DHSTogether put together a list of 'Things You Should Know' for Managers.
How to Answer Employees' Questions about the DHSTogether Training and/or Initiative
- For questions specifically about DHSTogether, direct interested employees to a dedicated email address: DHSTogether@dhs.gov.
- For issues related to access to, or functionality of, the training on your Leaning Management System (LMS), they will need to contact your component LMS Manager directly.
- For questions about stress management, worklife balance, and any other issues discussed in the training, they can contact your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Program Manager or call the EAP directly. Visit DHSConnect (network access required) for more information on the Employee Assistance Program.
What to Do if You See an Employee Struggling with Stress and/or Worklife Issues
If these issues are affecting an employee's performance, you, as their supervisor, have the right and responsibility to address them immediately. If these issues are not affecting performance but you are concerned, use your best judgment as to the most effective approach, based on their personality and your relationship with them. Do not ignore warning signs simply because you are uncomfortable having this difficult conversation.
Steps you can take in either case include:
- Express concern. The training will guide you through a model called the "Buddy Check" that applies just as much in this case as it would in peer-to-peer interaction.
- Refer them to the EAP. Your EAP can help coach you on how to have that conversation; you can contact them directly for a management consultation.
- If you are a new supervisor/manager, your own supervisor may be able to offer advice and guidance.
- Maintain confidentiality as much as is possible. Earning the trust of your work group will help you become a great leader.
What to Do If an Employee Expresses Concern about a Co-Worker
If you have not observed any warning signs yourself, this can be a problematic scenario—but do not simply ignore these concerns.
- Ask for specific examples of problematic behavior. You may hear enough that you wish to act immediately, or you may prefer to wait and observe these behaviors yourself, in order to confirm before taking action.
- Emphasize the need for confidentiality.
- If the employee in question is your direct report you can talk to them. If not, you are encouraged to work with their supervisor.
How to Talk to an Employee about Your Concerns
- The DHSTogether training includes modules on the "Buddy Check" and ACT models that address how to have these conversations, whether you are worried about stress, or more seriously, about the potential for suicide.
- The EAP can help coach you about how to make effective referrals, as well as how to have a difficult conversation with a troubled employee. Find your component's EAP contact information. (network access required)
Getting in Touch with the EAP
- You can call your EAP directly to access services, or if you wish to find out more, you can talk to your component's EAP Program Manager. Learn more. (network access required)
Ensuring that Employees Get the Help They Need
- Except in cases where you believe that someone is a danger to themselves or others, it is up to each individual to seek the help they need.
- As a manager, you can make a referral to the EAP for an employee who seems to be troubled.
- As a leader, you can create a culture within your organization that encourages anyone who needs help to seek out the necessary support and assistance.
Responsibilities Towards a Troubled Employee
Once you notice, or someone else expresses their concern, that an employee may be struggling with stress, your responsibilities are to that employee and to your work group.
- Performance. As a supervisor/manager, it is your responsibility to hold employees accountable for their performance. If they are unable to meet performance goals, you should refer them to resources such as the EAP that can help them return to full effectiveness.
- Safety. If you are concerned that an employee may be a potential risk to themselves or anyone else, you need to take appropriate action. This training will help you understand how to address the risk and get your employee the help they need.
- Referral. You are not a counselor, and you cannot fix people. But you can and should refer them to appropriate resources. The DHSTogether training will help you understand how to talk to your employees about any issues they may be facing, and the resources available to them.
Employees Needing Additional Accessibility Assistance with the Training
- You or the employee can send an e-mail to DHSTogether@dhs.gov with a request for assistance. Please include the best way to reach the employee.
- Your EAP is not only a counseling service—the Program can also coach you on how to make effective referrals, as well as how to have difficult conversations with your employees about personal issues that may be affecting their job performance. Find your component's EAP contact information. (network access required)
- Your component's EAP Program Manager can give you additional information about your EAP services, and can also assist if you are having any problems contacting the EAP or not receiving the support you need. Find your EAP Program Manager's contact information (network access required).
- If you are coping with an employee whose performance is affected by personal issues, your employee relations office can assist as well. As a leader you need to help ensure your employees have the support they need, but you are also responsible for assuring performance outcomes so that your organization can achieve its mission.