Sunday, December 29, 2013

Managing EAP Clients in Treatment

If you've recently admitted a client to some sort of addiction treatment program, there are few "touch points" you need to keep in mind. Understanding these touch points will allow you to achieve more treatment success with EAP clients and "score more points" with the value of your program for saving lives. It's nice when you can prove in black and white that you're saving lives with your EAP. After admitting a patient to treatment, you can count on resistance raising its ugly head after detox or without about a week of admission. This dynamic is fueled by the patient feeling better, comparing out of the disease, and a desire to drink again with assurance that the client can do it on his own.

Touch points:
  1. Generally these points require updates and motivational assessments from the addiction treatment counselor: Admission, after detox, middle of intermediate care, discharge, starting day of aftercare, completion of aftercare, and any point within the next year where follow-up program discovers that the patient has moved below the four-day-per week participation in Alcoholics Anonymous.
  2. You should be notified 24/7 with regard to the patient's thoughts and ruminations related to leaving AMA (Against Medical Advice)-- both AMA Ideation and actual AMA. When a patient begins talking about leaving against medical advice, a series of intervention steps occurs. Unfortunately most addition treatment program do not understand dynamics of motivation and leverage and therefore each employee from nurse, counselor, volunteer, doctor, or even the janitor  may take a crack at re-motivating the patient to stay. Unfortunately, each of these attempts reinforces the decision to leave. The first person to make an attempt at re-motivating the EAP client should be you. You can communicate leverage from the employer--generally assurance that the employee will be fired if he or she leaves treatment (we are assuming a formal referral to the EAP with a last chance agreement was involved in this sort of admission). If you are called last instead of first, the patient will have already practiced their "pitch" to leave and your job of convincing them to stay will be made more difficult. Use this EAP Handout Tip Sheet for following clients post discharge from your EAP office.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

EAPs: Claim the High Ground on Helping Supervisors Learn Mentoring and Coaching Skills

Inc. Magazine had some interesting news recently that EAPs may want to pay attention to.

Research reported in the Harvard Business Review shows that the most likely reason employees leave their employers isn't money, it's a lack of coaching, mentorship, and training. I smell EAP opportunity here.

Can Employee Assistance Programming figure successfully into these problems and become a cost-benefiting financial solution to many the most expensive human resource problem organization's face?

Figure this one out, and you may endear yourself to the host organization big time rather than look like managed care bait come next budget cycle. Start with metrics and find out the turnover rate now. Then come up with your strategy for change.

Consider this pathway to expanding the value-added worth of your EAP. Take your EAP skills and abilities, and establish soft skills training directly related to relationship building, communication, coaching, mentorship, and helping supervisors bond effectively and listen aggressively to what there employees need. You have the experience to imagine an outline and pathway to growing these capabilities for supervisory and leadership staff.

Training (the third problem above) will always be hurdle because it is a time and resource issue, but the other two issues from this study are about relationships, bonding, listening, communication, listening, and other soft skills that EAPs are naturally better prepared to deliver to organizations. You're likely to increase supervisory referrals as a result--a nice pay off for better relationships and helping supervisors.

Who is offering mentor training and coaching training in organizations? It's time to claim the high ground. This is off the behavioral health care radar and their business model will never touch these problems.

Step #1: Gather information on turnover and figure the cost for your host organization. Step #2) In your annual behavioral risk mapping report that I have encouraged in past posts, present your arguments for adding these tow curriculum opportunities. Justify the cost. Two years later, measure impact.

Don't forget to present a paper at EAPA. You'll fill the room. Also try a SHRM conference. Those folks don't even know what an EAP is anymore.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

EAPs: Getting Back to Basics with Supervisor Referrals

If you're a new HR professional, or even an recent recruit to the EAP profession, you may not know that EAPs had their origins in supervisor use of such programs as proactive management tools. Self-referrals evolved over time, only after EAPs became "broadbrush" beyond occupational alcoholism intervention forte. Unfortunately, the focus on self-referrals has overtaken the importance of supervisor referrals in the marketing of EAPs by managed care/behavioral health delivery models. And serious increases in risk have followed.

To reduce risk in your organization and dispose of this handicap, start understanding both the history of EAPs and their risk management, behavioral intervention purpose.

Typically, managed care will promote a 3-4% utilization rate. This is abysmal. It should be 9-16%.
It's all about how much training and relationship-building the EAP does with supervisors and key managers. Self-referrals are easy, but at-risk employees are hard to get through the doors of an EAP. But this where the payoff comes. It takes good supervisor training to reduce risk associated with these employees.

To get started on the right foot and conduct training that boosts your EAP utilization with more supervisors referrals, visit the Comprehensive EAP Supervisor Training Program and preview the entire product, FREE.

Monday, September 2, 2013

EAP Providers: Keep Talking about Emotional Intelligence

Don't get bored talking about emotional intelligence. The company EAP is in the ideal position to train extensively on this subject. The rationale in my view is not so much educating people about what emotional intelligence is but discovering rationales for developing training, opportunities, and exercises to help employees and supervisors acquire more emotional intelligence to increase productivity, improve workplace harmony, gain cooperation, and help maximize organizational productivity.. Do you have an EAP Employee Newsletter? Perfect spot to talk about this stuff. I just included this article in September 2013 issue of Work Life Excel and FrontLine Employee. This is the kind of content that I am talking about. Here's a training program in PowerPoint that you may want to take advantage of. "Emotional Intelligence for Supervisor" - own the training program. Great content for your workplace wellness newsletter.

Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions and to use this understanding to have more satisfying and productive relationships. Anyone can have a better “EI” by practicing a few skills. Here are some: (1) Try encouraging others to speak first and give them your full attention. (2) Eliminate the idea of good and bad personality types at work. Instead, look for the part of their personality that represents positivity and is well-meaning. (3) If there’s friction between you and a coworker, look at where you may be coming up short in communicating and address that first. (4) The next time you find yourself focused solely on winning or on retribution, take a step back and look for ways to achieve your goal that also benefit others.
Welcome U.S. House of Representatives, the EAP is now a subscriber to Work Life Excel. Join the 12,000 additional staff readers from the U.S. Congress! Go to 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Let's Try This Again: Where the Partners of "Real" Employee Assistance Programs Await

I would like to recommend as one EA professional to another that you read a very nice synopsis of risk management that you will find at Like most, I am not one to recommend Wikipedia as true authority site, but if you want to know how an escalator works, you certainly will get an accurate understanding of it at Wikipedia. "Risk management" is something that EAPs almost never discuss, and there are those among us, having aligned themselves with managed care, would rather the topic not be broached. Why? It has implications for dumping health insurance aligned EAPs. Alas, I type... It appears, and is fairly obvious on closer inspection, that property casualty insurance markets represent untapped and healthier relationships for EAPs than the health insurance markets that keep co-opting the field in oblivion. These P-C markets and their constituencies are far removed from concerns of health insurance companies and their financial goals. Financial goals of health insurance companies have one concern...containing costs. Property casualty insurance and p-c customers something else, but it is not primarily containing costs. It is preventing losses, incidents, and events that "cost". Their goal is more precisely preventing losses that cost them and their customer money. This is a profound difference, and it has implications for EAPs, what they do, defining functional programs, maximizing utilization, expanding EAP reach and programmatic options, and devising ways to penetrate more potential risk areas within the human-behavioral continuum in order to prevent incidents. Typically losses of P-C insurers and their customers are are managed by risk management. Health insurance dollars are managed by denial of benefits and avoidance of payouts--sometimes sneakily. See the difference? Let's examine this further, and see if you get a little more excited. Risk mitigation measures have four tracks. Here they are: 1) Design processes or programs with adequate built-in risk control and containment measures from the start. 2) Periodically re-assess risks that aren't going away and see what can be done to reduce their impact or likelihood of occurrence, or create added intervention tactics. 3) Transfer financial risks to an external agency so if they happen, you survive financially. (e.g. Contract with re-insurers like Lloyds of London) 4) Avoid risks altogether (e.g. by closing down a particular high-risk business area altogether. (Hey, let's turn down all of the applicants who ever took statin drugs for high cholesterol.) Which of the risk management techniques above do EAPs fit into? (Excuse me, I mean to say real EAPs, fit into?) If you guessed #1 and #2, then you are correct. Health insurance works heavily with #4. It's called insurance denial or services denial. If you get the drift of this article, you can see two things: 1) Property casualty insurance companies don't know squat about real EAPs because we aren't exploring who and what they represent to the field. 2) As a result, they do not know who we are and how we can help them. and 3) health insurance is a lousy partner for EAPs because all they do is exploit a few elements of EAPs to prevent payouts. Here's a bonus observation: 3) Property casualty insurance and risk management need everything an EAP could possibly offer to intervene with human risk and exposures that could lead to losses. And then they need research to push the edge of that envelope....for example, an EAP starting a support group for the spouses of firefighters that could help prevent domestic conflict and subsequent losses of all sorts.) Health insurance companies need only one thing from EAPs -- assessment and deferral (AKA referral) to lower-costing services when exposures appear, otherwise no services proactive or preventative are really needed from the EAP. In fact, it could be argued that proactive and preventative services of EAPs in a managed care model should be avoided because it will lead to more referrals. Financially, this is in conflict. Hmmmmm.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Is Performance Evaluation Training and Consulting a New Gateway to EAP Consulting

Think about performance reviews and performance evaluations of employees. If your experience has been anything like mine, you know that supervisors not only dislike conducting performance evaluations for a host of reasons, but many supervisors renege on their responsibilities and don't do them at all. When I worked for Arlington County government, I discovered many supervisors hadn't done performance evaluations with employees in years. Where was HR? Ignoring these supervisors of course. The risk associated with lack of performance evaluation is enormous, and there is one overwhelming reason why. It's this: The supervisor has only his or her relationship as a tool to managed the employee performance, conduct, and other behavior. A bad relationship can turn into violence and other problems--like theft and conflicts--but the worst of all is violence in the workplace. Stay tuned. We are going to be display a new program and course on conducting effective performance evaluations. I believe there exists an enormous opportunity to propel the EAP field forward, and that is by claiming the high ground on this unmet need to train supervisors. Get ready for the Performance Evaluation Training Program. I will post a link so you can view it soon.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

EAP Newsletters: Pipelines for Higher EAP Utilization

The workplace wellness newsletter is still under-appreciated for its value in reducing human and financial losses in the workplace. I think most companies separate wellness newsletter topics away from other education and training that reduces human behavioral risk in the workplace, and this a mistake. It's why I encourage using some newsletter device that combines all behavioral risk reduction content in one source document. I am beginning to think that reducing employee behavioral risk and exposures is better served by small pieces of ongoing, easily digested information, ongoing awareness information, and training in addition to whatever one-shot training topics are offered or mandated by the company. I agree with the wellness newsletter premise that it is a tool to support management first and employees second. This does not make it incompatible with helping or even entertaining employees. However, anything that a business organization institutes should be to its benefit or it is by definition or it is not in conformance with mission and goals of the organization and therefore is improper. The goal of a employee wellness newsletter should be in my opinion--a conduit for education, information, training, awareness to positively influence employees to practice better behaviors that reduce risk, enhances organizational productivity, and improves their personal well-being.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

EAP Training: Many Pieces to Preventing Workplace Violence

Reducing risk of workplace violence is not just about conducting employee assistance program training on the signs and symptoms of an employee likely to shoot up the place. I have counted over a dozen different training topics and management-employee activities that EAPs should be considering and together collectively reduce workplace violence risk dramatically. I am not saying it is useless information to know what to do when an active shooter is loose in your building and heading your way. However, the chances of needing this sort of training is pretty close to extremely low. What's more important is EAP training and educating employees in the broad array of issues like prevention behaviors, awareness, and education topics that together lead to reduced risk of workplace violence. This is how to make your employee assistance program more valuable. Here is one such topic: Training and educating employees in how to get along with their supervisors and understand the subordinate relationship to a supervisor. How can this reduce workplace violence? Did you know that the Bureau of Labor Statistics says 15% of homicide victims at work are supervisory/management staff. This makes leadership a hazardous job. Here a tip sheet that can help you help employees to avoid problematic relationship with the supervisorhttp:/

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Manage Employee Defensiveness in Confrontations

Defensiveness seems to be one thing supervisors can always count on from employees when confronted about their performance issues. Let's make it easier for you. Because defensiveness can be a potential challenge in any corrective interview, supervisors must use “tools” to make interviews less difficult. These tools are associated with language and attitude. For example, one helpful tip is called the “help me understand” approach. Use “help me understand” statements to set a positive, non-threatening tone when confronting employees. Example: “Help me understand what to conclude when you commit to telling the truth about filing your activity reports and then we identify serious discrepancies.” Your attitude toward the employee is also an important tool. If you are convinced a confrontation will fail to produce a positive result, it will show from the moment you speak. An employee should never be able to tell from your attitude that you have lost faith in his or her ability to bounce back.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Getting to know your Employees

Goal: Getting to Know Your Employees:

Getting to know employees on a personal level allows for a more relaxed work relationship between employee and supervisor. It lets your employees know that you are there for them to help them succeed in their daily work life, and it also grows trust levels within your work environment.


In this exercise, you will stop by the offices of two or three employees at least once a week in an effort to get to know each one a little better. On the day you have selected for this exercise, allow employees time to get to their office and settle in that morning. Approximately one hour after employees’ arrivals, leave your office and, while in-route to selected employees’ offices, greet each person you meet with a simple “good morning” and a smile. Once you have reached the selected office, knock on the employee’s door and ask this first question with a natural smile: "Am I interrupting anything right now? If I am, I can stop back by later." If the employee is in the middle of a task, simply state: "Oh, it’s nothing that can’t wait until later. I was just stopping by to check in to see how everything is going. Hope you have a great day, and I’ll see you later." Then, proceed to next office. If employee is free to speak for a few moments, step into the office making sure to leave the door open. Ask these three questions leaving time for employee’s answers to each question before proceeding. 1. How is your week going so far? 2. Do you have any concerns about your current project/assignment/etc? 3. Do you have any exciting plans for the weekend? OR, Did you have a nice weekend? Spend approximately ten minutes in each of the selected offices. On your way back to your own office, offer a friendly greeting to all you pass spreading and increasing office morale. Once back in your office, take approximately 5 minutes to answer the three evaluation questions associated with this exercise.


What effect do you think this exercise had on your employees? What impact would the weekly repetition of this exercise have on employees as a whole? Do you think that this exercise was beneficial to you as a supervisor? Why or why not?

Friday, April 26, 2013

EZ-View of EAP Stuff

I decided to make the home page (Resources for Employee Assistance Programs easier to navigate. I will keep adding what's new to the bottom as things go along. Current projects include DOT Regulations Training for Supervisors captured from the Federal Regulations..It's one hour in length and written at the 9th grade education level so any supervisory staff can instructed in the programs use. Go to

Monday, April 22, 2013

Can You Say to An Employee: Don't Worry Nothing About EAP Attendance Goes in a Personnel File?

As EAPs get more "morphed" into insurance programs, I am discovering that many EA professionals can't answer the question definitively about whether the host organization has a strict policy of not mentioning in any personnel record ever whether an employee participated in an EAP program. The most common reasons employees hesitate to visit an EAPs are fear of the unknown, being asked personal questions, and confidentiality concerns. Even an outstanding EAP with solid communication strategies and excellent internal relationships will from time to time need to surmount the fear employees have about confidentiality. It should be standard practice to have no personnel records reflect participation in the EAP and organizations should hold themselves accountable in this regard, if not legally liable to underscore the importance. No EAP is worth a hoot without being able to assure employees of this provision and point to it in a company EAP policy in the employee handbook. Can you do that with your organization or every organization you serve if you are an EAP provider? This would be an easy question to answer 30 years ago. Now, it appears many EA professional aren't too sure. Since many EAPs are external providers or far removed from policy development (unlike yesteryear) they may not have the slightest ability to intervene with this issue. If you want to have the most at-risk employees never come to the EAP, make sure everyone knows that personnel records may or may not, depending on circumstances, possibly contain a record that an employee participated in the EAP.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Helping Employee Manage the Crisis of a Poor Performance Review

Bad ratings on performance reviews create tremendous angst for certain employees. Is this a risk issue? [Product for Review] Do you think these reactions play a contributing role in the risk of workplace violence, even homicide? I honestly don't know, but common sense says they are a risk issue to explore for an answer to this question. And it is opportunity to educate. We are less inclined to educate employees than supervisors on topics like this one. Part of the blame goes to a mentality that guides us to look at a situation like this and ask, "Who has the power here?" The answer is the supervisor. So we target the person with power for change. However, if we ask who has personal responsibility, we get a different answer. It is both the supervisor and employee. Both can be educated. Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Research tell us that 15% of victims of workplace homicides are supervisors. That's a pretty big indicator that prevention opportunities exist. So, no stone should be left unturned. With this idea in mind, I took an existing tip sheet on the subject of helping employees who face a poor performance review and created an educational media-tool out of it. Prevention is hard to measure. How do you say because you gave support or educated an employee or supervisor, that you preventing a tragedy?

Friday, February 8, 2013

EAPs: Workers' Comp Payment for Psychological Harm On the March

Run, don't walk to the press release machine to announce to the world how effective employee assistance programs (EAPs) can be in helping employees who have been exposed to critical incidents and as a result helping mitigate posttraumatic stress effects and workers' compensation costs!

The restrictions on paying for psychological harm and emotional stress associated with critical incidents injuries has re-awakened in the aftermath of the Newton, Connecticut child mass shooting episode. The rationale driving the legislative reviews and arguing for paying workers for psychological harm is the 20 first-responders who have still not made it back to work because of posttraumatic stress or emotional harm. And other states are reviewing their workers' comp laws as well.

I don't see the discussion in the mainstream media about the value of EAPs, but you and I both know that EAP involvement can mitigate traumatic stress and lead to possibly less impact on first responders and therefore help to avoid Workers' Compensation payouts or at least reduce or minimize them.

This saves companies money. EAPA, now is your time to get to the New York Times and offer an interview or send a press lease enmass to respectable news outlets.

How many of these first responders are alcoholic or drug addicted persons in or out of former recovery? An EAP referral would find out. Isn't it possible that addictive relapse is involved in some of these cases? Who is going to assess that? There are a whole host of issues here to discuss as well. What is the role of the family members of first responders since this incident? How are they helping or hurting the goal of getting these employees back to work. Is it really necessary to head immediately to the legislative office to start sending these employees a paycheck? Perhaps, but what about a half-way stop with solid EAP promotion and involvement in these cases. I do not pretend to know how what is taking place in Newton with EAPs and those workers. However, I do know nationwide that many first responders do not access decent EAPs, and that loss of EAP access is growing since 1985. And with it opportunities to reduce workers' compensation costs are also being thrown out with the bath water.

We know EAPs can save money, but we also know they have been run over by a Mack Truck in the past 20 years and replaced almost universally with diminished service models that everyone knows will not penetrate and proactively pursue reaching these at-risk workers. Other employees nationwide face the same  circumstances. Want to save money? Don't fix what ain't broke. Stop the hand-wringing--EAPs are right in front of you.

Just sayin'!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

EAP Program Survival: A Three Legged Stool

“Stay close to your EAP customer to survive the budget ax.”  High EAP Utilization and a Good Reputation Will Not Save Your EAP from the Budget Ax. I am not puzzled anymore about why EAPs are closing their doors. In the past 12 months, I have heard about many EAPs getting the budget ax. These were good EAPs with solid reputations and high utilization.  Every EAP was shocked and financially terrified at the news. The common denominator was management’s belief that the EAP could be contracted out for less to someone or something else. What went wrong?

Here’s What Counts for EAP Survival . . .

Every EAP failed in their communication goal to achieve a close, unbreakable and emotional bond with the key corporate decision maker.

High utilization and employee satisfaction isn’t all that counts. Sure, it’s vital, but it is not the ultimate, critical link.

The critical link is what top management thinks and feels about you. What will management do when it is budget crunch time? Will they listen to the finance guy or benefits consultant? Or will the key decider—the big cheese say, “no way, I love this EAP. We ain’t changing it.”

I will discuss strategies shortly that examine the three-legged stool of employee assistance program survivability. They include education, training, and oureach. 2) High utilization and workforce problem penetration, and 3) bullet-proof relationships with top management decision makers.

Here's a new service to help you reach more employees and family members in 90 days than your program has possibly reached in nine years

Write me an let me know what you think.