Friday, January 29, 2010

Link Fixed

A link was broken on my last post. It's fixed, or you can click here.
Preventing Workplace Violence

Workplace Violence Video

I finished Video #3 in the Workplace Media Library 2010 series. This module is entitled Preventing Workplace Violence. It runs 12 minutes and I think it covers all of the bases.

While writing this program for EAP web sites and other workplace services, I took advantage of my experience as a victim of bullying when I was working for the CIA in 1978. (I eventually took a position in the CIA's occupational alcoholism program, but just prior, had a job in the Office of Logistics in Langley, VA doing various types of unclassified building work.)

I was able to stop the bullying permanently in a very satisfying manner. I zapped the perpetrator one day when he was arrested by a Federal police office for throwing lighted matches over the top of his head in an effort to hit me with them while I was walking down a hallway following behind. All for no reason. No reason at all. Just "fun". I was the chosen one--this guy's toy.

Luckily, it was all spotted by a Federal Police Officer guarding the hallway. She approached me and asked if I wanted to file a report. "Absolutely", I said. After numerous other events, it was the perfect opportunity.

The rest is a history of no more stress from this jerk, but the point of this story is that horseplay is illegal in Federal office buildings, and no matter where it is, it often turns violent. It frequently has victims, causes property damage, the clear example should encourage you to mentioned it in your training.

I have never seen horseplay mentioned in violence prevention materials, but this one does include it in one strong slide.

You will see other original content in this violence in the workplace prevention Power Point video. I also encourage employees to attend CISD debriefings offered by the organization after a violent incident, tips on avoiding assault, what the organization's EAP can do, how employees should be "change-agents" in promoting respect and avoid provoking a violent response from an employee who may not react rationally from picked on and bullied.

You can see the Preventing Violence at Work video here. Also, you may be interested in the Workplace Video Web Content Subscription as well. The program is designed to drive the cost down for these new products.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

EAPs Can Do Managed Care and Increase Their Value

1. If you work for an internal EAP with a company that is self-insured, consider approaching your human resources and benefits management team to discuss the possibility of getting the mental health component of your EAP "carved out" so you can provide limited managed care services. If you are a very well trusted tenured pro, they just might consider it. Listen up. I am not recommending to you anything that I have not done myself, including this task.

2. If you can achieve this goal, it will increase utilization rates dramatically. Here is the selling angle: 1) The EAP can pre-screen and refer employees to appropriate mental health professionals based upon their clinical evaluations and guidance. This will save money by getting employees to the right provider the first time.

As an incentive, permit 80% coverage for mental health benefits versus 50% for those that don't go through the EAP. Self-insured companies can do this sort of thing. This will also allow the EAP to identify behavioral/medical problems that may underlie existing disorders contributing to the symptoms brought to the EAP session by the client.

3. Even a phone interview with an employee to discuss a referral -- in the event the employee does not perceive the need for a face-to-face interview, or refuses -- can go along way toward identifying primary health problems that can be more effectively treated by the referral source the EAP might suggest.

4. If you succeed in getting a carve-out, the primary services you will provide include: 1) approving therapists; 2) notifying the insurance company who they should approve payment for; 3) re-certifying regularly; 4) selecting providers when a specialist on the managed care panel doesn't exist; and, 5) deciding to pay higher fees than the managed care company is willing to do themselves. This is a good deal for employees and can increase confidentiality. Yes, it will save money for the company, too. That's right, many managed care companies will not require "outpatient treatment reports" and they will accept the EAP's approval of out-of-panel therapists. You decide. You have to be diligent, but remember, "its your money not managed care's money."

5. All of this can limit the amount of clinical information, other than a CPT code, that will go to the massive computer memory at the managed care company. This improves actual and perceived confidentiality. Survey other internal programs nationwide to identify strategies capable of adding this dimension to your EAP services.

If you are interested in seeing the new “Preventing Violence in the Workplace” program (five formats available), reply back here and I will make sure you are on my early release list to view it, and get the limited time discount. This is a reward for being nice enough to sign up for this blog. More to come in the future! The discount won't be as low as the Flash Video Subscription Service (you know about this product, right?) subscripton service, but it will be signficant. The program is in sound in Flash Video for your web site, DVD, PowerPoint, and a self-playing Flash CD.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is Your Quarterly EAP Newsletter Placing Your Program in Danger of Being Cut?

What a weird question? Well, it's one of the many elephants in the EAP living room, so let's discuss it.

Can an EAP newsletter that you distribute too infrequently make your program less visible and more likely to be cut? After communicating with hundreds of EAPs and watching what happens internally with EAPs that I have managed, I have slowly gravitated to an answer on this question. It’s “yes”.

It’s convenient not dealing with the distribution of a newsletter more often, but still appearing as though you are “doing something” to promote your EAP. Is this your mindset?

This vintage approach to communicating wellness information in a technological era has become almost an apologetic frequency as your newsletter sheepishly slips into employee in-boxes every three months.

I would like to make the argument that this is too infrequent and makes a statement about the importance of this material and your program, in particular.

Do you disagree? Consider why you do this. Is it because there is a history of EAPs always doing it this way because that is all that was initially available from vendor sources? So, by default, did it become the standard for EAPs, and you copied others? I think this is precisely what happened.

Since I joined ALMACA (EAPA’s early name) in 1978 – 32 years ago I have witnessed the evolution of this service. And, I have watched it grow more important.

With all the stress that employees face, and with the degree of importance that you place on your EAP as a life-saving and cost-saving mechanism, isn’t it a bit ironic that you only distribute a quarterly newsletter to employees when you could do it bimonthly or monthly for less, and with less hassle?

You may have a quick comeback — employees have too much to read! Don’t fool yourself. This is your codependency talking. You're giving in to a HR manager’s phone call telling you to slow it down about other material you may have sent. Or it's simply your imagination, because you haven't received such a phone call at all. You're just making this statement to avoid the work and it sounds damn good. I have caught many EAPs in this argument. It's not reality. This, too-much-to-read line is bogus.

If you are hearing this line, it is all about muscling you around and telling the EAP how to do its job. Why is that the most important thing employees read regarding their well-being and perhaps the one thing that they really look forward to most receiving, is the one thing that should be cut back?

What you’re hearing from HR, if indeed at all, is one HR manager’s opinion, or at best a manager’s opinion relayed via HR.

You need to understand something: HR managers don’t argue with top managers. They are their primary customers. Instead HR managers ask how high to jump. Corporations are on a big outsource-the-HR-departmet kick these days, and HR managers -- like EAPs are a threatened species.

I assure you that you are not getting the results of a survey that is supported by employee opinions.

Here’s the problem. Employee newsletters have historically been four pages. The problem begins and ends there.

Quarterly newsletters are always print or sub-links to the vendors own web site destroying your seamless look. They are expensive, with 500-600 word articles, and they are a vintage solution manufactured for EAPs in the early 1980’s when anything more frequent would be over-kill. Employees had more leisure time then to read these "books".

But the problem today is that they sacrifice your EAP or program visibility. You become less competitive with other things in the organization. You don’t want that. It will jeopardize your program.

You are sacrificing visibility and communicating the message that quarterly life-saving health and wellness information is quite enough. Trust me, you do not want to send this message.

An EAP newsletter is a resource, and visibility mechanism, and item of extreme interest to employees. And it is a way to compete against other things in the environment that are targeting the employee’s attention. You must not give in to the “stop distributing this material because our employees don’t have time to read it” mantra.

Instead, stop sending 4-page newsletters. Send two-page newsletters bimonthly or monthly.

Employees do not generally finish or complete four-page newsletters in my experience and in my view. This is another reason that you are locked into a 4-page solution distributed quarterly. It’s nuts to send it more often! And its expensive. So, change the model to the 2010 solution. Get out of the 1980's.

In this era, go for less content, shorter more action-oriented tight copy, and more frequency with the ability to edit the content yourself on the fly. This way your EAP will stay visible, be perceived as being more valuable and relevant, and be more effectively mainstreamed. Anything less and you’re in danger of being seen as expendable during next budget cycle.

Distribute EAP-wellness-productivity newsletters via PDF. Post them on your web site and send a link to employees when they are added to the site.

Distribute print to employees without computers, or send copies to appropriate locations. Your utilization will increase, your visibility will be enhanced, you will spend less, and employees will read more, more frequently. Your EAP will be talked about more often, and this is what you want.

A two-page monthly newsletter is 50% more content than a quarterly four-page newsletter! (Read that again.) And, the two-pager is more likely to be completely read. Are you with me?

You’ll will also reduce waste, motivate more self-referrals, and reduce more risk to the organization with a two—pager, monthly newsletter. Oh, and it will cost less than print. Everything I am writing here is pure logic and it holds up in real life.

Still need paper, make copies from your clean PDF supplied by the vendor. Can’t get permission from the vendor? Dump the newsletter vendor!

FrontLine Employee and WorkLife Excel are your modern day solutions to effective employee and EAP newsletters.

You can get brochures here: