Blog

EAP Expert V3 Release notes

As of November 1, 2018 we have updated EAP Expert with the following new features and bug fixes.

If you want to learn more or see some of these in action, register for our webinar on Nov 1st where we will be previewing the new features and discussing some of the other key bug fixes. Click here to register.

Features Added 

  • Added ability to restrict New options in the Scheduler Context Menu. 
  • Added a second type of attachment called Secure Attachments to allow for different kinds of attachments with different kinds of security permissions. 
  • Added option to restrict some administrators from using the Edit Model under the Tools Menu 
  • Added ability to manually import Call Center called via CSV file, as well as allowing CSV filetypes to be automatically imported from an FTP 
  • Added check for duplicate office locations when creating new clinical office locations 
  • Users are now unable to delete a file if it has an Authorization that is pushed to Provider Files 
  • Added ability to disable to Primary Counselor prompt when creating an Authorization 

Issues Resolved  

  • Updates SFTP client tool to allow for larger encryption keys to be used 
  • Fixed error when selecting Information Call in the Service Request window 
  • Fixed error when trying to add a contact to an Organizational Service 
  • Fixed error with Work/Life Service Request 
  • Fixed issue with Work/Life files not being included with the Subsidiary Report 
  • Fixed error when trying to add a new file to an existing file that isn’t saved and is missing a required field. 
  • Fixed issue where the system was not showing the error message when a required field was missing 
  • Fixed error that can occur after customizing a layout 
  • Fixed issue with Provider Claims entry not showing column values correctly, remembering the previous authorization number, or changing column values after updating the authorization number 
  • Updates syncing with Provider Files to reduce errors 
  • Improved syncing process and speed with Provider Files 
  • Improved syncing process and speed with Customer Portal 
  • Various improvements on screen loading times throughout the system 
  • Fixed issues with Activity and Session times not calculating correctly 

Items Changed  

  • Updated Email and Website validation throughout the system to be more inclusive and consistent 
  • Changed Authorization Number criteria in the client file search to be a text field instead of a drop down 
  • Changed label on empty search grids to be larger, and suggest reasons why there might not be any results 
  • Action items in toolbars will no longer show up as a dropdown if only one action is available 
  • Sorted the Tools Menu items to be Alphabetical

Creating a new account in EAP Expert Service Desk

Effective Dec 1st, EAP Expert will be officially launching our new Service Desk for all our customer support inquiries and tickets. The current EAP Expert support email (support@eapexpert.com) will no longer work for clients after Dec 1st. All users will receive an autoresponder email asking you to go to support.eapexpert.com to access our new Service Desk after Dec 1st.

We started the process of introducing a new software system for our support team back in June of this year. Many processes needed considering and adjusting to ensure a seamless transition from the old support email to the new Service Desk. Effective immediately, we are very pleased to announce the upcoming launch of our brand-new support ticketing system available today.

Whenever a ticket is required, the improved workflow will enable us to help our users more quickly and more specifically. Also, references to existing helpful entries in our knowledge-base will be easier to provide for our support members under the new system.

Internally, our software development team has been working with a system called “Jira” since June, and the new customer support system is now also based on the same solution. The move away from email driven support towards the “Jira ServiceDesk“ will make many things easier in the future. Ideas and problems can be exchanged more uniformly between end users, developers, and admins. Similarly, we will have a standardized channel of communication between the various units that may be involved in solving a problem.

To prepare for Dec 1st,  all clients should go to our new dedicated web portal at https://support.eapexpert.com and setup an account if you have not already done so.

To setup a new account follow these steps;

  1. Goto https://support.eapexpert.com and click on the sign up as noted below

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) In the new window, insert your email address and click “send link”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Check your email for the link to complete the setup transaction

 

 

 

 

 

4) Click on the link provided to you via email and complete the sign process as noted below. Once you have filled in your full name and chosen a password, click sign up and you should be good to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have any trouble with any of these steps, please reach out to your account manager or call us directly at 1-855-327-9778


Mitigating your carbon footprint in the workplace

Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a major report on the state of climate change across the globe. It was bleak. The panel, composed of scientists tapped to guide world leaders, concluded that catastrophic natural events caused by climate change would begin occurring with more frequency and severity much sooner than previously anticipated. The report predicted that by 2040, food shortages and wildfires—among other disasters—would exact a devastating cost on nations around the world. The main instigator of these disasters? Greenhouse gas emissions.

The report’s prescription for damage-control was (as it has always been) simple: reduce our reliance on greenhouse gases immediately. The report concedes that while this is politically unlikely, it is technically possible. And while the lion’s share of carbon emissions are from just a handful of companies, that doesn’t negate the importance of smaller-scale changes in combating climate change. After all, the persistence of greenhouse gases and our global reliance on them is driven by profits. If the demand for these materials begins to decline, carbon-emitting juggernauts will be forced to explore greener alternatives.

Though baby steps towards better consumption practices can feel futile in the face of such daunting circumstances, implementing these changes is vital—especially if, as scientists predict, we are going to be forced to radically shift our ways of life to adapt to the threats we face. Getting ahead of this shift isn’t just ethically sound, it’s smart business practice. Here are a few tips for preparing yourself and your office to reduce your carbon footprints.

Encourage Meatless Mondays

The name is sure to prompt a chuckle, but the practice is sound: switching to one vegetarian meal a week is a gentle transition to rely less on industrial farming operations that use an incredible amount of natural resources and generate huge carbon outputs. Try implementing Meatless Mondays at the office to get people on board with the idea. This can be a fun one, too; perhaps each employee brings in a veggie dish for an herbivorous buffet. Incentivizing positive behaviours is always a useful tool, so consider offering a small prize for the best meal. This will also drive your colleagues to get more creative with their meatless meals—chances are once they see how simple, affordable, and delicious vegetarian dishes can be, they’ll want to make more. Progress begets progress!

Reduce waste in the office

This seems like a no-brainer, and great strides have likely been made in this department over the past few decades. Plastic cups and unsorted garbage and recycling have thankfully gone out of vogue, but if you take a step back to observe your office’s practices, you’ll likely find wasteful practices that could be eliminated. Basic waste-reduction strategies are easy to implement: stock reusable mugs and dishware in the office to discourage folks from using disposable ones. Remove bottled water in favour of a Brita-filter jug. Make sure your office has a green bin for compost and food waste. Use paper products with high post-consumer waste content.

Cut down on business trips

This might be the toughest challenge for workplaces, but it’s also the most crucial. Transportation accounts for roughly 27% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. In 2017, Americans took 462 million one-person business trips. Cutting down on travel means cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions. Business trips are an engrained and normalized part of most workplaces, even though technology has advanced such that the majority of these trips are unnecessary. Take a hard-line on these: unless it is absolutely critical that someone be present at an event, replace trips with video calls. Strides in virtual reality are making video calls even more immersive, so consider investing in those alternatives to save both money and emissions.


Celebrating Movember the healthy way

Each November since 2004, countries around the world have gradually begun marking a new month-long event: Movember. The movement gained international traction around 2007, when it spread across Europe and North America. Now, it’s an institution: men across the world grow and fashion moustaches to raise both awareness and money for men’s health issues like prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and suicide. By 2012, Movember was listed as one of the top 100 non-government organizations in the world.

 

The stated goal of Movember is to “change the face of men’s health.” The campaign seeks to address the compartmentalized and stigmatized nature of men’s health issues, and a key part of this conversation is the role that masculinity plays in stigmatizing these issues. Masculinity has, to some extent, made it difficult for men to express weakness; perhaps more accurately, it’s made it difficult for men to express anything at all besides stoicness.

 

This performed toughness claims lives. Men are less likely to go see a doctor about health concerns than women, which results in unresolved health issues. In some cases, this means a cancer has more time to develop. In others, it might mean depression, gone untreated, culminates in suicide. These are extreme examples, but examples nonetheless: stigma rooted in masculinity directly impacts the wellbeing of men. These issues are compounded in racialized, gay, and transgender men.

If Movember is to be successful in its mission of changing the face of men’s health, it has to be rooted in open, progressive dialogue with men and masculinity. Growing a moustache is a good start, but the real goal is to change the way that men interact with themselves and their health. In order for that to happen, it’s important to approach Movember the right way.

That means letting each man celebrate the month in their own way. Movember is certainly famous for its reinvigoration of the thick upper lip, but even this is rooted in a somewhat sensitive issue. Many men simply can’t grow a moustache, or if they can, it’s an unfortunate, transparent peach fuzz. A thick crop of facial hair has been traditionally associated with the image of a virile, masculine man, so for those that can’t grow sufficient facial hair, the association of manhood and men’s health with facial hair production can be alienating. If someone you know isn’t growing a moustache, don’t badger them about it—there are other ways to further the conversation around men’s health. To borrow a Hallmark-ish platitude: remember the reason for the season!

 

Another way to forward the spirit of Movember is to simply talk to the men in your life about more than the weather. Opening up the floor for men to discuss how they feel is a key facet of improving men’s health. This doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or a drawn-out process; it can (and arguably should) be an effortless, routine conversation. Pop a question like, ‘How are you feeling?’ or ‘Is there anything you want to talk about?’ The inverse approach is to bring up a personal issue you’re dealing with, to signal that there is space for that sort of discussion. The routinization of these chats can help others to feel more comfortable in confronting and addressing their own problems.


Take a break from upsetting news cycles

There’s a new, sardonic joke cropping up more and more on social media. It has developed in response to an increasingly-concentrated news cycle which has been reliably upsetting. For many, exposure to this cycle is draining and tiring. The joke, which takes different forms or structures, is always a configuration of this formula: “Wow, this day has lasted for a year.”

 

It’s given to hyperbole, which is part of both the fun and the point—it’s risen in step with an increasingly severe deluge of concerning news stories. But it also articulates a very real and serious issue: citizens who are engaged with national and international news are being exhausted by it.

This is distressing not least of all because the goal is in fact to have an entire citizenry that is informed about and, ideally, involved with their nation’s top news events. But staying constantly attuned to this news can be traumatic, especially when the news revolves around allegations of sexual assault like those put forth against Brett Kavanaugh, or the Environmental Protection Agency’s relaxing of radiation protections. These are patently troubling topics for all, but for those who have personal associations with them, these news stories—which are hard to avoid—can be especially triggering for feelings of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness.

In light of this, folks across the world have begun to formulate coping strategies to insulate themselves from this omnipresent content. These include tools to curate what we’re exposed to online, to stepping away from the web altogether. Here are a few tips to try if you feel like taking a break from the troubles of the moment.

 

Use Keyword Blocks On Social Media

If you’re someone who often uses Twitter, Facebook, or other social media that expose you to news, you should consider employing the various keyword-blocking mechanisms that each of these platforms offers. Facebook recently installed their Keyword Snooze feature, which allows users to block content that contains certain words for a set amount of time. Twitter’s Mute function is pretty much the same in practice. It’s explained well here, and, like Keyword Snooze, will prevent tweets with specific words from entering your feed. You can use these tools to block triggering content from mucking up your timeline.

 

Decline Conversations About Tough Topics

An important note on these issues is that they will affect people differently. For example, someone who is a survivor of sexual assault is more likely to be upset by discussions of Bill Cosby’s trial than someone who isn’t. It’s important to remember that we aren’t obligated to participate in conversations that cause us discomfort. Feel free to say, ‘I’d rather not talk about that right now,’ or excuse yourself from the discussion.

 

 

 

Step Away From Your Screen

Even with keyword-blocking features on social media, unexpected bad news can still find its way to us through our computer, our phone, or our TV. It’s more important than ever to step away from these screens and center ourselves in our world with physical surroundings. Try going for a short (or long!) walk, or doing something else that requires simple motor skills. These tasks can help alleviate stress and help to calm senses.


Columbus Day in The Workplace

October brings with it a number of notable holidays. Candy and costumes reign on Halloween, an undeniably fun, if somewhat objectively absurd, celebration. International Day Of The Girl, observed on October 11th, celebrates girls and women across the world, and seeks to address the unique challenges they face. October 1st marks perhaps the one holiday that every human on the planet could agree to participate in: International Coffee Day.

In the United States, as well as countries in Central and South America, Columbus Day has been observed for over a century. Under President Franklin Roosevelt, it became a federal holiday in 1934; in 1971, it was officially attached to the second Monday in October. As its name suggests, the holiday is dedicated to Italian explorer Christopher Columbus’ ‘discovery’ of North America.

 

The word discovery is placed between quotation marks because, as we can now factually assert, Columbus did not discover North America. It had already been discovered, and in fact was home to thriving populations of Indigenous peoples across the continent—estimates put pre-contact population at around 10 million. Columbus is, through the holiday, credited with founding modern North American civilization. But he is also now credited with beginning the enslavement and destruction of another, one which has struggled to thrive post-contact.

 

This is where Columbus Day becomes an issue: it means different things to different people, but not in the innocuous, ‘I don’t celebrate that’ way. To Indigenous people on this continent, it is a celebration of a man who committed genocide against their populations; in a 2015 article, Washington Post asserted, “Did genocide directly result from [Columbus’] decrees and his family’s commercial aims? Yes.” In recent years, this information has been widely-platformed across the United States, where Columbus Day is most prominent. It’s resulted in states and cities across the nation rejecting Columbus Day, instead choosing to replace it with holidays that honor their native populations.

 

In South Dakota, it’s known as Native American Day; in Oregon, Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This phrasing, originated in the states by the municipality of Berkeley, California in 1992, has been picking up by other cities: Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Austin, Salt Lake City, Cambridge, and more observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

 

Given that Columbus Day is a contentious and potentially offensive occasion, it’s important to plan alternatives for your workplace—perhaps celebrations like those modeled by the aforementioned municipalities. Consider educating your staff on the histories of Columbus’ violent campaigns in the Americas, or the past and present issues visited upon Indigenous populations by colonial campaigns. Education and understanding are key tenets of a healthy, inclusive workplace, and altering how Columbus Day is celebrated in the workplace is a step towards a healthier work environment.


Why the Gig Economy Is Affecting Worker’s Mental Health

Since the Industrial Revolution started nearly three centuries ago to this current day, the nature of employment has been in constant flux. From the hard-earned victories of organized labor to the efficiencies gained from mechanization and automation, people have straightened their ties and laced up their work boots to get things done and build a better and bigger world.

We’ve adapted to these changes and for the most part, the trends have moved to provide greater work/life balance.

But if you read the headlines these days, it seems something is amiss: for some, postsecondary degrees don’t go as far as they used to in the job market, increased globalization has led to increased offshoring of once dependable jobs, automation is threatening to replace workers. And then there’s the arrival of the gig economy.

Wait – what’s the gig economy?

While in the U.S., the unemployment rate is at a 17-year low, nearly 1 in 4 workers now earn money from the digital platform economy. For the most part, the gig economy arrived early with temp labor and has been popularized in the context of digital age employers, like Uber, Jiffy and other task-based services, that have led to more and more workers employed on a per job basis – sometimes without the prospect of vacation, sick leave, health benefits or employment certainty.

By jumping from gig to gig, workers could be taking on significant stress, isolation and physical ailments while pursuing precarious work. Another identified impact: struggling to find an authentic work identity when trying to fulfill multiple roles that require different personas.

Another hazard: going it alone can mean you’re at a greater risk of injury, especially when trying to maximize the number of “gigs” you’re doing to earn a greater pay-off. As the Financial Times references, demand for food delivery is often highest when conditions are hazardous, creating a lucrative lure for bike couriers that could lead to injury.

Yet with all the troubling effects that the gig economy could be afflicting on workers, there’s a reason why this article’s title refers to “affecting” instead of “hurting”.  The gig economy has freed some workers from the confines of the set 9 to 5 workday and allowed them to work when it’s convenient for their schedules.

Especially for those within a creative sector, the gig economy gives them the opportunity to be able to manage their work by choosing the jobs they want to do; helping avoid the burnout of fulfilling orders passed down by a manager.

So if you’re a worker who is either working “full-time” in the gig economy or moonlighting to earn a few extra dollars on the side, how can you ensure that you’re staying on top of your mental and physical health?

  1. Budget your time and salary accordingly: given that flexibility is one of the key draws of working in the gig economy, managing your day so you have more personal time is a huge plus. But financial insecurity at the end of the month can cause significant stress. Plan how much you need to earn, stick to a budget and track your progress regularly to keep going strong.
  2. Know when to rest: maximizing your earnings by working constantly can be alluring but can lead to serious physical and mental health risks. Try to stick to an eight-hour work day at most – there’s a reason why this has become the standard for most developed nations. If you’re stressed, sick or need a break, take it: resting now could save you from burnout and ultimately more necessary time-off down the line.

 

  1. Stay social: for many jobs in the gig economy, the work is often independent, which can lead to isolation and its detrimental impacts on mental health. Find ways to engage with those around you, whether they’re clients, other gig workers and even strangers on the street. Take time out of your day to visit or have a phone call with a friend or family member. You’ll feel happier and more connected to the world around you.

 

We can’t say for sure whether the gig economy is definitively the way of the future. For sure, it’s significantly changed the shape of today’s workforce. In just a few decades, we went from stories of workers that spent their entire careers at one place of employment to those juggling several jobs at once. If you are working in the gig economy, make sure you take the time to take care of yourself and ensure that you’ll be ready to tackle the next gig that comes along.


How Keeping a Journal Could Help You Maintain Strong Mental Health

We’ve all heard the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but how about journaling everyday can keep depression at bay?

A growing body of evidence suggests that writing is a potent form of therapy that can help practitioners better manage their mental health, including as a helpful tool for those diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

Further research is required but there’s also evidence that suggests narrative writing recounting traumatic events could also provide an approach to addressing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Given the stereotypes of famous writers that suffered from depression and other mental health challenges, we might be led to the assumption that the emotional and solitary activity of transforming thought into written expression can be a mentally and spiritually exhausting pursuit.

Leave it to Dan Harmon, celebrated storyteller and show writer to explain that by putting pen to page or finger to keyboard, you unleash a way to get those “dark thoughts” out of the “walls of your skull” that brings forth a “miraculous magic”.

Some more magic: James W. Pennebaker, a social psychologist researcher and professor at the University of Texas even suggests that journaling even works to strengthen your immune function; making you more resilient mentally and physically to past trauma and future challenges.

Another study found that asthma and rheumatoid arthritis patients that wrote for 20 minutes on each day about stressful events and daily activities saw improved health and deteriorated less, compared to the control group.

But how does it work? WebMD writer Kara Mayer Robinson found that journaling helps its practitioners by:

  1. Providing greater self awareness of yourself and emotional process
  2. Reducing the overwhelming burden by making the stressors appear more manageable
  3. Allowing you to retrain your brain by writing about happier events and focusing on the positive
  4. Detect patterns and triggers and help you avoid them later on

Not sure when to journal? Any time of day will do: it really depends on when it’s convenient for you and when you feel the need to put pen to paper. But if you want to put a happier tone to the text, try the morning: a study that analyzed the data from millions of public Twitter messages found that individuals awaken in a good mood that tends to deteriorate as the day progresses.

The other important part of journaling is sticking with it. If your pressed for time, try the Five Minute Journal technique. Famous self-help author and master of skill and time management Tim Ferriss is also a big fan.

Ultimately, journaling helps you to understand you and in turn, provides the opportunity for you to reorient yourself by focusing your written words on what affects you and what you want to achieve. So whether you’re typing a note on your phone or filling lined sheets with cursive, give journaling a shot –  it’ll give you insights into who you are and who you can become.

 


Managing Back to School Stress

The changing of the seasons are not singular events. They’re a multiplicitous experience: our wardrobes, routines, leisure activities, commutes, and even our diets, change. As the traditional school year starts and summer vacation ends, the roll-over from August to September is exciting and opportune for many folks, but for others, this is a time of year that spikes stress levels.

The reasons for this, too, can compound: change is not as welcome for some as it is for others. After months of sunny days spent outside, a return to classrooms and academic rigor is jarring. It’s important to identify and address stressors before they begin to handcuff our ability to participate in the day-to-day of our education.

To this end, we’ve put together a short list of stress-managing strategies to practice when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the schoolroom grind.

Use A Day Planner

This is admittedly elementary (pun fully intended), but using a day planner is something many of us think about, and few of us actually commit to. We’re not talking about a digital calendar—we mean a good, old-fashioned, analog, paper-and-pen planner. There are a few reasons for this. First, and maybe most importantly, writing information down on paper has been shown to improve information retention. Second, it’s helpful to cement our commitments in physical form. This gives them a sort of permanence that can help to hold us to them. It also leads us to address and analyze our capabilities: if we see a stacked day planner, we might better be able to prioritize which tasks need our attention first. This development of a sort of ‘plan of action’ can help us to feel like we have a handle on our stressors, and having a feeling of agency over our stress is of paramount importance.

 

Talk About Your Stressors

When we’re stressed out by something, one of the worst things that we can do is internalize it. This habit can lead to or exacerbate both mental and physical health issues. On the other hand, when we externalize stress via speech or writing, it can help to relieve some of the pressure caused by it. Not only might this lead to productive understandings or even solutions to our stressors, but it also grants them legitimacy and validity. This is important, because often we’re frustrated or ashamed by what’s causing us stress: discussing it in the open strips it of that stigma.

 

Develop A Healthy Routine

As school and its associated time constraints take over our schedule, it can be easy to feel locked into a routine that doesn’t allow us time for the leisure activities we enjoy. But in some cases, this comes down to a question of time-management, and developing that skill is key to leading a healthy, well-balanced life during the school year. Making time for a full breakfast might mean waking up half an hour earlier. Squeezing in a workout might mean cutting an hour of Netflix. Going to bed before midnight might require wrapping up homework early in the evening. Whatever the struggle is, it’s critical to assess the situation, and decide where you can make concessions to create a routine that keeps you on top and thriving.


Being ‘Yourself’ at Work

As workplaces change to adapt to the pace and characteristics of 21st century business practices, finding a foothold on personal operating habits can be challenging. On one hand, progressive, personalized, and idiosyncratic approaches are heralded as ‘the future.’ On the other, these traits, when unaccompanied by increased profitability, are ostracized as impractical and frivolous. The modern worker is caught between the desire to exercise and be recognized for their individual tenacity and creativeness, and the fear that these qualities might be met with disdain or, worse, professional repercussions.

 

This tango of ‘being yourself at work’ has become blurrier still as workplaces become diffuse and increasingly mediated by digital technology. How do we ‘be ourselves’ not just in person, but online? Do we pitch that bold idea via email? Do we look too eager if we replace the period with an exclamation mark?

These are the strange new frontiers of professionalism at work, and they’re growing. Between Gmail, Slack channels, and a broad range of social media, how we conduct ourselves is a constantly-mediated and always-watched affair. This adds to an ever-building layer of personal pressure in our work environments.

 

Navigating these quandaries can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Developing a set of skills and interests is just as important as enacting strategies for the deployment of those skills and interests. This means that, as workplace standards fluctuate, we can, too: we should learn to tailor who ‘yourself’ is to the needs of our workplaces.

At times, this might mean compromising on an idea or explicit vision for a project. At others, it might mean code-switching, or bouncing between ways of communicating with coworkers. The point of this isn’t to police personality, but rather to keep it attuned to the demands and realities of any given workplace. The loose uniform policy at your last office might not fly at your new one, but just because you’ve strapped on dress shoes and a button-up doesn’t mean your essence is compromised; it means you’re adjusting your presentation of that essence.

 

This is really the core of the issue: we tend to feel that if we give an inch, we’ve given a mile. This is especially true when it comes to personal issues. But for workers, learning to take these shifts in stride is a trick of the trade. Social morals and ethics are, in many cases, worth taking a stand over. Your right to wear your wacky tie to work is not. And one of these is significantly more indicative of ‘yourself’ than the other.

 

The key to this struggle is to recognize the fluidity of ‘yourself,’ and where it can and can’t be applied at work. You, as a person, are not being shut down when you don’t get to embody your preferred aesthetic. Instead, focus on the contents of your work: if the means aren’t your thing, is the end at least a product that reflects ‘yourself?’ In other words, it’s not about how many exclamation marks you put in an email. It’s about what you’re saying between them.