Anxious? Hear are Some Tips

Ever get butterflies in your stomach before a big presentation or job interview? Or maybe you’re NOT a frequent flier and are anxious about getting on that airplane. The truth is that all of us experience anxiety from time to time. But what to do?

Here are few ideas, courtesy of Psychology Today:

Meditate. Calm is an inside job. Give yourself the gift of serenity and start the day with ten minutes of solitude and positive energy. Think calm, measured and open-minded, and your daily activities will correspond.

Practice self-care. Get a massage, a mani-pedi, or a haircut. Nothing says polished and well-maintained like a sexy, healthy glow. If money is tight, look for a discount salon or a training school which offers quality services for people on a budget. So they don’t serve peppermint tea on a silver tray — close your eyes and imagine that five-star service while you take in the pampering you deserve.

Eliminate soda. That morning jolt of Joe can jumpstart your day and provide warmth and comfort, but anything with high fructose corn syrup and 177 other ingredients will not. If you’re accustomed to that 3:00 p.m. Dr. Pepper, switch it out for a soothing green tea. Not only does the caffeine jack up your central nervous system, soda depletes vitamins and minerals from your diet and wreaks havoc on your smile. Teeth become susceptible to cavities when the acid level of your saliva falls below a certain point.

Get outside. When you spend time in nature, you give your mind and body a much needed break from the hustle and bustle which causes you to Google things like “How to get rid of anxiety” in the first place. Chances are no matter where you live, there’s a serene, interesting, and charming place nearby.

Go to bed early. This may sound impossible if you’re accustomed to staying up late to catch up on a to-do list. But this one’s a MUST. Sleep deprivation is a huge anxiety culprit. Inadequate shuteye can amplify the brain‘s anticipatory reactions, upping overall anxiety levels, according to research. Don’t burn the midnight oil in hopes of catching up on the weekends. Unused sleep minutes don’t roll over.

Challenge negative moods. Record your thoughts periodically. Pay attention to when you feel stressed out. Write the feelings that accompany the thoughts. Think one-word responses like frustrated, angry, worthless, and defeated, etc. Challenge reality. This is hard because we tend to lack objectivity about the truth. Is there proof you don’t deserve that job promotion? Were you written up because of shoddy work performance? If you commit to recording your daily thoughts and feelings, along with reality testing, you’ll see that many of your negative feelings are created in your mind, and not based in reality.
The good news is you created the negative thought, and you can uncreate it.

Which suggestions for reducing anxiety would you add? Did any of these surprise you? I know the one on cutting out soda surprised me.

Read more tips here https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anxiety-zen/201405/22-quick-tips-change-your-anxiety-forever

Finally, nobody deserves to feel bad. A qualified mental health professional is your best bet if your anxiety is unbearable.

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More on EAPA 2017 Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, Calif. –  EAPA 2017 Los Angeles was held October 3-6 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in downtown LA. Some of the sessions the author of this blog attended are posted below.

THURSDAY, October 5

Are You Endangered or Enduring? Maintaining Relevance as an Organization was led by Don Jorgensen, PhD, CEAP, Owner, Human Factor Consulting, LLC. Jorgensen discussed the relevance curve, in which businesses reach tipping, turning, and potentially tanking points. He stressed the importance of EAPs recognizing where they are in relation to the world, and assessing what they need to do to remain relevant. “Know your market, define it, and know where changes are coming from.”

Workplace Impact of EAP was presented by Greg DeLapp, CEAP, CEO, EAPA; Dave Sharar, PhD, Director of Commercial Science, Chestnut Health Systems; and Mark Attridge, PhD, Attridge Consulting Inc. The session featured current “pooled” data on the workplace impact of EAP from more than 60 different EAP vendors, using the Workplace Outcome Suite (WOS).

FRIDAY, October 6

EAP in Russia: A Complicated History with a Promising Future was led by Anna Krymskaya, Program Director, Corporate Health LLC; and Ken Burgess, EAP Consultant. Krymskaya discussed the brief history of EAP in Russia, including obstacles and ideas for overcoming those barriers. To date, Corporate Health remains the only EAP based in Russia.

Burgess spoke on his role in developing a substance abuse program at URAL Steel, which remains the only one in Russia.

PHOTO: Downtown Los Angeles, site of this year’s World EAP Conference.

EAPA 2017 Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, Calif. –  EAPA 2017 Los Angeles was held October 3-6 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in downtown LA. Some of the sessions the author of this blog attended are posted below.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 4

A New System for Integrating Mental Health into Workplace Wellness was led by Julie Marshall, PhD, CEAP, VP of Clinical and Operational Services with Cascade Centers, Inc.; and Anna Meiners, MA, Director of Account Services with Cascade. Marshall and Meiners discussed Whole Life Scale, a validated assessment tool that measures nine behavioral health issues and provides proactive intervention strategies. The nine issues, or domains, are: anxiety, anger, depression, sleep, post-traumatic stress disorder, relationships, stress, substance abuse, and work engagement.

Capabilities of the scale include providing proactive direction to EAP and mental health services, increasing awareness of mental health issues, and integrating mental health into workplace wellness campaigns. The scale features individual summaries; immediate, in-assessment feedback; and links to online solution centers.

Richard Bond, Manager, Workplace Services EAP, Optum; and CEAPs George Melgarejo, Reon Tesar, Peter Bunnell, and Tarsyia Waddell, presented Your Company’s Threat Management Team: EAP is Key. The discussion included a brief history of how threat management has evolved, examples of threat management procedures, and identifying key issues for EAP.

Threat management has its roots in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace violence guidelines, and drug-free workplace policies. As the number of incidents has increased, threat management has moved from being reactionary to more and more proactive. “Where is the organization most vulnerable?” stated Bond.

As well as EAP, threat management teams typically consist of HR, security, legal, and occupational health – each with a clearly defined role. “EAP’s role in threat management is more significant with an on-site model,” Melgarejo said.

Ken Burgess, Business Development Consultant, Chestnut Global Partners; and Puneet Leekha, Assistant General Counsel with Chestnut, presented What is Duty of Care and Why is it Important to the EAP Field? Duty of Care refers to an obligation to conform to certain standards of conduct for the protection of others against unreasonable risks of harm.

The United States lags behind the rest of the world in providing Duty of Care (DOC) to expats and their families, according to Burgess.

To ensure proper DOC, Burgess said every company should, at a minimum, require a comprehensive travel policy to track everyone 24/7; and provide cross-cultural training and orientation; emergency evacuation plans for terrorism and natural disasters; a medical emergency evacuation plan; and ongoing, in-country support.

According to Burgess, Duty of Care represents a unique business opportunity for EAPs. “Very few people are doing this, but many people are capable of doing it,” he said.

PHOTOS: The beautiful Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in downtown Los Angeles, site of this year’s World EAP Conference. Above right: The fabled Hollywood sign, a landmark of the LA area.

On My Way to LA

I’m really looking forward to EAPA 2017 Los Angeles, to be held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites. EAP Focus on the Workplace will be the theme at the event, sponsored by the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA). EAPA 2017 Los Angeles will feature scores of informative sessions, keynote speakers, and networking opportunities with both current EA acquaintances as well as the chance to meet new EA professionals.… And attendees are from all over the globe!

The conference, to be held Oct. 3-6, has been a great way to connect with EA professionals to learn about important EAP trends and solicit articles for the Journal of Employee Assistance.

To find out more about the Journal or this event, visit http://www.eapassn.org

My blog will feature highlights from the 2017 World EAP Conference the week of Oct. 9-13. (I may even have a little sightseeing news to report.)

In the meantime, why not check out some of the more than 400 posts on this blog? Happy reading!

 

Refuting Myths: Suicide Awareness Month

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According to the World Health Organization, close to 800,000 people die by suicide every year. It can be a slippery slope from depression to suicide, and so while I do not know a lot about suicide, I suffer from depression and so I feel I can envision at least a little of what “might” go into the mind of an individual who ends his or her life. Since September is Suicide Awareness Month, it is a good time to discuss this all-too-common affliction.

One key, I believe is “hope.” We all need hope in life, and as a depression sufferer I know hope keeps me going a LOT at times. Hope because we have loved ones who rely on us. Hope because those of us who suffer from depression are confident things WILL get better.

But take away hope, then what? A good friend of mine took his life in 2008, and I believe it was at least partially due to his feeling he did not have any hope. He did not feel there was any hope for his gravely ill wife (sadly, turns out there was), and he did not feel he had any hope in switching careers because he needed the terrific health benefits his job required to pay for his wife’s ailments. There were likely other factors, but those seemed to be clearly among them.

I am not a clinician, as I noted, but I don’t think anyone can say for sure why a particular person chooses to die. The helplessness and hopelessness that often leads to suicide may arise from any number of factors, but I think they DID play into it in my friend’s case.

Courtesy of someone more qualified than myself – an employee assistance director in Wisconsin – let’s refute a few of the myths about suicide.

* A person who threatens suicide won’t really follow through. Not true. People who commit suicide often talk about ending their lives before they actually make an attempt.

* No one I know is the type to commit suicide. The truth is that suicide occurs among people of all types. Whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts can plague anyone. They are legitimate mental health concerns that require appropriate action.

* Only insane people commit suicide. People who commit suicide may feel hopeless and depressed, but they have not necessarily lost touch with reality.

* Talking about suicide might give the person ideas. Suicidal people already have “the idea.” Frankly, talking about it can prevent the person from acting on it. It shows that you take this person seriously and that you care.

* People who commit suicide really want to die. A small number may want to die, but the majority simply want the pain to stop. They’ve given up hope that they can stop it, or that anyone can help them. (There goes that key word, “hope” again.)

Toll free hotlines include the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at 800-950-6264, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255.

To learn more about this important topic, check out https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Should Employers be Allowed to Read Emails?

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With the recent Labor Day holiday, this is the third in a series of posts noting recent trends and developments in the world of employment.

By Rob Wilson, Guest Blogger

The European Court of Human Rights recently overturned a previous ruling which had given employers unfettered access to their employees’ emails and workplace communications. The decision is once again sparking discussion about American privacy laws and the ways in which employers are able to freely access all of an employee’s communications.

Privacy is considered to be of great importance in Europe. Hence, there was a great outcry when the court originally decided to green-light the law, which would allow employers free reign to read their employees’ emails and messages.

The overturning of the law has reignited workplace privacy discussions in the States. This is an issue that is of growing concern as many employers are now using apps to track their remote employees’ productivity. For example, apps that take screenshots of an employee’s computer or apps that track what sites an employee visits and how long they stay are. As we enter this new world of a largely remote workforce, issues of privacy are going to be of growing concern.

For now, employers should cover all their bases by making sure to alert employees that any and all workplace communication is not considered private. Your employees should be fairly warned that any messages they send on company property are able to be accessed and viewed by you. Privacy isn’t a right afforded to employees who are using their work computer to hang out on Facebook or write personal messages to co-workers.

Rob Wilson is an employment trends expert and President of Employco USA.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Labor Day Weekend Job Survey

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With 6.2 million job openings, and 7 million unemployed it’s never been more important for job seekers to stay one step ahead of the competition. More than half of U.S. workers (55 percent) feel they have just a job, not a career, and 38 percent of these workers are likely to change jobs in the back half of 2017, according to CareerBuilder’s latest survey.

Almost three in 10 workers (28 percent) tolerate or hate their job, state respondents to the survey, released just in time for the Labor Day weekend. Of those who tolerate or hate their job, some of the top reasons for staying in a current position are the need to pay the bills (74 percent), its proximity to home (41 percent), needing the insurance (35 percent), it pays well (30 percent), or the job market is too tough (27 percent).

The national survey, which was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from May 24 to June 16, 2017, included representative samples of 2,369 full-time employers and 3,462 full-time U.S. workers across industries and company sizes in the private sector.

To get the right attention from a hiring manager, job seekers should stay away from crazy stunts and keep it simple. CareerBuilder chief human resources officer Rosemary Haefner shares five tips that every worker needs to remember when hunting for a new gig.

Customize your application and resume for the job. Approximately a third of employers review resumes for less than one minute (32 percent), but 49 percent of employers say they would pay more attention to job applications with a resume customized for the open position. Take the time to personalize — it might just get you to the next round.

Review your references. Think through your references – pick colleagues who can speak to your strengths. More than half of employers (51 percent) say that a candidate’s reference has not given positive feedback about the candidate, and 54 percent have changed their mind about a candidate after speaking with a reference.

Tell the truth. More than half of employers (55 percent) have caught a lie on a resume, and over a third (39 percent) have caught someone providing a fake reference. The truth is always your best bet.

Provide your profiles. Seventy percent of employers use social media to screen candidates —  and 57 percent of employers are less likely to interview a candidate they cannot find online. Do their work for them by providing handles to your online portfolio, website, and social media handles – just be sure you are presenting a professional image.

Prepare for the interview. So you got the interview — congrats, but the work does not stop there. Fifty-nine percent of employers said asking good questions in the interview is important to them when considering a candidate for a job, and 48 percent said it was important to come to an interview prepared with ideas.

CareerBuilder is a global, end-to-end human capital solutions company focused on helping employers find, hire and manage great talent. For more information, visit www.careerbuilder.com.

Judge Orders EEOC to Reevaluate Wellness Regulations

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) must revisit regulations governing employee wellness programs because the agency did not provide adequate supporting information for the rules.

In AARP v. EEOC, U.S. District Judge John Bates agreed with AARP—a lobbying group for older Americans—that the EEOC had failed to justify how it arrived at its definition of when wellness programs are “voluntary” and, therefore, valid under federal law.

Current regulations permit employers to offer workers an incentive of up to 30 percent of the cost of an employee’s individual health insurance plan if they participate in wellness programs—which often include such activities as losing weight, quitting smoking, or participating in preventive health screenings.

The EEOC concluded that any greater incentive would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which prohibit inquiries about employees’ medical histories. The EEOC said that it drew the 30 percent limit from other federal laws governing health insurance plans, and that it had garnered support from numerous stakeholders in public comments.

AARP contended that the EEOC could point only to a single comment letter—received from the American Heart Association—backing its proposal, and had failed to cite any studies or data. AARP argued that the wellness program regulations permit companies to penalize employees who opt out of participation in wellness programs because they do not wish to disclose medical information. As a result, according to AARP, the rules allow employers to violate the ADA and GINA.

In siding with AARP and denying the EEOC’s motion to dismiss the suit, Judge Bates concluded that the EEOC had failed to offer a reasoned explanation for its arrival at the 30 percent threshold—nor had it offered concrete data, studies, or analysis that supported any particular incentive level as the threshold after which an incentive becomes involuntary.

EEOC Chair Victoria A. Lipnic issued a statement that the agency is “assessing the impact of the court’s decision and order, and options with respect to these regulations going forward.”

Despite his ruling, Judge Bates declined to immediately vacate the EEOC’s regulations in order to avoid disruption and confusion for both employers and individuals—noting that to do so would call into question the legality of numerous existing wellness programs.

Attorneys in Ballard Spahr’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group help clients design and implement compensation and benefits packages that comply with today’s complex regulatory requirements, attract and retain a quality workforce, and maintain fiscal and fiduciary responsibility. Ballard Spahr’s Labor and Employment Group routinely assists employers in all aspects of employer/employee relations, including revisions to current legislation.

EAR Being Added to EA Digital Archive

Twenty years of Employee Assistance Report (EAR) newsletters are being added to the EA Digital Archive, EAR and Archive officials announced recently.

“I am thrilled that Jodi Jacobson Frey and Patricia Herlihy asked us to submit the newsletters for the Archive,” said Mike Jacquart, who has edited the monthly newsletter for EA professionals since 2004. “It’s quite an honor, and not only that but individuals who access the articles will be able to search for specific articles by author and key words. That is not something we have not been able to do, to date.”

The intent of the EA Digital Archive, housed by the University of Maryland School of Social Work, is to preserve important historical and current documents in the EA field as well as to provide a national depository for all significant articles, and more recently, multi-media, in the field.

“I have been a long-time reader of EAR and always found the articles to be interesting and always seem to have their finger on the pulse of what is going on in the EA field. As Pat and I work to balance the old with the new in the Archive, we just knew we needed to include the EAR newsletters,” said Jodi Frey.

The Employee Assistance (EA) Digital Archive is a free, publicly accessible site where EA professionals can post original works, historical documents, related papers, and EA-focused multi-media including interviews, presentations, and webinars. The EA field is interdisciplinary with experts from a myriad of fields such as social work, addiction, psychology, occupational health and wellness, work-life, peer counseling, human resources, risk management, benefits, and organizational development, among others.

“It is our hope that professionals from these diverse backgrounds will contribute to and use the archive,” Frey stated.

With a total of nearly 3,000 cover stories alone dating back to volume 1 of the EAR in 1998, the newsletter will add significantly to the total number of articles, books, white papers, and other documents housed on the EA Digital Archive – which presently has over 1,500 articles to review, when you count individual articles in the EAPA publications that were recently added.

The Archive’s top read so far in 2017 is the video interview Dr. Dale Masi conducted with Carl Tisone as part of the History of Employee Assistance Programs: A 50 Year Perspective (U.S. and Canada) grant funded by the Employee Assistance Research Foundation.

The Archive can be found at http://www.eaarchive.org. To learn more about becoming a submitter or how to best use the Archive, email Archive staff at eaarchive@ssw.umaryland.edu.

 

You Don’t Need to Change Your Corporate Culture to Attract Millennials

 

If a Millennial (or two) is the missing piece of the puzzle at your business, here is how to hire and retain them.

By Brad Deutser, Guest Blogger

Employers spend a lot of time puzzling over what they need to do to attract Millennials and how to retain those young employees once they hire them.

Many organizations even adjust their corporate culture to better appeal to the generation of young adults who are expected to make up half the global workforce by 2020, and who are said to be uncomfortable with rigid corporate structures, expect rapid progression and want constant feedback.

But could it be that companies desperate to recruit Millennials are looking at the situation all wrong?

When companies talk about how to attract and keep Millennials, they take a surface approach. They are treating Millennials uniquely, but that’s not the way they should do it. There’s not one approach you should take with your overall workforce and a separate approach to take for Millennials.

In fact, companies will enjoy more success if they remain true to themselves rather than try to be all things to all Millennials.

An organization will do fine if it’s willing to get to the core of what it believes in and then hold true to those beliefs. That’s providing a sense of organizational clarity that Millennials and others will appreciate. When companies aren’t true to who they are, they become lost. They will be disconnected from their workforce and that’s when Millennials are likely to look elsewhere for jobs.”

To attract Millennials and keep them around for the long haul, companies should be:

  • Clear about their vision. The most critical ingredient to achieving business success is clarity. That means an organization needs to be clear about its purpose and its vision, as well as clear about the roles of those who carry out that purpose and vision. This remains true whether employees are Millennials, Baby Boomers or part of another generation.
  • Willing to communicate. It’s important that a company explains to employees and job candidates how things are done at the company and what is expected of them. Once they are told how things are, people can opt in or they can opt out. And usually they will opt in. But if you are unclear about the expectations or your beliefs, they will opt out or there will be problems.”
  • Able to keep things positive. I am a proponent of positive psychology, so I believe keeping an upbeat atmosphere is essential to a company’s culture. You want your employees to be happy. If you can find a way to encourage a positive outlook and attitude, employees from every generation will be more motivated and will perform their jobs better.

Brad Deutser is president of Deutser LLC (www.deutser.com), a consulting firm that advises leaders and organizations about achieving clarity, especially in times of transition, growth or crisis. He is an expert at leveraging culture to drive business performance, and his firm has counseled organizations ranging from the Fortune 100 to nonprofits. Deutser launched his firm in 2002.