Human Behavior Associates

     For Managers & Supervisors > EAP Services > Referring Employees to EAP


When a workplace issue or pattern of poor job performance arises and previous attempts to correct the behavior have failed, a formal referral may be the next step. This referral procedure should be considered a constructive form of employee discipline. The intention is to cause the employee to become aware of the extent to which her/his personal or family problem is affecting their work performance, conduct or attendance.

The program will work effectively only if the supervisor understands his/her role in the situation. Employees with serious, long-standing personal problems, e.g. chemical dependency, have developed elaborate denial systems. This denial is contingent upon convincing persons in their environment that there is “nothing wrong with me.” If the supervisor adheres to monitoring job performance, she/he will not be required to make the value laden judgment of whether or not there is anything wrong personally with the employee. The issue of “is there a personal or family problem?” is left for the discussion between the employee and the assessment counselor.

A referral to the EAP is not a subtle form of punitive action. The process only works if the supervisor wants the employee to recover his or her capability to fully perform their job. The referral should not be seen as “one more thing that I have to do before I can fire this employee.” The employee will clearly understand your true intent and will respond accordingly.

Although no two formal referral cases are the same, a supervisor utilizing a typical formal referral process might go through these steps:


  • Record observations as they occur.
  • Be clear and concise.
  • Describe discrepancies in specific terms.
  • Remain objective.
  • Focus on work related observations.
  • Do not diagnose.

Prepare a Plan of Action

  • Consult with your Human Resources Department, to ascertain the company’s disciplinary or formal referral policies and processes.
  • Develop an action plan.
  • Decide on an approach.
  • Plan the employee intervention.
  • Call HBA at 1-800-937-7770 for consultation on the matter. An EAP consultant is available to assist you to prepare for an intervention (if necessary).

Intervention, Referral of the Employee

  • Meet with the employee.
  • Address job performance issue.
  • Explain the EAP Services, make the EAP referral, give the employee an EAP brochure.
  • Schedule a follow-up meeting with the employee.


  • Continue to observe and monitor job performance, conduct and attendance as you would with any other employee.
  • Conduct a follow-up meeting with the employee.
  • Acknowledge improvement.
  • Maintain contact with the EAP consultant.
  • Continue with disciplinary course if job performance remains unsatisfactory.

A more detailed description of referring an employee to the EAP is available in our Supervisory Booklet. To request a Supervisory Booklet, please call HBA at 1-800-937-7770. We can send this booklet electronically, or in the mail.


©2005 Human Behavior Associates    

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