Health e-News
Brought to you by Affinity Occupational Health
Good health: Good for business
October/November 2008 
Welcome back to another edition of Health e-News!  Did you know October is Depression Awareness Month?  Today we're focusing on the important issue of employee mental health.  Whether it's depression, stress, trauma, you name it - we want to arm you with the tools needed for identifying and helping employees in need so that business can prosper.

We urge you to contact our Employee Assistance Program for more details.  Thanks for reading!  

In good health,
Affinity Occupational Health Team
In This Issue
Identifying a Troubled Employee
When the Unthinkable Happens
Pass It On!
Put the Boxing Gloves Down
EAP Makes $ense
Ask the Expert: Promoting Your EAP
Meet Our Staff
Breakfast with the Experts
Identifying a Troubled Employee
EmployeeDid you know that one in ten employees suffers from depression?  Depression costs employers tens of billions of dollars each year.  It's the leading cause of absenteeism and lost productivity in American companies today.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, offering minimal programs to help employees cope with depression could result in a nearly $3,000 savings per 1,000 employees over five years.  How do we curb the impact of this disease and get our workforce back on track?  Start by recognizing the signs of a troubled employee.

Calling in sick.  Employees battling depression, anxiety or severe stress may often lack the energy to face another day.  If you notice a worker is frequently absent, tardy or leaving early and doesn't have a solid excuse, it may be a sign that the employee is battling an emotional crisis.
Difficulty concentrating.
  Troubled employees often struggle with their daily responsibilities, taking more time or effort to complete the job and becoming easily or unnecessarily frustrated.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
  Depression may cause workers to display uncharacteristic mood swings and spasmodic levels of productivity - high one day, low the next.
Deteriorating job performance.
  If you notice a once-productive employee becoming progressively lackadaisical about the job, missing deadlines, turning in subpar work, making poor decisions or generating complaints from customers or co-workers - make note of it.  It may be a sign of emotional trouble.
Interpersonal conflict.
  Depression can rise to the surface in angry outbursts or criticism, causing rifts between employees. 

You can point employees toward help with compassion and professionalism.  Encourage them to contact the counselors at your employee assistance program (EAP).  Don't have one?  Call us at (920) 727-8700 to learn more about how an EAP can help you regain lost productivity.
When the Unthinkable Happens
Critical Incident Stress Debriefing 
911Trauma, injury, violence, disaster... these are more than just unpleasant words.  When it happens to you, they become emotionally crippling experiences.  In clinical terms, these are called "critical incidents."

Critical incidents occur in the workplace.  Whether you experience one firsthand, witness one or are held responsible for the safety of others, a critical incident can have an overwhelming emotional impact.  Industrial accidents, vehicle accidents, natural disasters, threats or violence in the workplace, suicide or death of a co-worker... all of these can leave a scar on a company's well-being.

"No one is untouched by being witness to, or victim of, such an unusual event," says Bob Carroll, Affinity EAP counselor.  "Stress - both emotional and physical - is a normal response to an abnormal situation."
As employers, you are charged with a tall order - to handle the emotional side of a critical incident in your workplace.  Employees will look to you to offer support, resources, even explanations.  This is called "critical incident stress debriefing," which means taking the lead in helping employees cope with stress in troubled times.  How does it work?  Read more.
Pass It On!
News to share with employees 
StressWarning Signs of Stress

So far today you've showed up late to a meeting, spilled coffee on your desk and got into a heated argument with a co-worker.  Pretty impressive, considering it's only 8:12 a.m. 

"Workplace stress is common and can be healthy when channeled constructively," says Kathleen Schiltz, EAP counselor.  "But when it gets out of control, it can lead to problems with your health and relationships."

Are you more than a little on edge?  Here are some warning signs that your stress is past its limits.

What a pain.  Got a headache?   Recurring upset stomach?  These are some nasty ways stress shows up to taunt you. 

Losing the snoozing.  Can't sleep at night?  Or maybe all you want to do is sleep, regardless of the time of day.  Both are signs of unchecked stress.

Space cadet.  Difficulty concentrating, daydreaming or struggling to juggle multiple tasks at once - all are red flags that your stress is out of bounds.

Picking fights.  Does your temper feel like a burning stick of dynamite?  A short fuse, especially when it leads to conflict with co-workers, is one way stress rears its ugly head.

Take this job and @%!  If you finished this sentence with enthusiasm, your stress might be getting the best of you.  Excessive stress can lead to job dissatisfaction even for the most loyal employee. 

How low can you go?  Stress leads to job woes which lead to low morale.  Do yourself a favor - before dragging yourself and your co-workers to the depths - get some perspective on your stress.  Talk to your EAP counselor or a trusted friend.

Click here to print or forward this article to employees.

Put the Boxing Gloves Down
Resolving conflict at work 
Boxing gloves Ever feel like the referee in a sparring match between employees?  Let's face it, there are very few of us who actually enjoy conflict.  Yet with deadlines, personal lives, differing personalities, organizational changes and sometimes limited resources, conflict is bound to happen in the workplace.  As supervisors, you can help turn conflict into an opportunity for change.

Know When to Step In
Team leaders have a responsibility to address conflict when it interferes with the organization's goals. First ask yourself: Is the conflict affecting the quality of the work environment, the product itself or the ability to be successful and productive? Are conflicts getting resolved among parties or is the same conflict occurring repeatedly, perhaps with the same people?

If employees are not able to resolve their own conflicts, supervisors can step in and help employees resolve the trouble constructively.  Start by asking the employee these questions: 
  • How are you going to handle this?
  • Please describe this situation from your viewpoint.
  • What have you tried thus far to deal with this?
  • Who are the people involved in the conflict?
  • What is your part in this conflict?
  • How would you like to see this resolved?
  • What is needed to help you deal with this situation?
  • What is your part in resolving this conflict?
  • Are you willing to participate in a resolution process with this person?
  • What will happen if this is not resolved?
Rules of the Ring
Regardless of what the conflict is, sticking to a few guidelines might make the resolution easier to come by. Read more.
EAP Makes $ense 
FinanceYou know employee health is tied directly to productivity.  But budgets are tight.  How can you afford an employee assistance program?  The real question is - how can you NOT?

-- Stress costs American employers $200 billion per year.
-- 75 percent to 90 percent of visits to primary care physicians are related to stress.
-- For every dollar invested in EAPs, a $5 to $7 loss is avoided.
-- EAPs can reduce sick leave by 37 percent.
-- 10 percent to 15 percent of all employees have serious problems affecting their work performance.

Affinity offers a cost-effective EAP, locally operated and priced affordably for your company's provident pocketbook.  Our counselors are experts in short-term, solution-focused therapy.  We understand the impact personal problems can have on productivity, absenteeism and safety, and we work to resolve issues for the benefit of your employees and your bottom line.  Affinity EAP offers four convenient locations throughout Oshkosh and the Fox Cities as well as an interactive web site. 

For more information, call us today at (920) 727-8700 and ask for Lisa or Holly in the Sales department.

Not sure what to look for when selecting an EAP?  Click here to learn more!
Ask the Expert
Patrick Hauer
Patrick Hauer, MS, CSAC, SAP, CEAP, Affinity EAP Counselor

Q: How can I encourage employees to use our Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

A: Successful EAP promotion is an ongoing activity that needs to be woven into the broad-based communication and health promotion activities of a business or organization.  Consequently, it is the process of having this planned "built in" targeted approach, spread throughout the organization and over the course of the year, that stimulates awareness of EAP services and increases comfort in accessing services.  I will briefly discuss some of these program promotion components.
Read more.
Have a question for our experts?  Click here.
Meet Our Staff
When you call the Affinity EAP, chances are you'll be greeted by the friendly voice of either Trisha Hummel or Tina Suttner.  

T Hummel

Trisha Hummel, EAP customer account/marketing rep
After 15 years in a variety of business settings, Trisha Hummel has found her "home away from home" with the Affinity EAP.  Busy on the front lines and behind the scenes as the customer account and marketing rep, Trisha has embraced an increasing spectrum of responsibilities over the past five years, from patient scheduling to advertising.  "It's great to work for a team that has your best interests at heart and applies that integrity to the job," she says.
A native of the Michigan UP, Trisha earned an associate's degree in business management from Davenport University in Grand Rapids.  She has been married to her high school sweetheart for 21 years, and they have two children - Rob, 19, a student at WYOTECH, an automotive specialty school in Laramie, Wyoming; and Caitlyn, 16, a junior at Freedom High School.  The family baby is a 6-year-old golden retriever. 
Trisha's true full-time job is "mom."  Her free time from August to May each year is filled with her kids' sporting events - baseball, football, volleyball and track.  As many parents can attest, "Even with its time-consuming challenges, watching our kids pour their heart and soul into something they are passionate about is the most enjoyable pastime," she says.  When she's not at a game, Trisha enjoys photography and tending to her flower beds.      

T Suttner

Tina Suttner, EAP patient scheduler
Tina Suttner is the newest addition to the EAP office staff.  Tina is responsible for scheduling appointments with the EAP counselors, coordinating company presentations and workshops, and developing promotional materials.  According to Tina, her most important job is "maintaining a high level of confidentiality for all EAP clients."
Before joining the EAP team one and a half years ago, Tina worked as an office manager at Wild Air Playzone.  Prior to that, she was a stay-at-home mom of four children: Matthew, 23; Jonathon, 21; Adam, 19; and Abigail, 16. When her kids were younger, she volunteered extensively at their schools in many capacities - library assistant, teacher's aide, computer aide, lunchroom supervisor, cafeteria aide, athletic director, and Home and School president, just to name a few.  She has also volunteered at Womankind Pregnancy Center. 
Tina is married to Tom, her high school sweetheart. In their spare time they like to visit their cabin in northern Wisconsin, where they enjoy hunting or taking the four-wheelers for a spin. She also enjoys gardening, planting trees, reading and spending time with her family.    
Upcoming Breakfast with the Experts
November 12, 2008
7:30 - 9 a.m. 
Bridgewood Resort & Conference Center
Neenah, WI
"It's Not My Fault" 
Understanding Brain Chemistry and Emotions in the Workplace

Guest speaker: Dan Neunaber, PhD, psychologist for Affinity Medical Group
Learn how our brains handle emotions, and how you may see this play out in the workplace.

To register for this free seminar, contact Jill Hernandez at (920) 727-8717 or
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Your Affinity Occupational Health Sales Team
Lisa Kogan-Praska, sales and marketing manager for Affinity Occupational Health, focuses on developing programs and services to fit each client's unique needs.  Lisa has more than 12 years of professional experience in the health care industry, including eight years specializing in occupational health and wellness. 

Holly Tomlin, sales and marketing representative for Affinity Occupational Health, enjoys building relationships with clients while finding creative solutions for their needs.  Holly's background includes 12 years of experience in the health care field, with a strong background in employee assistance programs and occupational health. 

To contact Lisa or Holly, call the Affinity Occupational Health office located in Menasha, at 1-800-541-0351, or e-mail or