Over the last 12 months I’ve had a growing sense that something wasn’t quite sitting right with me. The feeling reminded me of an experience I had years ago with my son’s under 11s club cricket team. The manager of that team who had terminal cancer was shamelessly bullying a couple of the kids on the team whose cricket skills were not as good as the rest. The team was winning what would probably be the manager’s last season, my own son was a big contributor the team’s success, and I kept telling myself I should be happy. As the season progressed and the bullying continued, myself and my son, who shares my strong sense of social justice, felt more and more uncomfortable with what we were witnessing.

The last straw for us was when the manager announced a reward system whereby kids who managed to score over a certain number of wickets and/or runs would be rewarded at the end of the season with a pool party at his impressive mansion. Those who didn’t make the grade would not be attending. I had no luck convincing the manager to change this policy and the other team parents whilst not in favour of the policy, didn’t want to risk upsetting our winning streak and weren’t comfortable complaining to a terminally ill man. Meanwhile the parents of the kids being bullied were barely showing their face at games and training.

When my son asked if he could leave the team and join a bunch of his school mates who were coming last on the ladder I initially said no. I argued that he should stay and attempt to change the values of the team from within the team, that leaving was running away from the problem. What I came to realise though was that he was right – that we had done everything we could to change their values and that the most powerful message we could send was to choose to live by ours.

Thinking back to this time helped me to see what my current feelings of discomfort are about. I regularly share with our clients what led us to founding Select Wellness. That in operating an EAP service we had grown tired of coming in at the bottom end of employee’s mental health spirals. That we were sick of hearing about the missed opportunities for early interventions. Select Wellness was born out of these frustrations and our company has over time developed a range of proactive and preventative employee wellbeing initiatives that have been proven to work.

Our EAP service now includes an onsite Wellbeing Walk In coaching service designed to support employees not before they start slipping down that spiral, and to make sure those that need EAP end up in quality care. HR love the general themes and insights we feed back to them from our one on one conversations with their staff. So why was I still so ill at ease?

What I realised is that we haven’t been living our company values. We have several clients, who notwithstanding our repeated efforts to convince them of the merits of a proactive and preventative approach are still insistent on offering a stand alone crisis model EAP. I thought back to that choice my son made when he was 11 and knew what we had to do. It was time to set some boundaries with ourselves and give our clients a time frame to come on board with our prevention based EAP model or find themselves an EAP provider with a different set of company values to ours.

So I would like to announce that from the 1st of Jan 2020, Select Wellness will no longer be offering a stand alone EAP crisis service. I know this will more than likely result in us losing some profitable business, but boy it feels good to be living by what motivated us to start.

 

 

Martine Beaumont

Author Martine Beaumont

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