Employee Assistance Program
(EAP) is administered by LifeMatters; this is a University-paid benefit for eligible employees and dependents.
All employees, their dependents (including dependent children not residing with the parent) and others living in the employee’s home are eligible for services and may contact LifeMatters directly. Referral services are available on a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week basis.
You can utilize this benefit in two ways.
By Telephone: 1-800-367-7474 On the Web: www.mylifematters.com. Please refer to the Information & Resources section of your myStanState portal for the password to access benefits.
Each eligible person is entitled to up to 5 sessions per incident
Face-to-Face Clinical Counseling for issues such as:
- relationship concerns and family problems
- stress/emotional distress
- workplace problems
- alcohol/chemical dependency
Additional services include telephone consultations for life management issues such as:
- financial concerns
- finding childcare providers
- elder care needs and concerns
- tax issues
- legal advice
- organizing personal affairs
- pre-retirement considerations
Resources for Health and Wellness
Assistance with Life, Work, Family, and Wellbeing
Being mindful starts in part with accepting the fact that we cannot ever be fully mindful in the first place, but we can take steps to better prepare for the future. Read Mindful Living tips on how to keep a positive outlook on life, accept feedback from others and navigating large purchase decisions.
When your physical and mental space feels cluttered, it may be difficult to focus on priorities. Taking a mindful approach to life can help you get back to basics and maintain perspective. Try these tips:
- Be in the moment. Slow down long enough to recognize and appreciate what makes you happy or helps you feel centered. This could be as simple as watching the sunset for a few minutes every evening or building relaxed playtime with your kids into your daily routine.
- Simplify. Finding a balance between work, personal relationships, family responsibilities, hobbies, and other interests can be challenging. Making conscious choices about your priorities will help pare down the to-do list — leaving more time for you.
- Avoid hurry sickness. Instead of rushing from one task to the next, practice being “present” in all your activities. Stay focused on what’s in front of you, not on what you just did or still have to do.
- Embrace the mess. Not living up to personal standards is a common source of stress. For instance, if you have a busy week, you might feel frustrated that your house isn’t organized or your desk is cluttered. A simple way to cope with these feelings is to “embrace the mess” and set aside any guilt about neglecting non-essential tasks. Instead, focus on your top priorities (including spending time with the people you love). You can always catch up on chores later!
- Take a “mindful moment.” Sit still, clear your mind of thoughts, and take slow, even breaths for up to five minutes. Engaging in a mindful moment two to three times each day may benefit you not just mentally, but physically as well.
Source: The Staywell Company, LLC
Submitting your work for someone else’s critique is stressful. Fearing that you haven’t met expectations or that you won’t get a positive response may make it harder to hear not just negative feedback, but praise as well.
If you get butterflies in your stomach when turning in work or before a performance review, try these tips:
- Expect feedback. Constructive suggestions will help you improve and refine your work. Focus on the benefits of drawing on someone else’s experience or objective view of the project.
- Understand the relationship. If the person who is providing feedback is a supervisor or mentor, how you react to it may be different than if you’re receiving it from a peer. Keep these dynamics in mind when considering how much you want to “push back” against feedback you dislike.
- Grow from the experience. Instead of looking at feedback as criticism, embrace it as an opportunity to learn. Look for specific, concrete tips that will save time or improve the quality of your work.
- Ask questions. Focus on open-ended questions that will clarify the other person’s point of view. Some examples include, “What specific elements do you think could be improved?” or “Could you give me an example of what you would have done differently?”
- Own your mistakes. Point out where you’ve made mistakes or feel uncertain about your work. This will keep the conversation focused on constructive improvements.
- Avoid becoming defensive. If you receive feedback that you don’t agree with or that is harsh in tone, don’t argue. Instead, listen to what the person has to say in full. Agree with the points that you find valid and ask questions that will help you better understand those criticisms that you find upsetting or unfair.
- Evaluate. It may take a few days for the feedback you’ve received to sink in. Look for ways to incorporate it into future projects.
- Expect respectful behavior. If you receive feedback that is aggressive or abusive in tone, ask for a short break until the situation can be discussed more reasonably. If this is a work situation and disrespectful or demeaning language is used, let the person know the impact of his or her words. Notify your manager or Human Resources if the behavior continues.
Source: The Staywell Company, LLC
Dollars & Sense
Break These Habits to Improve Your Budget
A budget is the best way to make sure you can meet your expenses and save toward future goals while still living within your means. However, there is one wild card that even the best budget may not be able to account for, and that’s your own behavior. If you “slip” on your budget too often, it won’t add up at the end of the month.
Here are five habits that may make it harder to stick to your budget:
- Impulse purchases. Spending on a whim is the most common way to undo a budget. Even little things like coffee or a magazine add up over time. If you struggle with impulse buying, consider making lists when you shop or only going to favorite online websites when you are ready to purchase a budgeted item. In addition, it may be helpful to build some “mad money” into your monthly budget. That way, little treats will be included in your monthly spending.
- Confusing “need” with “want.” All budgets are organized around the idea that you must pay for what you need (mortgage, utilities, food) before you spend money on what you want (entertainment, travel, decorating). However, it is sometimes difficult to discern between the two. For instance, if your washing machine breaks, is it a “need” (because your clothes have to be washed) or a “want” (because you could go to the laundromat until you’ve had time to save for a new machine)? Determining where to draw the line will help you prioritize and keep your budget in balance.
- Poor record-keeping. A budget only works if you monitor your spending, so track every purchase in a notebook, app, or spreadsheet. Compare your records to your budget at the end of the month and make adjustments (such as adding a new budget category) when necessary.
- Failing to comparison shop. Take the time to compare prices before making a major purchase. A good practice is to check the price on multiple websites before you venture out to an actual store or buy online. For large items (such as a TV), factor convenience options such as delivery and setup into your decision.
- Not automating your savings. A recurring savings transfer is one of the best ways to make sure you pay yourself first. Think of savings as a bill that has to be paid every month, just like your utilities or car payment.
Down Payment Options for Your Home
Putting together a down payment is often the biggest hurdle to buying a first house, and may be a barrier to homeowners who want to move up to their “next level” property as well. People who live in cities with high-priced housing markets may find it especially difficult to locate a property with a down payment that fits their budget.
If you’re ready to handle a mortgage but are struggling to put together a 20 percent down payment, here are a few options to explore:
- FHA loans. Low to moderate income borrowers may qualify for a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, which allows for a much smaller down payment. Qualified buyers will also need private mortgage insurance (PMI), which will increase the monthly payment by a small amount. Once some equity builds up, the PMI can be discontinued.
- Government programs. Some government agencies offer low or no-down payment options and other purchase incentives to qualified buyers. These include:
- VA home loans for U.S. military veterans and those on active duty
- HUD’s “Good Neighbor Next Door” program for teachers, firefighters, and law enforcement personnel
- USDA loans for property purchases in designated rural areas
- Grants. Some states and cities may offer a grant (which does not have to be paid back) to first-time home buyers. These programs typically require the buyer to stay in the home for a designated period of time.
- Second mortgage loans. Some purchasers opt to take a second mortgage loan to make their down payment. However, this means taking out two loans rather than one, and the buyer must stay current on both.
- Retirement plan loans. Some retirement plans offer the option of borrowing from accrued funds for a down payment on a primary residence. The amount borrowed will not accrue interest or dividends during the term of the loan.
The LifeMatters Financial Consultation Service can help you determine if you’re ready to buy a home, as well as offer tips on financing, budgeting, and more. Call 24/7/365.
Call LifeMatters by Empathia toll-free anytime. 1-800-367-7474
Assistance with Life, Work, Family, and Wellbeing • 24/7/365
Call collect to 262-574-2509 if outside of North America
Visit LifeMatters online at mylifematters.com
Language assistance services in your preferred spoken and written languages are available at no cost by calling 1-800-367-7474.
© 2019 Empathia, Inc.
Workplace gossip can damage morale, impact productivity and malign reputations. Lead your team to success by knowing how to prevent or manage gossip in the workplace. Resources for Supervisors, Managers and Human Resources Personnel.
Is gossip a problem in your workplace?
It’s common for people to say they dislike gossip. Yet the reality is that gossip is a normal part of human interaction. When people don’t know details about a situation or event, it’s not unusual for them to speculate or derive a theory based on hearsay.
When gossip occurs in the workplace, it’s often in the form of the “rumor mill” or “office grapevine.” Some of what is said through these informal methods of communication is harmless and may even streamline workplace functioning. Unfortunately, malicious or destructive gossip may also take root, leading to conflict and hurt feelings. It can even contribute to bullying, harassment, and a hostile work environment.
One way to determine if a workplace conversation is crossing the line into gossip is to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it productive? Does sharing this information help people do their jobs?
- Is it relevant? Does discussing this subject serve a useful purpose, or is it just idle chatter?
- Is it respectful? Would your team or individual members want to talk about this subject in front of other people, particularly those directly involved in the situation?
If the answer to one or more of these questions is “no,” then the topic may be inappropriate.
While almost any topic can be fodder for workplace gossip, those that tend to provide the most fertile ground include:
- Change in the workplace
- The departure of a manager or colleague, particularly if it is sudden or happens under mysterious circumstances
- Conflict between individual employees or cliques
- Unusual or disruptive behavior in the workplace
Once started, gossip may be difficult to stop. While there are many reasons for this, some of the most common include:
- It confers status. Knowledge is often a powerful commodity in the workplace. Spreading gossip or passing along “insider information” is a way of cultivating power or influence.
- It’s contagious. Gossip often spreads like wildfire. This may happen because people need to vent about work-related frustrations, or because they feel the need to give colleagues a “heads-up” about events on the horizon. Sometimes, gossip spreads because people have seen or heard something that makes for an interesting story.
- It stems from uncertainty or frustration. Gossip often takes root when a team or workplace is coping with change or when they are struggling with a difficult situation. Gossip may be an indication that people are trying to gather information any way they can.
When destructive gossip occurs, it’s important to confront it quickly. (See “How Do I Say That?” on the next page for suggestions.) Start with these helpful resources:
- Human Resources can help you review any relevant policies related to harassment, appropriate workplace behavior, and professional ethics.
- LifeMatters can offer consultation and assistance with addressing the concern, as well as assist with making referrals for affected employees.
In addition, the following steps may help discourage the behavior:
- Be a role model. If an employee shares private, personal information with you, keep it on a “need to know” basis. Encourage employees to extend the same courtesy to their co-workers if that information is revealed to a team or work group.
- Expect professional behavior. Make it clear that gossip is unacceptable and that treating others with respect is a performance expectation. In addition, encourage your team to work through conflicts in a polite manner.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Gossip often starts when there is an information vacuum. Give your team as much information as possible, particularly when change is on the horizon. Check in with individual team members on a periodic basis as well. Encourage questions and maintain an open door policy.
The LifeMatters Management Consultation Service is available to help you both manage gossip and cope with its impact. Call 24/7/365.
How Do I Say That? Addressing Gossip
Malicious gossip puts your organization at risk. If an individual employee or group is being targeted by gossip and it isn’t addressed promptly, it could result in complaints of harassment or contribute to a hostile work environment.
If inappropriate or hurtful rumors are spreading around your workplace, try these tips:
1. Review your company’s policies regarding harassment. Document what you know or have observed, then consult with Human Resources. The LifeMatters Management Consultation Service is also available to discuss your concern.
2. If the facts are fuzzy or it is unclear who is involved, it may be best to address the situation generally, at least to start. This can be done by communicating to the entire work group or team without singling out anyone. Remind your team that gossip undermines morale, creates “emotional danger,” and is unacceptable. Let everyone know that if malicious gossip occurs, it will be dealt with according to company policy, and that this may involve disciplinary action.
3. If you know the source of the gossip, this approach may be helpful:
- Meet privately with the team member and communicate your concern. While you may be personally disappointed with the individual’s behavior, it’s important to stay focused on the workplace impact.
- Sample language: “Spreading rumors is hurtful and is not acceptable in our workplace.”
- Give the person time to ask questions and respond. Embarrassment and anger are common reactions, so don’t be surprised if the person becomes emotional.
- Describe the workplace impact. Make it clear that gossip is inappropriate and refer the person to any applicable company policies.
- Sample language: “Gossip creates unnecessary tension in our workplace. It also makes it harder for people to trust each other and work together.”
- Provide clear expectations for future behavior. Again, keep the focus on workplace performance, not your personal feelings about the employee’s actions.
- Sample language: “If you have been spreading rumors, I expect it to stop now. If others try to draw you into an inappropriate conversation, I urge you to stay out of it. Remind your colleagues that this behavior is not acceptable.”
- Outline the consequences of further gossip or other inappropriate behavior. Prior to the meeting, confirm what next steps will be taken if the behavior continues.
- Sample language: “If additional complaints are received and an investigation reveals that you are involved, (state disciplinary action).”
- Schedule a follow-up meeting.
- Sample language: “Let’s talk again next week after you’ve had time to think things over.”
- Document the meeting. Review the situation with HR and verify any next steps. Always talk to HR before taking any disciplinary action.
The LifeMatters Management Consultation Service can help with determining the difference between the workplace rumor mill and the sort of malicious gossip that could lead to complaints about harassment or a hostile work environment. It can also help you cope with your own feelings about gossip and other hurtful behavior. Help is available 24/7/365.
LifeMatters is available to help with:
- Confronting an employee about performance issues
- An employee’s personal problem
- Suspected drug or alcohol use on the job
- Interpersonal conflicts between team members
- Establishing clear, attainable expectations for performance
- Addressing crisis situations, such as a violent incident, the death of an employee, or a natural disaster
- Your own personal concerns
- Any other work-related issue
LifeMatters offers professional management consultation when you need it, as often as you need it. Call anytime. Call the LifeMatters by Empathia Management Consultation Service toll-free anytime. 1-800-367-7474. Assistance with Life, Work, Family, and Wellbeing • 24/7/365
Call collect to 262-574-2509 if outside of North America
Visit LifeMatters online at mylifematters.com
LifeMatters by Empathia offers 24/7/365 assistance with:
- Recognizing the signs of alcohol and drug abuse
- Locating counseling, support groups, and treatment
- Helping friends and family manage the impact on their own lives
- Any other concern
Language assistance services in your preferred spoken and written languages are available at no cost.
Updated: August 13, 2023