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Depression in the Workplace: How EAPs Help

It wasn't long ago that the world was shaken by the tragic suicide of award-winning actor Robin Williams. Many people outwardly questioned how someone so gifted and funny could take their own life. At the same time, it served as a sobering reminder that depression is a serious condition and exists all around us.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 16 million people over age 18 suffer from major depressive episodes annually. This number represents 6.7 percent of the adult population in the United States. Consider the implications of this statistic on your workplace. How many of your employees will be affected? 

Depression can present itself in a variety of ways in the workplace -- from excessive tardiness and absences to decreased productivity, morale, and use of appropriate safety precautions. People with depression are more prone to substance use and abuse, as well as fatigue and illness, among other concerns. While mental health is a private, personal issue, it becomes a public concern in many ways. That's why it's important for employers to recognize the actions they can take to support employees who struggle with depression.

What Employers Can Do

In many regards, an employer's hands are tied when it comes to employee well-being. Short of expressing concern, there are few resources available that don't compromise the employer's standing. That's one reason why so many companies are turning to Employee Assistance Programs. In place of being able to assist on a personal level, business leaders find that EAPs are particularly helpful.

How EAPs Can Help

Employers have an array of options when it comes to choosing an Employee Assistance Program. Such programs are worksite-based and/or resources intended to serve employees and employers in order to improve job productivity. With the right EAP in place, employers can readily support staff who are struggling.

Research shows that successful EAP programs can help employees identify and resolve personal issues before the challenges become overwhelming. As a result, companies lose far fewer employees to turnover and notice a greater sense of morale throughout the workplace. Other benefits of EAPs include:

  • Fewer worker's compensation reports
  • Less absenteeism
  • Improved employee retention
  • Reduced medical costs associated with progressed mental health issues
  • Decrease in number of labor disputes

Working With an EAP 

As the employer, you'll want to ensure your money is well spent. This means that your employees have access to high-quality services. To help ensure this, check that a potential EAP offers the following services:

Choices about the method of counseling.  Counseling provided should reflect a variety of individual preferences, including e-counseling, face-to-face visits, phone conversations, and group support.

Information for management and employees with regards to mental health.  Some organizations mandate a certain number of hours of training be completed annually. To be effective, incentives should be attached to participation.

Continuation of treatment. Employees who establish a relationship with a provider should have the option of continuing service, whether it be through private insurance or out-of-pocket fees. 

Although it's difficult to approach employees about mental health concerns, it's wise to have resources in place if someone is dealing with such challenges. An effective Employee Assistance Program can be such a resource.

Categories:Mental Health, EAP Effectiveness

Tags:depression in the workplace, EAP benefits

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Six Steps for Success for New Managers

As 2017 kicks off and your organization evolves you may have some new leaders on board. Depending on their personality, this can be either a daunting request or an exciting prospect. Managing people can be a very rewarding and valuable skill to add to a resume, but it can also be overwhelming; especially if they don’t know where to start. Positive relationships between employees and their managers increases job satisfaction, employee engagement, and overall retention. Share these tips to help your new managers succeed:

  • Get a Mentor. This might seem like an unusual step to take, but having someone who’s “been there, done that” can be an invaluable resource to a new manager. You need to have someone on your side who can help you be successful, as well as serve as a sounding board for new ideas and questions you might have.
  • Be a Leader, Not a Dictator. What do we mean by this? Think back on the best boss you ever had. What made you like and respect that person? Likely, it was a combination of teaching and enabling her employees to be their best. This boss was inspiring and led by example, not afraid to get in the trenches and work with her employees. Now, think back on the worst boss you’ve ever had. That person probably ordered his people around, didn’t give them the opportunity to grow, and kept them tightly controlled and under his thumb. The first boss is a leader, the second a dictator. Be a leader.
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. This tip is critical. You really can’t communicate to your employees too much; after all, no one likes to work in a vacuum. Your employees must stay informed about expectations, both yours and those of the company overall. Set up weekly or monthly one-on-one touch-bases with each of your staff members. Quarterly, or worse yet yearly, check-ins are too infrequent and can lead to missed opportunities to correct issues or provide motivation.
  • Learn How to Delegate. We’ve all had that manager who insists on doing everything herself. This type of management (or lack of) is counterproductive and leads to feelings of resentment among the team… and the manager herself. Your team should support you and be specialists in what they do, leaving you to work on strategy, employee engagement and retention, and talent development. Your team needs to feel a sense of ownership and pride in their roles and in how they support the company’s bottom line.
  • Be Honest. Integrity is everything when you’re a manager. Be as transparent as you can be. It’s important that your team is aware of what’s going on with the company, and with you.
  • Challenge and Develop Your Team. When employees get bored, they lose interest in the company and become disengaged. You want to ensure the top talent on your team stays with the company, so do what you can to help improve and expand their skill sets. Good employees are often hard to find and harder to keep.

Help your new managers put forth their best efforts to ensure their teams continue to support the goals and values of your company. Sharing these simple tips will put them well on their way to being a great manager and a great employee.

Southwest EAP has provided employee assistance programs and risk management solutions to companies since 1978. Our commitment to excellence is founded on the belief that active partnership with our client companies and delivering face-to-face services produces the best results. 

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Working With Difficult Employees

There will always be difficult employees. They aren't difficult on purpose, because, clearly, if they realized how their behavior was jeopardizing their future, they wouldn't behave in dysfunctional ways.

F. John Reh writes in his online piece Dealing With Difficult Employees That difficult employees "are that way simply because it is a behavior that has worked for them in the past." They choose that behavior "when they think it will be most effective."

So the challenge to the good manager is twofold: 1) to recognize what could be causing the poor performance, and 2) to let the employee know what behaviors need to occur so the employee can continue working. Until the manager gets a handle on both, the employee will repeat the troublesome cycle of bad behavior, followed by periodic crises and conflict in the workplace.

Interpreting at the behavior warning signs

Here are three examples of when a supervisor needs to intervene:

1. The employee is continually late, leaves early, or frequently calls in sick.

This can signal significant individual (or even group) problems. There may be a deficiency in training, poor leadership, or a variety of other problems., each of which is severely impacting the employee's performance and motivation.

2. The employee's performance and productivity has dropped significantly.

Performance is where ability meets motivation. The employee was hired on the basis of ability, so a lessening of motivation is most often the cause of poor performance. There may be other problems, and the manager needs to recognize symptoms ranging from burnout, frustration over policies and compensation, along with myriad other obstacles.

3. The employee is a chronic complainer, is negative and critical towards company policies, spreads rumors, or displays passive aggressive behavior towards fellow workers.

This is the difficult employee alluded to earlier who tends to behave in ways that make perfect sense to his or her world view. Once again, the key challenge to the manager is to convince the troublesome employee that the behavior is causing problems and needs changing.

Giving the necessary feedback to the employee

Personal confrontations and giving people feedback on how they need to change behavior on the job can be the most difficult part of any manager's job. Erika Anderson writes in a Forbes Magazine online article, Why We Hate Giving Feedback- and how to Make it Easier, recognizes that that the manager's job is to give corrective feedback "in a way that both reduces the other person's defensiveness" and "makes it clear to the other person what you're asking him or her to change."

The Southwest EAP Employee Assistance Program fills the gap…

Knowing when to intervene and the techniques for counseling employees are just the first steps. Southwest EAP has the expertise and resources to help managers and supervisors deal with and resolve employee performance and morale problems. From employee counseling to management training and consulting, Southwest EAP provides 24/7 access for employees in crisis and unlimited consultation services for supervisors.

Want to find out more about how we can help your organization manage its valuable personnel assets? Contact us.

Categories:employee productivity

Tags:employee productivity, management issues

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