5 minute read

Wellness & Safety

New year, new season, time to take care of you

The last couple of years have been crazy. Things in our lives, both personal and professional, have been put on hold, changed, adjusted, and maybe even done away with. Through it all, we must remember to take care of our mental health and to look out for those we love and work with. Since I have written about SWEAP Connections (formerly Southwest EAP) before, you may be familiar with some of the services they offer. Considering all the changes in our world in the last two years SWEAP has adapted some of their services, training packages, and fee structure. As we start a new year and a new season, it is time to look at some of the most requested programs and services SWEAP offers to county government employees and their families.

SWEAP Connections serves a wide range of Arkansas organizations as their partner in employee mental health support. The organization works with many cities, counties and essential groups and has reviewed their utilization reports from 2020 to 2021 to report the most requested services, outside of providing counseling. SWEAP’s Director of Organizational Development, Allison Atkinson, LCSW, provided the following overview of their most impactful trainings and the key focus areas of their educational campaigns. stress during the pandemic. These focused on having compassionate responses to employee issues, recognizing mental health concerns, finding support and resources for employees and modeling healthy work habits and self-care.

Managing Productivity Issues

(Remote and Non-Remote) — As a continuation of the “Supporting Employees” training or a stand-alone topic, many supervisors wanted consultation and training surrounding how to maintain productivity with so many new employee factors in the workplace. Supervisors were struggling to balance the compassionate response with holding employees accountable. These trainings focused on appropriate and early intervention skills to guide employees through challenges. All supervisor trainings talk about skills that leadership can practice, model and teach employees.

Becky Comet AAC Member Benefits Manager

Most Requested Topics for Employees

Most Requested Topic for Speaking Engagements and Conferences

Mental Health in the Workplace — This training provides an overview of the current climate and explores the issues that human resources teams encounter regarding the cost and prevalence of mental health in the workplace. It includes discussion on the subtleties of how mental health issues present in a work environment and points out strategies to address these issues preventatively and as they arise.

Most Popular Training Package

SWEAP Supervisor Academy — SWEAP Supervisor Academy is a 3-month program containing live instruction, virtual consultation, and self-paced courses to equal 12+ hours of training and education. It focuses on key concepts to supervising employees, personal and professional development, effective communication strategies, and leadership skills in managing change. This is an add-on to an existing SWEAP partnership, also accessible by Association Members. Cost is $175 per person for the 12+ hours of training.

Most Requested Topics for Supervisors (Remote and Non-Remote)

Supporting Employee During Transition — Many organizations requested training for their managers on how to support employees as they dealt with difficulty and

Adjusting Work-Life Balance — Whether employees were adjusting to remote work, virtual schooling, or the pandemic itself, everyone had to make changes to their work and home routines. Organizations requested work-life balance topics as their employees transitioned in and out of large employment changes. Early topics like “Balancing Work and Life While at Home” morphed into “Balancing Your Return to the Office,” and topics like “Adjusting Our Expectations in Today’s World” were ever evolving as adjustments to the workforce continued. All of these trainings encouraged employees to assess how they were managing their stress, energy and time to ensure that rest, selfcare, and support systems were built into their day-to-day lives.

Stress Management — As the workforce changed continuously so did everyone’s stress management and self-care plans. So many options and outlets were reduced, removed, or altered, most people are still regrouping and putting their plans back together. When we talk to employees about stress management we are encouraging a flexible framework, with alternatives, that can be adjusted as they go. We encourage them to practice proactive daily habits that support them as stressors arise as well as pick up in the moment skills to manage times of crisis or high stress.

Most Requested Information or Awareness Campaign

In addition to EAP and training services, SWEAP has

put together a variety of Educational Awareness Campaigns for employers to utilize in their publications. Materials were customized to each organization according to their preferences and needs. Formats included articles, blurbs, TV monitors slides, and educational videos. These materials cover topics like EAP Benefit Education, mental health topics, skill building, and customized topics requested from partner organizations. The most requested topics were:

EAP Awareness — Organizations that utilized the EAP Benefit Awareness campaign saw an average 30 percent bump in utilization. These covered the ease of access, confidential nature and explanation of EAP counseling, coaching, legal, and financial resources.

Burnout — Employers were certainly interested in burnout prevention and education for employees. The rates of burnout continue to increase across professions, and employees needed information on what burnout looks like and how they can address and prevent issues they are seeing in themselves.

Anxiety — This was the largest category of stated reason for seeking EAP by employees over the last two years. Its 2021 prevalence was roughly twice the rate SWEAP saw in 2019. This is understandable considering the increase in daily concern for health and safety that was universal, but also meant employers wanted their employees to have a good understanding of the function of anxiety in the physical and mental health systems as well as sharable strategies for coping with increased levels of worry and anxiousness.

In these times in which we are living, things change so often and so quickly that it seems like the whole world is teetering on the edge. People say and do unimaginable things. The stress and anxiety are unbelievable. Now is the time to seek help and counseling if you have things that you need to deal with in your professional and/or personal life. Along with all the things mentioned above, SWEAP offers individual counseling sessions for county employees and their families. It does not matter what the issue is — alcohol, drugs, divorce, abuse, harassment of any kind. Do not suffer in silence. Do not let it get “swept under the rug.” There is always help available. If you or someone you work with needs support, do not hesitate to contact SWEAP to access your benefit or discuss adding SWEAP to your benefits package. Call SWEAP at (501) 6631797 or 1-800-777-1797; or email Terri Murphree, director of operations, at terri@sweap.com. Tell them what county you are from and what you are looking for. Do it today.