Why invest in Staying Connected?

4 November 2010

Staying Connected addresses worries about men’s relationships with their children, which are leading causes of stress, anxiety, depression – and physical illness. Stress is the number one cause of long-term absence among non-manual employees, followed by acute medical conditions and mental ill health, such as clinical depression and anxiety. Further, there is a clear connection between stress and accidental injury at work. (Read a report at the website of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.)

Men experiencing separation or divorce tend to function below optimum level at work, and are at increased risk of slipping into unemployment. It goes without saying that the replacement costs for such employees are usually substantial.

“Staying Connected provides simple, practical and do-able hints and tips to help separated dads take care of themselves… helping them move forward after separation, and share their experiences with others in a similar situation. Feedback from the two BT Pilot courses has been very, very positive. Planning is underway to extend the reach of this valuable programme.”
Caroline Waters OBE, BT Group Director of People & Policy

It is from an understanding of this process that Staying Connected was developed in Australia. The programme, which has been shown to be enormously effective, draws men’s attention to their own health needs, signposts them to appropriate support including for debt (a common fellow-traveller in family breakdown) and assists them in reducing stress and conflict in their relationships with their children and their children’s mothers. As the evaluation of Staying Connected has shown, separating and separated men who attend this course are more likely to stay employed and to function effectively at work.

The business bottom line

The impact of separation on employees’ performance could cost you over £500,000 each year in lost productivity for a workforce of 1,000 employees*.

Additional substantial benefits of delivering Staying Connected include:

  • Reduced unscheduled leave
  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced workplace accidents, insurance premiums and compensation
  • Increased retention
  • Reduced recruitment, induction and training costs

* Based on research by Dr Graeme Russell, Macquarie University, Australia.

Key strengths

Staying Connected provides:

  • a short programme allowing easy implementation into workplaces
  • a simple three-module format
  • a workbook for valuable reinforcement
  • opportunities for ongoing networking among participants
  • opportunities to increase help-seeking behaviour in participants
  • access to participants who are isolated and not accessing other help
  • a programme which takes place ‘where men are at’ in the workplace, ensuring greater access to ‘traditionally resistant men’.

Why deliver in the workplace?

As a setting for provision of support services, the workplace offers a significant opportunity to improve the take-up rate of services by men. For a variety of reasons, many men can be reluctant to access support services within the community. However, research also shows that those men who do access services tend to respond positively. The experience of Staying Connected has shown that having had a positive experience with this programme, the participants indicate they are far more likely to seek out other support and services in the future.

The traditional nine-to-five work day has been replaced by a diverse range of work patterns with many men undertaking shift work and an increasing number of organisations operating on a 24/7 basis. As a result, the workplace can become the source of many social networks and, for isolated individuals, perhaps their only source.

It is helpful to consider workplaces as communities whose members share a common location, interpersonal relationships, values and rules of operation.

Given these factors, work is also a significant setting where an individual’s stress will be likely to manifest itself. Many employers are realising this fact and are seeking to provide support to their employees via a range of initiatives including Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP), health promotions and telephone hotlines.

A major objective of Staying Connected is to use the workplace to establish positive behavioural change in terms of help-seeking by separated men and to increase the knowledge of employers as to the cost of relationship breakdown to their organisations.