Take Care of Your Employees’ Mental Health Now More than Ever!

Take Care of Your Employees’ Mental Health Now More than Ever!

Do you know how COVID-19 is affecting your employees’ mental, emotional and relational health—or your own for that matter? What can you do as an employer who never aspires to become a counselor? Simply show yourself as a
caring person. Know that any change—even good change— brings a level of stress and our entire country, home and work-lives are changing globally. Predict the difficulties of stress on folks’ emotional well-being and share resources
with them. Your EAP can supply those or use the information below. Give them lists of things to watch for in themselves and each other. People show stress in different ways, but usually in one of these major areas: lack of concentration, withdrawal from others, self-doubt, frequent errors, forgetting things, becoming easily irritated or even in conflict with others, frequent somatic complaints: headaches, stomach ache, fatigue, loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities. Employers see the latter as a lack of previous investment in or passion for work…which indicates either your employer or you are already in a state of exhaustion or burnout, which is dangerous to your physical health and immunity as well.
Predict these things “as possibilities if we don’t take care of ourselves as we should during this time.” Normalize “the
stress we are all experiencing with kids at home, finding ourselves trying to help them with school and trying to do our
jobs, all the while wondering what is going to happen in the future.” Encourage them that “We need to keep an eye on ourselves and each other. Can all of us agree to stay open to any coworker letting us know if we seem stressed and may need to change some things or get some support? That includes me and all the leadership at our company if you see it in
us.” As you normalize this practice, people are more willing to hear when interventions become necessary and act on the feedback. Let employees know that as a leader, you are just as susceptible; maybe even more so to stressors of this time, with concern for the same things they are concerned with at home, and concern for the whole organization and each of them as well. Show yourself as a model for openness to input and acting on it, just as you want your employees to remain open to your feedback to them. They will gain some degree of security knowing you are taking care of yourself in order to take care of the organization and them as your employees. When you hold meetings, take some time to go around and find out the following. You hand out the questions so people can get ready when their turn comes. Give only 3-5 minutes each so it is concise and doesn’t become a therapy group.

1) What are the most difficult aspects of this crisis for you, both professionally and personally?
2) What is your primary stress signal?
3) How do you prefer that coworkers or leaders support you if we see this stress signal in you? People like different things and some attempts at support can trigger more stress if we step on each other’s toes. Examples of support are:
• I like to talk about it. I usually like to go to lunch or spend time with a friend, so remind me to video conference, even though we can’t get together.
• I like someone to make me aware, but then trust me to take care of myself and not ask me how I’m doing all the time.
• Encourage me to exercise, that always relieves my stress.
• Pray with me. Or, don’t pray with me but pray for me. Or, it irritates me if people say they are praying because I don’t buy into that…
• I usually like to have a hug, but since we can’t do that, encourage me to go hug my spouse, my child or my dog…
• Encourage me to _ (enjoy my hobby, take a walk, step away from work, take a nap…)

Finally, let them know what actions you are taking to assure their income, whether or not they come through. It gives
them security to know you are trying (PPP or EIDL SBA Loans, etc.) If you as a leader can put this in place, you will find it goes a long way in setting the stage for a supportive work culture in the future. This practice of emotional, mental and relational well-being will continue in your workplace, with much less chance of work stressors escalating to the point of dissension or conflict. If you need a debrief group at your workplace to handle stress—especially for those essential employees, call your EAP to set it up via TeleHealth or, if you don’t have an EAP, call Innovative Alternatives, Inc. in the Bay Area at 713-222-2525. Most of all, take care!

2019 Visionary Leader’s Award Winner

2019 Visionary Leader’s Award Winner

Innovative Alternatives is proud to honor Jennifer Hohman at its upcoming Legacy of Leadership 30th Anniversary Gala on February 22, 2019, in the Hilton Hotel’s Grand Ballroom at the prestigious University of Houston.

Jennifer Hohman is a wife, mom and native Houstonian who is a Director of Information Technology in the oil and gas industry. She has been known to organize community events and charitable functions until one day when sex trafficking got too close to home. In her words, “It woke me the hell up to one of the most complex epidemics my city has ever seen!”.  To quickly get up to speed she started collaborating with 30+ anti sex trafficking nonprofit leaders in the Houston area to understand the services, gaps and areas that needed strengthening, thus was formed, the Houston Area Against Trafficking (HAAT) initiative . 

She is now trying to wake a sleeping giant, her community,  and is a community leader and advocate for victims and survivors determined to create massive awareness regarding prevention, intervention, and recovery via community uprising and corporate involvement.   To do so, a group of the top 20% of influential Houston leaders are coming together to get behind this movement, they are The Houston 20! They are raising funds for Emergency Assessment Centers, Long Term Aftercare/Residential Treatment Centers and Outreach and Intervention. 

In order to engage the corporate community, Jennifer and other business colleagues created the Oil and Gas Trafficking Advocacy (OGTAG) group to collaborate on ideas and initiatives to mobilize the energy industry to join the fight against sex trafficking.

To wake up a community, mobilize the 4th largest city in the nation and to combat this atrocity and epidemic, is a social movement called #FightForUS!  This is the voice of victims, survivors and citizens saying #NotInOurCity…finding our voice and fighting back! Recently this movement had a huge impact on federal and state level legislation, primarily with lobbying for FOSTA/SESTA HR1865 – Fight Online Sex Trafficking Amendment and will continue that momentum in the 2019 Texas State Legislative Session.

Innovative Alternatives is proud to honor Jennifer Hohman who so clearly champions causes so near to what we do every day helping crime victims and their families begin to put their lives back together.

To join us in celebrating all of 2019 Visionary Leaders Award Winners visit:

Recognizing & ‘Legally’ Addressing Mental Health Issues in the Workplace

Recognizing & ‘Legally’ Addressing Mental Health Issues in the Workplace

Is there a more uncomfortable subject to discuss with an employee except possibly personal hygiene issues? There so much social stigma around mental health issues—with many believing falsely that it is a sign of weakness, always permanent, difficult or impossible to treat or cure, people will look down on me, could I be losing my mind? All these are obstacles to people seeking treatment. As an employer, there are several things you can do to help your folks feel ok about getting help.

The first thing you can do is to promote the use of your EAP regularly throughout the year and normalize life stressors. Encourage folks to remember they have this benefit and to take advantage of it. Tell them, “We all went through Hurricane Harvey together. Use this as an example. Let them know, “Anyone who flooded certainly has stress, grief and loss, and trauma issues or you would NOT be normal! As I understand it, family conflict is also really common after a severe trauma or loss. Get help for yourself and your family members by using this benefit. There is no shame in asking for help. In fact, it takes more courage to ask for help than to pretend everything is fine when it isn’t.”

Secondly, keep an eye on your people for changes in behavior. If they were once high performers and now are missing deadlines, gaining or losing weight, complaining of vague somatic issues of insomnia, headaches and stomach or intestinal issues, missing workdays, tardy—all of these are signs of severe, unresolved stress. This may result from work or family troubles at home. It never hurts to ask as a caring person if everything is ok with them and offer your support. Make sure to tell them you do not want to butt in if they want to keep it confidential, but you are willing to help if you can. Let them know you can help if their workload is too much to handle. Whether they confide or not, remind

them again of their EAP benefit and that their medical plan also has counseling benefits (make sure it does when you shop plans, because every employee will encounter life crises at times and so will you—most of the time from your employees). This is especially important because if someone is experiencing IPV—Intimate Partner Violence—you need to know as their employer that someone could come on your premises and do harm to this employee and/or others.

Offer workshops on Avoiding Burn-Out as well as Workplace Violence which will cover cases of domestic abuse and how this is one of the main reasons people come on worksites to do harm. If someone ever comes to you saying they are

being stalked, ask them to supply a picture of the person to security if you have security, and if not, to the receptionist at a minimum, but all staff if they are willing. Instruct employees to call police if the person is spotted. Also, file a criminal trespass warrant on that person so police can arrest them if they return.

If an employee is deteriorating and you have done due diligence in disciplinary counseling, have given a written warning and improvement plan, you can—as part of that improvement plan–require them to attend EAP sessions for assessment and then to follow the recommended course of treatment by the provider. Test for substances (if that is in your handbook—otherwise you have to test 100% of employees or randomly test a percentage with that person randomly included. You can also request a note from EAP providers regarding attendance and participation, but usually not the content of sessions. You want the employee able to speak freely to the counselor so if there are issues on the job you don’t know about, the counselor can help. If the employee thinks you will find out, they may never discuss the issues—even if they do not involve you as the supervisor.

Try to keep the following in mind regarding workloads as well.

Remember that if an employee seems motivated to change, wants their job, but just cannot seem to change, they likely have an undiagnosed mental health issue and have little control over it. You cannot say you think that is
what it is of course, unless you’d like to get sued. Your language needs to say that you want them to succeed and go find out from a professional if anything is going on, that with help, could allow them to better control the behaviors they seem unable to control. Keep in mind that some disorders make people very successful at what they do, but they just can’t seem to get along with others socially. However, these folks do not suddenly change to become like this, they are always like this, but usually even worse at home. They try to control everyone in their relationships, which most folks do not like! If none of these interventions work, or the employee refuses to get an evaluation and treatment, you have done all you can possibly do.

Innovative Alternatives, Inc. has numerous EAP providers, and we are here to help. 713-222-2525.

What Is ‘The Recipe for a Positive Workplace Culture’?

What Is ‘The Recipe for a Positive Workplace Culture’?

Almost everyone has endured a job that makes getting up in the morning pure drudgery–when one must force oneself to go to work, only to find we cannot wait to leave. Hopefully, everyone has also had the experience of a great team and a job that is fulfilling and a joy to perform. The work culture is a huge part of making our work meaningful and fulfilling. Few people think about what makes one environment or team culture a great one and the other a poisonous place. However, if we force the question, most say, “It is the people and how we treat one another.”

The culture of most teams is usually a random combination of personalities and dynamics between employees that just happens. To create and maintain a positive work environment, all employees and leadership need two things—‘The Will’ and ‘The Skill’ to work through the natural and inevitable problems that arise from working in close proximity with other human beings. Unless you work remotely, alone in a cave, and never invite anyone over, you will find yourself in conflict at times. Are you poorly, adequately or well-prepared?

Do you know how to present problems you have with others in a way they can hear without feeling attacked? If someone presents a problem to you in an improper manner, can you hear their need and interest and let them know you heard it in order to de-escalate them long enough to negotiate an agreement? It is doubtful, unless you are prepared ahead of time with training and practice the skills you learned. Every employer and employee needs to learn communication and conflict resolution skills, but skills are the easy part. It is ‘The Will’ that is a challenge to build in a workforce.

When assisting a business in deliberate development of positive work culture—via creation of ‘Team Norms’–we ask work groups to construct guidelines—or ‘norms of behavior’—to which coworkers agree to hold one another accountable in the workplace. Team Norms, are facilitated among employees who brainstorm the elements of their ‘ideal’ workplace, as well as creating accountability strategies that can prevent or quickly eliminate negative interactions. Whether problems already exist in your culture; or you already have a great workplace culture; these norms can resolve current issues or serve as prevention of development of negative behaviors in the future. It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch.

The power of Team Norms lies in the buy-in created within a team that works to develop them together and commits to holding each other accountable to them. People abide by the norms because they created the expectations! They hold each other accountable because they come to value the positive environment in which they work and want to protect it. When organizations combine the power of Team Norms with Conflict Resolution & Communication Skills Training—companies save time, money, productivity and human resources! Well worth any company’s investment!

Call Innovative Alternatives to begin building a better work culture for your dream team!

713.222.2525 ask to speak with Matt Morse.

2019 Visionary Leader’s Award Winner

2019 Visionary Leader’s Award Winner

Innovative Alternatives is proud to honor the honorable Joanne King Herring at the upcoming Legacy of Leadership 30th Anniversary Gala on February 22, 2019, in the Hilton Hotel’s Grand Ballroom at the prestigious University of Houston.

The Dame, The Knight, The Ambassador, Hostess Author, Texas Hall of Fame, and now Nominated for the Congressional Gold Medal (civilian equivalent of Congressional Medal of Honor).

Joanne Herring was named the Queen of Texas by People, Forbes, Fortune Magazines, Washington Post, and CNN.

Joanne and Charlie Wilson played a critical role in ending the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan without the loss of one American life. Their efforts were the leading factor that aided Pres. George W. Bush and Secretary James Baker in the collapse of the greatest War machine in history, the Soviet Union. This action helped to end the cold war and many say prevented World War Three.

Superstar Julia Roberts played her in the movie Charlie Wilson’s War with 5 Academy Award Winners in the cast.

Her biography Diplomacy and Diamonds made five best seller lists.

She has served as Council General and Advisor to the President of Pakistan and the King of Morocco simultaneously.  The only woman in history to be a double consul.  She has been lauded by the press in England, France, and Germany. Spain, Pakistan, Morocco and entertained their Presidents and Kings on their state visits to the United States. 

The Joanne King show was on the air 15 years and was rated the 5th most popular TV daytime show in the United States.

Not one to rest on her laurels after helping defeat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, Joanne was disheartened to see the villages there struggling, and people vulnerable to the reemergence of the Taliban and their poppy fields, among other hardships and brutalities.   Ten years ago, she founded a charitable organization, Marshall Plan Charities (MPC), with the mission of building a model village in Afghanistan that was founded with the simultaneous introduction of modern schools, basic health care, clean water, sustainable food sources and real jobs.  The dream of this successful, thriving village was realized in Khair Abad in the Shindand District of Herat Province in western Afghanistan.  Now, ten years later, not only is Khair Abad a thriving success, it is now the capital of its province.

Innovative Alternatives is proud to honor Joanne King Herring who so clearly champions causes so near to what we do every day helping crime victims and their families begin to put their lives back together.

To join us in celebrating all of 2019 Visionary Leaders Award Winners visit:

2019 Visionary Leader’s Award Winner

2019 Visionary Leader’s Award Winner

Innovative Alternatives is proud to honor Rania Mankarious at the upcoming Legacy of Leadership 30th Anniversary Gala on February 22, 2019, in the Hilton Hotel’s Grand Ballroom at the prestigious University of Houston.

Boston native Rania Mankarious was chosen to head Houston’s leading public safety non-profit organization, Crime Stoppers of Houston, in March of 2013. Rania is a graduate of Boston College where she received a dual degree in psychology and theology and a minor in pre-med; she went on to earn her Masters’ Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy where she graduated magna cum laude and interned at the Harvard University affiliated McLean Hospital, followed by a law degree completed at the University of Houston Law Center.

She boasts an extensive resume with experience consulting for national companies, non-profit organizations and private public relations clients alike. Citing a personal mission to serve families and engage the public to better society, Rania began consulting with Crime Stoppers in 2006.

In her more than five years at the helm and through working with her incredible team, Rania’s legacy has been well established. Described by some as “Crime Stoppers on steroids,” her footprint has elevated the organization to new heights. In addition to expanding the reach of the Safe School Institute, the topics covered by the Safe Community Program, the launch of Parents Against Crime and the critically important Fallen Hero Program, Rania is most proud to have built the first-ever Crime Stoppers headquarters, anywhere in the world, right here in Midtown. The Dave Ward Building, Crime Stoppers of Houston was officially opened January 2017 and is the first public safety, crime prevention facility of its kind – bringing together civilians and law enforcement as well as students and community members from every corner of our great city. Additionally, on this city block rests the first Harris County Sheriff’s Office Memorial Garden, a beautiful tribute to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. 

As the current CEO of Crime Stoppers of Houston, Mankarious has lead one of the most robust and successful school safety programs nationally. She has testified before the Texas State House of Representatives and Senate Committees on the topic of school safety as well as other legislative issues pertaining to public safety. She also currently serves as a national advisor for Safe and Sound Schools, a nonprofit organization focused on national school safety and created by two families who lost children during the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

She appears regularly on NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX as well as on radio shows locally and nationally as a public safety/mental health/family safety expert.

Innovative Alternatives is proud to honor Mrs. Mankarious who so clearly champions causes so near to what we do every day helping crime victims and their families begin to put their lives back together.

To join us in celebrating all of 2019 Visionary Leaders Award Winners visit:

2019 Visionary Leader’s Award Winner

2019 Visionary Leader’s Award Winner

Innovative Alternatives is proud to honor Margaret Alkek Williams at the upcoming Legacy of Leadership 30th Anniversary Gala on February 22, 2019 at the University of Houston Hilton Ballroom.

Margaret Alkek Williams is a Houston treasure and one of the Bayou City’s most generous and committed philanthropists. Her tireless efforts have helped Houston become the vibrant world-class city it is today.

Margaret serves as chairman of the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation, the living legacy created by her parents.  There she continues to carry on the family’s charitable mission to advance educational and medical institutions, to preserve and promote the fine and performing arts and to support programs serving the people of the state of Texas.

Margaret currently serves on twenty-two boards and their various committees, and remains personally involved in their fundraising. She has been honored by and received awards from numerous organizations in Houston and has chaired or co-chaired many special events.

In 2017, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Maurice Hirsch Award for Philanthropy at the Association of Fundraising Professionals–Greater Houston Chapter’s National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon.  She was humbled to follow in the footsteps of past recipients, including her parents Albert B. Alkek and Margaret M. Alkek.

Preserving and promoting the performing arts has been a tradition of the Alkek family and Margaret’s influence across Houston’s cultural community is legendary. The grants she has directed to performing arts organizations have provided a major impetus for new productions, buildings, endowments and programs for the Alley Theatre, Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony, Theatre Under The Stars and The Center for Performing Arts Medicine at Houston Methodist Hospital.

Margaret was the first person in the U.S. to receive the Audrey Hepburn® Society Philanthropist of the Year Award in recognition of her support of the UNICEF and Baylor Pediatric AIDS Initiative partnership. UNICEF honored Margaret with the award at the 2013 UNICEF Audrey Hepburn® Society Ball for her extraordinary dedication to the health and well-being of children in Houston and around the world. UNICEF also established the Margaret Alkek Williams Humanitarian Award, a special award given to philanthropic leaders at the annual UNICEF Gala Houston.  Past recipients of the award include Former First Lady Barbara Bush, Rose and Harry Cullen, Robert and Janice McNair and Susan and Fayez Sarofim.

Through her steadfast support of UNICEF, Margaret has championed the fight against human trafficking, a cause that was highlighted at 2017 UNICEF Gala Houston.   Angie Harmon, UNICEF Ambassador and End Trafficking spokesperson, was the recipient of the Spirit of Compassion Award.  A portion of funds raised that evening went towards the fight against human trafficking in Houston.

Margaret is honored to be receiving the 2019 Visionary Leader’s Award from Innovative Alternatives and proud to join Texas’ First Lady Cecilia Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the fight to end human trafficking in Texas.

Six Months After Hurricane Harvey

FOX 26 News Photojournalist Darlene Janik Faires has the story.

VIDEO POSTED: FEB 05 2018 05:03PM CST from: