Friday, August 10, 2012

Human Resource Managers: Are They Your EAP Experts?

If you disagree with me, I want you to reply back: Human resource managers, the CEO, or maybe the CFO of the organization you serve all have power over your EAP. These folks cut your paycheck and control your contract or position. But, here this: These folks are not experts on EAPs, the EAP Core Technology, or reducing behavioral risk and human factors exposures to risk with regard to troubled employees. (So far, I hope we are in agreement.) You're the expert. If you took their direction on how you should run the EAP, who you should see, when you should see them, how to do assessments, what EAP activities firmly grounded in the EAP core technology that you should or should not participate in, etc. you would increase risk to your organization, lower your EAPs effectiveness, and increase risk of being "farmed out" or closed down. (So far, I hope you still agree.) Then why do so many EAPs do all of these things out of fear when the HR department phones and says "do this", "don't do that"?

Here is the problem. You live in fear. Do what the "customer says" or you may not have a job in the future. This "HR is boss paradigm" over EAP mechanisms has played a major role in diminishing the value of the EAP field. Human resource managers are educated about EAPs not from materials produced by EAPA or EAP old-timers, traditional resources, or accurate core-based materials. Instead, they have been educated by managed care, newspaper articles, feature articles in HR journals written by freelance writers, human resource management instructors in the classroom with zero EAP experience or at least nothing long term, human resource management textbooks, the Chief Financial Officer (who has been educated by the benefits consulting firm), and that's about it. (Are you still in agreement with me?) Okay, the kamikaze statement for this blog: These folks don't know what they are talking about, but you are doing what they say--modifying your EAP and its activities to match their "model" of what they think EAPs are supposed to do!

The EAP field could, in theory disintegrate in front of your eyes if you do not claim the high ground and decide that you are the expert and say so. I cannot tell you have many times I have heard this phrase from HR managers -- "EAPs don't do that". Too many EAPs are changing what they do to please customers. Would you change they dynamics of "calculus" because your student doesn't understand math? Calculus has not changed since Newton invented it. So, what are you doing with your EAP? Why are you making changes to the program to match the boss's misguided understanding of EAPs are all about? Better yet, who is backing you up as "authority" should you hold your ground? That's another blog note for the future.