Time is Running Out!

As a busy employee assistance or other behavioral health specialist, you are well aware that each workday just goes by too fast! You know all too well that in today’s society in which there are so many things competing for our time and attention, that it’s important to elevate awareness of your EAP or other practice.

But you don’t have the time! What projects do you NOT get done due to lack of time? I can help! Maybe you’d like to increase your social media presence but can’t find the time to write a blog. I can ghostwrite one for you on a regular basis.

What about writing news releases that “should” go out a regular basis but end up being more like “once in a while” because you don’t have the time to keep up with them since you’re a “one-man band.”

Whatever it is, don’t keep putting off the projects that are hindering growth of your EAP.  You’ll be able to finally check some of those tasks off your hectic to-do list. Contact me: madjac@tds.net


Conferences: Worth the Expense


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For the second-straight year, I have the good fortune of attending this year’s Greater Wisconsin EAPA Chapter Conference in Milwaukee. Like a lot of professionals, I know there is a lot to be gained from attending such events – networking and meeting new contacts, reacquainting oneself with previous attendees, and yes, sometimes drumming up more business.

Unfortunately, many employers only see the latter point as a worthwhile reason for going. You can’t blame them to a certain extent. It’s true that most work organizations are operating “lean and mean” these days, and so conferences are all too often seen as an unnecessary expense. They see events like these only as opportunities to be “order takers” for their products or services – and if the “orders” don’t look like they will offset expenses, it’s off the table. You’re not going. End of story.

They don’t “get” that professional conferences offer tremendous opportunities for face-to-face networking that will end up paying for itself many times over. But the value is often more intrinsic than financial in the beginning, and many employers won’t take that risk.

One of the reasons I left my former employer is because of how poorly networked I was in the other fields that I covered and wrote about, compared to how WELL connected I was with professionals working in employee assistance. It made no sense to me that I could have so many people to turn to for articles, suggestions for topics, and others, in one profession, and so FEW people to contact in other fields. It was literally a “disconnect.”

Perhaps even more important are the friendships you start building when you attend events face to face. Even in today’s online day and age, there is still nothing quite like meeting people in person. I have written about the importance of face to face before on this blog and so I’ll stop there, but suffice it to say that there is a big difference between having people to talk to about a given topic, than it is to simply google it.

If you have a reluctant boss, explain that while the event might not bring in a lot of money immediately, over the long haul the additional contacts will drive more business. If that isn’t enough to get you on a plane to XYZ city, if your personal finances allow it, go to an important conference out of your own pocket – but with the stipulation that if the contacts you meet at the event ends up bringing in enough business to justify your expenses, your employer reimburses you. What would he/she have to use?

Whether it’s called a conference, convention, institute, or roundtable, it’s been my experience that these events are well worth it. A forward thinking employer should think so, too.



Fake News, Biased News: Bad Journalism has Spread like a Wildfire

Sometimes fires are pretty small and can be put out pretty easily. In other cases, it’s a raging, wild beast that will take multiple firefighters, if not whole departments, to tame. In many cases, it need not have turned into a raging inferno, but it did.

Between fake news, biased news, and no news, the media has come under fire recently like never before. Unfortunately, much of it is deserved. As someone who’s been a practicing journalist for 30 years, here are what I see as some of the big problems today.

* News today is too instantaneous. While it’s possible to get a story “out there” much faster than I would have ever dreamed possible decades ago, today’s breakneck media pace often isn’t a good thing. Ryan Holiday, a media columnist and author of Ego is the Enemy, puts it this way: “You cannot have your news instantly and have it done well. You cannot have your news reduced to 140 characters or less without losing large parts of it.”

Let me read that sentence again. “You cannot have your news instantly and have it done well.” News takes time to gather, check facts, proofread, and have an editor look it over for grammar and context. But in today’s mad rush to fill the numerous news channels and electronic outlets, it’s more like write first, post first, and don’t worry about “that other stuff” (too messy, takes time you know). Besides, who remembers the ramifications of a story that was inaccurate or misleading? The people who were affected by it, that’s who…. But that’s “okay,” in the wild rush for a new scoop, who’s going to take the time to set the story straight, right?

* News today is far too biased. Even the most nonchalant reader has become aware that the majority of today’s media outlets are far too left leaning. This was something some friends of mine pointed out to me 20 years ago, when I was still working as a newspaper reporter. Naturally, I defended my profession and said they were full of hogwash. Today, the problem has only gotten worse, much worse, I dare say.

But it wasn’t always like that. In my day, an editor or J-school professor would not have accepted a story that didn’t have two sides to it. If you were talking to a Democratic candidate and you didn’t get the Republican’s point of view you didn’t have a story. Period. If you were under a really tight deadline, you “might” get away with saying something to the effect that…. “John Smith, Republican candidate for …. office, was not available for comment.” In that way, readers knew that you were at least trying to get a balanced story.

But purposely not seeking anyone else’s opinion was just that in the day, an op-ed piece, and not a news story. A heavily one-sided story would have gotten you a failing grade in a journalism class 30 years ago. I don’t know what they teach today. I shudder to think.

* Today’s journalists aren’t trusted. I’m not sure what the profession can do to get back the respect that used to come with being a reporter. Not that you didn’t louse up a story from time to time! Of course I did! It was embarrassing, humbling, but you said you were sorry, tried to learn from your mistake, and moved on.

And when a source told you something was off the record, you kept it that way because the information you got later on by honoring that request, even though you wanted to use the statement – boy, did you! – ended up being an even better treasure trove of info than the one nugget you wanted to use. The point is, you kept your word, and so while you may have gotten something wrong in a story from time to time, you were TRUSTED.

“In my opinion, the current state of journalism is a dumpster fire,” states Jim Rossi, writer, entrepreneur, and LinkedIn campus editor for UC Berkeley.

What’s being done to dump some water on this blaze? Nowhere near enough, I’m afraid.

Autism in the Workplace

April is Autism Awareness Month.

Individuals with autism vary widely in their abilities, challenges, and need of support. Not every person experiences every symptom. For some, holding on to any job is a challenge. Others are able to establish careers, although they often face significant struggles with communication throughout their working lives.

Although persons with autism are represented in all types of careers, the areas of high technology, technical writing, scientific and academic research, library science, and engineering make good use of their logic and analytical skills, excellent memory for facts, attention to detail, vast knowledge in specialized fields, and tolerance of routine.

Unfortunately, while the number of people diagnosed with autism increases each year, there are not enough quality programs designed to train adults with autism with real-world career skills. As a result, too many are either unemployed or working in menial jobs below their skill level.

Support is vital for adults with autism to remain successful and employed over time. Job coaches, mentors, liaisons – and/or an EAP – are needed to ensure that individuals with autism understand their jobs, and employers and co-workers grasp the unique needs of a colleague with autism.

Companies that have successfully hired and retained individuals with disabilities (including those with autism) include Walgreens, Glaxo Smith Kline, Clark Manufacturing, Outback Steakhouse, and CVS Pharmacy. Firms like these have developed programs so managers and employees alike can learn about the benefits of providing accommodations for workers with disabilities, such as autism.

Coding Autism is another such organization. To help adults with autism learn the fundamental skills necessary to secure an entry-level web developer job, Coding Autism recently announced a new program to train those with autism how to code.

To help fund the program, and allow contributors to provide for scholarships so that the entire 15-person first class can attend tuition-free, Coding Autism launched a crowdfunding campaign at: https://startsomegood.com/coding-autism-training-adults-with-autism-in-code.

Support is vital for adults with autism to remain successful and employed over time. Job coaches, mentors, liaisons – and/or an EAP – are needed to ensure that individuals with autism understand their jobs, and employers and co-workers grasp the unique needs of a colleague with autism.

Individuals with autism typically have social difficulties, therefore social aspects of workplace relationships are an important factor for support persons such as job coaches, EA professionals, and others to address.

Support must be tailored to the individual. Each adult with autism has different skills and challenges to overcome in the workplace. Adults with autism are a valuable sector of the workplace and with support can be very productive and valued employees.

In a day and age in which reliable, skilled help is too often in short supply, it is in management’s best interests to work effectively with persons with autism.

Resources include:

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families: https://www.autismspeaks.org

Job Accommodation Network (JAN) offers free information for individuals and employers on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues: www.askjan.org

Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support (OASIS) provides resources for individuals and medical professionals: www.aspergerssyndrome.org

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates charges of discrimination against employers: www.eeoc.gov


Just $8.25 an Issue – the Best Price Yet for Employee Assistance Report!

I am excited about  the changes to Employee Assistance Report (EAR), a publication  that has been providing practical, solution-focused articles for EA professionals for 20 years.  That is, EAR is  …. Going……… GREEN!

That means BIG savings!  The printed newsletter cost $229 a year, but a digital version is just $99 a year, and this  INCLUDES all of the inserts designed to increase utilization rates.… This is a $130 annual savings over the print version!

Topics in EAR include but are not limited to:

  • working together with HR
  • elder care
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  • the role of EAP in employee financial well-being
  • leading trends
  • workplace bullying
  • addiction and treatment, and many more.

AND…. if that isn’t enough, the $99 price for an e-subscription includes a FREE electronic ad that you can place each quarter. The “live” link ad can be used to promote areas such as, promoting your EAP’s services, an upcoming webinar, etc.

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Call 715-258-2448 or go online at … https://www.impact-publications.com/product/employee_assistance_report/EARN-EAR-Subscribe     (Scroll down to “EAR – Electronic Subscription”)

Thank you for your time. Hope to see you as a subscriber soon!

Diversity & Inclusion: Do We REALLY Know what it is?


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The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines diversity as: “the condition of having or being composed of differing elements.” Closely related is the term inclusion, defined as, “variety, especially: the inclusion of different types of people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.”

This is a good thing, right? Of course it is. Few, if any, people would argue with that. Wanda Thibodeaux, a contributor to eHow, puts it like this: “…Employers who strive for a diverse, inclusive workplace fare better than those who do not. Subsequently, diversity and inclusiveness in business is a major human resources topic.”

This is a true statement, no doubt. But is there a difference between an organizational policy and what is actually put into practice in the workplace? It would appear so.

“Typically when we talk about diversity and inclusion, the expectation is to check off a box so we have by-the-numbers diverse organizations and can tell people we have just that,” states Eric Termuende in his online article, “Why We Need to Talk About Diversity and Inclusion in a New Way.” “We tell the public that we value diversity and have people of varying backgrounds and ethnicities.”

This means that a workplace can have employees of different races, ethnicities, or a certain disability, but these individuals may not necessarily feel like they belong. Put another way, we can have diversity in a workplace, but not necessarily inclusion, which means such environments may – or may not – be great places to work.

People want to belong, to be part of a work family. Working next to a colleague of a different race or culture might be a good thing, but these individuals might not have any more than stuffy, impersonal relationships with each other. Case in point, a large publishing company I used to work at. The firm employed more than 400 people, but its location in a small town made it tough for HR to hire people of various races and ethnic backgrounds.

Even when they did, these persons typically didn’t work there long. It might have made HR feel good to ‘check off’ a certain race or culture on a box in a hiring application, but these folks sure didn’t fit in very well.

Even when they did, these persons typically didn’t work there long. It might have made HR feel good to “check off” a certain race or culture on a box in a hiring application, but these folks sure didn’t fit in very well. Bear in mind they weren’t discriminated against, just that living in a town with precious few non-Whites made it hard to relate to these people’s backgrounds. These individuals did not experience the same feeling of belonging that most people there did.

“Diversity” and “inclusion” goes beyond one’s gender or the color of one’s skin. It’s a more nebulous concept than that. For one thing, I think these ideas need to start with the organization’s leaders – bosses who are fair, nonjudgmental, not prejudiced, the type who practice what they preach. With leadership showing the way, true belonging can occur on all levels when values and beliefs are shared, and everyone feels accepted and welcomed.

This isn’t an easy process to be sure, but it’s been my experience that a diverse, inclusive company that goes beyond words and tolerance, and moves into action and genuine feelings of acceptance, is worth the time and effort. The company I worked at I mentioned earlier may not have been big on diversity, but it sure was WELCOMING and ACCEPTING.





The Role Gender Plays in Bullying


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What are the effects of having been subjected to workplace bullying? Do these effects differ between men and women?

Researchers studied 3,182 people in a variety of public and private organizations. They analyzed participants’ absentee history and mental health. A report on their study was published in the journal Labour Economics.

It revealed that bullying may have prolonged ramifications for both men and women, although the effects differ. Researchers found that men were more likely than women to leave the labor market due to bullying. Bullying also negatively affected male victims’ salary, suggesting workplace bullying may cause them to be overlooked for promotions and other opportunities to make more money.

Researchers found that men were more likely than women to leave the labor market due to bullying. … Women were more likely to use antidepressants.

Women who experienced bullying took double the sick leave of non-bullied workers and were more likely to use antidepressants.This suggests that the consequences of bullying in terms of negative health effects are long lasting. Men were more likely than women to report physical intimidation.

The results remained consistent even when researchers controlled for factors such as attachment to the labor market, personality, and previous history of sick leave.

A study conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) also revealed clear differences in bullying between genders. The vast majority of bullies are men (69%). Male perpetrators seem to prefer targeting women (57%) more than other men (43%). Women bullies were less “equitable” when choosing their targets for bullying. Women bullied women in 68% of cases. [In past WBI national Surveys, the woman-on-woman bullying percentages were similarly disproportionately high.]

In terms of gender and job loss, targets lose their jobs at a much higher rate than perpetrators (82% vs. 18%). When bullies are men regardless of the targets gender the loss rate is equally high. However, when bullies are women, women targets lose their jobs 89% of the time. Also, women bullies, as perpetrators, suffer the highest job loss rate (30%) of any gender pairing.

To learn more, go to http://www.workplacebullying.org/2014-gender/

Regardless of the specifics, it’s clear that workplace bullying is an all-too-common workplace problem, and much more needs to be done about it.


Doing Your Part to Cultivate Civil Dialogue


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By Terry Paulson, Guest Blogger

In The National, Joseph Dana wrote: “Social media encourages aggressive discourse. The louder one is on Twitter, for example, the more followers and attention one receives. The more dramatic the update on Facebook, the more ‘likes’ it will get. Given the brevity of Twitter and its inherent commodification of discourse, deep discussion is discouraged. As such, social media provides the illusion of empowering users when in fact it merely entrenches their views, silos them with like-minded people and encourages rude exchanges with adversaries.”

As Jeff Daly reminds us, “Two monologues do not make a dialogue.” It takes two to tango, and two to have a responsible civil discussion about tough topics. You don’t control others, but you can take responsibility for your own actions.

Dr. Eunice Parisi-Carew, author of Collaboration Begins with You, writes, “The key to handling conflict is to make sure people understand it’s okay to have an opposing view.” America isn’t best defined as a melting pot that boils away our differences. It might better be described as a crockpot that when different ingredients are carefully mixed and cooked together produces an unforgettable stew!

If your goal is to win the argument, you are setting yourself up for a frustrating exchange. Certainly, we want to influence others to consider our position, but as important is fostering better clarity on any difficult issue.

The tough issues that tend to fuel conflict are there because there are two sides worthy of consideration. If your goal is to win the argument, you are setting yourself up for a frustrating exchange. Certainly, we want to influence others to consider our position, but as important is fostering better clarity on any difficult issue. Here are some guidelines on how you can do your part to sustain a meaningful civil disagreement:

 Be an Interested Listener First: Stephen Covey’s Cardinal Law described in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People states: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Give others the courtesy of listening and working to accurately restate their position rather than immediately launching into attempting to destroy their argument.

 Be Pro-Voice: Being pro-voice means putting your focus on what you are for. Aspen Baker, author of Pro-Voice: How to Keep Listening When the World Wants a Fight, said, “I want a future abortion conversation known for its openness, respect and empathy, so instead of generating more heat, anger and conflict, I practice pro-voice.” Use “I” statements to be assertively pro-voice on any issue without belittling the other side. With ongoing meaningful dialogue, look to clarify differences and identify the common ground on which you can agree.

 Avoid Dismissive Comments, Name-calling, and Inflammatory Rhetoric: Beyond the unflattering caricatures are real people who deserve respect. Trade communication stoppers like “That’s true, but…,” “Are you kidding/serious?” or “If you were informed…” for dialogue enhancers like “Tell me more,” “What else can you tell me?” or “I’d love to hear what you think about….” The words you use matter.

 Stay Cool and In Control: Thomas Jefferson wisely counsels, “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” Avoid emotional escalation by keeping your volume lower, your expression approachable, and your tone assertive instead of aggressive.

 Do Your Homework! Seek relevant facts and work together to resolve factual disagreements whenever possible. Solicit and consider input from a variety of stakeholders and sources.

 Humbly Admit When You’re Wrong: Adlai Stevenson said: “Man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that sometimes he has to eat them.” Be open to someone challenging your point of view or your relevant facts. Be able to admit what you don’t know but are willing to explore. Being able to admit mistakes strengthens your cause by showing an openness to thoughtful feedback.

 Use the Humor Advantage! By keeping it light, you can defuse tension, help everyone keep perspective, and build rapport even when you disagree. The safest target for your humor is always yourself and your own position.

By keeping it light, you can defuse tension, help everyone keep perspective, and build rapport even when you disagree.

 End Frustrating Conversations with Dignity: Kenny Rogers sings wisdom: “You gotta know when to hold them, and know when to fold them.” Take distance with dignity instead of pushing for victory. Be able to say with a smile, “It’s clear we disagree, and thank God we live in a country where we’re free to do that and still respect each other. You’ve given me a lot to think about. But for now, I’m calling a time out to do more thinking and a little less arguing.” Forcing closure often hardens positions while giving time to percolate often softens dissension.

Senator John McCain reminds us of what Americans should never forget: “(Our disagreements) should remain an argument among friends who share an unshaken belief in our great cause and the goodness of each other. We are Americans first, Americans last and Americans always! Let us argue over our differences but remember that we are not enemies but comrades in a war against a real enemy and take courage from the knowledge our military superiority is matched only by the superiority of our ideals and our unconquerable love for them.”

 Join us at www.MakeAmericaCivilAgain.com. We’re bringing people together from both sides of our political divide to foster civil dialogue. Add your pro-voice comments.

 Terry Paulson, PhD, is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author, political columnist and commentator. This post originally appeared on Townhall.com and is re-used with the author’s permission. For more information on Dr. Paulson, visit his site at www.terrypaulson.com

Do Playground Bullies Become Workplace Bullies?


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Could some of the bullies who stole our lunch money be the same bullies who belittle and antagonize us in the workplace? Could be, say some experts. “When a person has low EQ, or Emotional Quotient, and they do little to improve their EQ, it is very likely that they could become, or perceived as, a bully,” says Paula Marshall, CEO of the Bama Companies.

Another similarity between school place and workplace bullying is the fact it does not have to be face to face to be effective. “In fact, it is common for such patterns to escalate from being delivered face to face to other types of communications,” states NoBullying.com “Emails, text and phone messages, social media posts, and other written and verbal messages can be just as devastating as those delivered to your face.”

Indeed – bullying of the physical variety was tough enough in school – I cannot imagine how much more difficult it would have been if my tormentor could have lashed out at me via electronic media. In my day, “all” I had to do was run home as fast as I could from John, get in my house, slam the door, and boom…. Problem solved – at least for the time being.

Actually, I was kidding myself to a large extent. Regardless of where one is (home, school or work), or at what age (child, teen or adult), the effects of bullying are often similar: anxiety, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating, for starters.

If it goes on long enough, a lack of confidence and self-esteem may also result. I think this is where my childhood tormentor “had me” more than I probably realized at the time. I needed to confront John, or at least receive help to do so, but my antagonist was able to frighten me into not seeking help. “You’d BETTER not say anything!”

Scared, and lacking the confidence to deal with his behavior, these antagonistic incidents went on much longer than they needed to, if I had the wherewithal to have done something about it.

Put another way, if you – or someone you know – is being bullied in the workplace, I would not assume this person knows how, or is able to, address the situation. The employee might well need HELP.

Unfortunately, these types of problems are much more common than many people may realize. A 2008 study from the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) revealed that more than one-third (37%) of Americans reported being victims of bullying.

According to the WBI, bullying can take numerous different forms, including the following:

* Being assigned the impossible task of doing a good job without the proper time or training.

* Undermining your efforts to get your job done by deleting paper or electronic files, or not informing you about important work-related calls and emails.

* Receiving snide comments about your appearance, background or lifestyle.

* Accusing you of things you didn’t do.

* Trying to discredit you or turn others against you.

* Constantly interrupting you so you can’t get any work done.

What to do? The next step will vary from person to person, but one thing is for sure: Don’t underestimate the value of your mental, physical, and emotional health in times of extreme stress.

Next, seek the help of a great resource on the matter such as the aforementioned WBI – www.workplacebullying.org

Also, noted bullying expert and author Catherine Mattice, http://civilitypartners.com

Good luck.

References used in this article:

NoBullying.com (2015). It’s not just a teen problem: Bullying in the workplace. Retrieved from https://nobullying.com/its-not-just-a-teen-problem-bullying-in-the-workplace

Symbleme, C. (n.d.) Bullying: From the playground to the office and how to deal with it. Retrieved from http://www.lifehack.org/articles/work/bullying-from-the-playground-the-office-and-how-deal-with.html



Polarizing Politics: Respect is Key


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is It’s lunchtime and you’re taking a work break by logging onto Facebook. Only instead of relaxing, you get perturbed when you see yet another post from your colleague “Jane” that criticizes politician John Doe’s approval of XYZ Pipeline. “That’s the third time she slammed him this week!” you angrily think to yourself. “Doesn’t she have anything else to do but dwell on his faults?”

12:30 quickly rolls around, and it’s time to get back to work. Except you’re finding it hard to concentrate because you are still upset about what Jane posted. “I thought I knew her better than that!” you think. (Maybe you didn’t – more on that later.)

Sound familiar? If so, you’re hardly alone. As reported by author Dave Crenshaw, a recent study by Better Works researched political polarization and its effects on productivity, and it revealed some disturbing trends. According to the survey of 500 companies, 87% of workers reported reading and getting involved in highly charged social media discussions. Further, 50% of employees reported witnessing a political conversation turn into a verbal jousting match on company time.

That isn’t the worst of it: Roughly one-third (29%) of US workers say that their productivity has decreased since the November presidential election. What to do? I have a few suggestions:

* Get over the idea that you won’t talk politics, so be prepared. It’s been zippersaid many times that it isn’t a good idea to talk religion or politics in various social settings. The problem is, this is much easier said than done! One approach is to never assume you know how your co-workers feel about a certain candidate, politician, or issue. For instance, it isn’t a good idea to stroll up to the water cooler and launch into, “Did you see what that dumbbell GOP…. said yesterday! I mean, how stupid can he be?”  …

….Instead, try a more neutral stance such as…“Boy that was sure some controversy that candidate….was involved in yesterday!” In this way, you introduce a topic that you know is likely on other people’s minds, but you discover what THEY think first. Now, you can decide if you want to join in a conversation, or play it safe and just listen to what they say. If someone wants YOUR opinion, you might note: “Sorry, I really haven’t given this enough thought to offer a really solid opinion.”

 * Above all, show respect for other people’s opinions. Whatever you do, don’t put the other person on the defensive by attacking their beliefs. Calling someone names or challenging things they hold dear is not likely to go well. Maybe Jane was upset over the pipeline being approved, but don’t call her a “tree hugger.”…

… If you are on the other side of the issue, you might say something like, “Jane, I read your post on Facebook about XYZ Pipeline, and I never quite thought of it from that point of view. You have given me something to think about.”

….This way, you are paving the road for more civil discourse or simply to “agree to disagree.” Hopefully, you will both leave feeling like you are both a little more open to “listening” to the other point of view…. A very important quality in the business world….

Some excellent advice from Dave Crenshaw is also at https://learning.linkedin.com/blog/working-together/here_s-how-to-focus-at-work-despite-political-polarization.

Moral of the story: Political discussion isn’t going away any time soon, even at work, but be careful: If you want someone to respect your opinion on a given issue, you have to respect theirs.