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.