May 19, 2010
Calls to Employee Assistance Programs increasing
[Photo courtesy of macinate]
Yes, experts say the worst is behind us and the employment numbers are starting to finally, mercifully perk up.
Yes, if ever there was a time to talk of new beginnings and half-full glasses and flowers in bloom, it's now, the spring after what many consider the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression.
And yes, I'm about to disregard all that and make the very unpopular move of laying some depressing statistics on you about the recent increase in calls to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), those counseling hotlines employers offer workers who have a personal problem they'd like to discuss. Stick with me, though, because I promise to do my darndest to put a glass-half-full, quasi-positive spin on this puppy by the end of the post.
Last week, Harris, Rothenberg International, Inc. (HRI), which helps companies worldwide "solve their most challenging and complex people issues," released its annual trends report. As part of the report, HRI analyzed data collected from the EAPs it implements for its clients. Among the findings:
- EAP calls rose 14 percent from 2008 to 2009 and are still on the upswing this year. As the HRI report points out, "This includes November and December, which are traditionally low months for EAP calls."
- Once upon a time when the economy wasn't all shot to heck, employees were predominantly calling their EAP hotlines about one issue and one issue only -- be it a marriage on the rocks, a child acting out, a mortgage on the line, or a gambling problem. Today, however, HRI says that employees are burning up the EAP lines with calls about "two or three underlying issues" at once.
- In 2009, the number of emergency calls to EAP hotlines rose by a whopping 75 percent. According to HRI, this means that despite workers' through-the-roof stress levels, "they are delaying calling for help until they reach a crisis stage."
- The number of workers who took advantage of the legal or financial services offered by their employer skyrocketed from 2008 to 2009. Requests for foreclosure support rose by 137 percent, help with mortgage issues by 95 percent, and assistance with bankruptcy issues by 75 percent.
But there is a bright side, sort of. HR executives interviewed for this report told HRI that their firms are adding more EAP services to the health benefits packages they offer employees. Because if there's one thing smart employers have learned in the past two years, it's that a super-stressed, uber-miserable employee is an unproductive employee.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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