Making Referrals to Employee Assistance Programs

Making a referral to the EAP for a serious situation such as erratic behavior or workplace violence can be uncomfortable and difficult for a manager. Managers should keep in mind that in making a referral to the EAP they should describe the specific behavior that is causing concern to the employee and to the EAP counselor.

When discussing it with the employee provide specific, quantifiable facts that are hard for the employee to refute. This helps to break through the employee's denial that he/she has a problem. It also lets the employee know that the manager has noticed something, written it down and done some analysis of the data. When confronting the employee, it is important for the manager to keep in mind that he/she is not a counselor, physician, or diagnostician. Avoid diagnosing the root of the problem. Leave this to the professionals. A manager should focus on his or her job of maintaining proficiency and productivity.

If the manager is making a management referral, he or she should
    Let the employee know what is expected.

    Identify specific actions and tasks and a timeframe for completion

    Set a specific date or dates for follow-up.

    Document what has been communicated to the employee.

    Communicate that the manager will continue monitoring the employee and that if he or she fails to improve further action will be taken

    Communicate the type of action that could take place

    Initiate any parallel management action, such as a plan for performance improvement.

    Make a management referral to the employee assistance program. Communicate that contacting the EAP is part of the action plan for improving the situation.

    Emphasize that the management referral is voluntary and that you are offering the EAP as a resource to help the employee. It’s the employee’s decision to take advantage of the help, but he or she will not be disciplined for failure to follow through on a management referral

    Emphasize that The EAP is not a safe harbor. The employee remains accountable for his or her performance and behavior.

It is important that the manager recognize that a management referral is voluntary.
    It is a no harm, no foul situation. No punitive action can result because of the employee's failure to contact the EAP. (e.g., "If you don't call the EAP, you will be terminated."
    No conditions placed on the referral. (e.g. "I suggest you call the EAP by next Thursday.")

Once the management referral has been made, it is important that a manager continue to observe, monitor, evaluate and document the employee's performance.

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