Helping Our Employees- Should We Lead a Horse to Water?

Sometimes we are aware that someone we work with or supervise is struggling with a personal or work- related problem. We may not know if it is appropriate to inquire about the situation.  Nonetheless, employees often struggle in silence which sometimes leads to a reduction in their work productivity, motivation and concentration among other workplace and personal difficulties.

Why are so many people silent about their struggles? More importantly, why don’t employees access help from an EAP professional when it is easily available?  The following are thoughts that EAP clients have admitted to having about reaching out for help at one time or another.

“I can’t imagine how I could be helped. “

“If it gets really bad, I will call.”

“It’s this other person in my life that really has the problem. Not me.”

“I’m not sure if my problem is appropriate for EAP.”

“I’m concerned about looking weak and about confidentiality.”

“Talking to someone about my problem is acknowledging my problem.”

Of course, there are many reasons why people don’t reach out for professional help. Furthermore, people don’t always have insight about why they don’t reach out.  Too often they attempt to avoid their pain and put aside taking care of themselves.

How do you encouraging employees in need to obtain EAP assistance?

(1) Don’t be afraid to acknowledge feelings at work.  Do a “check-in” with employees about how they are doing overall and regardless of the response, don’t forget to follow-up with them again, at a later time.  It’s not unusual for employees to feel that no one cares when no one genuinely asks how they are doing.  Empathy and personal connection can go a long way toward helping someone recognize their need for further support.

(2) Recommending EAP can simply involve inviting an employee to look into the service without committing to a face-to face appointment.  Calling and consulting with a professional counselor about how EAP can specifically help with a given situation is always welcome at HelpPeople.

(3) Having promotional materials posted and placed in areas that are easily accessible to all employees is a helpful reminder of available EAP assistance.

(4) Encourage supervisors and managers to utilize EAP as a career tool through consultation with EAP via telephone or in person for help with managing employee issues.

(5) Normalize EAP by talking openly in meetings and other gatherings about how employees on all levels use the service for confidential help for all different types of on and off the job struggles. This takes away some of the stigma attached to accessing professional help when needed.

Everyone has personal or work related problems at some time in their life. Many can benefit from professional assistance.  HelpPeople clinicians have a broad knowledge and experience in the mental health and substance use fields.  They utilize a variety of therapeutic skills and short-term interventions to assist employees and their family members.  It is our mission at HelpPeople to empower people to make positive shifts toward healing from their struggles.