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EAPs Massively Overlooked as Customer Risk Reduction Tools by Property Casualty Insurers and Risk Managers

Posted by Daniel Feerst, BSW, MSW, LISW-CP on

Lew sat quietly in his office at the Chino Mines in the 1950's trying to find a solution to a massive problem he was hired to fix. Lewis Presnall, D. Div.-- was a pastoral counselor hired by Kennecott Copper Corporation to deal with a massive alcoholism problem among workers and their associated problems placing the company at risk.

These problems included injuries, morale problems, insubordination, harassment, absenteeism, tardiness, property

Employee Assistance Programs that are #800 hotlines fail

damage, stolen property, firings, conduct and attitude issues, violence in the workplace, and family members coming to work and bringing domestic squabbles with them. Kennecott Copper was at wits end. Perhaps this Lewis Presnall could figure it all out and solve the problem. He did.

Lewis Presnall died in 1989, but he indirectly saved tens of thousands of employee lives with his discovery. Little did Lewis Presnall realize that he would be founder of a principle called constructive confrontation that compels alcoholics to voluntarily enter treatment after being identified in the workplace not because of signs and symptoms of alcoholism, but performance and attendance issues.

Refer any employee for job performance problems to a counselor. For severe performance or attendance issues, make continued employment contingent on following though with the counselor's recommendations to a tee. Also view the entire process as the employee's choice, roll out red carpet. Promise job security, time off for treatment, and a commitment to support and not having ones future promotional opportunities jeopardized. But the willingness to accept the accommodations being offered puts the entire ball in the employee's court.

cheap #800 EAP hotlines don't help employees get back to work

This principle under-girds the Employee Assistance Program movement which emerged from the Occupational Alcoholism program movement started by Presnall at Chino Mines in the mid-1950's. Yes, companies helping workers superficially goes back much further--Eastman Kodak, et. al, but none of them stimulated and launched the EAP field more than the discovery of the constructive confrontation dynamic based upon referral for performance, attendance, or conduct problems.

Don't look for alcoholics. Look for their job problems. Then refer them for help and use job security as a lever to gain their voluntary cooperation with treatment, aftercare, and participation in a recovery program. The final product is a often--very often--a recovering employee who bounces back not 100%, but 125% -- indeed, more than well. But what the property casualty insurance markets. Where do they fit in.

The EAP movement went a step further. It sought to also gain voluntarily self-referrals--for any personal problem that could interfere with an employee's performance or their life inside or outside of work. But the guiding principle of referring troubled workers with job issues to a counselor, and by doing so identifying alcoholism or other drug addictions is the one founding principle that propelled the entire modern EAP movement seen today.

As an insurance broker, producer, or risk management professional, you know about Employment Practices Liability Insurance. First established in 1990, EPL only skims the surface of workforce behavioral exposures. And then only after incident or crisis. Efforts to engage employee assistance begin much sooner and can reduce the likelihood of EPL insurance being needed for incidents like wrongful termination, sexual harassment, discrimination, or employer blame for workplace violence which may never occur thanks to the fully function and integrated EAP with strong supervisor and management engagement.

From education and awareness about preventing workplace violence to training supervisors in relational skills; from

Lewis Presnall

working with victims of harassment to counseling difficult supervisors referred for their anger issues; from identifying drug addicts likely to cause a major accident to stealing property to support their addiction -- EAPs have a wide and almost unlimited ability to engage any organizational level and with promises of corporate guaranteed confidentiality to the fullest extent of the law solve problems like no other professional can. This entire process is severely misunderstood by property-casualty insurers and risk managers, most of whom only identify EAPs, if they have heard of them, as simple 800 hotline services for personal problems. Nothing could be further from the truth about what EAPs truly are.

These "faux" EAPs are mere slivers of true EAPs. Such services are not employee assistance programs at all. They are services sold as employee assistance programs to unwitting corporate CFOs and boards by health insurance managed care or their representatives to help thwart costs associated with behavioral health and psychiatric benefits using this one key aspect of EAP's large box of tools -- the self-referral. The other tools--the ones property casualty insurers would cherish, are mostly tossed. A cannibalized EAP is no longer an EAP when it is but a bone.

These hotlines are not real EAPs because they do not conform to the spirit and intent of the original Core Technology (CT-EAP) like those that existed in the 1970's and 1980's. Many o of these true programs still exist, but their numbers are fewer each year as orchestrated marketing efforts and public relations supplant them by educating the masses to a cheaper, less than functional model.

True EAPs can partner with property casualty insurers and risk mangers to save lives, reduce costs, and penetrate organizations at every level with dozens of services and micro-interventions that lead to reduced risk and exposures just waiting explode.

Observe the next workplace shooting in America. Then see if you spot the crisis building pathway to its conclusion. Did the organization lack a EAP that would have engaged conflict, bias, poor supervision, bullying, or the ability to refer and treat an alcoholic worker instead of firing them improperly that led to retaliation?
Where to begin? Phone me and I will refer you to a qualified, fully functional employee assistance program closest to you -- one that really does know what it's doing, and how it can engage with your customers and help reduce behavioral risk.

You can start workplace wellness and productivity tips newsletter coming from your agency and use it is a relational marketing tool to engage your book of business and maintain your visibility while offering your customers something solid. LEARN MORE.

#riskmanagement  #pcinsurance  #pcinsurers  #workerscompensation

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