Managers and supervisors play a key role in the success of a group as well as the larger organization. As one finds him or herself responsible for the complexity of a workgroup, concerns may arise which are unique or create a need to talk through one’s approach. The EAP psychologists specialize in communication and management of behavioral concerns found with employees. The EAP psychologists are available to assist management by discussing appropriate directions and options with your supervisees, as well as the ability to coach on how to approach sensitive matters. These consultations can be anonymous and are free of charge.
Several outcomes can result from a consultation. The appropriateness of these options will be discussed with the supervisor directly in order to determine the best course of action for the employee and the work environment.
- Problem solving strategies can be employed directly by the supervisor
- An informal referral can be made to the EAP
- A formal, Fitness for Duty evaluation may be deemed necessary.
An informal referral is simply a way of highlighting the availability of EAP services to the employee. This type of referral allows the full extent of confidentiality to the employee. No information is given to the department about attendance or the area of concern, unless there is a written consent. This type of referral provides an opportunity for the manager to acknowledge that the employee is facing challenges and can offer guidance for a pro-active approach to addressing one’s concerns.
Additionally, a significant benefit to having the EAP available to employees is that assistance may be sought prior to personal or work problems begin to interfere with the employee’s job performance. Ensuring your supervisees know about this service may help them avoid performance problems.
Possible areas for consultation include:
- Coping with a workplace trauma or crisis (e.g., death of co-worker, natural disaster)
- Employee personal problems that interfere with performance, attitude, or attendance
- Concern for violence or other workplace behavioral risk
- Questions about possible substance abuse
- EAP services promotion
- Workplace stress and employee resiliency
- Managing change and transition.
The Employee Assistance Program has developed a “hands-on” resource for managers and supervisors facing the concerns and challenges that accompany managing employees. The purpose of this EAP Tool Kit (pdf) is to provide a quick guide and reference for managers working with employees who may be experiencing a crisis or problem that is interfering with their personal and workplace functioning. Examples of topics include: Signs of Employee Distress, Guidelines for Managing Change, and Resiliency in the Workplace.
Fitness for Duty - For Cause
A formal referral for a Fitness for Duty evaluation, is a more structured approach, once the concerns have begun to impact the individual’s ability to perform their duties. There are two types of Fitness for Duty evaluations: For Cause and Deteriorating Performance. For Cause testing is an “in the moment” response to concerns that someone may be impaired due to misuse of a substance. This can include alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription drugs. If this concern arises, the supervisor and a second observer, are asked to assist the employee to Health Services. The supervisor informs the reception desk that a For Cause test is needed. A form is then completed by the supervisor and the employee will have a urine/breath test for substances, as well as a medical assessment to rule out any health conditions that may be contributing to the change in behavior. After the assessment, there is a delay in determining the results of the urine test, therefore, the supervisor will most likely be asked to assist the employee in safely getting home. Health Services will follow up with the supervisor at the time that the results are ready. An EAP psychologist will become involved if there are additional treatment requirements, or as case management is needed for the employee’s return. A return to work plan, accommodation, and any further recommendations will be discussed with the supervisor prior to the employee coming back to work.
Fitness for Duty - Deteriorating Performance
A Deteriorating Performance evaluation is typically requested when changes in the employee’s behavior have occurred over time and there are no urgent concerns for the employees safety or well-being. (If these concerns do exist, please bring the employee over to HSD immediately and they will be seen as soon as possible or call 911.) Often, a meeting occurs with Staff Relations, EAP psychologist, Medical staff, and the manager to discuss the best course of action once the manager has initiated the process. Typically this includes a Letter of Expectation, written by the supervisor, and a determination of the extent of evaluation that is needed to assess the employee’s well-being. A date and time for the evaluation will be determined, and may include a medical assessment in addition to meeting with the EAP psychologist.
A Fitness for Duty evaluation allows for general communication back to the manager. The focus of this communication is on outcome and prognosis resulting from the evaluation. Work restrictions/accommodations may be developed to enhance long-term work productivity.