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 Wikipedia.com. 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:/handoutsplus.com