Sunday, May 25, 2008


Did you know that the first element of the EAP Core Technology has nothing to do with assessing or counseling troubled employees? In fact, the first element is about the EA profession's unique role in consulting with managers and supervisors. That's fitting, because EAPs were historically established to consult with managers and more specifically coach them in referring troubled employees so a consultant or counselor could assess them to determine whether the employee was alcoholic.

(DIGRESSION! Do you know who this person was--the person who first established this linkage? His name was Lewis Presnall. And he accomplished this feat at the Chino Mines of Kennecott Copper of Arizona in 1959. (Not to be confused with Kennecott Copper INSIGHT program of Salt Lake City, Utah which came years later in 1969.) Presnall has been credited by EAP historians with discovery of the mechanism and "intervention technology" for how to find more alcoholic employees by referring them for job performance problems to a person who could conduct an assessment and provide motivational counseling. Presnall is in fact the Grandfather of the EAP movement.)

The EA profession has historically put its focus on solving employee personal problems that may or may not affect job performance. Unfortunately, this message has been the only one, or the main one, for many EAPs. As a result, supervisors have failed to consider EA professionals as the most knowledgeable workplace professional for advising and consulting with them on the subject of employee supervision. Ask most supervisors ‘Who do you believe in the world of work is most able to advise you on the subject of employee motivation, morale management, performance evaluation, and behavior change? The answer most supervisors will give is human resources consultants or senior managers. No way. In reality, EA professionals are the most qualified to teach and consult on the subject of employee supervision, but few supervisors know it because this ability has not been historically marketed or advertised by EA professionals. HR managers and senior supervisors do not accumulate anywhere near the experience base that EA professionals do when it comes to the subject of ‘how to supervise.’ To increase your utilization rate, claim the high ground in your organization and say you are the expert, the one most qualified and capable of helping supervisors learn how to supervise better. Do this in phone calls, follow-up, and of course supervisors training. Your experience at dealing with trouble employees and consulting with them on difficult employee behavior has supplied you with a large base of knowledge capable of boosting your clout and prestige as a performance management consultant. It also turns EAPs back to what they were always meant to be – management tools to salvage employees and increase productivity. This will also help you lose some of that “do-gooder” tag you may have been given by some.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

EAP Professionals and Alcoholism

New EA professionals come from a variety of backgrounds, and there was a time when it absolutely unconscienable to consider hiring a person as an employee assistance professional who did not have an extensive background in alcoholism treatment or substance abuse knowledge. But there is something I have discovered that could arguably be considered worse: Employee assistance professionals experienced in alcoholism, but completely misguided by false beliefs and misconceptions about the illness based upon their personal experiences with family members or people they have known very well. I was speaking with an employee assistance professional recently who said it doesn't matter what definition of alcoholism one uses, or for that matter, one's philosophy. All that matters is that the patient get well. This is terribly misguided view of helping people manage this disease. And it serves to prevent the advancement of societies understanding of alcoholism and addictive disease. Do you agree? I would like to link you to the best article on the subject of alcoholism and what it is that I have seen in almost 15 years. It think it should be part of every EAP library. Here's the link to: What is alcoholism?Alcohol Health & Research World, Fall, 1991 by Daniel K. Flavin, Robert M. Morse

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Send Your EAP Brochures On A Tour of the Town

EAP cards and EAP brochures are essential marketing tools for EAPs. You typically give them out at employee orientations and supervisor training programs. You may display them in the hallway outside the EAP office, or in the company health clinic.

There are other places to display EAP brochures. Here are some distribution tips you may not have considered that could increase your EAP utilization. If you are an internal EAP, make sure your name is prominently displayed on the front of your brochure in the upper 40% of the front panel. (Brochures that end up inside brochure display cases can be “cut off” from the mid-point downward when inserted into display cases not made of clear plexi-glass.)

If you are an EAP provider, consider producing a separate brochure that lists the eligible companies on the back panel with a message on the front panel to attract the reader to look closer at the brochure to see if they are eligible for the services the EAP offers. If your EAP is associated with a large employer in town, put these EAP brochures in the waiting rooms of local urgent care centers and doctors offices. They’ll be happy to allow you to do so.

Next, consider distributing your EAP brochures in the lobbies of community agencies around town that provide health, mental health, and other wellness services (like recreation centers.) Unlike other product vendors, EAPs serve a special purpose and it will be a rare agency or doctors’ office that will refuse to display your brochures.

Carefully consider the content of the message in these types of brochures. They should not be the same as the brochures you distribute at training and orientations. Instead, they should be written to attract family members, with appropriate images. These family members may never step inside your company, but you can attract them as clients. The message should invite them to call the EAP to consult on personal problems, or seek additional support for the health or personal problems that brought them to the agency where they found your brochure.

With some thought, it is not difficult to think of a generic message that could apply to most settings where your brochures might end up. For example, in a family practice medical office or other general health care setting, your message might encourage the reader to call the EAP to inquire about services that include family counseling, home health care referrals, elder care assistance, help for a teenager, and similar adjunctive assistance.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Publicity Secrets for EAPs

“Hello, DesMoine Register? I am from ABC Employee Assistance Program. I am calling about the General Motors layoff announced today and its impact on employees and their families. We have an expert you can speak to on that subject, if you like.”

DesMoine Register: That's great we will send a camera crew to your location in two hours.

The story above is not real, but similar stories happen every day in communities nationwide. Learn this short presentation, keep paying attention to the news, and your EAP will end up on television or a local radio station very soon. The payoff will be communicating the EAP message to those who have never heard it--future potential EAP contracts for your EAP firm. The key phrase is “we have an expert on that subject available who you can interview.”

Do you remember the key story that emerged the day or two after the unfortunate and untimely death of Anna Nicole Smith? I do. The top story was the impact on employees at the hotel who discovered her body in the workplace! This was the MAJOR focus of the story for about 72 hours.

Later, the focus of the story shifted to the personal and flamboyant issues of Anna Nicole Smith's life. But for 72 hours, the focus was the hotel workers affected by the death of Smith, not the personal issues of the celebrity. Unfortunately, no experts on the subject of employee assistance offered their expertise that could have provided an enormous opportunity to educate the public about employee assistance programs and assist employers in making effective use of EAPs. (Actually, I have an even better question: Who was the EAP at the hotel, or to what EAP was the hotel linked? And was it a viable program or a obscure and unpromoted 800# on the back of an insurance card?)

The Anna Nicole Smith story is now past, of course. But, don't fret, another one will come along soon enough.

Side note: If you feel that such a move to gain publicity for your EAP is exploitive of tragedy, you have it exactly backwards. Enter the real world: This is an opportunity to help others, the profession, and yourself.

EAPs can benefit from understanding a few things about free publicity that will aid them in working toward a better relationship with American businesses.

1) Media outlets need experts who can comment and explain human suffering and tragedy, as well as those who can offer prescriptions and messages of hope. EAPs are about both.

2) Media outlets need experts fast. They can’t wait, but you can help them fill the need.

3) Media outlets hate going to the same people every time for the expertise. They like variety. Although I will not name them, there at least two nationally known EAP organizations with well-funded public relations efforts who end up in almost every national newspaper, personnel journal, or television show relevant to the EAP message. This isn't so bad in itself. They're smart. The problem is that fueling misinformation and misconceptions about employee assistance programs to match their model of service delivery. The media doesn't know any different.

It is an exciting and rewarding experience to reach millions of people with the proper EAP message. Here’s betting you will do it very soon.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Promote Your EAP Staff (and Use Photos!)

Finding a great excuse to promote your EAP and build top-of-mind visibility is what makes for a high utilization rate. One super way to do this is by promoting your professional staff. Most professions have a specific week or month during the year that is used to promote that profession's unique contributions to the world of work. March is the month of social work, for example. Do you have any EA professionals who are social workers on your staff? If so, profile these staff in a newsletter next month. Identify the staff member’s unique educational background and perspective, and what that professional brings to the EAP. Find out what professional groups other staff belong to and do the same thing. Promote your staff personally with their photos so employees can see who they are. You must do this to get closer to potential employee clients. Use an editable Employee Newsletter (hint, hint) to make it easy. And here is the link to a monster list of Health Observances: