8 Simple steps to creating an amazing Values based workplace

It’s just as important for organizations to have values to guide them as it is for individual people. Values are what provide us with direction; they are necessary to set a moral compass to help us make decisions. They guide us in our relationships, and in organizations, they are the fundamental backbone of trusting high performing teams.

Living values begins with leadership. A clear, commonly held mission and the allegiance to the values that help achieve this mission, starts with leaders who communicate and model what the organization is all about. These are leaders who understand that investing time and energy in being value based generates significant economic and moral returns.

There are some very specific processes that can orient everyone to commonly shared values and help make your workplace a safe, positive, and inspiring place to be.

1) Hire people whose values are consistant with those of the organization. Ask values based questions in the interview. “Tell me about your values and how you live by them in your personal and professional life?” “We value innovation, could you give an example of how you were innovative”

2) Regularly involve everyone in the review and formation of your organization’s values and explain how they will help accomplish your organization’s mission. People are far more likely to follow ideas and standards if they feel they had a part in their creation.

3) Break your values down into observable measurable behaviours. Concepts like “respect” could have many personally defined meanings, but the concrete behaviours you’ve all agreed fit with that value (such as asking someone why they handled a situation the way they did rather than immediately “correcting” them) are what helps the values become real and consistent.

4) Refer to your organization’s mission and values frequently in both internal and external communication. Keep values alive by using value words. Using words like transparency, justice, fun, respect, collaboration, and confidentiality for example, keeps those values on people’s minds and makes it more likely for accompanying value behaviours to occur.

5) “Catch” people living your organization’s values. Look for instances of that happening and point them out. Maybe invite everyone to recommend others whom they’ve caught living a value for awards or fun ceremonies or a mention in your newsletter.

6) Include values in performance reviews. Make it clear that results cannot circumvent values, and tie bonuses, advancement, and even continued employment to an expectation of demonstrated value based behaviour.

7) Invite feedback from others about whether they experience you living your organization’s values. If you say you value “inclusiveness” you might near the end of a meeting ask everyone before they leave whether they all felt their voices were heard and valued.

8) As a leader, you cannot help but have enormous influence either positively or negatively. You can inspire your people to great heights by modeling your organization’s values at every opportunity. Little inspires people more than a leader with integrity. Conversely, few things generate cynicism and value disruption more than a leader who does not “walk the talk”.

Living values as an organization involves far more than merely listing them on a website. As in our own personal lives, living values requires commitment, and an ongoing honest review to ensure that it’s not all just talk.

Living values can be difficult, but there’s no doubt that there’s a huge payoff-both for organizations and for individuals.

Theo Selles, M.Sc.
President, Integrity Works

Depression and Grief

As you may know, I regularly appear on CHML900 AM’s The Bill Show as a relationship consultant. Bill and I cover a great range of issues. He’s a tremendous radio talk show host and I’m lucky to have the opportunity to learn from him. He’s unfailingly courteous to his guests and callers and genuinely interested in what people have to say, rather a far cry from the typical “shock jock” routine that seems to be prevalent these days. You know, the shows where it’s all about the host whose job, it seems, is to antagonize as many people as possible while rudely cutting short the barely expressed opinions of others. Bill’s an educated, informed gentleman, and a true master of the art of conversation.

Our last two shows were about dealing with grief and understanding depression. I think you’ll find them to be a much deeper, personal, and sensitive exploration of those two difficult topics than the usual clinical analysis typically found online. In it I share my own experience of depression and I share some stories illustrating the uniqueness of grief. Most of us have had to, and will have to, find our way through the pain associated with mental health issues and loss at some point in our lives. I hope listening to the podcasts of those shows will be helpful to you. You can hear them by copying and pasting this link into your browser window: As always, I value your feedback. Don’t hesitate to call or email.

Thank you for listening.


The Truth about Employee Assistance Programs (“EAP”s)

You recognize that protecting the health of your employees and preventing personal problems from interfering with work performance is good business, and part of a caring Organizational Culture. You’ve decided that your organization needs an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or you have such a program already, and it’s coming up for renewal. But how do you know which program to buy?

Let’s face it; every EAP company will make a strong case for why they should be your provider. By now, it’s pretty much an accepted fact that EAP programs really can be very effective in bringing down the costs incurred from absenteeism, harassment, accidents, lowered work efficiency, extended use of supervisors time, sick leave, employee turn-over, theft, employee conflict, grievances, and short and long term disabilities claims.

Here’s some behind the scenes EAP information that providers likely won’t tell you: EAP providers will typically provide a quote based on your number of employees and their estimation of utilization rate. A typical “guess” on their part is that about 8% of your staff will make use of the service. If you have 100 staff, they might charge you $60 an employee for a year’s coverage. In this example you pay the provider $6000.00 to provide counselling coverage to all of your employees. The provider estimates that they will only have to cover eight employees out of that $6000.00 at a potential cost to them of $750 per employee.

How does the provider maximize their profits and ensure that the employee doesn’t eat up the whole $750? First the provider will set a session number limit (not one that they will often openly tell you-or one that their counsellors are allowed to tell your employees if they ask how many sessions they are entitled to have). That session limit is usually around five. So, if eight employees use the full 5 sessions your cost is $150 per session, which is above market rate for what you would typically pay if you reimbursed a private counsellor for those sessions.

It doesn’t end there, however. Behind the scenes the counsellors providing the EAP services to your employees are often under intense pressure to keep their average session number well below five-usually around three. You, and your employees, are of course never going to be told that! You also aren’t likely to be told that your provider is often paying their counsellors as little as they can-sometimes as little as $40 a session. If a provider is able to limit your eight employees to three sessions and pay only $40 per session to their counsellors their expense is $960.00 in total out of the $6000.00 that you’ve paid them. Another way of looking at it is that they’ve reduced their cost per employee covered from a potential $750 per person to $120 per person. The rest goes to other expenses and profit. That’s how it works.

If you’re selecting an EAP provider, you should be asking tough questions such as these: How can I increase employee usage of the service and insure that they are told how many sessions they are eligible to receive? What are all the additional services besides counselling that are available to us and are they included in the cost? What are the qualifications, training, diversity, and morale of the counsellors who will be working with our employees? What workshops, “lunch and learns”, and training seminars are available? What is the scope of the Trauma Debriefing services available to us in case of a crisis or emergency? What are the counseling offices like in terms of location, professionalism, and safety? How quickly are counsellors available and how much choice do employees have about who they meet with? What are the provider’s response and waiting times before initial and subsequent sessions? (Often new clients are seen quickly but then have to wait a long time before their next appointment). How does the provider take care of their counsellors so that they are paid well and do not experience burnout? (This is very important because too often the counsellors are under intense pressure to see as many clients as possible for as little money as possible, and this directly affects the quality of the service provided).

We know the ins and outs of EAP’s. We can ask the tough questions for you, and we will ensure that you have all the information you need to make an informed choice when it comes to the health and care of your people. And, if you find out (from the reports that we’ll make sure you get) that the average session number used by your employees seems to be low, we’ll find out why and help you address the issue. Or if you like, you can set up a personal EAP service directly with us. We’ll take care of your employees so they can concentrate on the work they need to do. Call Theo at 647-686-0116 to explore your options.