Employment Assistance Programs – Don’t Let Personal Problems Impact Productivity

At least 15-20% of the workforce is affected by moderate to serious personal problems at any given time. These problems can include financial difficulties, marital problems, family issues, drug or alcohol dependence and emotional problems. When employees don’t know where to turn for help, their problems may increase and if the problems remain untreated, employees’ work performance can decline. Providing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can play a vital role in helping employees going through a difficult time remain productive at work. The EAP can be offered as a voluntary, confidential program and suggested to employees experiencing personal difficulties.


An EAP is a helpful supervisory tool for managing performance issues. If the employee has performance issues, the manager can make the employee a mandatory referral to the EAP. The most appropriate referrals are those where the employee has had a history of good performance and then a noted deterioration. Chances are something occurred to create the decline and with the right assistance, the individual can get back on track. The employee who consistently performs poorly may not be the best candidate for a formal EAP referral because they just may not be the right fit for the job so it is important to make this distinction.

A management referral should be made only for performance issues (or violation of a company policy such as workplace violence or a drug or alcohol policy), but not for personal problems. Although a manager may be aware that there are personal problems contributing to work issues, the referral should be based only on performance. The EAP counselor will meet with the employee to help determine the cause of the decline in performance and provide assistance to get back on track. The counselor can also provide feedback to the manager about the employee’s motivation to follow the counselor’s recommendations for assistance and improvement. Again, no personal information will be shared without a signed release of information.

The EAP is helpful when dealing with positive drug tests or alcohol problems. The counselor will assess the individual and refer him or her for appropriate treatment and monitor their involvement in treatment to provide support and long-term sobriety.

Without an EAP, managers are left to spend hours assisting employees in an area where most have no training. The less employers are involved in employees’ personal problems, the better.

Fully Effective Employees Fully Effective Employees, Inc has been providing EAP services to the Puget Sound area since 1976. All EAP staff counselors do all the work themselves including after hours calls, onsite trainings, management consultation, assessment, referrals, brief counseling, follow up for up to two years and critical incident debriefing. All counselors are EAP trained and experienced with drug and alcohol issues. For more information, contact Audrey Rosenfeld at 425-557-0907 or audreyr@fee-eap.com.

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