused by her inability to continue on any drive to work because of fear that she had accidentally run over someone when she turned the last corner while driving her car. This necessitated her turning the car around and driving back in the opposite direction to ensure no one was lying in the street injured or dead! This would happen a dozen times on her commute to work.

Despite other personal problems of employees that contribute to absenteeism, the classic pattern above is probably most common among addicts and frequently observed by managers and workforce management professionals with any significant time on the job. Typically when this symptom pattern is discussed in reasonable suspicion training, you will receive a odd chuckle from the crowd because they all know what you are talking about. (Continue to Read More on Reasonable Suspicion Training and Intervention and get the free e-book download PDF on Performance-based Intervention)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Preventing Caregiver Depression - There Are Employees You Haven't Reached

Caregivers suffer depression at three times the rate of other people. And if you do not think that this affects workplace productivity, you're missing the mark on this problem. When employees leave work at the end of the day, their "second" job begins, and like everyone else, the stress and strain of work, care-giving, and home life begin to form a box from which one feels that their is little escape. Some employees may take it a day at a time. And although few will admit it, some may secretly wish--and feel guilty for it--the natural death of their loved one. Combine this with any substance abuse issues, depression, financial problems, or the IRS bill that wasn't paid last year from a squeezed in part time job, and you risk for a seriously troubled employee. You can only reach these employees with what is an EAP newsletter for employees. I hope you have one, and I hope it is monthly. Because if it is not, you're putting on a nice show, but you're not penetrating what is known as "top of mind awareness." You've seen the stats on how many times we are bombarded by commercials and promotions on a daily basis. As I type this blog note, and glance to the right and left of me, I have count 31 such messages. I mean, it is insane! Your EAP is fighting this clutter, but you still have to figure out how to be not a pest, but a welcomed guest. The strategy is knowing the issues in the workforce, issues SHORT, INTENSE, NO FLUFF SOLUTION-ORIENTED CONTENT employees look forward to getting, and frankly, the rest is waiting for the phone to ring. I would like to add one more key. Add in writing, to the bottom of any newsletter, that the EAP is confidential. You are fighting perceptual erosion of confidentiality on a continual basis because fear of whether a program is confidential is a real energy force that is relentless. You can't fight this with a quarterly newsletter sheepishly and apologetically slipped into an employee's inbox once per month. Use this content in your next newsletter that I wrote - you may do so without attribution.

The following is copyrighted content that may be used by you the reader of this blog post. No attribution required, but you could put a copyright and link to, we would appreciate this very much because it allows us to improve rankings on search engines (and it harder now that ever!) So, you may also edit this article and add your professional expertise to it. However, for an editable, reproducible, web usable, and brand-able EAP Newsletter and articles of this type for your company, EAP, or wellness program, go here.
Since depression is a disease and not a moral or character failing, you must be on-guard for its signs and symptoms exactly like you would for the flu during the wintry months. In your case as a caregiver, this may be periods of time when you are under inordinate stress from sort of responsibility. There are many symptoms of depression, and the EAP is at your disposal for a full assessment, but here are five important rules regarding depression and personal awareness especially for caregivers: 1) Don’t dismiss stress you are experiencing and the symptoms you suspect may be depression by using positive "self-talks” and internal lectures to yourself about “handling it better” or “brushing it off.” Instead, get a quick and easy assessment at the EAP. 2) Understand the difference between “caring” and “doing.” This means being open to help from other people who love and care about you, and from services that can ease your burden or encourage independence by your loved one when appropriate. "Meals Without Wheels" may not be as wonderful as your home cooking, but it can help take the edge off of a bad day for a stressed caregiver. 3) Don’t wait to feel strained before asking for help. Learn to see the strain around the corner. If a tough assignment at work is coming soon and you anticipate conflict and added stress in care-giving, consider your options. The EAP can also help you trouble-shoot solutions. 4) Know what activities rejuvenate you and your spirit, so when you get respite care, (any extended break) you know what to choose that will best retool and re-energize your ability to carry forth. 5) Find another caregiver and develop a friend or buddy in that person, someone you can bond with socially, exercise with, or mutually find shared support.


Learn more or see the tip sheet from associated with managing caregiver stress