Thursday, July 24, 2008

Employees Have Questions About Your EAP

Answer Key EAP Questions in Newsletters

Do you issue an EAP newsletter to the workforce that addresses productivity, work-life, and a variety of personal problems that employees and their family members face? If so, you have an excellent forum for answering common questions about the EAP that can increase your utilization and program security.

Here are a few questions I bet you have not been asked by employees, but many employees have them. It is not the common questions--it's the unusual questions--employees want to hear answers to. And your newsletter should be answering them. Not only are they more intriguing, they also inspire employees to use your program because they are memorable.

Employees will read the answers to the following questions with earnest. How many could you answer right now without thinking about it?

“Can the EAP call my friend who is depressed. I’ve asked her to contact the EAP, but I think she is too depressed to make the call?”

“If my supervisor refers me to the EAP can he or she take disciplinary action if I don’t go?”

“How confidential is the EAP, really?”

“Is the EAP ‘counseling’, ‘therapy’,‘assessment’, or all three?”

"Can my supervisor tell other supervisors, and can they in-turn tell other employees that I went to the EAP? How is that confidential? What penalties do they face for disclosing my participation?

Can I choose my own counselor? One of the EA counselors is best friends with my mother.

Do you see how these questions both help employees feel better about the EAP and increase the likelihood of the program being used? If you have your own newsletter, you can answer questions like these and many more. They are not the kind of questions that you are likely to put in a general information brochure. But inquiring employee minds want to know. And there are many more.

Consider calling such a column in your newsletter, “Employees Ask About the EAP” This type of employee education is essential. Many employees in the company or companies you serve have not had a presentation from the EAP to orient them to the program in years. Many may have been absent the day they were supposed to attend their first such presentation. Most companies will never give you a second opportunity to have an EAP orientation program for employees to answer questions about the EAP.

The questions above are just a few of the types of questions you may want to consider. You can create many more qusetions yourself based upon the experiences you have had as an EA professional with the companies you serve. Answering common employee questions will stimulate referrals and improve management’s satisfaction with your program. Guaranteed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Helping Disciplined Employees

Click here for New Fact Sheet for Download but read about it first.

Employers and employees equally dislike the dispensing of discipline, also referred to as adverse actions. When discipline happens, a variety of employee reactions are possible. Some employees accept discipline as a constructive experience and opportunity for change. Others react to discipline with anger, resentment, threats, and in the worst cases, violence of the worst kind.

Discipline isn't going away, no matter what kind of reaction employees have to it. Some organizations make it the last resort, but nevertheless, helping employees respond to discipline in a constructive way is a worthy, possibly life-saving endeavor.

Without a doubt, EAPs are in the best position to help employees gain the most from a disciplinary experience, both in heeding its message and gaining the most personal growth from the crisis it represents. Whether it's discovering an unresolved personal problem that contributes to problematic behavior, or reframing discipline as an opportunity for a better future going forward, managing an employee's reaction to discipline remains somewhat unexplored territory for stakeholders.

The most rudimentary steps have been recommended by some insurance companies to prevent violence following disciplinary actions. However, these ultimate payors of enormous sums resulting from violent reactions to discipline have not used EAP processes to their fullest advantage.

This is another argument for EAPs being an essential part of any organization's risk management strategy, not just a service tucked into a benefits package. The excitement lies in advocating for this increasing role for EAPs in work organizations to save lives and money. Is this the shortest distance between two points? Is an all out assault on the goal of incorporating EAPs in risk management strategies to help allay the financial risk of major insurers easier hanging fruit for us? Is it a faster walk to what we all want than searching for next rung on the "EAP ladder of acceptance" using long-term strategies like funding more research to prove our worthiness? I think free markets and market forces have faster solutions for EAPs. Practiticioners must take the lead in the field, not academics. What do you think? (Just thinking outloud here folks.)

This month's editable and reproducible fact sheet, When You've Been Disciplined at Work, is designed to add to your ability to help employees respond constructively to the disciplinary experience. It's part of the new GROUP 5 fact sheets released today at

Amend this fact sheet with your own experience. Do collaborate on its use with your HR and management partners. I am certain you will find creative ways to use it--perhaps before discipline happens--to help employees, protect organizations, and possibly save lives. New Fact Sheet for Download