EAPA’s 2015 World EAP Conference Roundup

The following is a “roundup” of most of the sessions attended by JEA Editor Mike Jacquart at EAPA’s 2015 World EAP Conference in San Diego, Calif., September 29-October 2, 2015. More in-depth articles from some of these sessions at planned for the JEA this year.

* Using Technology to Engage Millennial EAP Clients was led by Marina London and Lisa Fedak. Millennials will make up roughly 50% of your EAP clients in 2020, four short years from now. Are you ready to meet the challenges in engaging younger clients, who often have a much different way of doing things than older people?

“Millennials are game-changers,” said London. “They are less concerned about confidentiality and more concerned with convenience. They invented social media, so they expect to make appointments by smartphone and use high-tech delivery systems.” 

As a best practice, it is absolutely essential that EAPs have a website, according to London. “Hire someone if you must, and if you have a site and it’s more than 10 years old, you need to renovate it.” Online video platforms is another service that she suggests for this age group. “Many [Millennials] only access mental health online. But remember that online therapy is not face-to-face done online. There are unique encryption and other services [that need to be taken into account], and you need to become distance counseling certified.”

London also pointed out that while Zoom.us is HIPAA compliant, the popular video platform Skype is not. Fedak’s part of the presentation offered the results from research conducted at the University of Southern California’s Center for Work and Family Life. 

* Navigating Clients through Cancer-related Workplace Issues was presented by Monica Bryant and Rebecca Nellis. There are approximately 15.5 million cancer survivors in the U.S., but only 20% are receiving help with the practical concerns related to continuing to work while battling this often-scary disease. If this is not an issue your EAP has run into as yet, chances are it will be.

Cancer in the workplace is often a complex issue that impacts not only work schedules and flexibility, but also involves legal and other aspects related to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, in addition to fair employment laws and a myriad of health insurance issues.
Other key findings from the session included:

* Roughly 73% of employees with cancer work during treatment as it helps them cope with the disease. However, due to side effects such as fatigue, weight loss, “chemo brain,” and others, only 2% multi-task effectively.

* When an employee with cancer returns to work, questions that need to be asked include: Can you still do the work? Do you still want to do the work or did the time away due to illness lead you to want to make a change? Will this particular workplace always see you as a person with cancer? This can be an area of tension.

* EAP Taking the Lead in Financial Wellness was led by Reeta Wolfsohn. Did you know that the basis of financial problems come not from a lack of money, but the individual’s relationship WITH money? Many Americans struggle with day-to-day finances, but talking about it remains taboo. An estimated 28% say they have no one to talk to about their problems, and yet 65% also note that keeping “financially fit” is even tougher than being physically fit. The EAP is in a perfect position to help!

She defined financial wellness as “having a comprehensive understanding of your current financial circumstances.” Wolfsohn added, “Financial wellness helps employees be more aware of their financial behavior. The EAP already knows how to address thoughts, feelings, and attitudes.”

There is no doubt that financial woes spill over into the workplace. Employees receive calls at work from creditors, and are more prone to steal, lie, and cheat to deal with their situation. Seventy-two percent of companies believe financial literacy will help employees, yet only 27% of companies offer this service through the EAP, Wolfsohn said, as opposed to 57% that offer them through HR.

“EAPs understand the dimensions of financial wellness, but they need to look at it from a different perspective, in terms of emotional support and maximizing the person’s effectiveness,” she noted.

* The Workplace Outcome Suite: Results from an EAP Research Network was presented by Richard Lennox and Matt Mollenhauer with Chestnut Global Partners. This session provided important updates on the use and interpretation of the Workplace Outcome Suite (WOS).

Discussion focused on the five-tier WOS that was used in a worldwide assessment of DuPont’s EAP services in 2014. Key questions related to the five WOS constructs (absenteeism, presenteeism, engagement, life satisfaction, and workplace distress) were asked at intake, and 60- and 90-day post intake intervals. Mollenhauer presented statistical evidence of improvements in each of these five areas in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States.

The DuPont EAP used the “super short” 5-item version that focused on workplace factors, and was not clinical in nature, Mollenhauer stressed. He pointed out that the WOS is offered free of charge to EAPs with a signed licensed agreement. To date, thousands of EAP users have utilized the WOS. 

* Led by Tom Shjerven, Stan Granberry, and Konstantin von Vietinghoff, Forecasting Global EAP Trends discussed an inclusive view of the current international EAP market. Anticipating future global market trends was also examined. Shjerven pointed out that EA professionals from over 40 countries were attending the World EAP Conference. “There is more mobility than ever, which is good, but it also leads to more stress,” he said. Shjerven cited several global EAP trends:

* There is a growing appreciation of how physical and mental health impact productivity and the bottom line.
* There is a growing circle of impact related to security lapses, natural disasters, political unrest, suicides and workplace violence.

“All told, when it comes to EAP services in other countries, it’s ultimately all about understanding that particular culture and EAP using the local resources that are available to them,” Shjerven stressed.