Historically, employee assistance programs (EAP) address the needs of employees involving their ability to perform their job. They are often voluntary and offer some level of counseling aid, whether directly or through referrals. If the employer offers decent benefits, then the EAP could extend to every member of the employee’s family. An EAP’s intent is that a happy and healthy employee makes a productive and engaged one. However, EAPs often fall short. They either do not address the holistic needs of an employee altogether or the assistance provided isn’t sufficient. There’s also the possibility that employees aren’t even aware of the program and what assistance is provided; therefore, the program goes overlooked and underutilized. I think it’s time to revamp the employee assistance program and bring it into the year 2022. Here’s why. Employees are living with unaddressed trauma that is usurped by more trauma daily. Social media has given us the ability to view news and trending topics at our fingertips, so when one part of the world experiences something we all collectively experience it. And while a secondary experience isn’t the same as directly experiencing an event, that doesn’t mean that we all don’t collectively walk around with the heaviness of the world on our shoulders. While at work we’re expected to compartmentalize that heaviness away, but at what expense? What do employees want in an employee assistance program? A great EAP addresses all the needs of the employee. A quick way to assess whether your program is up to par is to evaluate whether your EAP provides relief from what’s happening globally. Does your program address the grief that employees are facing from loved ones passing from COVID? What programs address the weight gain some employees have put on since the pandemic started? What about the PTSD employees may be facing from the war in Ukraine? How are you alleviating the financial stress employees are facing with rising inflation? Are you requiring employees to return to the office but not providing childcare assistance? Most EAPs will refer an employee to an outside source. The downside to this is that the employee still must do their due diligence to choose the source that best fits their needs and there’s typically a cost associated with the service. If the service is associated with insurance, there may be a limit on how often the employee can use that service. Is there a better way to meet the needs of employees? I think there is. I think there’s a better way to address the needs of employees while eliminating employee costs for additional services. The solution is to bring as many services as possible in-house. What does that mean? That means that instead of offering counseling referrals, hire a therapist to work onsite or virtually. That therapist, or more depending on your headcount, will provide free confidential sessions to your employees. If you’re requiring your employees to work onsite, then provide an onsite daycare. Do you have employees that want to be healthier? Add a nutritionist and personal trainer to your roster. Do you have employees who want to process their trauma, in addition to therapy? Offer trauma-informed yoga. Do you offer professional development coaching to your executives? Extend that to all employees. Maybe an employee doesn’t want a coach but wants to grow professionally. Offer them free Udemy courses. What if they want other resources to learn? Then offer them free Kindle books. Is your employee feeling the added financial stress from rising prices? What if your employee is now a part of the sandwich generation and they’re caring for children and parents at the same time? Offer them a financial coach to review their budget to help them make better financial decisions. Work tends to address the social aspect of holistic health, but rarely provides avenues for the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects. When we start addressing employees’ full needs, we give space for employees to truly be engaged and productive at work. A wonderful place to start when revamping your EAP is to survey employees to gauge their main stressors and then build programs to address them. You’ve revamped your employee assistance program, now what? One of the biggest reasons EAPs aren’t successful is that most employees aren’t sure what services are offered. This means you’ll have to consistently market your EAP to your employees. It is also helpful when leaders advocate for programs by sharing how they’ve found success with using EAP. This could help employees who may be hesitant to try a program for one reason or another. Lastly, with the new and improved EAP, ensure your employee can take full advantage of the programs by allowing them time throughout the workday to use the programs they need. With the addition of meeting them where they need it most, you also offer them the ability to truly break away from work, which should increase their productivity when they return to work. A successful EAP has the potential to address company-wide issues from employee burnout to decreased engagement and more. Providing holistic assistance not only helps the individual employee but will increase the bottom line for the entire company. In short, revamping your EAP provides a win/win for everyone. Timara Nichols has 15+ years of experience, specializing in human resources, operations, and customer success. She holds the following certifications – aPHR, Certified ScrumMaster, and Meta Certified Community Manager.Continue reading
One of the less liked aspects of working in HR is terminating or laying off employees. While terminations don’t happen often and, in some cases, can be avoidable, layoffs tend to be driven by the needs of the business. Since globalization and social media have given us all the ability to harness unlimited information in the palm of our hands via cell phones, employers cannot afford to get layoffs wrong. Especially bad are those layoffs via text stories. What happens when employers screw up a layoff? The world hears about it. The quickest way to increase your reputational risk is to have your layoff trend on social networks. If your layoff was driven by the market or financial restraints, you risk losing more customers and future candidates. If you fumble the layoff in some way, you also run the risk of seeing current employees start looking for new employers and the laid-off employees completely writing your company off for good. If this isn’t your first layoff nor is it the first time your layoff trended, it highlights a potentially toxic environment. It also shows an inability to improve processes. To be careless with your laid-off employees also highlights the employer may be careless with the employees that are still with them and have not accounted for survival guilt, burnout from an additional workload, and more. Is there a perfect way to lay off employees? No! Layoffs affect one’s livelihood. Employees are facing increasing anxiety from living in a never-ending pandemic, a war that has global impacts, rising inflation in just about every market, and more. While a layoff may help the business’ bottom line in the short term, it is one more thing already anxious employees must manage. If there is no perfect way, how can an employer improve their layoff process? Audit your current process. If you don’t have a process, then today is a great day to create one. Even if you don’t foresee your employer laying off employees anytime soon, it’s still a great time to build a contingency plan for the day you must. If you have a process and you’ve laid off employees before, it’s a great time to review how effective that process is. What did you learn from your previous layoff? What trends did you see from current/past employees or potential customers discussing your layoff on social media channels? If you could redo the layoff, what would you do differently? Get buy-in from the right players. The quickest way to kill a project before it starts is to not include all key players in the process. Layoffs are sometimes like that. While you don’t necessarily have to share a list of at-risk employees, you should connect with stakeholders in the process. Some of those stakeholders could be your recruiting team. One thing I find odd is to see a company hiring while also laying off employees. Is there a possibility to transition employees into new roles to avoid laying them off? Other stakeholders are the key players who discuss talent planning and succession. Could there be a possibility to shorten succession times by moving at-risk employees into roles, especially if the layoff has the potential to increase a knowledge gap in a role or department? Provide the right “layoff” benefits. What severance package do you offer employees? It’s typical for severance packages to offer X number of weeks in pay for X years of service, but additional benefits are needed. COBRA insurance is expensive; could you extend health insurance for your laid-off employees? Do you offer EAP or mental health services that you can extend for these laid-off employees? What transitional services could you provide to help them find their next job? Transitional services should include resume reviews and career coaching. Create a marketing plan. Most employers would rather not have to mention layoffs. They’d rather let the people know who were impacted and go about their day. However, social media makes that unavoidable. It’s becoming more common to see articles and trending topics even before the layoffs happen. Therefore, not only do you need talking points, but you should have a marketing plan to proactively address the backlash. No longer can you sweep this under the rug because your reputation is at stake. Follow the law and keep your word. This should go without saying but needs to be said. Please have your legal and HR teams verify laws to ensure you’re not breaking any. And when extending benefits or services, have integrity and honor your commitments. At the end of the day, laying off an employee is not transactional and shouldn’t be treated as such. Every step of the process must have a human-first approach. It’s not OK to hold a zoom meeting to announce a massive layoff. It’s not OK to direct deposit severance checks in an employee’s account before even telling them they’ve been laid off. When you approach it with the same care and concern you give your customers, you will be able to alleviate some of the pain points that come with laying off employees. Timara Nichols has 15+ years of experience, specializing in human resources, operations, and customer success. She holds the following certifications – aPHR, Certified ScrumMaster, and Meta Certified Community Manager.Continue reading
Several years ago, while attending a work function for an employee resource group I was a member of, a speaker mentioned that you must sometimes leave your employer to see a significant pay increase and then come back. While it may seem shocking for some, more and more employers are seeing boomerang employees or returning employees. Why do employees leave in the first place? Employees leave for different reasons – whether they’re trying to escape a toxic environment, or a job opportunity was offered to them, and it was too good to ignore – they leave because the grass appears greener on the other side. The Conference Board reported that 2022 salary increase budgets were estimated to be 3.9%, the highest it’s been since 2008. Historically those budgets are never higher than 3%. Moreover, internal promotions often come with a cap, so it’s extremely difficult to receive a promotion with a significant increase. On the other hand, external hires receive 18-20% more than internal candidates. While employers do realize it’s cheaper to keep employees, the power is no longer in their hands. Not only is it a candidate’s market, but candidates are also refusing to compromise in certain areas. Where companies are forcing employees to return to the office, candidates are looking for remote first or remote only companies. Entire industries are facing candidate shortages – like the fast-food industry – because of low wages. In response, some employers are adapting to the times by offering remote work or increasing minimum wages. Simply put, the great resignation is opening the doors for boomerang employees. Should you hire a boomerang employee? Yes! Boomerang employees are like internal employees, as they’re familiar with the culture of the organization and are proficient in the technology the organization uses. Where onboarding someone completely unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the organization means you must teach them the nuances of the role and organization, you do not have to do this with boomerang employees. Also, if a boomerang employee left because of a lack of upward mobility, between the great resignation and retirement, roles may be more available today than they were previously. Boomerang employees are also familiar with their coworkers, as they’ve more than likely worked with them before. This eliminates the need to build rapport and ensures that already tight deadlines can be achieved without typical new group development dynamics – forming, storming, norming, and performing. Depending on how long the boomerang employee worked with you before they left, they may be able to address any brain drains that were exacerbated because of them leaving. What are the downfalls of hiring a boomerang employee? Businesses suffer great losses when a high potential employee leaves. A high potential may have been in a succession plan and was being groomed to take on future leadership positions or they may have been so invaluable they were doing the work of multiple employees. Backfilling their position was not easy. However, when they return, they bring back their potential with the bonus of having acquired new skills since previously being employed. But what happens when it isn’t a high potential that’s returning? When a problematic or less than stellar employee returns, their issues may return with them. While you can circumvent this by marking the employee as ineligible for rehire, if the hire’s performance wasn’t addressed when they were originally employed, they could dispute those findings and win. So how do you ensure the “right” boomerang employee was hired? To start, look at your current performance management policies and fill any gaps in the process. You cannot fix what was never addressed. You also cannot improve what you fail to acknowledge. Once that’s solidified then review your job descriptions and hiring process to ensure you’re objectively ending with the best candidate for each opening. Another tactic to create a welcoming environment for boomerang employees is to create a talent community, especially for them. Some companies have done this with retired employees or interested external candidates. To provide a community for potential boomerang employees means you continue to nurture them as passive candidates and then whenever a job opportunity of interest becomes available, they’re more likely to apply. Lastly, you could continue to nurture potential boomerang employees by connecting with them in professional communities, like LinkedIn, and periodically checking in with them. Either way, in today’s current landscape it’s more and more common to see a boomerang employee or two. Welcome them as you would any external candidate and nurture them like you intend to retain them for the long-term. Timara Nichols has 15+ years of experience, specializing in human resources, operations, and customer success. She holds the following certifications – aPHR, Certified ScrumMaster, and Meta Certified Community Manager. She’s passionate about talent and people operations.Continue reading
Emissary is a candidate engagement platform built to empower recruiters with efficient, modern communication tools that work in harmony with other recruiting solutions.
Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter and keep up to date with the latest Recruiting and HR tips and trends.
By clicking send you’ll receive occasional emails from us.