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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Help, Healing, and (Corporate) Forgiveness

Much of the people business is repetitive. Basic human nature doesn't change, and a couple of years into an HR career you start to see the same issues and behaviors over and over again. Every so often, though, you have the opportunity to see a trend or a new variation in the behavior game, and this year has seen the emergence of what I believe to be Internet-based moral failure and addiction. Just to clarify, as workforces go ours is without a doubt the cleanest living of any I've served so don't think we're running a sin den here by any means. However, I've seen a very few go very far afield very quickly and I believe web technology is the accelerant.

I'm old enough to remember a time when a person wanting to view pornography had to drive to a city at least the size of Nashville, and if you lived in a city that size you had to go to the "bad side of town". Now anything you want to see, and a ton of stuff you really don't want to see, is on your desktop. Want to gamble? You don't have to drive to a casino or know who runs the basement poker game in town; just log on and have an infinite variety of sites that will take your credit card. Prescription drugs are not just available from your physician, but are now advertised on television as drug makers successfully send patients to their doctors to ask for certain medications. Many can be bought over the web legally or otherwise. Searching for casual physical intimacy? No need to hang out in bars and clubs; its now on your desktop in the form of dating services, dating lines, chat rooms, and sites that cater to "casual encounters". No, I don't believe the world's going to hell on a sled, but I do believe with some certainty that its never been easier to act on human frailty.

As a result, we see more inappropriate Internet usage, more moral failures that cross from personal lives into the workplace, and more substance abuse to go along with the usual knucklehead behavior that's part of the HR beat. If you've found yourself drifting from your beliefs and indulging your temptations, and you can't seem to find your way back, here's help.

1. Our Employee Assistance Program is staffed with third-party counselors who will match you with resources to help with your problem, whatever it may be. We never get a list of who called and for what, so its completely confidential. That number is 800-538-3543.

2. Middle Tennessee Alcoholics Anonymous - 615-831-1050. Those of you outside Tennessee can find a local chapter easily by typing Alcoholics Anonymous and your city into your web browser.

3. Middle Tennessee Narcotics Anonymous - 888-476-2482. Help outside of Tennessee can be found as mentioned in 2 above.

4. Gamblers Anonymous - 615-254-6454 is the Nashville number, but chapters are nationwide and can be found with a simple web search.

5. Sexaholics Anonymous - 615-331-6230 for a Nashville chapter, and similarly chapters are nationwide.

6. For any addictive behavior you can contact the Vanderbilt Addiction Center at 615-883-3152.

As for the company's position on these issues, its simple. Step forward and self-identify if you feel like you need help. We have professional resources, we have pastors scattered throughout the workforce, or we can help you find a pastoral resource outside the company. Job protection under federal law is available in most addiction situations if you step forward. I've not seen anyone self-identify who has not been embraced by this company, its leadership, and our people. I've never, in 25 years of HR work, seen anyone terminated who stepped forward and asked for help.

The other side of the stepping forward program, however, is equally simple. If you bring bad behavior into the workplace and you're found out before you self-identify, you're more than likely going to lose your job. The choice seems obvious. If you need help, please ask; if not us, then someone.

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