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New EAP director wants to help managers too

The Employee Assistance Programme, under the guidance of new executive director Latisha Lister-Burgess, is increasingly a resource for managers as well as staff.

Ms Lister-Burgess said the EAP, more than 30 years old, retains the same fundamental mission: “To provide resources for employees and employers when going through any sort of work or personal issue.”

She said: “People think it's for trouble in work, and coming in with a mandated referral, but that's only 5 per cent of cases. The bulk come in through their own volition.

“It's a range of issues. In fact, the most common is marital or family-related issues, whether for couples or for elder care, which is what 60 per cent of clients come in for.

“People are often surprised. It's not just for employment issues or drugs and alcohol — it's for all of life.”

Ms Lister-Burgess, who joined EAP as a counsellor in 2012, became executive director last month.

The programme can still be misunderstood, she said: EAP is covered by its roughly 225 member companies, not insurance, and many clients are still concerned about “what people will think”.

She added: “A blessing of EAP is its confidentiality and making a safe space.

“By having a chance to come in and talk to someone trained and qualified, they can help you deal with whatever you have going on, in a safe way, so that you can get on with the business of life.”

Shirley Nosakhere-Fountain, the chairwoman of EAP, said Ms Lister-Burgess's promotion to the role had been “an easy and very successful transition for the EAP family”.

She added: “She is very forward thinking and progressive, and with the community constantly changing, we need that.”

Ms Lister-Burgess said EAP usage had changed: the programme was increasingly seeing “people saying they're really stressed and wanting to come in today — there's more of a sense of immediacy and urgency”.

“That's a result of people being under a lot of pressure.”

EAP is also helping with management training on “soft skills” such as conflict management, she said.

“We're finding a lot more companies reaching out and asking for us to come in and do training, sometimes the whole team together.

“In the last month alone I have gone out and done training for a couple of major companies.”

Topics have ranged from respect and civility in the workplace to civility in the workplace and sexual harassment.

Ms Lister-Burgess said their service was the island's only one bearing the approval of the Council on Accreditation.

“The reason we've lasted this long as a company is the need in the community to have confidential services that actually help people change their lives.”

Latisha Lister-Burgess, the new executive director at the Employee Assistance Programme (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published September 22, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated September 22, 2018 at 8:47 am)

New EAP director wants to help managers too

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