Saturday, December 29, 2012

Solid Research to Recommend 12-Step Programs for Every Recovering Addict

If you're like me, you've told alcoholic and drug addicted patients that they should absolutely get involved with 12-step programs. You may tell them that they work best for most, or repeated to patients what you strongly believe based upon your experience or that of other people. On hand, you may not be able to point to specific research that demonstrates this FACT and be able to pull it out of a drawer or off the top of your head to help motivate your patient or client to take the 12-step plunge. Here is one such article: Weiss RD, Griffin ML, Gallop RJ, et al. The effect of 12-step self-help group attendance and participation on drug use outcomes among cocaine-dependent patients. Drug Alcohol Dependence. 2005;77(2):177-184. The research showed that 12-step program work best, even with cocaine addicts who as a group, have higher relapse rates than alcoholics. See an educational program on alcoholism awareness that hits home.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Powerful Strategy for Traditional EAP Impact and Relevance: ONBOARDING

Have you heard of the term "onboarding"? If you are not familiar with this term, which is part of the human resources lexicon, chances are you are NOT maximizing your ability to become a more highly integrated, relevant, and indispensable part of your work organization. And, your EAP may be at risk as a result.

Onboarding is a way to socialize employees who are new to the organization. It is a recognized procedure and purposely designed system to help new employees become knowledgeable about the organization and understand the many cultural nuances and important behaviors to practice that will help the new employee be successful. Part of the onboarding process is always to meeting effective and important employees or managers within the organization--the inside players, who can point the way toward the employee's success.

If you think that this post is about making sure you conduct EAP orientations for new employees, it's not. Onboarding is much more. It is about employees meeting YOU--the EAP personally--where you can engage them individually and COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY DESTROY myths and misconceptions about the EAP that are certain to permeate the employee's awareness about what you do and who you are. You get first crack at establishing a relationship with the employee and immunize them against counterproductive beliefs concerning the program, particularly, lack of confidentiality.

You can make an impact on this problem without a one-on-one interview with each new employee. To the degree possible, you need to figure out how to make this happen. I am working on a powerpoint video, web course called 25 Ways the EAP Can Help. When it is done, you should get it. And you should make it a part of your "onboarding" requirement for every employee. Then, watch the impact of its use.

I think you need to use this product IF you can't personally meet with every employee. In the future, I will make a web course out of it with 25 questions and a Certificate of Completion. It will powerfully and very simply, drive home the value of EAP in ways employees have not typically considered. It will improve top-of-mind visibility and EAP utilization, probably overnight.

You will be able to directly email the link to this movie to any new employee or hundreds of new employees and the exact same time if you have an email list for your use. 

Okay, enough preaching. Go to this link below on Wikipedia and read about "ONBOARDING". When you do, I want you to keep this thought in your mind: How is this process of onboarding relevant to EAPs and is there a role for the EAP in being closely associated with it? What is the value to the EAP for being included beyond employee orientation sessions, that may or may not be attended by every employee? What might employees learn from the EAP during an "onboarding" meeting that may cause them to return to the EAP in the future. How could onboarding help dispel myths about the EAP that would increase its utilization? How could onboarding keep our EAP from closing down, being farmed out to managed care, or severely cut? How could onboarding make the EAP a more inclusive part of the work organization's culture? OK, now ready all about Onboarding

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Teaching and Understanding Childhood Stress Management Skills

Are children more stressed today than in years past? Tougher academics, more competition, social challenges, health risks, and rapid-fire audiovisual hype from media certainly appear greater. The uncertainty of a secure financial future is felt by 30% of children, says one research study. Coping isn’t about eliminating stress. It’s about learning resistance and adaptation skills. Exercises abound for teaching kids stress management, but cover these bases: Learn sleep skills, relaxation skills, detachment-from-worry skills, how to understand positive thinking, the benefits of proper diet and regular exercise, and how to pursue balance. Improved self-esteem, increased self-confidence, improved creativity, and healthier relationships with peers and family will result. Consider downloading and saving a copy of this government report on child stress, and then give it to your clients and other could benefit.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Inhalant Abuse: NIDA Report Update Sept 2012

I almost missed it (actually I did, but found it soon enough). The National Institute on Drug Abuse has updated its report on inhalant abuse. You can it here along with recent research on the subject.

All materials appearing in the ​Research Reports series are in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission from NIDA. Citation of the source is appreciated.
Table of Contents
       What are inhalants?
    What is the scope of inhalant abuse?
    How are inhalants used?
    How do inhalants produce their effects?
    How can inhalant abuse be recognized?
    What are the short- and long-term effects of inhalant use?
    What are the other medical consequences of inhalant abuse?
    What are the unique risks associated with nitrite abuse?
    Where can I get more scientific information on inhalant abuse?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Group #9 EAP Fact Sheets Released

EAP Tip Sheets for EAPs
Group #9 is now available.

Reproducible and Editable Tip Sheets, Group #9 is now available. You can print the brochure from this link.
The titles include:

  1. What to Do about Compassion Fatigue
  2. Protecting Your Kids from Stealth Marketing
  3. Stopping Intimate Partner Violence
  4. Using Email Appropriately at Work
  5. Distracted Driving and You
  6. The Sleepy Employee
  7. When You Are Facing Personal Change
  8. Creating a Welcoming Workplace for Disabled Workers
  9. Understanding Workplace Survivor Syndrome
  10. Holiday Eating Tips
  11. Using Emotional Intelligence to Boost Customer Satisfaction
  12. Do You Know about Your Teenager's Friends?
  13. Saying "No" to Your Child
  14. Teaching Kids to Save Money
  15. Commonsense Communication at Work
You can print the brochure from this link.

To see all available reproducible workplace wellness and productivity tip sheets, visit the following page at 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

EAPs and The Sleepy Employee

Does your employee assistance program address sleep problems. From insomnia to midnight panic attacks, dozens of issues associated with sleep and productivity are fertile ground for Employee Assistance Programs. Dig into the monographs and materials available from EAPA. I believe the Tampa, Florida national conference hand great material on this topic. Sleep matters. Studies show that a poor night’s rest negatively affects job performance in a number of ways including:
  • Poor judgment
  • Decreased productivity
  • Difficulty learning and retaining information
  • Difficulty processing complex information
  • Delayed reaction time
  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Negativity
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased concentration
  • Diminished self control
  • Poor reflexes
  • Tardiness
  • Falling asleep on the job
Sleeplessness can also be a serious safety issue. Those who work with heavy equipment have a significantly increased risk of workplace accidents when they arrive at work tired. Commuters are also at risk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving is responsible for 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries per year.

Let employers know what program efforts you're making to address organizational sleep problems. Attempt to put a price tag on productivity and attendance losses. Then, make an impact, claim the high ground and educate employers in the area. Try getting some media publicity. It's not hard to do.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Having a Hangover is Not a Performance Problem

That's right. It's not a performance issue to have a hangover at work. If I told you, "I have a hangover," you could not use that statement for effective documentation concerning my job performance. It wouldn't fly. However, if I had my head down on my desk and you said, "What's wrong?", and I said, "I have a hangover", then nope, that still would be a performance issue. So what's the problem? 

 The performance issue is my head on the desk and not working.

Some EAP programs are still not training supervisors effectively enough to get this across. Listen, this is crucial. Don't risk getting human resource professionals upset that you do not know how to properly teach supervisors how to document.

Documentation is not useful to HR when language is subjective, not measurable, open to broad interpretation by others, or contains emotional language that demonstrates the writer's emotionality and personal distress.

The focus will shift from the employee to the supervisor by officials (typically HR) who must examine your documentation or in other ways act on it. If they can't act, they are going to get very upset. That's not good for you, your EAP, your organization, or the employee.

Second-hand reports by others are almost always problematic as well, unless specific in their account with evidence to back them up.

Using a term like “hung over” has no common interpretation, (especially if you have never had a hang-over.) It is not a “job performance” problem to be hung over. The behaviors associated with being hung over, of course, could be problematic. These are the behaviors that should be documented. Use this example in your supervisor training and you score big points, having convinced your supervisors what is at stake in constructing proper documentation.

You may want to visit the supervisor training solutions page.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Drug Testing: When Supervisors Are Friends with Employees

Do you have supervisors who are friends with their employees? Do you have any supervisors who socialize with employees? Do any of these supervisors drink alcohol with employees (or worse use drugs) they supervise? These questions are closely associated with dual relationships, conflict of interest, and risk to the organization that comes with denial, procrastination, and avoidance of the need to confront a personal relationship. If you are training supervisors, here's language to incorporate into your presentation on substance abuse. I believe you will find it quite effective. Be sure to raise this issue, and expect some "discussion" after you do.

"If you are friends with your employee, you will face a challenge in recommending a drug test.

If you socialize and drink with your employee, this challenge is made even more difficult. Most supervisors will put their own job security ahead of such friendships when drinking or drug use facilitates a crisis at work.
Testing will not hurt a true friendship, and it may prevent a crisis that forces you to make a choice."  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The EAP Is Not a Place. It's a Program

The employee assistance program is not simply a “place” where counselors wait for employees to show up via self- or supervisor referral. More accurately, the EAP is a programmatic approach to the management of troubled employees and the risks that arise with human behavior and interaction in the work organization. Examples include conflict, morale issues, team building, and the need for consultative guidance offered to managers. The EAP is a tool for supervisors to use in resolving the problems with employees. Supervisors can succeed in managing a troubled employee without the employee ever going to the EAP, if in fact the employee corrects their behavior after constructive confrontation, where the EAP was used as a resource within context of the corrective interview. If the employee gets well. The "program" worked. It happens all the time. So how important are utilization rates, literally? Well, it's important to understand the level of EAP use in this more important context of using the programmatic approach to effect change actually helps salvage troubled employees. Perhaps after a supervisor referral, an employee will decline attendance, but if he or she takes the need to make personal changes seriously, which lead to better health and better productivity, it worked. It happens all the time, and where the EAP option doesn't not exist, loss of human capital more often results.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Good Supervisor Follow-Up Begins Before the EAP Referral

Are supervisors referring employees to your EAP without a referral form? Are employees still showing up telling you they were referred by the supervisor, but you have no information in hand making you aware of what the performance issues are. You need to hit the reboot switch on your supervisor training and education so you get more effective supervisor referrals. Here's what to say to your supervisors: Follow up begins before a supervisor referral is made to the EAP. This means the supervisor should pick up the phone and inform the EAP that a referral is pending. A discussion of the performance issues should take place. Then, a referral form should be used. If the supervisor does not have a referral form, then performance issues should be delineated on a piece of paper and two copies made. The employee and the EAP each get a copy. Making the supervisor use a checklist is preferred. It creates more quality and quantity in the performance documentation. The supervisor keeps the original. The EAP must have a list of written performance issues of concern to the supervisor. The assessment of the employee should occur with both the EA professional and the employee having this hard copy of performance issues as discussion points between them. Anything less will create two problems: 1) The employee will control the EAP interview and degree to which information about the performance problems is make known. And, 2) the EAP will be forced to accept the employee's version and opinion as to how serious the performance problems are, what they are, and the degree to which the employee issues are really all the supervisor's fault. The employee will also be less likely to sign a release. At this point, you've likely lost the referral and enabled growing dysfunction. Are you educating your supervisors with skills and knowledge about how to use the EAP in supervision? Consider this product as  an EAP's most valuable weapon for increasing supervisor referrals.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

EA Professionals: "Watch Your Mouth!"

If you are an EA professional, you may want to examine your language. For example, labeling someone a functional alcoholic is a strong and reinforcing enabling behavior. Don't you agree? It is used to describe someone the enabler believes to be alcoholic, but also seems to “function” acceptably in their occupation or social activities. Usually these areas are where the enabler knows the alcoholic best. In truth, you know there is no such thing as functional alcoholism. The term doesn't makes sense. It foists alcoholism into a behavioral construct rather than a disease construct, and you don't want to be responsible for this terrible impact. Need more clarity? Think disease. There is no such thing as functional cancer, right? Both alcoholism and cancer are chronic potentially fatal illnesses that grow worse over time. Ok, straight up. The term functional alcoholism allows the enabler to continue the advantages of the relationship they have with the alcoholic, even while their role as an enabler grows worse. The defense is called “minimizing.” EA professionals, watch your mouths and don't join forces with the larger society that struggles to see alcoholism as a disease.

Friday, September 28, 2012

You're Taking a Big Chance Not Engaging Families to Participate in Addiction Treatment

Make an effort to reach families of employees who enter treatment for addictive disease. The behavior of the family and concerned persons upon admission of the patient, while seldom discussed, is important to treatment success.

You already know this, but it is extremely easy to postpone or not take initiative to work with the family. Do not assume the treatment program will do it. They may make only one try to engage the family, and typically, this won't cut it. Family denial and pathology necessitates more assertiveness on your part as an EAP. If you want successful treatment of the employee, be short of aggressive in convincing the family to engage with their own recovery and why.

Successful intervention does not mean successful treatment. But, this is what families desperately want. What can families do to contribute to the likelihood of successful treatment after intervention?

Here's a list of Do's and Dont's (Not Exhaustive, But a Good Start)

1) Do Attend The Family Program. The Family Program is an intensive educational/ counseling experience to help participants understand addiction and its treatment,
and to help them curtail provoking and enabling behaviors. Some family members may avoid counseling for themselves after years of "managing" an addicted person at
home. Without the correct information, however, these family members are at risk to continue enabling which may sabotage treatment.

2) Don't Take A Vacation Now. After years of self-denial, some concerned persons see admission of the patient as the best time to take a vacation. They reason, "Now that someone else is in control of my addicted person, I can let go and relax." Such attitudes can reinforce the mistaken belief that control of the alcoholic must continue after treatment, not to mention prevent participation in the Family Program.

3) Don't Phone Frequently. Avoid excessive contact with your addicted family member early in treatment. Such contact can distract the patient and thwart bonding with other patients in the inpatient community. Avoid emotionally charged issues that can wait until after treatment. Many patients have prematurely left treatment due to focusing on outside events that could have easily waited.

4) Do Speak With The Detox Counselor. The detox counselor is an expert at supporting patients and guiding family members in communication. Since family communication dynamics are highly associated with provocative behavior, intervention with this sabotaging pattern is essential. The detox counselor or other person working with families can best steer the family member toward "the right thing to do" to support the addict in treatment.

5) Do Attend Al-Anon. Don't stop attending Al-Anon now that your alcoholic is in treatment. If you haven't started you're overdue. Remember, Al-Anon is for the family, not the alcoholic, and education prior to the first meeting that helps family members stay engaged with Al-Anon is crucial. “De-mystify” 12-step programs. Don’t let family members stumble their way through these programs. If you don’t they will drop out. Alcoholism education video at WorkWell Videos.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Neil Armstrong vs. EAPs

Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969. That is just about the same time that EAPs and the human "behavioral risk prevention/intervention dynamic" they naturally possess was also discovered. If you are an employee assistance professional, your first task is not to help employees. It is to help your organization understand how employee assistance programs reduce behavioral risk and help to prevent devastating losses from human behavioral factors in the workplace. No workplace program, profession, or mechanism other than a legitimately installed and functional EAP can perform this task as well. Unlike the celebration of man's landing on the moon, the EAP discovery has not been as well celebrated. A recent survey of Americans showed that 5% of people still believe that the landing on the moon was staged. (Gallup Poll, 2012) Unfortunately, the percentage is much higher if we are discussing EAPs and how many people really believe they are special programs with inherently unique life-saving dynamics that will reduce losses and save lives when properly established. Your mission is to help workplace professionals, especially CFOs, HR managers, and benefits consultants understand this reality. If you do not, you will play a role in diminishing and forcing the profession into extinction. Don't be fooled. No cost-benefit analysis or EAP program evaluation will overcome an organization's desire to financially save money by cutting your program if this belief does not exist.It takes an effective relationship between you and management and between you and employees to pulls this off. That includes communication. You must establish communication channels between you and these two sections of the workforce that are omnipresent in order to accomplish this goal. Never be a "waiting in the wings" EAP. Be proactive and omnipresent.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Human Resource Managers: Are They Your EAP Experts?

If you disagree with me, I want you to reply back: Human resource managers, the CEO, or maybe the CFO of the organization you serve all have power over your EAP. These folks cut your paycheck and control your contract or position. But, here this: These folks are not experts on EAPs, the EAP Core Technology, or reducing behavioral risk and human factors exposures to risk with regard to troubled employees. (So far, I hope we are in agreement.) You're the expert. If you took their direction on how you should run the EAP, who you should see, when you should see them, how to do assessments, what EAP activities firmly grounded in the EAP core technology that you should or should not participate in, etc. you would increase risk to your organization, lower your EAPs effectiveness, and increase risk of being "farmed out" or closed down. (So far, I hope you still agree.) Then why do so many EAPs do all of these things out of fear when the HR department phones and says "do this", "don't do that"?

Here is the problem. You live in fear. Do what the "customer says" or you may not have a job in the future. This "HR is boss paradigm" over EAP mechanisms has played a major role in diminishing the value of the EAP field. Human resource managers are educated about EAPs not from materials produced by EAPA or EAP old-timers, traditional resources, or accurate core-based materials. Instead, they have been educated by managed care, newspaper articles, feature articles in HR journals written by freelance writers, human resource management instructors in the classroom with zero EAP experience or at least nothing long term, human resource management textbooks, the Chief Financial Officer (who has been educated by the benefits consulting firm), and that's about it. (Are you still in agreement with me?) Okay, the kamikaze statement for this blog: These folks don't know what they are talking about, but you are doing what they say--modifying your EAP and its activities to match their "model" of what they think EAPs are supposed to do!

The EAP field could, in theory disintegrate in front of your eyes if you do not claim the high ground and decide that you are the expert and say so. I cannot tell you have many times I have heard this phrase from HR managers -- "EAPs don't do that". Too many EAPs are changing what they do to please customers. Would you change they dynamics of "calculus" because your student doesn't understand math? Calculus has not changed since Newton invented it. So, what are you doing with your EAP? Why are you making changes to the program to match the boss's misguided understanding of EAPs are all about? Better yet, who is backing you up as "authority" should you hold your ground? That's another blog note for the future.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Help Employees Help Their Friends

Not all attempts to help a friend are major interventions like the class substance abuse intervention. Many more are simply conversations between friends that inspire behavior change. Help employees understand more effectively how to have these conversations and you'll reach family members with the influence of your EAP. Even better, hold a brown bag or short seminar on this topic and watch your attendance at such an event sore. When guiding employees, the key is to ask if the client is seeing signs of denial in a friend with a personal problem requiring urgent action to resolve it? Personal problems with tough choices usually include denial. Others use minimization (the friend knows there’s a problem but denies it’s serious) or projection (the friend admits it is serious but says it is not their responsibility to deal with it for some reason). Absent a crisis, the friend simply isn’t motivated to get help yet. Discuss the forgoing concepts in the counseling session. Denial-laden personal problems include compulsive shopping, refusal to see a doctor, ignoring creditors, struggling with alcohol dependence, staying in an abusive relationship, and many more. Here's some brief guidance to consider offering to the client: Start by talking with your friend. Mention your concerns, but don’t threaten or be aggressive. Key is stating your observations and their impact on you, loved ones, and your friend’s life. Ask to help. Mention your obligation to support him or her as a friend. If you sense anger or defensiveness, remain calm and understanding. Rarely do friends part ways over honesty, at least not permanently. If needed, talk to an expert about the problem to get more pointers. This could be a counselor, an attorney, or even the police. Stay healthy, detached, and objective. Remember, your goal is to encourage the first action step toward help, not to “own” the problem of a friend who won’t seek it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

EAPs: Quick Tips for Supervisors On Giving Feedback

New supervisors often struggle with how to give feedback. When their misguided attempts flop, it can set the stage for ongoing conflict. That makes important for EAPs and EA professionals to have a quick and effective way to counsel supervisors, even seasoned supervisors, with the technique of giving feedback to an employees. Here's what to say, "to make it easier, try what is known as the "sandwiching technique."  The technique of providing constructive feedback or correction of an employee's performance allows the message your sending to be received more easily by "sandwiching" the unfavorable comments between favorable comments.  For example, say: "Nancy, I've been pleased with the way you've stepped up the speed of assembling the monthly reports.  You've made real improvement there.  I am concerned, however, about the quality.   There are frequently mistakes in the charts that need to be corrected.  I hope you'll work to improve the quality as well as speed.  I feel good about your attitude toward the schedule we are trying to keep, so I know you'll do fine."  Notice how the message you wanted to communicate was placed between two true but positive statements.  This technique reduces defensiveness and makes your feedback more acceptable, particularly with employees who are more sensitive toward constructive criticism. Related: Supervisory and Leadership Tips

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

No Mention of EAP's True Role Anymore--Why?

In the 1970's, "employee assistance programs" and their role in the supervisor referral process to help identify troubled workers and reduce enormous and varied costs associated with workplace drug abuse would have been front and center in an article on the subject. This recent article Kentucky's "The Lane Report",  "Abusing the Bottom Line: State's Drug and Alcohol Misuse Rates Highlight the Need for and Value of Good Workplace Policies" omits any notion of this critical application of EAP theory. The areticle appeared in the May 2012 issue. It was written by Lorie Hailey. Ms. Hailey is the publisher of the The Lane Report and has been there since March 2012, approximately. The fascinating question is, "What was her research path to develop the content for this feature?" Ms Hailey is a writer, not an EAP expert, so she had to rely upon experts who gave her leads and contacts so she could interview or gather information. Where to go or who to call upon for expertise and content is an important question. I can see from the content of this article that an EAP is pointed to as only a self-referral help source. How is it possible that EAPs don't enter this story with their history of performance based intervention success? What are the implications for the this article only educating readers about EAPs being a source of help, not a management tool to preserve the bottom line. It is important not to simply shake each others' hands at EAPA conferences and slap each other on the back, while we discuss how wonderful things are going for the EAP field. This article should tell you they are not. This benefit-only paradigm is a major issue undermining effective growth of employee assistance programs, salaries of professionals, reduction in risk, and it is costing lives. I can rattle off many effective EAPs that have closed their doors this year because financial controllers saw a way to cut them for a less effective EAP model. This article and its omission of the true EAP role in helping substance abusing employees is a commonly observed symptom of a problem facing the EAP field. It should be analyzed, debated, and its solution addressed. If you represent an effective provider of employee assistance programs in Kentucky, you may want delve deeper into this amazing observation and important story. You may learn much from Ms Hailey that could point to solutions the EAP field may wish to consider. Oh, don't blame Ms. Hailey. Blame us.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Educate Employees Before Trauma Takes A Toll

Trauma in the workplace. It's a very scary time for victims and helpers. You can actually feel of sense of panic and responsibility and fear all at the same time. Will you...can you...respond to help people, and also impress management with your capabilities. I've been there. Listen, no matter how prepared you are, that shock hits your system. My last EAP served the fire department unit closest to the Pentagon on 9/11 (100 feet away on the helicopter pad!) so, I know that feeling of "oh man...." First, second, third...go here. You go there.''

But, here's the point: Periodically I get urgent emails from people asking if I have a handout on trauma. These requests frequently come after a critical incident when the urgent need of the caller is to help employees or affected persons understand traumatic stress, motivate victims to take advantage of support services like CISD groups, or participate in effective self-care, like getting enough sleep, eating correctly, laying off the alcohol to get to sleep, and anticipating "normal" symptoms associated with traumatic stress after witnessing a critical incident.

It would better I think to educate new first responders immediately upon hiring about traumatic stress and participating in CISD help after a critical incident and a heck of a lot more about why. A lot of these first responders are mentored, not by buddies who are savvy on critical incident stress, but a work culture that heads out after a shift with a six-pack in tow to "process the bad call". This is a prescription for PTSD or at least lowered productivity from the affects of traumatic stress over time. What can be done about this problem? Consider education about traumatic stress as part of an orientation session. Train employees in other workplaces and industries too where trauma is possible--like industrial settings, etc. Help employees understand and be psychologically prepared for the aftermath of trauma so they understand it as a wound or injury to the psyche that should be managed. Take a look at this product on "Facing a Traumatic Event" from and see if could help you accomplish these goals.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sell the "Sizzle" in EAP Solutions to Boost Utilization and Penetration of Risk

You are not just an EA professional, you are also a marketing director. This means you have to sell your services, not just tell people what they are. Do this marketing work effectively and you will create emotion in  your audience and they will pick up the phone more often to call for help. In emails, brochure, or other communications talk about "promises" of the EAP. It is a great way to help your mind and language in written communication shift to "benefits" rather than features of your services. This is what "hooks" your EAP client. For example, if an employee comes to your office for help with a financial problems or debt crisis, what are the promises for getting that problem resolved? Sleeping better, less fear, worrying less, and a more hopeful future of course. Employees with financial problems think more about the loss of these things than debt.

Speaking of debt problems and employee assistance programs, consider more outreach in this area if you are not doing so now. People use a lot of denial and magical thinking to deal wit their financial problems. 

A recent MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends discovered that about 44% of employees live paycheck to paycheck, and nearly 60% are very concerned about having enough money to make ends meet. Most people would agree that financial stress is difficult with its accompanying worry and distraction, but this is only part of the story. 

Many people endure financial stress alone because of stigma, fear of being judged by others, or feeling guilty because of overspending. These issues can keep employees from seeking help, even from the most trusted EAP. Financial stress can contribute to headaches, backaches, ulcers, increased blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and panic. Many employees will cope with financial stress using denial, magical thinking, and or coping strategies that relieve fear, but don’t solve their problems. As problems worsen, risk increases for falling prey to payday loans, internet schemes, gambling, or other high risk remedies. Financial problems diminish one’s sense of autonomy, feelings of security, and self-control. So with financial problems come increased workplace absenteeism, diminished workplace performance, and depression. All of these things can adversely affect productivity. Print this form and fax it to get a free trial to FrontLine Supervisor Newsletter to get more good stuff like this and drive more referrals to your program. Print this brochure and fax it. Just mark on it "Dan, just give me a free trial. Don't bill me."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Careful! Don't Serve Up Problems with EAP Concierge Services

Concierge services - non-traditional helping hand services provided by EAPs and other work-life businesses to help employees resolve everyday work-life problems are gaining hold in the EAP field--well, here and there. A recent post on LinkedIn from a EAP in the United Kingdom got me thinking about this topic again.

The fragile rationale for the inclusion of concierge services in EAPs is that if you can't walk your dog and are worried about the carpet at home, this distraction isn't good for your employer's productivity. Hence a leap forward to providing a helping hand to employees that gets the logistics and worry off the employee's mind to free that brain up for more productivity.

I have one reaction to this: What is the "spirit and intent" of the EAP Core Technology?

Skeptics argue that such "concierge" services are the creations of the work-life industry and move away from what EAP services are all about. Others paint a rationale completely consistent with the core technology. 

The reality of course is that competitive pressures to keep EAPs in business (otherwise known as the market economy) are turning some EAPs into do-it-all for you, one-stop resources for employees. Is this practicaal and protectionist or it shooting EAPs in the foot?

Is this an evolutionary step in the EA profession? Or, is it a step away from behavioral risk management, hands-on help for troubled employes, and better penetration into unmanaged risks in the organization associated with human behavior that only REAL EAPs can identify and dislodge? Does it contribute to a loss of focus for the profession, thereby making it ever more vulnerable to being hijacked by managed care?

In many ways, EAPs have always provided some concierge services. I remember a kindergarten teacher phoning to say she was completely frustrated with AMTRAK for billing her $850 twice for taking a bunch of students on a field trip to New York. After four months and getting nowhere fast, she called the EAP. Yes, we took the case. After all, she does not have the time at work to be on the phone all day. About an hour of bird-dogging AMTRAK and the problem was solved. Concierge service? Perhaps, but is this proof that EAPs should dive in head first into this shallow water? If you argue yes, would you post a sign outside the EAP door that advertises "consumer affairs problems solved here?" What about your brochure?

Will these services build your utilization rate? Yes, but at what ultimate cost? I hear the siren's wail on this one? I think it is a shipwreck for the EAP field to venture this direction. I would argue you could make it easier to get farmed out. 

I think there is something called the “spirit and intent” of the EAP Core Technology. It requires an honest assessment of whether activities of your program match it because the profession is fewer in number this year than last--with many EAP closures only since 2012. I don't think concierge activity is what I would call a salvation related activity.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Is Supervisor Training the Key to Reducing Workers' Comp?

I get a lot of news articles coming across my desk. When I read them, I look for small glimmers of light that point to new opportunities for Employee Assistance Programs to do more, be more, get paid more, and be recognized more for what they do. We need all of these things for the EAP profession to thrive. Ohio just claimed that because of supervisor training, they saved $1.2 million dollars in workers' compensation costs over a three year period. The research to substantiate this success was conducted by a third party, so it is credible. I have not discovered all the behind the scenes details yet, but the main thrust was not employee signs, memos, warnings, or education. It is supervisor training that made the difference. But what kind, I don't know yet. I can tell you it was twice a month. Remember that. Here's the questions: What did the training include? Were there communication skills training involved? Was the EAP has a resource encouraged during these sessions. Could an employee assistance program replicate these activities and training with supervisors, and would the training be even more appropriately delivered by EAPs? If you have free time, you may want to explore these questions and this story. Think: "What's in it for EAPs?" When I learn more, I will let you know. Here is the story link: Aren't you curious about these same questions. Can you see that Managed Care would never give a hoot about saving money on Workers' Compensation costs? Check it out: Could EAPs Do This?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Need a Respect Video? Respect Videos for Workplace Training Using PowerPoint

Many human resource managers and employee assistance professionals inquiry about respect in the workplace training. Typically they are searching for a workplace respect video or videos on respect that will help elevate the workplace and address key issues. I want to explain how you can do this yourself on a limited budget. I think you will eat this up. First, do a quick survey of your workforce. What are the issues regarding respect that concern the work culture. Be aware that respect in the workplace can mean anything from restraining impulsive behavior to being mindful of other people's private space. I would suggest no more than 15 questions for a survey that targets one goal: What do people believe the "hot button" issues are. Once you know that, you are home free. Take your survey results and turn it over to a freelance writer who can compose a 1200-1400 word document that addresses "Respect in the Workplace". This will cost about $200. is a great website to find a writer. Next, go back to and find a PowerPoint person to put this content in a slide show with no more than 25-30 words per PowerPoint slide frame. Put one sentence in one text frame. No more than say, four sentences per slide. Next.........Have the Elance person obtain photos from or - they're free once you pay an annual $159 subscription. Add 2-3 images per frame. Get the PowerPoint pro to animate the text BUT FIRST, send the PowerPoint program to a Voice Professional and have that Voice professional make mp3's for the 25-30 words you've placed on each frame.  So, now you have a Respect in the Workplace PowerPoint that is intense with the information you want, and its professional voice in a respect video will make a solid impact on your work organization. It's now ready to show in "slide show view". You're done. Total cost is about $450 for this project. I did everything I just discussed. You can see the respect videos results here. This program can be turned into a DVD, a Flash Movie for a Web Site, with software that costs about $199 from Also, you can create a self-playing, autorun CD that portable, even a Web Course with a software program called Articulate! Go for it!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Who Is the EAP Customer (or Client)---Really?

This is really an interesting question with many opinions in the field. Let's assume for this post that the client definition the "one" who must ultimately be reckoned with? Many, even after 30 year of EAP activity, remain confused. In the past, host organizations were more easily viewed as customers. Then came the morphing of programs into "benefit model" products as managed care dominated the field. This unwittingly gave way to the "EAP client in office" model for clinicians joining the field. Of course, if you are in a top management role in managed care, you are concerned with performance bonuses and percentages of financial reward for containing the use of behavioral health dollars. This is the mission as viewed by managed care stockholders. The "employee-as-client" is seen by many experienced EA professionals as an improper model, and has contributed to the witnessed impotency of the EAP field in many respects compared to its former peak period in the late 70's and 80's. Employees are part of the organization and EAPs serve the organization by addressing issues associated with human capital -- behavioral risks and exposures. Other service/professionals address other concerns of the host organization. For example, CPAs deal with the company's finances, but they do not see the "finances" as the customer. It is the host organization who is the customer. This precise analogy applies to EAPs. By the way, when EA professionals use the "organization as customer" orientation, more risk and exposures are identified and more lives are saved. This is our mission and purpose. With this model, EAPs also gain more influence and more often do not wait for the phone to ring. In turn, there are many more opportunities to assist the organization and more knocks on the EAP office door by employees. The search for "value added" becomes less urgent for these viable programs.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fix It Formula (for a Terrible Relationship with the Supevisor)

Communication difficulties top the list of problems employees have with their bosses. Most boil down to five key issues. They include
  • Disparities in the amount of work assigned from one employee to the next.
  • Minimal praise or no recognition for a job well done
  • Dissatisfaction with pay and refusal to address it
  • Personality style and performance style differences
  • Minimal or no constructive feedback about performance
So, here is the Fix-It for Improving the Relationship with Your Supervisor...
  • Prior to meeting with your boss, define the real issue that is creating problems in your relationship. Consider whether you played a role. Did communication issues play a role?
  • Write down your concerns. Forget the small and petty stuff for now.
  • Meet with your supervisor and explain in plain, unemotional language your observations and concerns about the relationship.
  • Be positive in your energy and demeanor—not cocky, passive aggressive, or acting as if you are cornering your boss.
  • Wait for your supervisor’s response. He or she may agree or may have another opinion. Hang on every word. Do not be defensive.
  • Own your “half” of the relationship problem. It is unlikely you will get very far if you don’t accept the universal principle that each party in conflict plays a role in contributing to relationship problems.
  • Your goal is an improved relationship, not to find fault.
  • Ask for constructive feedback on your performance. Let your boss have the last word in this conversation.
Initiate regular contact with your boss going forward. As nationally known EA professional and mental health therapist, Dodie Gill, LPC frequently said, "Do not let a tree grow between you and your supervisor." EAP Employee Assistance Programs

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tips for Employees: Being Cool with Disciplinary Actions

TIPS FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES: Facing a corrective (disciplinary) action meeting will test your composure and professionalism. The winning strategy in most cases is to turn the predicament into a learning experience that leaves you determined to change and achieve. Here’s how to hit the reset switch and go from dread to determination. Understand that a corrective action or disciplinary meeting is an attempt to elevate behavior, not to punish an employee. It’s an educational tool. If you adopt this perspective, you’ll take a team approach with your supervisor and see performance as the issue of management’s concern, not you personally. Ask for a follow-up appointment to discuss progress if one is not given, or send short periodic reports of your progress to your supervisor. Naturally, rely upon your employee assistance program for ideas, support, encouragement, and help in reducing anxiety and worry. Get articles like this one every month with an employee newsletter or customized, easy, do it yourself editable newsletter--The FrontLine Employee