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The Supervisor and
the Employee Assistance Program

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The EAP is committed to maintaining good relations between employees and supervisors. To that end we have provided the following guide to assist supervisors in dealing with employees who are using the services of the EAP.

The following questions help sort out the details of the supervisor's involvement with the EAP:

What is the supervisor's role?
As usual, the supervisor's role is to assess work performance and take appropriate management action when improvement is required. Supervisors should be sensitive to the possibility that a personal difficulty may be the reason for a downturn in an employee's performance.

If there are personal difficulties affecting job performance, the supervisor should encourage the use of EAP but at the same time, the supervisor should take corrective action. Usually, this takes the form of a discussion or a written letter outlining performance concerns. In such a letter, the supervisor should mention the availability of the Employee Assistance Program. A supervisor's corrective action about job performance could provide some of the motivation required by the employee to resolve the personal difficulty.

Are there other ways for the supervisor to be supportive?
Naturally, the supervisor should be patient, sympathetic and understanding when an employee uses the EAP. Another key part of the support is to insist that progress is being made toward meeting performance requirements. This can be a crucial component of the motivation needed by the employee to resolve the personal difficulty.

Does the supervisor have the right to know the details of the assistance being given through EAP?
No. Confidentiality of this information is a cornerstone of the EAP program. However, if counseling requires any absence from work, the supervisor has the right to know that EAP sessions are being attended and that progress toward problem resolution is occurring.

It is up to the employee to demonstrate progress. If necessary, the supervisor can ask the employee to have either his/her EAP counselor reassure the supervisor about the general progress of the counseling program.

What is the most difficult aspect of EAP for supervisors?
The biggest challenge for the supervisor is to focus on work performance rather than delaying corrective action because of sympathy for the troubled employee. Too often, the supervisor mistakenly delays taking the appropriate action because the employee indicates that his/her personal difficulties are the root cause of the performance problem and will soon be resolved.The supervisor should be steadfast under this inevitable pressure and take the appropriate corrective action
encourage the use of the EAP

What is the biggest frustration for supervisors with respect to EAP?

The time it takes for a problem to be resolved. This can be minimized if the supervisor takes the appropriate corrective action on any performance problem and also indicates the availability of EAP.


Summary of the supervisor's role with respect to EAP

1. Always take appropriate management action if there is a performance problem.

2. Encourage the early use of the EAP for personal difficulties.

3. Indicate that EAP help is available within the text of any corrective warning letter.

4. Be supportive when the EAP is used.

5. Follow up to ensure EAP counseling is helping resolve the problem


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