It may not be obvious, but you have coworkers struggling with the effects of addiction. They’re either suffering themselves, or feeling stress and isolation as someone they love battles the disease.

The stigma of addiction prevents them from seeking help, driving tremendous costs for employers in terms of lost productivity and increased healthcare expenses, absenteeism and turnover.

GE Johnson is addressing this issue with Face It TOGETHER (FIT) @ Work, a program that provides effective, science-based peer coaching for addiction to employees and their family members.

Kasia King, Executive Director of Human Resources for GE Johnson, answered questions about the company’s experience taking on this hidden business challenge.

Q: What problem were you trying to solve with FIT @ Work?
A: In our quest to be a top employer we wanted proactive, outcomes-based tools and resources that would help our employees and their entire families with the disease of addiction.

Q: What were your initial concerns and how did you overcome those?
A: Privacy was a concern, and FIT’s assurances of HIPAA compliance and confidentiality were compelling. As an employer, we get reports of progress and participation without any personal details. FIT also helped us communicate the confidentiality to our employees so they are more likely to use it if they need it.

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Q: How is FIT’s coaching different from treatment or an employee assistance program?
A: FIT’s coaching fills an important gap. EAPs tend to have a short-term focus and they are not specialists in addiction. People do best in recovery when they’re connected to long-term help. Our health plan covers clinical treatment, but that is also time-limited. FIT’s coaching is flexible and convenient and doesn’t interfere with someone’s home or work life.

Q: Describe how FIT @ Work was rolled out to your company.
A: FIT supplied any tools or resources we needed to be effective for our culture. We developed a rollout strategy specific to our workforce that was simple and easy to activate. Most importantly for us, our senior leadership team was behind the program and strong supporters of the rollout process.

Q: What challenges does addiction present to your company and industry?
A: The disease – even a family member’s addiction – has a direct impact on a person’s ability to be their best at work. It affects our company and the construction industry in many ways – from our ability to maintain our team members’ safety to higher healthcare and related costs.

Q: How does FIT @ Work align with your company culture?
A: This program is a great fit for us. We value relationships, and as company we’ve always treated our team members as family. FIT @ Work helps us demonstrate care for our employees by getting them effective help for this serious issue in a confidential and meaningful way.

Q: What has surprised you most about partnering with FIT?
A: FIT is so accommodating, doing what’s best for our culture and our team by not rolling out a pre-determined, cookie-cutter program. They are also a problem-solving partner; they come to the table to help us when we have questions.

 Q: What impact has FIT @ Work had at GE Johnson?
A: It has helped us reiterate our commitment to the wellbeing of our employees and their families and provide them proven tools for success.

Face It TOGETHER partners with employers to address addiction in their companies, providing effective, science-based peer coaching for addiction to employees and family members. Established in 2009, FIT is headquartered in Denver and offers coaching nationwide through their mobile app. Learn more at wefaceittogether.org.

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