Suggested (Informal) Referrals to EAP

June 27, 2022

Simplest Tool in Your Leadership Toolkit

Provided by AllOne Health

Close up of hand giving Employee Assistance Program wallet card to another hand
When referring employees to the Employee Assistance Program, supervisors should emphasize that use of the program is voluntary, confidential and at no cost to employees.

An informal referral to the Employee Assistance Program is as simple as it sounds. It is really just a conversation with the employee, letting the individual know that the manager/supervisor is concerned about him or her and reminding the employee about how the EAP may be able to help.

Why are supervisors best positioned to suggest voluntary use of the Employee Assistance Program?

  • Awareness: Often the supervisor is the first to know when something of a personal nature is affecting an employee. Supervisors know the employee’s leave records, work habits, job conduct, appearance and potentially about his or her personal situation.
  • Influence: Supervisors are well-positioned to encourage their employees to do something about a problem. A person who may not listen to family and friends will frequently make changes when the workplace intervenes.

Tips for a Successful Referral

  1. Emphasize confidentiality: The supervisor should make sure that the employee knows that no one at the workplace is informed about the individual’s use of the Employee Assistance Program. The supervisor is simply reminding the employee that this resource is available.
  2. The supervisor should continue to observe and document signs of improvement or deterioration of the employee’s performance whether or not the employee decides to use the EAP.
  3. If the supervisor observes a continuation of the problematic behavior or performance, he or she should have a follow-up conversation with the employee. This is a good time to consider whether formal performance or disciplinary steps should be taken.

Self-referrals are voluntary. They occur when employees, elected officials or their dependents contact the EAP on their own initiative. In this situation, the EAP does not provide any specific or identifying information about the client to the supervisor or employer.

Self-referrals are important to a successful program because they allow the employee to address personal problems and prevent them from becoming bigger issues that affect the workplace.

Through the EAP, MCIT member employees, officials and their dependents are provided with six counseling sessions per identified issue at no cost. Counselors are conveniently available across the state for in person, telephone and video sessions.

Use of EAP Should Be Voluntary

Requiring employees with unsatisfactory performance to contact the Employee Assistance Program as part of a performance improvement plan goes against the voluntary intent and scope of service provided under the program. It also falls outside of MCIT’s contract with Sand Creek.

To receive optimal benefit from the EAP, there must be a level of trust between the qualified EAP counselor and the employee. Success requires a collaborative effort. Employees who are forced to contact the EAP as a requirement of a performance improvement plan may be resentful and uncooperative with the EAP counselor. As a result, the employee may receive little to no benefit from the service and may be reluctant to reach out for needed assistance in the future.

Instead of making the EAP mandatory, MCIT recommends that the service be presented to the employee as an optional resource to help the individual meet performance expectations.

Unlimited Supervisor Coaching Available

The Employee Assistance Program provides unlimited telephone consultation for supervisors to help them navigate management challenges. Coaching conversations aim to find the best ways to respond to employees and handle difficult workplace situations. The supervisor consultation sessions are confidential in accordance with state and federal laws.

Common areas that supervisor coaching address are:

  • Employee behavior
  • Job performance concerns
  • Strategies to recommend the EAP to employees
  • Team dynamics, including interpersonal conflicts
  • Critical incident or grief-related concerns in the workplace
  • Dealing with change and transition within work teams
  • Other challenges related to being a supervisor

Department heads, managers and supervisors can connect with a qualified professional counselor for consultation for management-related issues any time at 1.800.500.6248. Supervisors can call as often as they need for support. A supervisor coaching flier is available to inform managers to this service.

Learn More

Members can learn more about the EAP and supervisor coaching available through it at
assistance-program/, as well as download brochures, fliers and other EAP promotional materials.

Portions of this article copyright 2022 AllOne Health. Reprinted with permission.

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