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An EAP provides convenient professional assistance for employees and family members coping with personal problems. It is also a resource for managers faced with employee difficulties.
The earlier an individual seeks counseling, the easier it is to resolve issues of concern. Therefore, early problem identification is important to enhance the chances for a successful outcome, which benefits both the employee and the organization.
Managers can help an employee recognize the need for assistance by addressing performance problems. In suggesting that an employee contact the EAP, the manager is able to demonstrate care and understanding. The manager’s role is keep the focu on work performance, without getting overly involved as a friend, advisor or “therapist.” Over involvement in an employee’s personal life requires a great deal of time, detracts from the manager’s ability to objectively supervise the employee, and typically does not resolve the problem.
Access to Program
The following details the different ways employees can use the program. The emphasis throughout all the access routes is on: a) identifying problems at the earliest possible stage; b) motivating the individual to seek help; and c) directing the person to the EAP service provider.
CONFIDENTIALITY is vital to the effectiveness of the EAP and will be strictly enforced at all times. The program will be governed by Federal and State confidentiality standards, laws and ethics of clinical practice and laws.
Voluntary Self-Referral. Employees and their families are encouraged to seek assistance on their own through voluntary self-referral. This is done by contacting Claremont at 1-800-834-3773. Self-referrals can be made whether or not job performance has already become an issue.
- Informal Referral. Any person immediately involved or familiar with an employee’s personal situation, including manager and colleagues, may encourage an employee to seek assistance from the EAP. These referrals encourage the employee to seek assistance before serious job performance deficiencies occur.
- Formal Referral. The manager consults with the EAP and refers the employee; the employee signs a “Release of Information” Form; the EAP reports back to the manager confirming that the employee is participating in counseling. Policies for use of Formal referrals, and employee use of work time to attend EAP sessions under Formal Referral vary among companies. Your Human Resources Department can provide guidance on this.
ANALYZING PERFORMANCE PROBLEMS
When you have identified a work performance problem you need to specifically define the discrepancy between the employee’s “expected” and “actual” levels of performance. You then need to gather pertinent data and assess for probable cause(s). Claremont’s Management Consultants can help you analyze and make a plan to address the root causes. These can include:
Job Match Problems. In these situations the employee does not have the necessary traits, characteristics or ability to succeed in the job. You may need to consider transfer, demotion, or termination; or, there may be a way to optimize the current situation.
- Skill Match Problems. In these situations the employee has the raw ability to perform the job, and may be skilled in some areas, but he/she has not developed the necessary skills for the current job. Additional training and supervision should be utilized to correct the problem.
- Environmental/Motivational Problems. In some cases, the work situation is not set up in a way that causes the employee to want to do things that lead to success in the job. As a supervisor, your job is to get results from the efforts of your people by establishing job expectations that match the organization’s needs and motivating and supporting employees to meet those. In some cases the employee may feel that his/her performance does not matter because there is a lack of positive/negative consequences for work performance. The supervisor must develop some consequences to improve the situation.
- Personal Problems. Personal problems (e.g. family, marital, emotional, chemical dependency) affect work performance. If the supervisor believes this may be the case, he/she should consult with Claremont to determine whether a referral is appropriate. Referral to the EAP is offered as a positive, helpful resource. It is important that the referral be seen as separate and distinct from discipline. There may, however, be instances where you have grounds for termination and yet want to offer “one last chance.”
EAP serves as the resource which helps the individual to make a behavior change. Management confrontation regarding performance is often a catalyst for the individual to seek help. A supportive confrontation may help the employee to address problems that are impacting many areas of life. Don’t try and diagnose the problem yourself-keep the focus on work performance. The more the EAP can be integrated into your routine, timely handling of employee performance problems, the better the program works for the organization, supervisor and individual employee.
HOW THE EAP WORKS
An employee generally comes in for counseling in one of three ways: As a self referral, an informal referral, or formal referral.
Most people decide to seek assistance on their own or do so as a result of encouragement from a family member or friend. When personal problems are identified early and addressed they may never affect work performance.
II. INFORMAL REFERRAL
When an employee or family member has a problem and would like assistance in resolving it, the individual can call Claremont.
- The caller will be asked to briefly describe the situation so that an appropriate counselor and/or resource can be chosen.
- A prompt appointment will be offered. Daytime and evening counseling is available to accommodate work schedules. (Under normal circumstances, clients are expected to be seen on their own time, outside of their scheduled work hours).
- People who are in a crisis or otherwise feel a need to be seen immediately state this on the phone. Claremont will make every attempt to schedule an appointment that day.
- Employees and family members may also be referred to a number of other services. These services do not count against the employee’s EAP visit availability. Other EAP services include legal and financial consultations, assistance preparing a will, child and elder care referrals, referrals to a variety of community resources, and services to assist with virtually any human service need. These resources allow the employee to keep focused on work during working hours.
Managers and/or colleagues may be instrumental in motivating a person to seek counseling via informal encouragement. This type of referral can occur whether or not work performance has become an issue. With an informal referral, there is no Release of Information Form signed by the employee; therefore, Claremont will not report back to the manager regarding an employee’s participation—including the fact of whether or not the employee has contacted the EAP.
III. FORMAL REFERRAL
When you become aware that an employee is experiencing a personal problem, an EAP brochure or card should be given with a recommendation to call Claremont for a counseling appointment.
- When making the appointment the employee can expect to go through the steps listed under “Self-Referral.”
- Since sensitive discussions with employees and colleagues are often difficult, you can contact the Claremont Consultant to assist you in formulating your approach. There is no need to disclose the employee’s identity.
When personal problems have affected work performance, the EAP can be recommended to the employee. This may occur in conjunction with a verbal warning, a written reprimand or other performance-related action.
When approached in a supportive manner, many troubled employees feel relieved to have someone take an interest and offer them a place to go for help with their problem. With support from colleagues, managers, family and the professional assistance from EAP, most individuals once again become more productive at work and happier in their personal lives.
A. Call for Consultation to:
Determine the appropriateness of making a referral.
- Define and clarify the performance and/or conduct problem(s).
What disciplinary action has been taken in the past?
- What action is being taken now?
- What are the consequences if performance does not improve?
- What is the time frame if performance does not improve?
- What are the expected outcomes for counseling?
- Plan the most effective approach to ensure that the employee utilizes the EAP.
- Decide what to do if the employee refuses EAP counseling.
- Receive Release of Information from Claremont.
B. Meet with the Employee to:
Provide feedback regarding work performance and/or conduct problem(s). It is important to present clearly documented incidents to the employee.
- Explain the improvement required.
- Establish a realistic time frame for improvement. Explain that further action will be taken if there is no work performance improvement within the stated time.
- Request that the employee call Claremont to set up an appointment.
- Inform the employee that when there is a work performance problem, it is advantageous for the EAP to be in contact with the manager. There are two purposes:
To assure that the EAP, management and the employee all have the same information about the needed improvement so they can work together toward those goals
- To provide confirmation that the employee is using the provided resources as agreed. (This is especially important if work time is granted for EAP appointments)
Inform the employee that this can only occur with the written consent of the employee by signing the Release of Information provided by Claremont. The Release of Information is limited to information such as:
The fact that the employee is participating in EAP counseling.
- The counselor’s assessment of whether further involvement in counseling can be helpful.
- The counselor’s assessment of time needed to resolve problems at work.
Reassure the employee that the nature of any personal problem discussed with the counselor is confidential between the employee and EAP.
- Clarify whether the appointment is to be scheduled on personal time or work time.
- Give the employee an EAP brochure to answer additional questions.
- Send signed Release of Information to Claremont.
C. Follow-Up After Referral
The Claremont Consultant will:
The Manager will:
Confirm that a signed Release of Information has been obtained.
- Call the referring manager to provide information specified in the release.
- Offer suggestions and/or recommendations regarding the employee, if appropriate.
- Request any needed information from the referring manager. This may include data relative to improvement or decline in work performance while the employee is in counseling.
Supervise work performance as you have always done. Remember, participating in the EAP is used in conjunction with your disciplinary procedures, not as a substitute for these procedures.
- Document any slippage in performance and provide that feedback to the employee and to the EAP.
- Provide positive feedback acknowledging an employee’s improved performance.
- Be firm, fair and consistent in the treatment of the employee—offer no special favors and avoid over-monitoring performance. Turning a blind eye to poor performance isn’t helping anyone, including the employee.
Even though work performance problems are often evident, managers may still avoid confronting situations. They may be reluctant to address problems such as inability to concentrate, excessive phone calls, disruption to others, or poor attendance.
Consulting with the EAP can help managers overcome these barriers and assist employees in becoming more productive at work and happier in their personal lives.
The Manager as “Therapist”
Some managers like to be resources to their staff, often trying to serve in a therapist or in a parental role. This may create a situation where the employee reveals too much and feels uncomfortable when the crisis has passed. Managers are generally not trained to accurately assess personal problems, and therefore may steer the staff member in the wrong direction, or inappropriately diagnose.
Managers do not need to be diagnosticians or therapists. They need to encourage the person to seek outside professional help. This could be a variety of resources, including the EAP.
- Lack of Documentation of Work Performance Problems
Accurate performance records help identify patterns of behavior or trends in performance. When Staff are passed from manager to manager without consistent documentation of performance or attendance problems, the new managers have difficulty confronting erratic performance. Managers sometimes see short-term improvement when a staff member is disciplined, but miss overall long-term decline.
Information regarding attendance and performance should be specific and well documented. Then, when the person is confronted with the decline, a plan can be formulated to address the problem areas. Also, a time frame can be established for improvement.
- Inappropriate Confrontation of Employees
Managers sometimes incorrectly confront staff members with suspected problems, rather than specific performance issues and create defensiveness, rather than a problem solving opportunity.
For example, “Are you drinking again? You’re never here on Mondays.” Rather than speculating about the personal problem, try to stay objective and focus on work performance: “I’ve noticed that you have been out every Monday for the last month. What, in your opinion, is causing this pattern?” The staff member cannot deny that s/he “missed Mondays” but s/he can become argumentative and defensive when accused of “drinking again.”
- Sense of Betrayal
Managers sometimes have concerns over “betraying” or “turning in” an employee. However, in reality, the EAP is source of professional, confidential help for employees in their time of need.
- Confusion with the Manager’s Personal Problems
Sometimes a manager may experience the same personal problems as the employee s/he is referring, such as divorce or loss of a loved one. This can lead to a bond that prevents the manager from making a referral when appropriate.
- Fear of Retaliation
A manager may fear that an employee will threaten him or her for discussing job performance. All threats should be taken seriously and reported to the appropriate department. However, the employee still needs to be confronted regarding his/her job performance.
- Fear of Harming a Valuable Employee
Managers sometimes feel concerned that an EAP referral will interfere with an employee’s chance at a promotion or continued employment. In fact, an EAP referral will not harm his/her chances, but poor job performance will. Participating in the EAP is viewed as a positive step by employers, as the employee is demonstrating his/her commitment to resolving the personal issue and improving job performance.
POINTS TO CONSIDER WHEN OFFERING EAP
When a manager wishes to suggest the use of the EAP to an employee in conjunction with an observed job performance deficiency, the following points should be considered:
Opinions or judgments regarding the nature of a personal problem causing the deficiency must be avoided.
- After the job performance deficiency has been reviewed, the employee will be informed that there is professional service available through the Claremont EAP which he/she can access voluntarily, confidentially and at no cost.
- Whether the employee refuses or accepts the EAP, if the job performance discrepancy is not resolved, the next step will be whatever administrative action is appropriate within the framework of existing policy.
- If disciplinary action is warranted, the EAP may be offered at every step of the procedure.
SUGGESTED “SPEECH” FOR OFFERING EAP
The following “speech” can provide you with some guidelines when making a formal or informal management referral. The speech directs attention away from the employee and normalizes the fact that personal problems can interfere with job performance.
Everyone wants you to improve your performance, especially me. We all have personal problems sometimes. Everyone in this company has had to carry some personal burden. Whether they realize it or not, sometimes these problems show up on the job and start to affect work. I am not saying this is true in your case, but if it is, the EAP is available to help employees resolve personal problems. And, the EAP is free.
For informal referrals, the following should be included in the speech:
But, regardless of whether you contact the EAP or not, you and I need to meet again in 30 days to review your progress concerning job performance.
Your involvement with the EAP is completely confidential, they will not even tell me whether or not you have contacted the EAP.
For formal referrals, the following should be included in the speech:
I’ve talked with the EAP about your situation and we feel that it is in your best interest to allow the EAP to notify me as to whether or not you are participating in the counseling. I am not concerned about what you talk about during the visits, and that information will not be disclosed. I would like to know that you are attending the visits. This will demonstrate to me that you are making an effort to correct this problem. Let’s review and sign the “Release of Information” document to allow the EAP to notify me about whether or not you are attending the visits.