Written by: Anna Izzi, Access Center Counselor
Employee stress is a rising point of focus for organizations. 75% of US workers consider their jobs to be stressful. Studies have outlined the consequences of a stressed out workforce, which include:
- Lower productivity
- Higher healthcare costs
- Disability costs
- Substance abuse
- Lower organization wide productivity
- Lower profits
- Negative impacts on organizational culture
In addition, workplace stress is estimated to cost US based industries greater than $300 billion dollars annually. A Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine study reported that healthcare costs for employees impacted by stress can be up to 46% higher than that of the unstressed. Work days missed by employees struggling with a stress and stress related disorders is up to 4 times higher than for other medical issues according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
Perspectives Ltd gathered data from over 350 of their customer organizations having Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services. This data was collected between November 2013 – November 2014 and found that 41.1% of the issues addressed by the EAP had a relationship with stress. For a company with 1000 employees this can translate to an average of $110 per employee or $110,000 spent annually on EAP services.
Stick around for Part 3 of Mindfulness & Stress when we go into what contributes to employee stress. Catch up on part 1, or to get more information regarding this white paper, please email JEisler@perspectivesltd.com.
Written by: Jonathan Eisler, Director of Perspectives Organizational Consulting Group
What are your top priorities? When asked this question, it’s rare to hear someone mention themselves in their top 5. Of course this is no surprise given the value that society places on family, careers and putting others before oneself. However, if we take a minute to think about this, what value are we to our employer, those we care about, those we serve or our career objectives, if we’re dead? Okay, ‘being dead’ may be an extreme example, but the point is made.
Fortunately, throughout our recent client experiences, Perspectives is seeing that not only individuals, but organizations are starting to ‘get’ this key concept. There’s always been a plethora of personal diets and exercise routines fading in and out, but think about the recent rise of corporate wellness initiatives, the financial incentives health insurance providers offer for healthy practices, and even government mandated transparency regarding nutritional values of food. This tells us that organizations of all kinds are looking at the long-term financial impact of an unhealthy workforce/population and the short-term impact poor health has on productivity and operations.
Since 2008, Perspectives has seen a rise in organizations struggling with the need to do, or produce, more with fewer resources available. To this end, companies often embark on a journey to revamp their approach to management/leadership, implement a wellness program, provide their employees with access to personal resources and/or restructure altogether. All of these solutions have their place in various landscapes, but as norms change and historically generation-specific preferences permeate more and more of society, we must look at what can be done to empower individuals to tackle what’s at the root of most health related issues: STRESS!
In this series of blog posts, we’ll explore one solution that has been shown to reduce stress; the practice of mindfulness. As we’ll outline, mindfulness can positively impact workforce performance and lead to increased organizational effectiveness.
“’Men spend their health in search of wealth, they work their fingers to the bone; then spend their wealth in search of health, and all they get is the stone.’ My mother use to recite this poem to me as a child and the ideology has stuck with me throughout my entire life.” –Jonathan Eisler
Stick around for Part 2 of Mindfulness & Stress where we will touch on why workplace stress matters. To get more information regarding this white paper, please email JEisler@perspectivesltd.com.
Written by: Bernie Dyme
One month ago, Andreas Lubitz, a pilot for Lufthansa’s Germanwings airline, flew a commercial airliner into a mountain and killed 197 passengers. In the days that followed, we learned that Lubitz may have used this to commit suicide. Further, we have also learned that he had a history of depression and that Lufthansa’s Germanwings airline knew about it as early as 2009.
So, what happened and what could have been done to prevent this?
We may never know for sure but what is clear to me, is that this pilot was suffering from depression and was in need of assistance. What makes this situation even more difficult is that this pilot had been entrusted with the safety of a flight full of people.
Identification is the key, as it always is, but we need to step back a bit and try to understand why this doesn’t happen as much as it should. In the Germanwings incident, if the company knew about this young man’s depression and suicidal tendencies, why did they not take a more active stance in helping him? It begs the question of how actively Germanwings promotes open discussion of mental health and makes it okay to seek help. If that openness does not exist, then employees’ shame might prevent them from taking care of themselves. It could also be related to fear. If one fears that his or her job is in jeopardy, then what will motivate that individual to seek help? Why are we so afraid to open up the lines of communication and create workplaces that allow folks whom are suffering to seek the assistance they need? If you are diagnosed with cancer, you may need to get some time off but there is always the hope that, with help and recovery, you may someday return to work. Yet with depression and other mental health conditions, we have a different standard.
In the U. S., Gallup (2013) found “an average 12% of all workers nationwide say they have been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lifetime, and about half of those (representing 6.1% of all U.S. workers) are currently being treated for depression”.
As employers, we need to overcome our biases against mental health and educate our workplaces so that folks feel okay about seeking help. All the fear about violating the ADA or other legal ramifications should not stop us from doing the right thing. And by the way, the right thing is also good for business. According to the University of Michigan’s Depression Center, depression is one of the most costly conditions for American employers costing $44 billion per year (lost productivity, absenteeism and presenteeism). Further, employees are scared to report for fear that they will lose their jobs. Ahh, the perfect storm.
So, how do we fix this problem? Well, it isn’t easy but there are two (2) things that employers can do.
- Have leadership. Communicate that mental health issues are like any other medical malady and that when they experience issues, they should seek help. In other words, MAKE IT OKAY TO REPORT IT.
- Use and promote your Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Combining depression screening tools with referrals to an effective EAP have shown to more than offset the costs mentioned earlier.
If we can do this and create workplaces free of the stigma of reporting mental health issues, we may be able to avoid the kinds of incidents like Germanwing, create higher functioning and productive workplaces and increase employee retention rates. Now doesn’t that sound like a good business strategy?
Written by: Jonathan Eisler Director of Perspectives Organizational Consulting Group
As I was talking with an old friend the other day about how the improving economy has impacted her job as a sales manager, her response reminded me of something we’re starting to see across the majority of our client organizations. She mentioned that the 2015 performance expectations that were handed down to her team exceeded the pre-2008 numbers, but her company is keeping her team at 2/3rds what it was in 2007 with no intent of adding headcount.
For business leaders, the tough economic times meant they had to figure out how to scrape by with minimal resources. Now as the market is improving the business landscape is changing and how business is done must evolve as well. The smart leaders are realizing the benefit to the organization’s bottom line if they can effectively enable their people to do more with less. As we all know, change is never easy, and unfortunately, even when done strategically, it is the employees, frontline workers and often the customer who feel this pain the most.
Rather than designing a large scale change management or organizational effectiveness intervention, I knew that what my friend needed in the moment were a few pointers that she could take back to her team on Monday.
Throughout our conversation, I noticed a few primary pain points that my friend, her team and her colleagues were feeling, given the shift they were in the midst of. Overall, the new expectations of work were force fed to them which causes frustration and resentment and little guidance was given regarding how they were going to accomplish what was expected and who exactly would do what.
After further dialogue, we ended the conversation with my friend having 3 things she was going to start doing on Monday morning.
Bring her people into the solution design process.
While she, nor her team, had the authority to change the expectations that were handed down, she could eliminate some of the resistance she was experiencing by working with her team to explore how they were going to adjust to the new landscape. This approach will help her team put some ‘skin in the game’ which will ultimately increase their motivation for changing how things are done while identifying the most effective ways to reach their goals. Think process redesign from a ‘bottom-up’ vs. ‘top-down’ approach.
Spread the workload evenly.
This was a tougher one for my friend because she was concerned that the lower performers may not be able to handle the tasks handed down or the higher-stake responsibilities that the higher performers could manage. However, if she holds people accountable, it won’t take long until the low performers either up their game or find a new job. While daunting at first, if implemented this approach will keep her top performers from burning out while increasing the overall effectiveness of her team.
Help them prioritize.
This realization brought implications that go both ways for my friend. She needed to seek input from her superiors regarding the priority level of the things she was being tasked with while at the same time helping her team prioritizes what she was handing down. Given the pure magnitude of everyone’s workload, we agreed that at times, it made the most sense to rank order tasks for her team while asking them to immediately ask for her input if they felt they were being pulled in multiple directions.
As we parted ways, it looked as if my friend was walking away a bit taller than she was when we first started chatting. To top it off, on Monday evening I received an up-beat note from her describing the collective sigh of relief she felt amongst her team as they started to implement the above 3 things during their Monday morning pow-wow.
Doing more with less is not easy, but if management implements the above 3 points, employees will be more likely to go above and beyond in their work today while freeing leadership up a bit more to focus on tomorrow.
Click here to read about one of the ways Perspectives Organizational Consulting Group has helped design and implement plans that enable organizations to maximize their performance without requiring massive investments in additional resources.
Written by: Sara DePasquale, Marketing Coordinator
National Alcohol Screening Day (NASD) is an outreach, education, and screening initiative that helps raise awareness about alcohol abuse and alcoholism; both of which are recognized disorders that can be treated.
On this day, anyone interested in being screened can attend one of the screening centers across the United States. Not sure where to go? Check out your local colleges, community-based organizations and military installations as they provide the program to the public. When you visit a center, you will be asked to complete a written self-assessment about your alcohol use. Health care professionals at the centers will then tailor advice to the person concerned.
If you would like to take the Alcohol Screening test online- you will be asked to answer a couple of questions that will then give you personalized results based on your age, gender and drinking patterns to see if the way you drink or the amount of alcohol you consume affects your health.
Please visit: http://www.alcoholscreening.org/Home.aspx to take the screening, or if you are a client, log in using your login and password, hover your cursor on Balancing on the top tab, click on Addiction/Recovery and you should see the Alcohol Screening. If you have any questions regarding alcohol abuse or alcoholism, please visit www.perspectivesltd.com or if you are having problems accessing this screening email email@example.com for more information.
Written by: Adria Passey, Executive Assistant
Much to my family’s surprise, the last time we went out for dinner I ordered a huge steak. No salad, no soup, just a large medium rare piece of cow. I feed my kids a steady diet of fruit, vegetables and beans or lentils, with the occasional side of chicken or turkey. We like eggs too. I rarely cook meat and think no meal is complete without at least 3 vegetable dishes. I was raised vegetarian, so luckily my idea of comfort food is brown rice and sautéed veggies, since that was what my mother fed me.
They are used to this, and sort of consider our family to be vegetarian, if only because I make them eat so many vegetables. But like I told my youngest daughter, you can’t actually call yourself a vegetarian if you eat cheeseburgers, which we also do on occasion. She really likes her occasional cheeseburger. And being Chicagoans, there is no way we are willing to commit to never having hot dogs or a nice Polish sausage with grilled onions.
It turns out there is a term for the way my family eats. Apparently we are “flexitarians,” and we are not alone. According to the US News and World Report, eating flexitarian is an effective and relatively easy way to reap the benefits of vegetarianism, which are many, without depriving yourself of meat. The idea is to add things to your diet, not take anything away. The emphasis is on vegetables, fruits and whole grains, with meat as an accent instead of the focus.
Eating vegetarian or flexitarian can help everyone. Benefits include:
- Cardiovascular: A high fiber, plant based diet helps keep cholesterol and blood pressure levels low naturally, and plant proteins have way less fat than animal proteins.
- Weight loss: A little meat and a lot of veggies is an easy way to control or lose weight, without feeling the pains of being denied anything.
- Energy levels: Many people report that a vegetarian or flexitarian diet gives them increased energy and stamina. As a runner, I know I perform better when I am not weighed down by lots of meat.
Written by: Sara DePasquale, Marketing Coordinator
National Doctors’ Day is held every year on March 30th and is a day to celebrate the impact of physicians who serve our country by caring for its citizens. National Doctor’s Day is honored in a couple different ways. One way is that some hospitals and employers offer luncheons, gifts, or pampering them with spa treatments. Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is giving you the option to send your doctor a gift to say ‘Thank You’.
As an EAP provider, Perspectives would like to honor and say ‘Thank you’ to all of the doctors out there. We appreciate the treatment and care you provide your patients and their family. Let’s face it; doctors are the ones who keep us well, who help us when we’re sick and do so many other things for our society and so for that, we thank you!
We also know that being a doc is no easy job and the stress thereof can impact their quality of life and may distract from the original reasons these heroes decided to get involved in caring for others. Therefore it’s no surprise this stress may ultimately impact the doctor’s behavior, the quality of their working relationships and even the care they provide their patients. The good news is that once self-awareness is fostered and interpersonal skills are further developed, we often see these docs do a 180° as they get back on track and are able to do what they are passionate about; caring for us!
If you would like more about support services for the heroes we’re celebrating today, please visit https://www.perspectivesltd.com/disruptive-professional-coaching.aspx, contact Jonathan Eisler at JEisler@PerspectivesLtd.com or to get any further information on EAP’s go to https://www.perspectivesltd.com/.
Written by, Bernie Dyme, AM, LCSW
“Oh no, not again,” I said to my wife. It seems that another year has passed and it’s Oscar time. About 3 weeks ago, we began the process of watching all of the Oscar nominated movies so we would be ready for the big show. I must admit that although I enjoy the movies, the actual Academy Awards show does not get me all that excited. It used to, but it has become too much fluff and (sorry) fashion, a subject that doesn’t interest me much.
So, I did what I do every year and began the marathon of movie-going. But this year I was pleasantly surprised by both the movies and the actual Academy Awards show. Not only were the movies relevant but many of them dealt with mental health or related issues. Now, anyone who has read my blog posts in the past should be aware of my constant push to bring mental health issues to the forefront, especially in the workplace. Well, this year many of the movies did just that. Here are the movies and what they dealt with:
- “The Imitation Game“ was about Alan Turing who broke the code that contributed to the Allies beating the Nazis in WWII. But a bigger part of the story is that he was prosecuted for being a homosexual which was a criminal act in Britain and subsequently lead to his suicide.
- “Whiplash“, a very intense movie dealing with the relationship between a sadistic, overcritical music teacher at a famous music conservatory and his students who he is very abusive to. The movie focuses on his relationship with an ambitious young percussion student and the mental anguish that he causes him. Again, suicide is mentioned (but I won’t tell too much as you might not have seen the movie yet.) Suffice it to say that although the music is outstanding, the movie hits some very painful notes.
- “Birdman also called The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance“ is a movie about an actor trying to recreate his career while having to struggle with his self-esteem, and comes to grips with a failed family while dealing with a daughter who is fresh out of rehab and another look at suicide.
- “The Theory of Everything“ looks at the life of Stephen Hawkings as he deals with a degenerative disease, ALS, and while showing remarkable strength and resilience, has to deal with all of the emotional ordeals that accompany such a disease.
- “Still Alice”, which is the story of a very accomplished professor dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and the effects on her and her family. Suicide again comes up.
- “Boyhood” is a movie about a family that goes through a divorce and the effects it has on the family. It deals with divorce, blended families, domestic violence and the trials and tribulations of adolescence to name a few things.
Seeing this batch of movies surprised me but I was still not looking forward to the Oscar show. However, I was pleasantly surprised. At the show, Dana Perry, who won an Academy award for Best Documentary Short Subject for Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1″, mentioned her son’s suicide and stated directly that we should all talk about suicide. Yes, we should and thank you Dana Perry for putting that out there for millions of viewers all over the world to see. Maybe this will open the door a bit more.
Finally, Graham Moore won the award for The Imitation Game and in his acceptance speech told everyone of how at 16 years old, he tried to kill himself because he felt weird and different. He then made a declarative plea for all to have tolerance for those who are different and keep hope up when feeling down.
All good stuff if it begins a process of opening the door and letting out the secrets we keep about mental illness. This can only help those who are reluctant or ashamed of admitting their emotional or mental health concerns and who therefore don’t ask for help. It can also help us all deal with acceptance of differences and tolerance in lifestyles unlike our own, be they sexual orientation, religion or national origin.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, please talk to someone or encourage others to get help. Employers, work to create a culture that allows and encourages others to do just that. And if you need any help in doing this, feel free to contact me or anyone on the Perspectives Ltd team and I will be glad to get you the resources necessary to help.
Written by: Terry Cahill Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Principal
The struggle to balance work, family, and finances is commonly referred to in articles about employee stress, often with a mention of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and how they can help employees balance their lives. However, these issues apply just as surely to college and university students. Some may think of college/university days as carefree, but many students are juggling jobs and family pressures along with academic responsibilities. This is especially true with returning undergraduates or graduate students. Student Assistance Programs, similar to EAP’s, provide students with the resources and support they need to succeed.
Over the past six months, Perspectives has implemented three Student Assistance Programs (SAP) to assist students who are juggling academic, family and financial pressures. These SAP’s vary depending on the student body’s needs. Students who are attending mainly online curriculum receive support through 24/7 phone counseling and online resources. Students who spend a great deal of time on campus, such as medical students, are often supported with on-site counseling staff. Regardless of program model, most SAP programs include:
- Unlimited toll-free 24/7 access to masters-level counselors to students for counseling and to leaders for crisis intervention and appointment scheduling
- Assessment, goal-focused counseling, referral (where appropriate for psychiatric, child care, elder care, financial, legal and other services) and follow up for free for students
- Unlimited access to robust online services, including but not limited to online skill building courses, online mental health and assessments, WorkLife webinars, financial calculators, child/elder care databases in addition to content for emotional well-being, and wellness
- Collaborative relationships with college/university leadership, such as Deans and Student Support Services in order to communicate the availability of the SAP and consult around specific student cases that may need to be referred to SAP
- Program promotion through appropriate channels, including delivery of student orientations, participation in the student health/wellness committees, participation in appropriate college/university events
- Provision of onsite/webinar/online WorkLife/Wellness seminars in stress management, managing finances, time management and other seminars designed to support student success
- Provision of Critical Incident Stress Debriefing groups for students in the event of uncommon unpredictable traumatic events
Employees aren’t the only people who sometimes need support in balancing their various responsibilities. College and university students can sometimes use support as well. To get more information on SAP’s, feel free to contact Terry Cahill or visit, www.perspectivesltd.com for more information.
Written by: Jonathan Eisler Director of Perspectives Organizational Consulting Group
When our internal newsletter went around last week, I was happily surprised when I saw that my two-year anniversary had just passed. Two years already? Wow, I guess it’s true when they say “time flies when you’re having fun.” If you’ve been keeping up with my past posts here, you’re well aware that seeing others happy is a big driver for me, but after the reminder in last week’s newsletter, I took some time over the weekend to reflect on why these past two years have been ‘fun’ for me.
Throughout this reflection, three salient points surfaced as to the drivers of my happiness during these past couple of years:
- Being a part of an organization that aligns with my personal values
Since day one at Perspectives, I’ve appreciated the fact that our focus is always on the best outcomes for our clients vs. simply how they can use what we offer in-house and that it’s completely acceptable to refer prospects/clients out. I’ve witnessed the fact that Perspectives’ goal is to establish and maintain long-term relationships with our clients vs. strictly focusing on short-term gains. Both of these approaches align with my core values of selflessly supporting others while not getting blinded by shortsightedness.
- The opportunity for continual development and growth
Complacency, or “drifting,” is an idea/concept/approach that I have never been able to relate to. So thankfully the continually changing landscape of the client work that I am involved in fosters exposure to new challenges and opportunities that require collaboration, innovation and assimilation of new information.
- Seeing the impact of the work I do
The consultants that I collaborate with and the clients that we serve provide daily reminders of the impact that I am a part of. For example, we’re privileged to have witnessed a department cut their turnover in half by helping them revamp their on-boarding process. Recently I heard that a Director who had been put on a performance improvement plan (PIP) has now been promoted to a VP position following coaching services we provided. And whether getting the news that an education institution was able to retain specific accreditation credentials, and therefore $40+ million in revenue, as a result of an initiative we facilitated to revamp the culture within a department or knowing that a client HR Department is now being able to better focus on strategic initiatives given the reduction in tactical management questions they’ve received following our Front Line Supervisor Training Program, I am continually reminded that what I do is for something so much bigger than myself, my department or even my employer.
While the explanation behind the above points is definitely personal, the three drivers they relate to are universal. Time and time again we’ve seen organizational performance skyrocket when employers understand these concepts and take the time to bring the right people on board, ensure employees have opportunities to grow personally and professionally and directly link the work of each employee to the mission, or output, of the organization.
Do you want your organization, department or team to perform at a higher level than they currently are? If your employees don’t feel an affinity to your organization perhaps your approach to recruiting, selection or on-boarding needs revisiting. If your retention is not what you’d like it to be, maybe your people need some stretch assignments, cross-training or professional development opportunities (it’s not always about career ladders). If engagement, innovation or initiative is lacking, take time to speak with your people about why your company exists and explore with them how their responsibilities are directly linked to the desired end goal.
Take the time to assess how you and your organization are doing in relation to these three drivers of employee happiness. If you’re not responsible for others at your company, take responsibility for yourself and sit down with your supervisor to discuss where you fall in relation to these drivers. Trust me; the return will totally justify the investment in the long run for you as the employee and the organization as the employer.
Smart people learn from their experiences and wise people learn from others, so take these three lessons that this one guy learned over the past two years and watch time fly as fun is fostered!
To get more information regarding anything discussed here, email Jonathan Eisler at JEisler@perspectivesltd.com or visit https://www.perspectivesltd.com/knowledgecenter/perspectives-organizational-consulting-group.aspx.