Archive for category Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
May is mental health awareness month – an issue that has implications on individuals as well as the organizations they work for. The importance of mental health and the employee is a frequently discussed topic in the field of HR. Does the employer have a responsibility for their employees’ mental health? How can offering mental health benefits help the organization? Although there are multiple perspectives, there are some ways that the employer can help support their employees through difficult times.
One common and inexpensive benefit that the vast majority of organizations provide to their employees is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Yes, MINES and Associates is an EAP provider, and as such we see the issues that come to the table: low morale, family conflicts, substance abuse, and financial stressors to name a few. We also hear success stories of employees completing their counseling sessions and feeling that many areas of their lives have improved – including their job! Being the HR specialist of an organization which provides EAP services, it was easy to see where the value of an EAP lies. When an employee comes to you with a problem or suspicions of a mental illness, it’s reassuring to know that as an HR specialist, you have a great resource available where you can refer employees to clinicians that are better suited to help with these sorts of problems.
In addition to an EAP, there are other ways that you can regularly support your employees. Some benefits that our employees greatly appreciate include generous time off, the ability to work remotely, and encouraged open-communication. During times of stress, employees tend to appreciate time off to deal with personal matters. Working remotely allows the employee flexibility in their work. Finally, open-communication allows employees to bring forth concerns and needs without fear of reprisal. Your employees are the greatest asset of the company – show them that you care and support them!
Daniél C. Kimlinger, MHA
Human Resources Specialist
Many companies host Benefit & Health Fairs in the late fall & early winter. This is an opportunity for employees to meet with the benefit providers, ask questions, and learn about services that are available to them. It is also an opportunity for your EAP Account Managers to hear what is working well, what needs improvement, or what changes or additions to your EAP programs would be most appreciated. As employees (and sometimes the families as well) wind their way through the tables manned by benefit providers and companies offering services we like to have something to draw people to the EAP table. MINES has long used the “Really Big Bear” as a raffle to pull people to our display. It is not unusual to have the winner re-gift this prize to another person or enterprise. We have heard of the “Really Big Bear” finding a home in child care centers at churches and community centers, in offices where burdened or distressed employees are seeking direction or comfort, with Grandchildren, and with Toys for Tots.
Below is the “rest of the story” for the South Suburban Parks and Recreation bear given away last fall. The generosity displayed and the culture of caring promoted by the act make a heartwarming story.
“On November 12 , I went to Buck Recreation Center for our annual Health and Benefits Fair with South Suburban Parks and Recreation. While I was there I visited the various tables set up with information and freebies. I only filled out 2 cards for drawings. One was with MINES and Associates. Since I am one of those people who never win anything, imagine my surprise when my name was drawn for the big, beautiful, soft brown teddy bear. During this time one of our manager’s 2 year old daughter, Lola, was in the hospital severly ill after being exposed to E. Coli. Even though I knew the bear would be larger than her, I knew I wanted to give it to her. James gave us updates on Lola’s condition through Facebook so we knew what was going on. He came in one day to attend a meeting and I told him I would like to give her the bear. He took it home and took pictures of her with it. I want to thank you for this beautiful gift. I thought you might like to know what happened to it, who received it, and where it found a home. James and I both want to thank you.”
Registration Office Supervisor, Goodson Recreation Center
Recently, I have had an influx of questions related to finances from our employees at MINES. This makes sense as it is January: Employees are re-evaluating their W-4s, discussing concerns about paying into taxes, and determining their 401k deductions. Though January is typically a heavy-hitter for financial questions, these concerns are present in our employees’ lives throughout the year, whether they are related to a life changing event (buying a house or getting married) or an untimely garnishment.
Financial problems don’t just affect the employees, but also the employer. It is estimated that about one-quarter of the workforce are affected by financial problems and financial stress is often cited as the biggest stressor in employees’ lives. This is big news for employers as it costs companies approximately $15,000 per affected employee per year![i]
So, how exactly does financial stress negatively affect the company’s bottom line? Decreased productivity is certainly a concern; employees with financial issues are more likely to be distracted either through arranging deals with creditors or just thinking about their financial woes. These distractions can also lead to an increase in workplace accidents and an increase in worker’s compensation claims. Employees battling financial insecurities also face numerous health and wellness issues. They tend to get sick more often, abuse substances, have insomnia and digestion issues, and are plagued by mental health concerns including anxiety and depression. For employers, these issues pile up into sick days or lack of productivity even when the employee is present. It may be surprising to some that an employee who is facing financial hardships is more likely to turnover than one who is not. Employees in financial distress are always looking for better financial opportunities, therefore, they seek out positions that pay better. Overall, the costs of employee financial stress affect the bottom line in many ways.
As an organizational leader, how can you help your employees manage their financial stress?
- Implement a robust Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with built-in financial resources including a financial advisor for your employees to work with and a website full of resources.
- Always be available as a resource but don’t overstep. You may feel that you can help your employees figure out their finances but ask yourself if it’s appropriate. Typically, it’s best to send them to an outside resource such as a financial seminar, advisor, budget calculator, 401k planning tool, etc.
- Always be kind and gentle when discussing sensitive financial concerns such as a garnishment. Typically, when a company is served with a garnishment, the employee is unaware and it may be very difficult and embarrassing for the employee. It’s also important to note that it is illegal to discharge an employee for a garnishment.[ii]
- If you notice a common theme in financial concerns among your employees, consider holding optional financial training on-site or online. Some common ones include boosting your credit score and budgeting.
You can’t fix your employee’s financial problems but you can certainly support them!
Dani Kimlinger, MHA
Human Resources Specialist
[i] Lenhart, Ned. (n.d.) Employee Financial Stress is Costing Your Company a Bundle – And How You Can Stop It Now. Retrieved from Financial Literacy Partners website: https://www.takefinancialaction.com/upload/Is_Employee_Financial_Stress_Costing_Your_Company_A_Bundle.pdf
[ii] United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). Garnishment. Retrieved from http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/wages/garnishments.htm
“If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.“
- Benjamin Franklin
This is the time of year when many people resolve to turn over a “new leaf” and make important changes in their lives. For a lot of us, that includes changing the way we manage our money. With the over-spending that tends to occur around the holidays, it’s easy to decide to make a budget – but the hard part is sticking to it. Below are some online tools to help you do just that.
If you feel like you would benefit from more personalized help getting started, you may consider checking with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org ) for accredited financial consultants in your area.
Happy New Year!
~The HealthPsych Team
Keeping an Attitude of Gratitude During the Holidays
It’s holiday time. This means family, friends, food, and fun. It also means unpredictability and a break in our routines which can lead to stress. It is easy to get so caught up in the details of the holidays. Will my sister like the gift I got her? Will the company get along? Is the ham overdone? It is also a time when ongoing stressors in our lives can feel magnified. We might worry if we can afford to give our children the gifts we want, family conflict can feel unavoidable, or it may feel like everyone else is celebrating while we feel more and more isolated or alone. Whatever the reasons might be, the holidays are not always the perfect celebration we sometimes expect. So how can we cope?
Last year my mother-in-law introduced a concept to our family that shone a new light on the season: The Gratitude Jar. Every family member was given a piece of paper to write down one thing they were grateful for in the previous year. We all had to share out loud what we were grateful for before putting it in the jar. Throughout the holiday, the jar was a reminder of all of the things we had to appreciate.
Practicing gratitude can be a simple and easy way to shift your thinking and reduce stress during the holiday season. Research has consistently shown that practicing gratitude can have many stress reducing effects (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/16/AR2007111601699.html).
Although the Gratitude Jar can be a great activity to share with family and friends, there are many ways you can practice gratitude to make the holidays more enjoyable:
- Make a short list of 3 things you are happy about in your life. Keep the list in your pocket and read it over whenever you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Write a letter to someone who is important in your life expressing your appreciation
- Volunteer. Spending time with others in need can remind you to appreciate the aspects of our lives we take for granted.
I want to wish you all a happy and healthy holiday and best wishes for the new year!
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward
~The HealthPsych Team
All of us realize that stress is just a natural part of our lives. But some of the effects that ongoing stress can have on us can be debilitating to our health and thus only causing further chaos. One of the big ones is that there are just not enough hours in our day. But if we could each find a few minutes in our days or even make that adjustment to make time for the things that relax us, all of us would be a lot more efficient in what we attempt to accomplish. It could be just taking a few minutes in the morning after you wake up to stretch and breath or rearranging your normal schedule to fit in a yoga class here and there.
The first step is coming to terms with our stresses and then making the conscious decision to adjust and transform them to something beneficial. Here is an article on Stress Management from the Mayo Clinic to help you discover your reactions to stress and learn how to manage it.
~The HealthPsych Team
As the snow falls on the Colorado Rockies, my wife and I get excited for the upcoming ski season. MINES and Associates is headquartered in the foothills of Denver, Colorado which provides those of us who are skiers and snowboarders a 60-90 minute drive to some of the best skiing in the world. We are heading up for opening day and look forward to a fun and exciting season.
For many people the coming of winter is very depressing. It is cold, gloomy, and snowy, which creates hardship for many people. Heating costs go up and many people can’t afford to keep the house temperature as comfortable as they’d like. Driving to work is challenging and practically impossible on heavy snow days, leading to anxiety and frustration.
Winter comes down to whether you are mentally prepared for the change from warm to cold. If winter typically gets you down, try something new this year. Talk to your Human Resources Department at work and ask about your EAP (Employee Assistance Program). Assuming your company has such a program for employees, make the confidential call to one of the counselors and ask for some advice and ideas on how to make it through the winter with more ease than in the past.
Best wishes for a good winter and happy holiday season!
Senior Sales Executive
A common question when chatting causally with someone is “are you dating?” When the answer is no, people often apologize like being single is such an awful thing. The fact is when you are single you have the freedom to explore a variety of activities and indulge in your every whim. Friendships strengthen. And the idea of compromise takes a back seat. Being single doesn’t have to be a woe-is-me state of mind, rather a lifestyle choice that has just as many advantages and disadvantages as being in a relationship!
Looking for things to do around town try meetup.com, a great resource for things to do locally!
~Health Psychology Team