Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Helping Employees with a Wage Garnishment "Fishing Net"

Garnishments are court orders for the employer to cut a check, mail it to the creditor or entitled party, and along with it process a bunch of paper work every pay period, sometimes for a long period of time. Employers must follow court orders to garnish wages or face paying the entire amount to the creditor themselves. They are a nuance for any hard-working payroll department and they cost the company money. EAP utilization can be boosted dramatically if you make arrangements with your organization to have management make supervisor referrals for employees whose wages must be garnished. The performance basis of the referral is the financial burden on the organization resulting from issues within the employee’s personal life adversely affecting the workplace. Like any management or supervisor referral, the garnishment referral is not a punitive act.

Wage garnishment judgments may or may not be deserved sometimes, but they are almost always symptoms of larger problems in the employee’s life in addition to the debt and credit problems the employee is experiencing. That’s because psychosocial problems frequently produce financial problems. Garnishments could be symptoms of drug problems, marital crisis, depression and mental illness, and of course, compulsive shopping or gambling. It isn’t easy to arrive at the point where one’s wages are finally garnished. Many threatening letters, phone calls from creditors, and the like arrive first. A year or two could pass before a court case becomes a garnishment judgement.

Most organizations have considered referring employees with garnishments to the EAP, although historically such referrals were commonplace among core technology EAPs of the past. Breathe new life into your utilization rate. Set a meeting date with human resources and discuss the practice of employees being referred to the EAP as a result of wage garnishments. There are many ways to do it—from a simply mention in a letter, to a more formal management referral. Like any supervisor or management referral, be supportive when making employee wage garnishment referrals to the EAP.

3. Get your organization to refer such employees and you'll get the business and your utilization rate up. Draft a model letter for the employer(s) you serve, justify the rationale, and start getting these referrals.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Improving EAP Orientations

Every effective EAP conducts new employee orientations. It can be your one clean shot at having new employees understand the services you offer because there is no guarantee that you will ever have them as a captured audience again.
You want it to count.

Here are a few tips to improve the referral-pulling power of your employee orientations and make the right impression so your EAP utilization stays high.

Provide a More Detailed List of Problems, Issues, and Concerns
Many EAPs only provide only a brief list of the types problems and concerns their program will address. Typically these are broad categories of problems such as substance abuse, mental health issues and stress, health care concerns, financial or legal concerns, family/personal relationship issues, work relationship issues, concerns about aging parents. They aren’t specific enough. Such broad categories require the employee to consider whether their unique problem fits. Make them think less by offering rich details about what falls into these categories.

There is an important adage in marketing that goes, “Don’t Make Me Think”. It means that if the customer has to figure out what you are trying to say, you’ve lost them.

What’s missing is a more detailed list of problems that would increase the likelihood of an employee spotting the specific issue that troubles them. create 6-7 specific examples for each of these areas of concern, and you will promote your program more effectively. This is pure marketing, and the term is called “message to market match”.

Here’s an example of such a list:

Life management issues----marital and couples conflicts, sexual and intimacy issues, parenting skills, social and relationship issues, financial issues (credit problems, debt collections, loss of income, budgeting, and conflict over money.); legal problems; fear and anxiety over medical conditions; eldercare issues and caregiver stress; loss of a loved one and bereavement/grief issues. Landlord, tenant issues, homelessness or threatened homelessness; relationship conflicts, domestic/partner abuse, and victimization.

Emotional problems and mental health issues----depression, anxiety, medication management issues for psychiatric conditions, eating disorders and compulsive eating, social issues and relationship problems, adult child-parent relationship issues, and parenting concerns over teenagers.

Alcohol and drug-related problems----alcohol-related problems, drug-use problems and drug addiction, family members affected by the drug or alcohol use of another family member, relapse issues or maintaining or re-establishing an abstinence program and/or program of recovery from addiction and codependency; teenage substance abuse.

Job-related problems----getting to work on time, coworker conflicts, issues in working with your supervisor, performance concerns, career counseling, difficulties making decisions, stress, exhaustion, work pressures, being affected by downsizing, pre-retirement planning and related concerns, difficulties of a new position.