2017 At a Glance - The Most Requested EAP Service Revealed

Face to Face Counseling
Data from the behavioral health care industry is consistent year–over–year and the top requested Employee Assistance Program (EAP) service is…counseling. No surprise right? EAP's are historically known for offering counseling services. What we learned is not only do employees utilize the counseling services regularly, but they also prefer to meet face to face. The preference for in–person counseling is not due to lack of options. Time–crunched, multi–generational workplaces want more options to connect with EAP services which is why Cascade Centers offers phone, in–person, text, video chat and online chat sessions with a licensed counselor to engage with employees.

It's not a lack of options.

The data reveals that employees do still prefer a face to face connection with their counselor even though they have access to alternatives.  If employees prefer in–person counseling why do companies more often offer an EAP that only offers telephonic counseling?  Why should employees face barriers to accessing face to face counseling?  This is oftentimes the case when the EAP benefit offered is considered a “free” or “embedded” EAP.  Most disability carriers started to offer a “free” or “embedded” EAP to stand out among their competitors. Today most disability carriers now offer a free EAP, and sometimes that free option is sufficient. Employers lean towards a free EAP if they don't have a corporate culture that emphasizes mental health or there's not a high demand from employees. 

On the flip side, sometimes the free option doesn't align with the organization's goals or there is a higher level of support needed leaving companies to seek out a standalone EAP for a more robust benefit offering. Cascade Centers is a standalone EAP – we're not free but we offer more options. Standalone EAP access extends to all members of your household who may need in–person counseling, robust work/life/balance programs, legal support, or financial wellness services.One benefit of having a standalone EAP is the ability to collaborate with your dedicated account manager and customize your program. You even get access to utilization *reports. Customizing your program might range from integrating with your other benefit providers or finding new and creative ways to keep mental health top of mind all year long.  If you're interested in looking at the next generation of EAPs we'd like to hear from you!

Want access to more EAP data? Stay tuned for the launch of our annual benchmarking report, coming in 2018.

*Due to confidentiality, full utilization reports are available for groups of 75 and over
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How to Turn “Busy” into “Productive” - Part 1 of 2

It’s a New Year and for most people they’re reflecting on what they’d like to do differently going forward. If one of your goals is to slow down yet be more productive you’re not alone. Pay attention over the next few days to how people respond when you greet them and ask “how are you?” or “how have you been?” Notice how many of them include “busy” in their response. In our fast-paced American society, many people wear “busy” like a badge of honor. It’s true that many of us are “busy, busy, busy”, but are we really being productive? I believe the litmus test is to examine results. Are we getting the results we want? If not, then we might not be “busy” on the right things.

Here are a few ideas to help you turn your “busy” into “productive” and ensure you’re spending time on the activities that will yield results.

Know Your Objectives and Deliverables

Take a look at your job description if you have one that’s up to date. Take a look at your annual performance goals. What results are you responsible for producing in your firm? What objectives do you hope to achieve? What is important to you (and your boss)? When you are unclear on your destination, it’s difficult to determine the right direction or the path that will get you there. We can waste a lot of time spinning our wheels down the wrong road when we don’t know where we’re going. I was recently reminded of a funny line from the 1991 movie “City Slickers” where one of the characters says to another “we’re lost, but we’re making really good time”. Case in point.

Prioritize Your Tasks

Have a “to-do” list or task that’s 10 pages long? No wonder you’re so busy! It’s time to take a second and prioritize. Start small and pick the top three tasks you feel are of greatest priority for that day and focus your efforts on those. It is important to remember that when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.

Pareto’s Principle tells us that we get 80 percent of our results from 20 percent of our activities. What are the 20 percent of tasks you can accomplish that will yield the highest results?

I like to suggest to clients that they take 10 minutes at the end of each day to plan for the next. Review your calendar so you know what appointments you have and review your task list so you can identify your priorities. By identifying your top priority for the following day, you can position yourself to hit the ground running.

First Things First

How do you start your day? Do you hop on email and then never get off? Many people do and then at 5:00 wonder where the day has gone. They fall into what I call “reactive mode” (reacting all day to emails, the phone, other people’s interruptions and requests, etc.) and don’t have time left to be proactive.
What’s important to you? What can you do first, to jumpstart your day? To pave the path to maximized productivity?

I love to exercise in the morning. Let me clarify – I don’t love to exercise, but I love to do it in the morning because I love the results. There’s the long-term health benefits, of course, but for me, there’s also the “I did it” feeling and the natural adrenaline rush I get right afterwards. This fires me up for the day and I’m ready to go. I know those days that I exercise in the morning, I’m much more productive. When I get into a rut and don’t get up to run or go to the gym for a number of days (or weeks) in a row, my energy level is negatively affected. This affects my productivity.

Another way to jumpstart your day is to get the most important thing you need to do all day done first. Steven Covey calls this “First things First”, and suggests that successful people make this a habit. I concur. What if, even before you get on email, you tackled the “number one” priority for the day? Accomplish, or make significant progress on the one task that will make the biggest difference in your personal or professional life. Imagine the feeling you’ll have when you get that done and there’s still much of the day in front of you! This strategy can give your day amazing momentum.

I also know myself well. I know that if I leave these things (exercise and a high priority task) until later in the day, I will likely not do them at all. I may procrastinate, fill my time with lower priority tasks, or come up with excuses as to why not to exercise or tackle that important thing until later (which never comes). Getting these things done first thing in the morning helps ensure that they happen, that they are out of the way and I can move on.  Author and speaker Brian Tracy calls this strategy “Eat a Frog for Breakfast” and even wrote a book on the concept. His idea is that if you had to eat a big, ugly frog on any given day, wouldn’t rather eat it in the morning for breakfast and get it out of the way than having it stare at you all day?

We’re not done with sharing tips on this topic but want to give you some time to give these few tips a try first.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Turning “Busy” into “Productive”.
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How to Turn “Busy” into “Productive” - Part 2 of 2

Busy to Productive 2
We’re continuing our discussion around ideas to help you move from being less “busy” to more “productive” in the New Year. And just to recap in case you missed the first three tips: 1) Know your objectives and deliverables, 2) Prioritize your tasks, 3) First things first, jumpstarting your day.


Wondering what to do with the other 80 percent of your tasks? Challenge yourself to see which ones could be done by someone else. When you delegate those things on your list that someone else could do for you, you free up your time to do the high value, important tasks, that only you can do.

There are two primary reasons people don’t delegate more. One is that they believe it would be faster to just do it themselves. While there is an initial time investment made when you teach someone else to complete a task or process, the return is realized each time they do that task (instead of you). The other reason people don’t delegate involves a control issue. Have you ever heard someone say “if I want it done right, I better do it myself”? To relinquish control and feel good about it, take the following steps when you delegate:
1. Consider the skills needed to accomplish the task and find the right person for the job.
2. Be clear with the individual or individuals you are delegating to in regard to the task and your expectations.
3. Give the person an opportunity to ask question or clarify details.
4. Be specific about any deadlines involved and ask for updates on progress.
5. Check in periodically without micromanaging. Make yourself available to answer questions, especially the first time around.
6. Give feedback.

Say No

Take a look at your task list and see what “low value” tasks you can eliminate all together. Be thoughtful when you add something new to the list. Ensure that you consider what is already on your list before you say “yes” to new requests for your time or talents. Is the request in line with your priorities? Keep in mind that every time we say “yes” to something, we’re saying “no” to something else. For example, saying “yes” to that additional committee may mean saying “no” to making it home to dinner with your family. Saying “yes” to an additional project may mean saying “no” to something else on your plate. If the new request is coming from your boss and you feel it will overload you, ask him or her to help you prioritize the new task or project in relation to your current or ongoing projects.


Stop Multitasking. It doesn’t work as well as you think it does. Most people believe they can save time by trying to do two or three things at once.  Typical multitasking examples include: sending emails while on the phone, listening to a colleague while sorting mail, or making an unrelated list during a meeting.  While most people think they are being more productive, growing research shows that multitasking actually makes you less efficient and reduces brainpower to perform each task. 

The Journal of Experimental Psychology published a study showing that those who multitask are less effective than those who focus on one project at a time. More and more studies are coming out with evidence that multitasking is problematic.  According to, heavy multitaskers did worse on attention tests than non-multitaskers and the multitaskers were more easily distracted by irrelevant information. 

Some additional effects of multitasking are that it is linked to short term memory loss, it can induce a stress response that when prolonged can damage cells that form new memory, it can change your ability to concentrate or increase gaps in your attentiveness, and it can increase the chance of mistakes.

The primary skill we need to overcome multitasking is the ability to
FOCUS.  We also need to be able to handle interruptions and eliminate distractions.

Focus on one task at a time. This means doing something,
and thinking about what you’re doing at the same time. Periodically during the day ask yourself “what am I doing right now?”.  The task that you are working on “right now” should be the only thing that has your attention.  Eliminate distraction by silencing your phone, turning off email notifications, putting a “do not disturb” sign on your door, etc..  It is also important to have a clutter-free workspace, to minimize “shiny object distraction” which in turn will allow you to be more productive.

By employing these strategies, the next time someone inquires “how are you?”, you’ll be able to respond “great!”, knowing that you’re busy getting the important things done. Here’s to your productivity!
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Free Yourself from Sugar Dependence

While there is much to celebrate as we start the new year, there may also be anxiety around resolutions to eat healthier or lose weight. Read More