Walmsley has partnered with many organizations and corporations to promote, establish and sustain a healthy, productive work force. We get on board with company’s goals and objectives and direct our programs towards a shared vision. Walmsley is available to help managers, front line supervisors, directors, Human Resource professionals, and project leaders to creatively manage its most valuable and sometimes problematic resource; people. Managing employees, while being your most important and rewarding task, can also be your most time-consuming and challenging task. Walmsley can help you manage complex employee issues; while empowering employees, improving performance, and responding effectively to conflict in the workplace.
Managers, supervisors and Human Resource professionals are encouraged to call Walmsley when an employee is experiencing personal problems that are affecting his or her work. Often the employer will notice a sudden change in work performance, a decline in productivity, attendance problems, or missed deadlines.
Whether the work performance issues are the result of marital problems, family issues, or substance abuse, managers are sometimes reluctant to confront the issue head on. Often they simply don’t know how to broach the subject and worry about saying the “wrong” thing. Walmsley can recommend a course of action and assist in preparing for the meeting. Prepared managers who maintain control of the meeting and handle themselves with tact, diplomacy, and confidence, turn these meetings into learning and sometimes life changing opportunities. We have senior counsellors with years of experience who consult with managers and HR professionals on complex employee work-related issues. We are available 24 hours a day for consultation regarding employee issues.
1.Can I tell an employee that he needs to change his attitude?
While an employee with a “poor attitude” is indeed annoying and bad for morale, the problem with telling an employee to change his attitude is that it is too general. If we want change, we have to be more specific in what we are asking for. Document what you mean by “attitude.” Does he roll his eyes when others speak? Does he sit in meetings with his arms crossed and not participate? Does he frequently say that other’s ideas won’t work without a willingness to try? If you are not specific, he will simply deny your accusation and you will likely not get anywhere. When talking with an employee, always keep it about their behaviour because it is measurable, factual and objective.
2. Do I need proof that someone has a drinking problem before I can confront them?
If you are going to confront someone with a drinking problem, then of course you would need proof that they have a drinking problem. However, if you suspect someone has a drinking problem, it is likely because of work performance issues. Therefore, the focus of your discussion with them needs to be on work performance issues. You could say that in your experience, addiction is often the cause of these types of poor work performance issues, and if this is the case, these are the options available. However, in the end, you need to monitor behaviour that is observable and measurable.
3. An employee has been going through a break up for several months and other employees have been covering for her because of frequent absences and shoddy work performance. At what point do I say something, or do I just keep being supportive?
This is one of those times when it’s really tough to be the manager but the team and the company is counting on you. Your job is to evaluate job performance and this employee is clearly not able to perform her job. This employee is struggling. It has been several months and she is not showing signs of improving. She needs help. You need to exercise the right balance between firmness and compassion to encourage the client to get the help that she needs. Of course you can’t insist that she seek counselling or medical attention, but you can increase the odds by letting her know that you think the situation is serious and that unless she is able to perform her job, there will be performance management steps taken.
Keeping your workplace running effectively means helping employees cope with change. Change can come from many factors including downsizing, rapid growth, layoffs, mergers, restructuring and even unpleasant firings.
Companies are often forced to implement sweeping changes in an effort to grow and survive, and sometimes these changes have difficult and challenging consequences for employees. These global transformations require swift adjustments for all employees, both those directly and indirectly impacted. This highly charged environment presents new challenges and demands for everyone, from the board and CEO to the entry-level employee.
Change has always been an inevitable, and often desirable part of life. However, stability in the workplace is something many people work towards and depend upon. Work is often tied to one’s sense of identity, security, and lifestyle. Changes at work can abruptly alter the course of one’s whole life. Employees often fear losing their jobs, or their job security. Having little control over workplace events can trigger anger, depression, insecurity, anxiety, and other forms of job stress.
At Walmsley we can assist with effectively managing the stress associated with workplace change. We empower management and employees with the skills necessary to effectively manage these changes. Change is challenging, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming or crippling. Change is the necessary catalyst for growth. We have found that by strategically preparing managers and employees we can significantly decrease the stress associated with rapid change and increase organizational performance – regardless of what changes you might face.
1. Why are employees often so resistant to even small changes?Even if you are introducing small changes, don’t assume that these changes will be easy for people to accept. Resistance to change is a normal response, so plan for it, expect it and accept it. At the root of resistance to change is fear. Fear can trigger anxiety in some people, which is a very uncomfortable emotion. One of the things that people fear is the unknown. When a person doesn’t know what to expect, they don’t know if they will have the skills and the knowledge to be successful with the change. No one wants to fail or let others down. The fear of the unknown can trigger self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. This fear of the unknown causes people to resist leaving their comfort zone. In addition to fear of the unknown, many people enjoy working at a comfortable pace and change may force them out of their comfort zone and into a pace that’s a bit more challenging that they are used to. One way to ease people’s anxiety and fears is to encourage involvement and allow them to be a part of the process. This involvement allows the employee to feel heard but it also allows them to anticipate what is coming and what to expect.
2. Why would a previously flexible, adaptable employee suddenly become inflexible and resistant to change?
Change, even good change, is a form of stress that demands adaptation. A great deal of change over a short period of time can over-tax the body’s ability to adapt and can wear a person down. The body, as well as the mind, needs time to adjust to the changes. Not only is your manager going through changes at work, there may be stresses or changes at home that demand his attention as well. We all need periods of calm so that we can stabilize and create a sense of “normal.” If we don’t slow down occasionally, we run the risk of burning out or developing stress-related illnesses. Not all change is within our control. Parents get sick, marriages end, children get married, companies downsize, but some changes can be delayed. If we are going through a big merger at work, it may not be the right time to buy a new house. It’s important to space change when we can so as not to overload ourselves with too much change in too short a time period. It’s also important to be sensitive to the impact of too much change in too short a time period on our employees. It may be time to slow down for a while and let your employees, and perhaps yourself, catch your breath before introducing any more change.
3. Why is there such a variation in how employees handle change?
The degree to which a person seeks out or avoids change is, in part, a personality trait. Type A personalities don’t like routine, are easily bored, and will actually initiate change simply to shake things up a bit. At the other end of the spectrum, type D personalities like routine, security, rules, and resist change at every turn. They are not trying to be difficult, but change interrupts rules and routines. They value being dependable, reliable, good workers, and it’s hard to be good at their job when rules and routines are changed. These workers are hard-working, loyal, and dependable. They are invaluable to any organization, but they need special care and attention when your organization is going through major change. They are likely to experience a great deal of stress and anxiety related to fear around performance and ability to keep pace. In addition to personality type, individual stressors impact a person’s ability to deal with change. An employee who is going through a lot of change in their personal life, such as a divorce or the death of a parent, may find it more difficult to deal with change at work. An employer who is familiar with the personality styles of his or her employees, and the personal stresses each employee is going through, will know how to be sensitive to the needs of his or her employees when going through change in the workplace.
Developing effective conflict resolution skills is an essential component of running an effective business. Unresolved conflict often results in loss of productivity and loss of valuable employees. Conflicts create barriers to cooperation and collaboration and interferes with creativity. Managers who deal effectively with conflict create safe, healthy work environments.
While conflict is a normal part of any social and organizational setting, the challenge of conflict lies in how one chooses to deal with it. Concealed, avoided or otherwise ignored conflict will likely fester only to grow into resentment, causing infighting within an organization. Low morale, frequent absenteeism, and poor employee retention is often the result of unresolved conflict in the workplace.
Many people find conflict uncomfortable so instead of approaching it in a calm, factual, supportive, and controlled manner, they either avoid it or overkill it. Both responses lead to poor, ineffective results.
Walmsley provides specialized counsellors to assist in resolving conflicts among individuals, teams, work groups, and departments.We assist managers and team leaders to mediate and manage conflict in a straightforward, supportive, and assertive manner. We brainstorm, problem-solve, and strategize to develop the skills necessary to manage conflict in challenging situations. When necessary, we can act as conflict mediator between individuals, teams, groups and departments. We are able to provide these services through either local counsellors or involving a counsellor from another locale.
1. As a manager, when should I get involved in the conflict between two employees? It can be very helpful to have a conflict resolution policy in the workplace so that everyone knows the expectations. Ideally the conflict resolution policy would state that people must first attempt to resolve interpersonal issues on their own BEFORE bringing issues to the manager and then, ONLY with the full knowledge of the other person. For example, let’s assume that Tom keeps eating John’s lunch. This is not a policy issue, it’s an interpersonal issue. The first approach is for John to tell Tom to stop eating his lunch. If Tom stops eating his lunch, problem solved, the manager (and no one else) need ever know about it. If Tom continues to eat John’s lunch, John needs to tell him that since they cannot resolve the lunch eating issue, then John is going to talk to the boss about it. When John tells his boss, Jane, that Tom has been eating his lunch, she feels pretty comfortable taking action given that John has already talked to Tom about it and hasn’t been able to resolve the issue. However, if John hasn’t even talked to Tom, Jane will feel caught in the middle, which is often what happens in these situations. Bosses end up feeling like parents and their time is eaten up with minor squabbles between co-workers. It saves a great deal of time if you can send an employee back to address the issue on their own first, BEFORE you get involved. This works only for interpersonal issues however, as breach of policy issues need to be reported and are not up to employees to deal with without the knowledge of their employer. However, many of the issues that waste employers’ time are interpersonal issues between employees, not breaches of policy.
2. What’s good about conflict?
If you are in the midst of conflict it’s easy to forget that any good can come from it. As a manager, it’s easy to take conflict personally and see it as a criticism of your performance. However, if you can step back and suspend judgement, of yourself and of others, you will see that conflict is a chance for you to become aware of the problems so that you can build better solutions. It’s a chance to challenge old assumptions to find better solutions. It’s an opportunity to figure out what’s really important to you, the employees, and your organization. It’s a chance to build confidence in your skills to manage conflict, to build a team, to listen to others, and to resolve issues in a mature, respectful, creative manner. It is during conflict that people make their needs and wants known. It’s no coincidence that those who fear conflict are the same ones who aren’t skilled at getting their needs met.
3. Can Walmsley assist with the development of a Conflict Resolution Policy for the workplace?
Absolutely! Having a conflict Resolution Policy is an important tool for helping managers and employees manage conflict. It not only gives employees and managers a clear complaints handling protocol, it clearly outlines expectations around handling interpersonal complaints without unnecessarily involving management or other co-workers. The policy sets a tone of respect and expectation that lets employees know the work culture does not support the gossip and undermining of one another.
Providing employees with an Employee and Family Assistance and Education Program is a benefit that, as an employer, you should take pride in. It shows commitment and concern for your employees’ mental and emotional wellbeing. Our job at Walmsley is not only to provide the service, but to ensure that the employees know about the service and how to access it.
Our awareness and education to employees begins immediately with brochures, wallet calendars, newsletter, and information and passwords to our website. A liaison counsellor will visit the worksite, if appropriate, to give an informational awareness talk and to introduce ourselves and answer questions. In addition to occurring at the start of the contract, these visits can occur periodically throughout the year, if appropriate. Not only do these visits capture new hires, they allow employees to become familiar with our services and counsellors, reducing barriers to accessing services.
We believe that employees are the most important asset to a company and both employees and their families need to be aware of their benefits. Walmsley takes a consistent and proactive approach to employee awareness of their EFAP. We endeavour to educate eligible family members about our services by a variety of methods including fridge magnets, participation in Company Health and Wellness Days, and sending home information at regular intervals. Healthy families make healthy, happy employees.
Wellness is achieved when all dimensions of a person’s life are in balance: Physical, emotional, financial, social, intellectual, environmental, occupational, and spiritual. With this in mind, Walmsley offers customized health and wellness workshops to support employees on their road to wellness living. Some ideas for workshops include: stress management, seasonal depression, anxiety, managing conflict, improving communication, meditation and relaxation, mindfulness, retirement planning, anger management, assertiveness training, compassion fatigue, and increasing emotional intelligence, to name a few.
Workshops are instrumental in positively affecting the workplace culture. Workshops can build a team oriented environment, contribute to cooperative working groups, and can increase the sense of community. Using information collected from our statistical data, we design workshops that address the issues identified by the employee population. This ensures that the workshops are always relevant to the employee group and tailor made to suit your individual needs.
1. Do you provide workshops for employees who want to take workshops for personal development, on their own time?
Yes. While workshops are often offered at the worksite and are initiated by the employer, some workshops are initiated by Walmsley and are offered to the employee on their own time. Sometimes these workshops are offered at a neutral site, and sometimes they are offered through live webinar. We are also acquiring a library of webinars on our website that employees can watch at their leisure on a variety of wellness topics.
2. We have several shifts and it’s hard to get people together for a workshop all at the same time. How can we work around this?
We can offer the same workshop at different times or we can offer the workshop once through a webinar that others can watch when they have an opportunity. The webinar also allows others from different locations to participate in the workshop.
When a traumatic incident happens at a worksite it impacts everyone; those present who are directly impacted, those who are present and witness the incident, those who are present and hear about the incident immediately after it has happened, and those who are not working, but hear about the incident upon returning to work.
A traumatic or critical incident is any event that causes physical, emotional, or psychological distress, or harm. It is an event that is perceived and experienced as a threat to one’s safety or to the stability of one’s world. Some events that may cause a traumatic reaction are: a threat to one’s life, a serious physical injury to one’s self or another person, feeling helpless during a crisis, witnessing a disturbing event, or being involved in an event which caused someone’s death.
There are many other situations that may bring about a critical incident stress reaction. What is significant to one person may not affect another. Each person is different depending on their emotional make-up and their previous traumatic experiences.
Walmsley counsellors are trained to provide on-site Critical Incident Stress Debriefing in the event of a workplace crisis: death of an employee, layoff, natural disaster, accident, violence, or other highly stressful situations. It is normal to have a stress reaction to an abnormal traumatic event. However, with appropriate support, information, and compassion, most people can get through a critical incident without the need for on-going counselling. Our bodies have the natural ability to process trauma. If we acknowledge the effects of the trauma on us, natural healing will often occur.
1. What is a Critical Incident Debriefing?
(CISD)A CISD refers to a small group crisis intervention process for the people who were involved in a shared critical incident. The CISD is not a form of therapy or counselling. It is a supportive, crisis-focused discussion of the traumatic event and is educational in nature. Its goal is to reduce the distress of the attendees by sharing information, restoring group cohesion, dismantling rumors, and normalizing the experience of the group members.
2. When does a CISD usually occur?
The CISD does not usually occur until 24 – 48 hours after the critical incident has occurred. Prior to this time period, people are still in shock and are often unable to process information. After 24 – 48 hours, people are able to talk about the experience.
3. What is the difference between Critical Incidence Stress and Post Traumatic Stress?
Critical Incidence Stress is a normal reaction to an abnormal event. Critical stress reaction often takes the form of preoccupation with thoughts of the incident, inability to concentrate, difficulty sleeping, irritability, flashbacks, playing the event over and over in your mind. Depending on the severity of the traumatic event, this preoccupation and the accompanying symptoms of stress may last several hours, days, or even a week or two after the even. However, most people recover from the traumatic response (not grief and loss) after a couple weeks. If the symptoms persist after six weeks, and the person continues to have flashbacks, nightmares, persistent thoughts, difficulty sleeping, the person is considered to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is no longer considered a normal response to an abnormal event. The body and mind are not healing themselves from the shock of the trauma and the person needs intervention in the form of therapy and possibly medication.
Substance misuse by employees causes many expensive problems for businesses ranging from lost productivity, injuries, and an increase in sick time. These expenses don’t include the cost of diverting company resources away from other areas to address the performance issues related to substance misuse. Nor does it address the pain and suffering that many employees and their families experience because of substance abuse. Substance misuse takes a social, financial, emotional, and economical toll on the substance user and those around him, including co-workers and employers.
Walmsley offers comprehensive services to assist management and employees with problems associated with substance misuse.
We provide: substance abuse awareness training to employees and managers; addictions counselling services; assistance with developing substance misuse policies; employee substance misuse assessments; monitoring of employees on last chance agreements; assistance with connecting employees to treatment centres and other local treatment resources; and follow-up counselling after treatment.
1. I have recently found out that an employee has a drinking problem. I’m not sure if I should push for her to go to a treatment centre or whether counselling is good enough. When do you go to a treatment centre and when do you go to counselling or AA?
A treatment centre is for someone who has quit using for at least two weeks and who has tried to quit unsuccessfully on their own in the past, but usually keeps relapsing. A treatment centre does not get a person clean and sober, it helps teach a person the skills they need to stay clean and sober. Usually a person who has difficulty staying clean and sober has difficulty coping with stress and dealing with life. A treatment centre teaches life skills to help someone cope. The real work for many addicts starts once they get clean and sober. However, many people are not addicted to drugs or alcohol, they have simply drifted into a pattern of heavy use, which is causing them problems. It has built up gradually over a period of months or years, maybe the result of a break up or work stresses, or just bad habits. For this person, with counselling and concerted effort, they can quit using or return to their pre-using coping patterns without needing to go to a treatment centre. A counsellor can help the person determine which form of treatment is right for them.
2. I’ve always heard that A.A. is the only way to get sober and stay sober. Is that true?
AA is credited with helping hundreds of thousands of people get and stay clean and sober, which is why it has such a good reputation. It was started in the 40’s when there was nothing else around for alcoholics and when the judgement against alcoholism was very strong. Since then, there has been a great deal of research and new programs, which has shown that there are other approaches to substance abuse that are also successful. There is no one approach that works for everyone. It is also now known that not everyone who abuses alcohol or drugs is physically dependent or an addict. Some abuse the substance and have developed bad habits and attitudes and beliefs around using substances but are not physically dependent. Because everyone is different, there are different approaches.
3. What is the Harm Reduction Approach?
Harm reduction is a client centred approach in which the counsellor works with a client on his or her goals around substance misuse, even if the goals are not total abstinence. The goal is to work towards healthier choices. Many people who eventually quit altogether, start off by reducing harm. For example, switching from Heroin to Methadone, is an example of harm reduction, Quitting alcohol but continue to smoke marijuana is another example of harm reduction, assuming that alcohol was causing considerable problem for the client and marijuana was not. The counsellor withholds imposing his or her values and goals on the client, which is a value most counsellors adhere to anyway. In some cases, such as when the client’s own health or the health and safety of others, is seriously compromised, or when there is a court order prohibiting the person from using, harm reduction is not an option.
Terminating an employee, regardless of the reason, is one of the most difficult and challenging aspects of being a manager. Having a professional service you can count on to assist the employee back on their feet and into the job market, is the goal of every caring and compassionate employer. Walmsley has teamed up with The Executive Network Inc. to create such a service.
The Career Transition Services (CTS) is a professional career coaching service for employees facing termination. The CTS has associates and affiliate partners throughout Canada and North America. Our goal is to provide quality career management services that are tailored to meet the needs of each individual. Our associates provide extensive one-on-one support to ensure each candidate receives the highest quality service to get them back in the job market as quickly as possible. Our personalized services are designed to help the candidates take better control of their lives and careers.
Our team of professional career coaches provide emotional support and counselling if necessary, while also attending to the practical aspects of a job search such as resume writing, comprehensive job search, following relevant job leads, assessing transferable skills, and developing tools to get back to work faster. Our consultants use their expertise to fit the needs of individual candidates while keeping the workplace realities in check. Using a proactive approach to determining the candidate’s skills and goals, we help them achieve a faster and more effective career change.
1. I have to lay off several employees and I think I need a counsellor on site. Do you do this?
Yes. We often provide a counsellor to be on-site in situations where employers expect the news of a lay-off or mass lay-offs or terminations to be traumatic for employees, both those being let go and/or those who remain behind. Our role is not to provide counselling at that time, but to provide information about available services, assistance, support, and assessment. We find employers may also need debriefing afterwards as well.
2. Do you assist managers prepare for having to let someone go?
Absolutely. Letting someone go is one of the most difficult discussions you can have with a person because the chances of the person becoming emotionally overwhelmed are high. You want to be confident that you will know how to de-escalate the person should he or she become overwhelmed, and if they do not de-escalate, that you will know how to handle the situation calmly and in a controlled, professional manner. All this takes planning and forethought. Even trained, confident managers like to talk through strategy and prepare themselves before going into these potentially volatile situations. That’s where the trained counsellors at Walmsley can help.
All contracts are monitored regularly by the account representative for quality control. The account representative is available to meet with the employer’s representatives, EFAP committees, and other staff as required. The account representative is available to ensure services are delivered as requested, to problem solve any issues that arise, and to maintain contact and good relations with the client organization.