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December 27, 2009

2009 Year in Review

Here's a retrospective look at 2009 via some best and worst lists for 2009.

Top HR Stories of 2009 - Human Resource Executive

20 Breakthrough Business Ideas for 2009 - Harvard Business Review

Best Business Books of 2009 - Fast Company

Top 25 Blogs for Workers Compensation and Workplace Issues - Lexis Nexis

Top Ten Risk Management Lessons and Trends from 2009

Top 10 Work Life Culture Stories 2009 - WorkLifeNation

World's Best Companies 2009 - Business Week

100 Best Companies to Work For - Fortune

50 Best Places to Work - Glassdoor.com

5 Worst Co-Workers of 2009 - MSN Careers

Worst Bosses of 2009 - eBoss Watch

Top 10 Health Stories - Harvard Health Letter

Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs - Time

World's 200 Best Universities 2009 - U.S. News

Top Buzzwords of 2009 - New York Times

Top Words of 2009 - Global Language Monitor

Top Twitter Trends of 2009 - Twitter Blog

5 Big Real-Time Web Trends of 2009 - Mashable

50 Best Websites - Time

Year in Photos - Boston.com

December 18, 2009

ESI featured in WSJ article on Mental Health Parity Law and EAPs

An article by reporter Shirley Wang at the Wall Street Journal this week noted that many companies are turning to EAPs or expanding their EAP coverage options as a cost-effective alternative to help fulfill requirements of the mental health parity law. We were pleased to find a brief profile about our services in the article:

"One employee at Harrington Industrial Plastics, a distributor of industrial plastics in Chino, Calif., says she "didn't know where to start" when looking for help dealing with the loss of a child. She turned to her company's EAP, which took a "heavy burden" off her by helping find the resources she needed, including an in-network provider.

Harrington had a bare-bones EAP, offering just three telephone counseling sessions, until early this year. To encourage greater use, the company began offering unlimited telephone sessions and introduced in-person sessions through ESI Employee Assistance Group. It also expanded the menu of services offered to include consultations for adoption, caring for elderly parents and even dealing with pets' behaviors and moods.

Employee use of the Harrington EAP has since risen dramatically, says Robyn Cherney, the company's human-resources administrator."

Mental Health Parity and EAPs
According to Wang, many employers with 50+ employees will need to adjust coverage options by January 1 to comply with the mental health parity law (The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.) This will entail "setting co-payments for behavioral-health services no higher than those for other medical benefits, as well as lifting or expanding limits on the number of visits to mental-health professionals so they are no less restrictive than physical-health benefits." The law expands on the parity provisions stipulated in a prior federal law. In addition, many states have their own mental health parity laws.

One advantage of having an EAP is the potential to intervene early so that many life problems and mental health issues can be addressed at an early stage before they burgeon into more debilitating and more disruptive problems. A good EAP with clinical counselors can also serve as a mental health entry point to help ensure appropriate referrals and follow-up for services within a qualified network of providers.


** An alert reader notified us that the Department of Labor link that we used in our list did not have the most recent information and therefore was inaccurate. We've updated the link with more recent information from the DOL, but be aware that final regulations for the law have been delayed. In October, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated that regulations are planned for January 2010. Meanwhile, affected employers should proceed with good faith efforts to comply with the law's requirements.

December 15, 2009

Holiday work parties, 2009 style

Most companies plan to hold an end-of-year/holiday party for employees this year, but one in five employers will not hold a party due to economic cutbacks, according to a holiday poll of 300+ employers by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The smaller the employer, the more likely the party: Small (72%) and medium-sized (67 %) organizations were more likely than large-sized organizations (48%) to stage parties.

BNA’s Year-End Holiday Practices Survey also found that the economy is having an impact on seasonal festivities. Two out of three employers (67%) will hold some sort of year-end holiday celebration in 2009, down from the 81% that sponsored such events in 2008. More employers will limit party access to employers this year too - 47% of surveyed employers will open up their holiday parties to spouses or other guests, compared to 55% in 2008. And in what may be even more dispiriting news to cash-strapped employees, the survey revealed that holiday gifts and bonuses have fallen to a record low - down to 33%, a drop from the recent high of 49% in 2006

We posted about workplace holiday festivities in a recession last December, and except for the change in employer practices noted above, some of the excellent tips from experts for organizations hosting holiday parties still stand and are worth perusing. Here are some additional resources for employers and employees:

Navigating holiday parties: tips for employers

Navigating holiday parties: tips for employees

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