<<Prior Strategy Next Strategy>>
Is Your Employee Newsletter Placing Your Organization at Risk?
Imagine an informative
article on "Compulsive Gambling" in your organization's employee
wellness newsletter. What would you rather see—an article with 5 to 6 questions
in it that helps an employee reading it to begin seeing that he or she has a
gambling addiction, or an informative article that includes all 20 quiz
questions from Gamblers Anonymous, so the employee with a concern knows for
sure if they have a problem?
Many newsletters with long feature articles go for the whole enchilada—the 20-question
option—and, as a result, “overeducate” the reader. I believe this is a big mistake. And it
can expose organizations to greater risk. Did you think it should be just
the opposite? It's not.
After 20 years of writing
workplace newsletters for work organizations, EAPA chapters, small business associations,
addiction and psychiatric programs, hospitals, and supervisors, I have learned
that the best approach is to have only 5–6 questions in this type of wellness
An article that discusses
a health problem associated with strong components of denial is more able to help
an employee or point the employee in the direction of solving the problem if it
gives enough information to create a sense of urgency and then motivates the
reader to take action. Too much information can undermine the desire to take
A shorter, less
informative article permits the author to motivate the reader to want for
more information, and possibly get help for the personal problem—whatever it
might be. In this example, it is compulsive gambling. The goal of such an
article should be to motivate the reader to follow the instructions within the
article to the next step. In other words, articles in wellness and EAP-type
newsletters are not entertainment. They are sales letters for self-improvement.
Unfortunately, the risk
is great that the more information an employee has about a personal problem, the
more likely it is that he or she will become educated enough to self-treat the
problem or (at worst) add to their intellectualization defense to avoid
treatment, perhaps with a dose of additional willpower to control symptoms
thrown in. Intellectualization is the most difficult defense mechanism for
professional helpers to penetrate.
Of course, self-diagnosis
is a good thing, but with diseases prone to denial, and in the absence of a
professional coaching the decision to accept help, defense mechanisms can
become more deeply engrained. When this happens, employees often pursue self-treatment
or partial cures, or as I said, become "long-term experts" on their problem.
Have you heard the catchy
phrase associated with advertising that says, "Be sure to leave them wanting
more."? This sums up my point.
When informative health
articles provide only a measured amount of information and leave the employee
"wanting more" with instructions on how to get it, it is easier to
motivate the employee to get help. Professional motivational counseling then carries the baton to the finish line, hopefully.
You get the point.
Long articles with lots of information decrease utilization of an employee assistance program and increase behavioral exposure for the work organization.
When it comes to problems like violence in the workplace, prevention could lie
in the way an article on anger management is written and how it motivates the
employee to pursue an avenue of help.
Articles in employee
newsletters are loss prevention tools. Their goal should be not to just
create better employees, but to create better people. Your company employee
newsletter has power. Use it to maximize the help employees receive and the
good it does for your work organization (or the work organization's you serve.)Daniel Feerst, MSW, LISW