The Practitioner Connection
The right help at the right time!
EAP CAN ASSIST WITH WORKFORCE REDUCTIONS
An unfortunate fallout from the current economic turmoil facing the nation is that many businesses must reduce their workforce. As a result, the Cigna Employee Assistance Program (EAP) has seen a dramatic increase in requests for consultation services, and for onsite services related to these layoffs or downsizing. In an effort to offer support and services during the difficult downsizing process, many companies have been providing onsite EAP services for their employees following layoff announcements.
Cigna's Employee Assistance Consultants (EAC) are often contacted for consultations after a company makes the decision to downsize. The EAC Team offers help planning and tailoring EAP services to the particular needs of the company. Approaches to layoff announcements vary from private meetings with employees to more broad announcements of full site closings. Consultation services provide help and suggestions about how to handle the responses from employees during the layoff process, timing of onsite EAP services, and whether to offer group and/or individual onsite services. The consultation may also include discussion about the most fitting materials to be used to address the situation. When the plan is complete, the EAC facilitates the process of finding and preparing for an onsite EAP counselor who is certified in critical incident stress debriefing to visit the company.
The EAP onsite counselor must be prepared to deal with a variety of employee reactions when providing these onsite services. The disruption in the workplace is unsettling for employees losing their jobs, for those remaining, and for the managers who have been given the task of making the announcements. To assist the employees with the difficult transition, the Cigna onsite EAP counselor arrives equipped to help employees with their reactions, to normalize the range of emotions triggered by job loss, and to remind and educate employees about the wide range of EAP services available to their entire family. EAP benefits continue to be available to employees following termination, usually for up to 30 days or more. The EAP onsite counselor will also offer a variety of materials and handouts that may be helpful. The EAP counselor provides information to employees regarding the common range of reactions and feelings related to these workplace changes, and offers employees effective coping strategies to manage stress and regain a sense of control.
The EAP counselor is prepared to offer group presentations and individual counseling to employees who are losing their jobs. The focus for this group of employees includes educating them on the wide range of benefits available through the EAP and how to access these resources. Cigna EAP has printed materials for distribution on such topics as “Job Eliminations, When it Happens to You” and “Job Loss and Reactions to Stress”.
Often forgotten in a downsizing event are the employees who retain their jobs but are faced with dramatic changes in the workforce once coworkers, many of whom are close friends, have left the company. Cigna EAP has developed specific materials on “What You Can Expect After Downsizing” which offer helpful coping strategies and information aimed at addressing these employees’ concerns.
To further assist with the impact of workforce reductions, the EAP works with managers to assess the needs of the remaining workforce. Some time following the initial reductions in staff, it may be helpful to have the EAP present a Wellness Seminar on topics such as “Managing Uncertainty in the Workplace” or “Strategies for Coping with Uncertainty”.
Workforce reductions are very stressful for everyone involved. Getting the EAP involved early in the planning process, though, can lead to a successful transition and minimize the impact on employees’ productivity, health and well-being.
Other Featured Articles: