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.