Course Case Studies

An Introduction to Employee Assistance Programs

Course #76252 - $40 • 8 Hours/Credits

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  • Participation Instructions
    • Review the course material online or in print.
    • Complete the course evaluation.
    • Review your Transcript to view and print your Certificate of Completion. Your date of completion will be the date (Pacific Time) the course was electronically submitted for credit, with no exceptions. Partial credit is not available.
Learning Tools - Case Studies

CASE STUDY 1


An EAP is asked to work with the Strategic Human Capital Committee of a company. The Committee asks the EAP to monitor the assessed problems, by department, and report back observed trends and recommendations for management development or needed organizational changes. As the EAP explores this request it realizes that there are several very small departments in which there are only a few employees and that disclosing any information about such small groups might compromise the confidentiality of the individual employee/clients. The EAP helps the Committee identify alternative organizational management strategies that would not create a potential conflict of interest for the EAP, allowing the EAP to remain a neutral entity in the organization.

Learning Tools - Case Studies

CASE STUDY 2


The EAP is asked to provide a stress management workshop for a particular department that has had a lot of turnover the past year. Despite conducting a thorough needs assessment prior to the workshop, the EAP counselor quickly realizes that the employees believe their supervisor and the company are responsible for their high levels of stress. The employees use the workshop as an opportunity to vent their frustration and anger about their work loads and company expectations. The EAP counselor serving the employees allows them to feel heard and helps them learn how to take control of their stress levels. The counselor completes the training and helps the employees focus on maximizing their productivity at work. It is important that the counselor shows sufficient empathy to build rapport and gain the trust of the employees, but also remains neutral. The counselor can serve both clients by giving the employees the opportunity to express frustration then refocusing them on finding healthy ways to manage anger and stress.

Learning Tools - Case Studies

CASE STUDY 3


An employee is seeking counseling for "work stress." The employee reports that he feels his supervisor is discriminating against him and tells the counselor he plans to hire a lawyer and sue the company. Again, it is important for the EAP counselor to remain neutral in this situation. The EAP counselor connects enough with the client in order to complete the assessment and make a plan of action to address the employee client's needs, but does not take sides with either the company or the employee client. It is not the counselor's job to conduct an investigation of the discrimination, to make a determination of fact, or to be involved in the disciplinary process. He stays neutral and focused on supporting the emotional needs of the employee client and connecting the employee client to problem-solving resources, which can involve empathizing with the employee client, helping him identify resources for emotional support, and creating a self-care plan. The counselor is also aware of the internal resources of the company and encourages the employee client to seek additional problem resolution through the equal employment office (EEO), human resources office, and union. Connecting an employee with internal company resources helps the employee and the organization resolve the problem more quickly and typically with less financial cost to both the employee client and the organizational client.

Learning Tools - Case Studies

EXAMPLE

A client contacts the EAP following his supervisor's retirement and recent problems with his new supervisor. The client reports that his new supervisor is unresponsive to emails containing questions about draft work products, but then expects him to work evenings and weekends to make last-minute corrections. The client reports a disruption to his work-life balance. No current symptoms are assessed—no problems with sleep, appetite, mood, or concentration and no risk of substance abuse. The EAP counselor employs short-term counseling to help the client develop alternate communication strategies to use when talking to his new supervisor about concerns and needs; learn stress management skills such as deep breathing and journaling; and develop assertiveness skills to set limits with his new supervisor.

A different approach would be needed if, for example, the assessment had revealed that the client has a history of clinical depression; averages only four hours of sleep each night; has gained weight in the past two weeks; or is drinking four glasses of wine each work night. In this case, due to the client's history of depression and current symptoms, he would be referred to a therapist with experience working with depression and substance abuse. He would also be encouraged to abstain from alcohol use and attend AA for additional support regarding his use of alcohol. The EAP counselor may provide SAMHSA literature about unhealthy drinking behaviors and alcohol abuse and encourage the client to consider the consequences and problems associated with using alcohol as a stress management tool.

If the counselor's assessment indicates that a client's problem requires more sessions than allotted by the EAP for resolution, or if a specialist is needed for diagnosis and treatment of a mental health disorder, a referral to treatment resources is included in the action plan. Referrals to treatment resources should be made after the first or second session, before the client gets too connected or goes too deeply into the problem with the EAP counselor.

Learning Tools - Case Studies

EXAMPLE

Employees report to management that they often smell alcohol on their supervisor's breath and that sometimes the supervisor disappears after lunch. Management talks with the supervisor who assures them that she is not drinking. She says that she often has meetings in the afternoon and that she will do a better job of communicating her schedule to her team and to other departments who may need her. Later the same month, the cleaning crew supervisor reports finding several empty single-serving wine bottles in the supervisor's trash can. (This is a mandatory reporting as outlined in the company's drug-free workplace manual.) Management discusses the matter and decides to formally refer the supervisor to the EAP but to take no additional disciplinary action. Management reports to EAP that the supervisor has been with the company for more than 30 years and that she is close to retirement, so they do not want to tarnish the supervisor's employment record or jeopardize her retirement. The EAP coaches management on how to confront and refer the supervisor. The supervisor comes to the EAP, which assesses her problems as depression and alcohol dependence. The EAP strongly recommends an outpatient substance abuse treatment program as well as therapy with a local provider who has experience with addiction and depression. The supervisor rejects the recommendations and instead prefers to attend Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) meetings and see her former therapist. The EAP continues to follow up with the supervisor to ensure compliance with the two-prong plan. About one month later, the supervisor is found passed out in the office building lobby and is taken to a hospital for treatment. Management then gives the supervisor three choices: resign from the company; work with the EAP and comply with all EAP recommendations; or do nothing and be fired for violation of several company policies. The employee chooses the second option and begins outpatient treatment and therapy. The EAP will continue to monitor her compliance and will report results to management.

Learning Tools - Case Studies

Example

A supervisor calls the EAP after a supervisory orientation. The supervisor reports she is having a problem with one of her employees. She says that the employee is good at his job and probably knows more about it than anyone else in the department; the problem is with the employee's attendance. According to the supervisor, the employee has always used a lot of leave, but it has become excessive in the past six months. The employee currently has no accrued sick leave, has forgotten to call twice in the last month to let her know that he is not coming to work, and has been late or left early on most days in the past two months when he has come to work. The supervisor states that she spoke with the employee about her attendance concerns, but the employee's behavior has not changed since that conversation took place. She says that she has no other areas of concern related to the performance or conduct of this employee. The EAP's consultation with the supervisor results in the following actions:

  • The EAP counselor coaches her on how to refer the employee to the EAP on the basis of work performance problems, specifically his attendance.

  • The EAP encourages her to consult with human resources regarding company policy and procedure when there are attendance problems.

  • The EAP educates her about enabling behaviors to help motivate her to follow through with the employee.

  • The EAP discusses stress management and supervisory self-care with her to ensure that she has the resources needed to handle the stressful situation.

Because the supervisor has never used the constructive confrontation and EAP referral process, she and the EAP counselor develop the following talking points for her to use when she meets with the employee:

  • I called this meeting today to discuss my concerns about your attendance.

  • You are a valuable employee and my goal is to help you improve your attendance.

  • You have no accrued sick leave as of May 15.

  • You did not call in to alert your supervisor that you would not be at work on April 28 or May 10.

  • You left early on May 3, 4, 11, 12, and 13.

  • You came in late on April 29 and on May 6, 7, 14, and 15.

  • I informed you of my concerns on May 6, and no changes have occurred since then.

  • Our company attendance policy states…

  • Possible consequences for violation of that policy include…

  • You are a knowledgeable and good employee when you are at work.

  • I expect that you will be at work every day, that you will be on time, that you will stay until the end of your shift, and that you will schedule your leave ahead of time so appropriate coverage can be obtained.

  • I am concerned that something is negatively affecting your attendance. I have contacted the EAP and they are expecting your call. The EAP is a free, confidential resource that offers employees assistance when they have work performance problems. I highly recommend that you meet with them. If you need time off to attend an appointment, I can arrange administrative time if I have proper notice from you.

  • Here is a letter outlining the referral to the EAP, including their contact information. Here is a brochure about EAP that outlines the confidentiality of the program. The EAP does not tell me what you discuss in session, and it does not become a part of your personnel record. There are federal laws protecting your confidentiality when you meet with the EAP.

  • Let's schedule a follow-up meeting for two weeks from now to discuss your improvement.

  • Is there anything you need from me to ensure you successfully meet my expectations?

  • Back to Course Home
  • Participation Instructions
    • Review the course material online or in print.
    • Complete the course evaluation.
    • Review your Transcript to view and print your Certificate of Completion. Your date of completion will be the date (Pacific Time) the course was electronically submitted for credit, with no exceptions. Partial credit is not available.