Friday, December 3, 2021

EAP Supervisor Referral Tips from the Field: Educating Supervisors to Make Use of the EAP

Perhaps you have noticed. Managed care EAPs are nearly devoid of supervisor referrals, supervisor training, integration in progressive disciplinary processes, and absent supervisor consults on managing troubled employees.

So where are you getting tips to help supervisors refer. Here are a few I have assembled that you may wish to incorporate in supervisor training.

1. If your employee complains that a personal problem is affecting his or her life, and you suggest taking advantage of the EAP, this does not count as a supervisor referral if subsequent job performance problems emerge resulting from the same personal problem growing worse. Making a supervisor means meeting with your employee formally and saying you are making a supervisor referral based on unsatisfactory job performance. 

2. If you only verbally provide a list of your employee's performance issues, the EAP must repeat second-hand what you have said in the assessment with your employee. An argumentative employee will easily gain control of such an interview and make an assessment virtually impossible. A tangible list of issues is essential to keep the discussion on track. 

3. Only limited information is needed by supervisors to manage employees. The details of a personal problem are usually irrelevant to supervision unless disclosed to the supervisor for good reason with the employee's permission, often part of a need to be reasonable accommodated for some health condition.

4. Employee assistance programs are a benefit to employees, but they are also management tools to help preserve human resources. The failure of supervisors to view EAPs as management tools rather than just counseling programs contributes to their underutilization when performance problems are still small and manageable. When supervisors understand that the EAP is a resource for them as well as employees, they use it earlier to resolve performance problems that could lead to larger problems. 

5. EAPs are voluntary for employee use. But supervisors may be mandated to make a supervisor referral based upon violations of organizational policies by the employee. Alcohol and drug use is the most common example. Mandatory referrals (if they are part of an EAP policy) dictate the circumstances under which a supervisor must make a supervisor referral. These referrals are a form of intervention that give an employee a “firm choice” to accept the referral without delay or the consequences of the rule or behavioral infraction. This type of referral is actually attempt to accommodate the employee's possible personal problem, but the employee has to make the decision what to do. 

6. Mandatory referrals are often controversial, but don't have to be. They work effectively when incorporated into EAP policy as a procedural step following a serious work rule infraction. Employees who come to the EAP reporting, "I had to come, I had no choice. It was mandatory.", don't understand they have made a choice to accept help in lieu of termination or other disciplinary action held in abeyance to accommodate them. 

7. If your employee complains that a personal problem is affecting his or her life, and you suggest taking advantage of the EAP, this does not count as a supervisor referral if subsequent job performance problems emerge resulting from the same personal problem growing worse.  Making a supervisor means meeting with your employee formally and saying you are making a supervisor referral based on unsatisfactory job performance. 

8. Supervisor should never seek or attempt to get the EAP's "okay" for disciplinary actions or advice on the psychological impact of a disciplinary action, thinking the EAP knows the mental state of your employee better than you do. Similarly,  the EAP can't help select the disciplinary action that will work best for the employee. These types of EAP involvement will destroy program credibility.

9.  An employee who is terminated may not have much incentive to visit the EAP, but mentioning the availability of the EAP is still a good idea because the employee has a source of support at a stressful time.  If employees can use the EAP after termination, it is better than having no support at all. 

10. If you know your employee well, it is still not possible to predict whether or not he or she will accept a supervisor referral to the EAP.  Don't try to guess. Refer your employee to the EAP without making judgments about willingness to go. 

11. An employee confronted by performance documentation that he or she has never heard of or seen will feel angry. The natural response by the employee is to feel empowered minimizing or dismissing other documented performance problems. This makes the EAP assessment more difficult and cumbersome.  Give all the information to your employee so there are no surprises in the EAP interview. 

12. Supervisor referrals based on job performance problems—conduct, attitude, availability, attendance, etc.—will result in more employees with untreated behavioral-medical problems being seen by the EAP. And when personal problems are the focus, fewer employees are seen at the EAP.  Thinking of the EAP as way to help an employee improve performance will generate more referrals of employees with personal problems the symptoms of which you are unable to identify. 

13. Discussing the employee's personal problems jeopardizes your ability to manage performance because it leads to postponement of disciplinary actions and increases the likelihood of manipulation by the employee.  Your employee has superior ability to discuss his or her personal problems, and may willingly participate in a discussion to gain control in a disciplinary meeting or constructive confrontation concerning performance matters. 

15. Follow-up to discuss performance issues indirectly helps your employee remain focused on self-care and resolving personal problems so that acceptable performance levels are maintained. Follow-up reduces complacency, a major cause of relapse for many types of personal problems.  Follow-up has the powerful effect of helping employees stay involved in counseling, treatment, or care plans that could easily be ignored because of complacency

16. The return of performance problems on the job may be unknown to the EAP. You help the EAP when you report performance problems, and your report can be useful in further evaluating and confronting the employee.  Letting the EAP know what's going on in the workplace will help everybody win. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

EAP Role in Helping Employees Manage the Stress of Holiday Expectations

Expectations are often cited by employees as a key source of stress during the holidays, but pressure to participate in activities and events is less of a problem for many people than the sheer pressure of how one is supposed to feel during this time of year.

It's not so much the expectations of activities that may affect employees, it's the stress of faking how one feels that is the kicker.

If an employee suffers from depression, or if this time of year includes struggles over

memories past, help workers focus on the here and now, and teach them a bit about avoiding the “future-focus” of what they imagine is coming down the road.

Ask employees if they can identify from past holiday seasons where their support network lies? These may be individuals or even events that provide comfort and reduce stress. Some family members are more supportive than others in our time of need. You may notice in your personal life that some family are far more empathic in their communication and masters at saying the right thing. Others families may be so self-absorbed that listening is more than they can stand.

Have employees during an EAP assessment consider a plan of action. Have this include when they will attempt to connect or share time with these special people.

Also have employees Include in their support plan a way to connect with your company’s employee assistance program again during the holiday season or a mental health professional.

Employees should be prompted with the statement that they may only need a session or two to feel energized and in more control of their emotional state.

There’s an adage among members of 12-step groups: “Bring the body, and the mind will follow.” It means that behaviors can sometimes influence feelings. So, if the opportunity to participate in a seasonal event appears, and your EAP client doesn't feel motivated to attend, consider whether participation might surprise him or her with an uplifting experience and a positive change in mood they might otherwise have missed.

This article is founded one from the December issue of Frontline Employee newsletter for EAPs and workplace wellness programs. You can download free information here and use the EAP newsletter to help your program for a few months free so you can see the impact.

For more resources of EAPs and human resource managers, visit

Monday, August 17, 2020

Download Free Items from for Helping Employers Deal Anxious Employees and Parents Concerned about Back to School Issues



Dan Feerst - Publisher of Workplace Wellness Materials Releases Free Handouts to Human Resource Managers to Calm Employee Anxiety and Support Parents Worried about Back to School Issues of COVID-19


This information is meant to help employees who are parents better manage
 their anxiety, worry, and stress associated with managing their children
going back to school in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, August 12, 2020, The COVID-19 Pandemic has been the cause of a tremendous amount of anxiety. It can and does, hurt employee performance. Information leads to knowledge, and knowledge eases anxiety and the fear factor. Many employers have cut their Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s) in favor of 800 hotlines, which are not as effective.


Dan Feerst, author and publisher of, realized that he is in a position to offer this free information better than others because he is in the business of providing a plethora of Workplace Wellness Materials. These free items were prepared originally for employee assistance programs nationwide, but he is concerned few workers would gain access to these materials. They are therefore letting any human resource manager, workforce management professional, or CEO download them free without cost or obligation.


Included in the free package is a PowerPoint on managing stress and anxiety associated with the Coronavirus. Designed for employees are: reproducible and editable handouts in PDF, MS Publisher, and MS Word, a Web video for employers based on the PowerPoint, and a  reproducible/editable handout to distribute to employees who are parents to help them cope with stress and anxiety related to their children going back to school. The anxiety level of parents sending their kids off to school is through the roof, these resource handouts should help lessen their fears.


Dan Feerst wants employees to know that they have the option of receiving other free human resource related workplace wellness tip sheets regularly distributed without cost or obligation. An MP4 video on helping employees face the unique challenges of working remotely is also available.


They offer professionally authored handouts and tip sheets on workplace wellness topics and supervisor skills, reducing risk, improving employee’s assistance program functioning, and helping employees be healthy, happy, and productive. The Frontline Employee Human resources newsletter has been very well received by employers.


About Dan Feerst, Publisher:


Dan Feerst is the most widely read author on employee assistance program (EAP) content for supervisors. He has authored over 3,900 EAP and related wellness articles for FrontLine Supervisor and FrontLine Employee. Monthly readership of FrontLine Newsletters totals over three million employees. Subscribers include the U.S Army, the U.S. Congress, Universities, Hospitals, School systems, and industries.


FrontLine Supervisor has published continuously since 1993. FrontLine Employee has published continuously since 2001. You can find these publications on their other Web site You can find 220 other workforce management, HR, and EAP

resources and products at


To obtain the free information package visit and click on “Free Tip Sheet”.


Media Contact:

Attn: Media Relations

3601 West Higgins Drive, Suite 200

Mount Pleasant, SC 29466




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