Posts Tagged eap
It may be self-evident to many of you reading this blog that alcohol use, sleep deprivation, and obesity can negatively affect performance at work or at home. If this is a correct assumption and you have all three of these areas under control, thank you. On the other hand, after 39 years of working with people and organizations on these issues it is clear to me that our society continues to miss the boat on them.
This week alone, I had client organizations call about each of these concerns. In one case a senior executive was observed to drink one bottle of wine at a company function, plus cocktails before dinner. Her behavior became problematic when she propositioned a male colleague, angrily denied she had drank too much and proceeded to accuse others on her executive team of “being out to get her.” To make this situation even sadder, the executive had done something similar three years earlier at the same company function. This became a performance issue at a number of levels. First, upon investigation, it turned out she had a number of days in the last few months where her secretary reported she left early for lunch and never returned resulting in significant loss of individual productivity. Second, she created liability for her company when she propositioned a colleague. This created a potentially hostile work environment/sexual harassment lawsuit. In addition, there was lost time for human resources, management, and legal to review the situation and interview all parties. Third, when confronted with her behavior and the company’s requirement to go to the employee assistance program for an evaluation and potential referral for treatment if indicated, she refused and resigned. This resulted in additional loss of intellectual capital and the personal long term health costs to her. This reminder for everyone in supervisor, management, or executive functions is that alcohol and other substance use disorders have not diminished despite policies, procedures,’ and education interventions. It is important to stay alert to your employees’ and colleagues’ behavior and act in a timely and compassionate manner similar to the company discussed in this paragraph.
The research on sleep deprivation is well documented. Sleep deprived individuals do not function well cognitively and their reaction times are diminished. This finding was significant enough for one researcher to say that sleep deprived drivers were more dangerous than alcohol impaired drivers. What are the costs to your organization related to sleep deprivation? We know that individuals who are sleep deprived eat more, make poorer food and exercise decisions, are more irritable with others, and make poor decisions. Many companies recognize the dangers of sleep deprivation and provide nap rooms, meditation classes, and other options so that employees can refresh themselves and perform better at work.
Obesity, wellness, and financial impact discussions are ubiquitous on the internet and in the professional literature. Our workforces are getting fatter and fatter. Recent research suggested that obesity not only has downstream health costs for the employer, there is some evidence that cognitive functions can be influenced as well. This research needs to be replicated. Then there is the subgroup of morbidly obese individuals who also have co-morbid depression. Depression affects performance in terms of diminished problem solving skills, concentration problems, social withdrawal, lowered energy which is compounded by the lower energy associated with morbid obesity, as well as other symptoms such as memory impairment. Any of these symptoms will negatively affect performance in most jobs. As an employer it will become an even heavier burden going forward to manage the workforce as the obesity incidence continues to grow. What is becoming more apparent is that the typical wellness program is unsuccessful in helping the morbidly obese. A major component that is missing is the psychological aspects of performance related to weight loss and weight gain. The research in this area has been well established for over 25 years. Coors Brewing in 1988 was one of the first companies to incorporate an intensive outpatient obesity program as part of its wellness program. It was a highly successful program. Unfortunately during that time there were many fasting programs and one of the unintended side effects of these programs was an increase in gall bladder surgeries and the corresponding cost. Due to a variety of factors beyond the scope of this blog, all weight loss programs were discontinued a few years later. There are best practice examples of successful interventions with the morbidly obese employee population which apply the psychological elements needed to lose and sustain weight loss.
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Have a day filled with loving kindness and compassion,
Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., CEO & Psychologist
Emotional Intelligence, or EI, is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself (Wikipedia). We all have different levels of EI. Some of us are emotional geniuses who are incredibly gifted at assessing, identifying, interpreting, and acting upon emotions. Others have low Emotional Intelligence and have difficulty understanding the precise reason they feel anxious or they don’t know the best way to deal with a stressful situation. Most of us are in the middle somewhere and can maybe understand how to work through issues with co-workers but could use some help in learning the best approaches to what bothers us personally. But for all of us, we can actively seek to improve our emotional intelligence by understanding what is causing our emotions and by practicing techniques to help improve our responses. There are several resources available online and there are many great books on the subject as well. In order to achieve a higher level of emotional intelligence, work at it every day and practice techniques for better communication with your peers, coworkers, and family. If you are curious how your Emotional Intelligence currently rates there is a short quiz available for free at:
Manager, Business Development
Blended, not segmented
In an increasingly interconnected world, the rift between the person and the role within the workplace is diminishing. Again, highlighting a moment from our presentation at the EAPA 2011 Conference back in October, we provided a brief demonstration of the change that is coming with the introduction of smart technology that is cheap, intuitive, and pervasive. We added many of the ingredients of our everyday lives – personal photos, TPS reports, business cards, a beer (non-alcoholic, of course), and some others – to a blender. After pureeing the ingredients, we had the mish mash of our lives in a soupy representation of its non-segmentation. Slowly, but surely, we continue to blur the lines between our personal and professional lives. The generation entering the workplace today, as well as the mavens that have been productively using social media over the past decade, are contending with very significant issues when it comes to their personal versus professional circles.
Which is perfectly fine for them as, characteristically, they are less concerned about the space between work and personal that has existed in previous generations.
But it does bring up a new combined reality wherein the interconnectedness of all things plays a new role, e.g., less applying for jobs and more networking with previous co-workers and current friends. This is a powerful change in the culture of hiring as we can rely more on data points that are trusted, rather than on the various axes we might consider from an interview.
We’ll have chips, you bring the dip
This is further aided by the number of devices (and the consolidators like cloud computing and apps) on which we can maintain a seamless online life. Our ability to share, connect, and compute through these various devices has led to a revolution for some workplaces. We’ve gone from intentional VPN connections on desktops into the workplace, to push-based access to email on our phones.
Now we have the opportunity for individual employees to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Gone are the days where individuals carry two phones, or a personal phone and a work laptop. A new tide is rising where an employee can use their personal device to connect to work. This has obvious implications associated with it. In my last blog, I walked through some of the changes in the landscape regarding social media in the workplace and its potential for the leaking of PCI (a play on Private Health Information, Private Corporate Information). Imagine the concerns regarding that PCI on a device that can literally be left on a street corner! Consider data from Lookout Security (a mobile app that tracks lost phones) alone: 9 million lost phones in 2011. By the way, if you have employees using mobile devices for work purposes, either company owned or personally owned, you should have a solution like Lookout or iOS’s Find my iPhone in place. It’s just another thing to add to the technology section of your HR manual.
We can access statistics and reports from virtually anywhere with a WiFi or data signal, and we can do it on the same devices as our social media and personal activities. This means increased efficiency for some, and others less so as there are more distractions on the same device; however, it also means being less tied down to a workstation. Enabling employees to function in their role fluidly and dynamically means a potential for faster response rates and less commuting or booting (as in booting up a computer) time. So long as you are not also operating in System 1 by multi-tasking.
What does this have to do with health?
I’m so glad you asked. The mobile revolution has another impact on our lives: the ability for our physical wellbeing to be more social and integrated with our daily activities. For an employer, this can mean increased health outcomes to decrease premiums as awareness of one’s health can increase attention to keeping oneself healthier. Integrated with Social Media, this also allows for real time feedback from our social network, encouraging and assisting in the process of growing our health. And since we spend 1/3 of our week working, ignoring this time because it’s “work time” is simply the wrong way to go about creating a healthier workforce. Population health strategies necessitate an integrated approach to health – and even more so when you are self-insured!
If that’s not interesting enough, using both hardware and software, new tracking of the quantified self enables a feedback system that helps provide data to be reviewed by System 2, resulting in increased awareness of our current health status. Knowing your heart-rate through events, in real time, allows for biofeedback-based solutions to situations. Literally translated, our at-the-moment health can enable greater productivity at work – whether that’s at a coffee shop, your home, or at the office. As these pieces of technology become cheaper and more precise, BYOD might one day allow for the inclusion of health devices for work too.
To our health,
I recently attended an annual dinner/forum for a local non-profit group which focused on Drug Abuse Prevention. We’ve all heard, or experienced first-hand, the devastating effects of drug abuse on family, employment, education, and just about every other facet of human life. What we don’t always hear about are the amazing efforts by some making an incredible impact on prevention. By taking small steps to identify risk factors, especially for our youth, we can have a tremendous impact. At the forum, one of the panelists made a great point about how parents and doctors don’t ask the difficult questions, and often times because they are afraid of the answer, or maybe they are suffering themselves. Why do our doctors have no problem asking us about our diets and suggesting cholesterol screenings, but very seldom ask us a simple question like, “How are you feeling emotionally?” or, “Does your child seem to be fitting in, and participating in a healthy way?” When we look at diabetes and heart disease compared to major depression or substance abuse disorders only a small fraction of those suffering from behavioral disorders are actually being diagnosed and treated compared with their medical counterparts.
As the prescription drug epidemic continues to rise we need to do more in the area of prevention. Here are some wonderful resources for prescription drug abuse prevention from our friends at Peer Assistance Services:
Manager, Business Development
In over 35 years of working with people on making change, improving their performance, and living more fully it is still interesting to me how many people persist in doing the same self-defeating actions over and over despite saying they want to improve, grow, or change for the better (whatever that means). So the following are four questions worth asking yourself if you want to improve your performance in some area of your life.
- Situation Questions – Tell me about your life? How is it working now?
- Problem Questions – Can we be specific about what is not working? Are you concerned about your current quality of performance?
- Implication Questions – What happens if you don’t do something different?
- Need-Payoff Questions – If you act and it improves – how does that impact your life?
Take time to reflect on these questions, write down your answers, and be curious about where this may take you. If you find yourself resisting the questions or process, look more deeply into that instead.
It’s up to you….as they say “no one can do your push-ups for you.”
Exchange love and happiness with everyone you meet today.
Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist
Have you read the book The Experience Economy? To explain it very quickly (and not do true justice to the ideas proposed in the book), there are various levels of economic offering that warrant different valuations, and thereby ability to generate revenue. The levels of development discussed in the book are elegantly displayed in the graph below by Pine and Gilmore (the authors of the book):
This progression has expanded over time with new levels being added as the market strives for differentiation. Many of the examples brought up are clear and concise, such as Starbucks as a purveyor of coffee (a commodity) that really charges the market at the level of a Service. Pine and Gilmore stop at the level of Service in their description of Starbucks, but I would readily argue that they reach towards the level of experience. Starbucks actually refers to this in their training materials as creating “The Third Place;” it’s not your work, or your home, it’s that other place where you can unwind a little bit. Even though the customer isn’t actually brewing their own coffee, as is a hallmark of many experiences, they are engaging with the sounds and smells of the coffee shop in a very intentional way.
The book spends a great deal of time discussing offerings that are on the level of Experience but certainly takes a moment to tip its hat toward Transformations, a burgeoning new market offering. Transformations are marked by the engagement of the customer in a way that enables that person to learn or grow, exactly to Transform, themselves in a way that is truly valuable to the customer. It includes giving the customer the skills and motivation to make changes that will both provide some immediate value but also cascade down into further value down the road.
In healthcare, this understanding of the market is significant and valuable. As we, as an industry, discuss Accountable Care Organizations, capitated care models, and participatory medicine, it’s important for us to keep in mind where value is derived in the typical marketplace. Healthcare, while arguably different in many ways from other industries by its virtual necessity in every citizen’s timeline, still must compete under the same rules as many other industries. Many times, in healthcare, we present ourselves on the level of Service – that is that we are doing something for someone, for a fee. As we look at these new systems, it is time for us to consider what the future of healthcare delivery will require under a population health model of delivery.
Eschewing the fee-for-service model opens up the possibility for the healthcare industry to reconsider offering the long-term value of teaching individuals how to keep themselves healthy, at least in terms of the 80% of healthcare costs that are mediated by behavior. This decreases the time and services that must be provided creating new forms of cost savings. As we move further up the economic offering ladder, it will become more necessary to move our industry into the Transformation realm. In fact, there is no other industry more suited to it.
To our health,