What is the Process in an Employee Assistance Program?

It’s safe to say that employees don’t develop problems that require the assistance of an Employee Assistance Program overnight. In many cases, there have been warning signs along the way that should have alerted someone in management that there was a prospective problem. As with all kinds of other problems, when one is spotted at an early stage in the workplace it allows for an early intervention that can ward off larger troubles down the road. The opportunity for intervention and counseling before a major problem develops needs to be recognized and acted upon here.

There are several of these indicators that point to a major problem developing and they include,

· A decline in performance where the employee appears apathetic or rude

· The employee continually complains about every trivial aspect of the job.

· The employee has continual interpersonal problems with other people on the job

· The employee resents criticism and resents others in his or her work group

After the manager begins to notice these typical warning signs, the problem generally becomes more serious. More of than not, the problem starts to manifest in even more serious problems like leave without absence, insubordination and even non performance of duties. When the problem has reached this stage it’s generally time to take action.

There is typically a two step referral process. It’s important to remember here that it is in the employers best interest to hand the problem off to the proper Employee Assistance Program representative at this stage. Once the problem has been identified, one or more warning interviews are held. The employee is given the option here of accepting assistance from the Employee Assistance Program here or accepting the consequences of their unacceptable job performance.

When these meetings take place, it’s essential that the job performance documentation is used as the basis fro the referral. The manager doesn’t need to know the origin of the employee’s problem; that will only become your knowledge if the employee signs a release of information that will be released to you.

As well, the time and the place for the meeting needs to be chosen carefully. Plenty of time needs to be allocated for the meeting since you don’t want to rush. Make sure that it takes place in a private place where you’ll be able to avoid interruptions. Make sure that the employee feels important by what you do and say as well. The goal of the whole process is retention.

Thorough documentation is essential. Make sure that the meeting focuses on the objective performance of the person and not on personality. In other words, it’s very important that the managers stick to the facts. Allow the employee to give his or her point of view but don’t discuss or try to resolve anything at this point. Remember that it’s essential that you remain objective here and that you don’t lose you temper or become defensive. Remember too that the Employee Assistance Program is not a cure all and it’s not always the best way to go for every organization, but generally they are growing in popularity as a way for companies to retain their most valuable assets, their employees.

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in the Employee Assistance Program, Stress Management, Staff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit http://www.pinnacleproactive.com


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