McKenzie helping employees deal
with lifes bumps
by Matt Kelly
G. McKenzie, the new program manager of the Universitys
Faculty and Employee Assistance Program, thinks its
important for people to acknowledge each others value
By Matt Kelly
his second week on the job at U.Va., Owen G. McKenzie missed two
meetings one morning because his car would not start.
through the day meant shifting to Plan B.
secret to a long and happy life is how well you handle Plan B,
said McKenzie, the new program manager of the Universitys
Employee Assistance Program.
assistance is all about what happens when Plan A fails.
sometimes get fractured, McKenzie said, and we dont
know quite how to deal with issues that come up. It could be divorce,
loss of a child in an accident, a serious illness or an elder
is a division of the Health Services Foundation and is available
to University and Medical Center employees. He and five counselors
handle about half the cases in-house, with the remainder referred
to outside providers. The service is confidential, clients see
professional counselors, and FEAP records are kept sealed and
never mixed with personnel or medical records, he stressed. The
office handles about 1,000 cases a year.
have standard reactions to crises, including denial, suppression
and reactive and explosive behavior, he said.
you run the wheel of behavior possibilities, it doesnt matter
if you are a physicist or a pharmacist or a cook. We all deal
with these kinds of situations in a predictable fashion,
Cohn, who shepherded the program for 10 years until recently becoming
director of employee relations at the University, is comfortable
with McKenzie at the helm.
like giving a birth to something, Cohn said. You want
to make sure the adoptive parent meets with your approval.
left an outstanding legacy, McKenzie said.
represents a good blend of private sector and nonprofit experience,
Cohn said. In addition to launching and operating employee assistance
programs at DuPont plants in three states over the past 10 years,
McKenzie has 15 years previous experience running 14 drug-addiction
facilities in Michigan and Florida and running a small employee
assistance program in Michigan.
graduate of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, McKenzie
also spent five years in a Redemptorist seminary, which trains
priests for missionary work in South America and Asia.
decided a life of celibacy was not for me, McKenzie said.
There was another calling. It doesnt surprise me that
I ended up working in behavioral health care.
He recognizes that people need more appreciation, in small ways,
I think it is terribly important for all of us is to acknowledge
each others value and contribution, he said Nothing
more than, Hey, I really appreciated your smile this morning.
sees people adhering more to core values and being aware of the
fragility of life following the terrorist attacks on New York
some of that has held on, in terms of looking and touching and
caring and sharing, in spending our time at the family dining
table as opposed to fighting over the channel surfer in the family
room, he said.
own staff holds biweekly peer-support meetings, which help them
deal with the stress of their jobs. For his own stress relief,
McKenzie points to three prints on his wall, each a photograph
from a different golf course.
out there and putting that little ball on the ground and looking
at the panorama on tee No. 1 or hole No. 4 is a very relaxing
and fun experience, he said. If it werent fun,
Id walk away from it.
has been living on a golf course in Columbus, Ohio, where he and
his wife, Kathy, a dental hygienist, can play four or five holes
some days after work. But McKenzie knows it may not be relaxing
if you play with the wrong people.
seen people who get really wiggy, like throwing clubs or kicking
a golf cart, he said. They should get themselves some
help or another sport.
is looking for a house near a golf course or on water.
the stresses of the job, McKenzie still finds his work extremely
satisfying because it is constantly changing. You
never know what kind of conflicts there are or what a manager
wants to talk about, he said.
said employee assistance is an important service he hopes people
never have to use.
know that it is there, he said, in case you wake
up one morning and dont know where else to reach.