When the Organization Says to the EAP, “Sorry, No More EAP Training”
Many EAPs train supervisors once, but later it becomes almost impossible to reach them again. This is because organizations have lots of other things going on, and they are resistant to releasing additional supervisor time to the EAP. It's as if supervisor time is currency. Translation: What management really means, is that they do not see additional EAP training as a priority.
If you haven’t committed management to periodic training of supervisors and haven’t planned a “marketing mix” to reach them if management refuses your request, you may have to perform major surgery later to get your supervisor referral rates up. The surgery, however, has a high rate of success.
Refresher training can make all the difference in the quality of your supervisor referrals to the EAP. It’s ideal. With it, you will influence the percentage of troubled employees using the EAP and the number of supervisor referrals critical to your statistics.
Supervisor referrals translate to reduced behavioral risk exposures faced by the organization, and you should always draw this linkage so management feels a bit uncomfortable (in a healthy way) of ignoring refresher training.
Refresher training accomplishes this next level of intimacy that can produce higher utilization rates. Making it happen is only possible with a “reach out and touch EAP”—an EAP that you can see, hear, and touch. An “out of site” and “out of mind” program will not reduce behavioral exposures as well. If you truly want a value-added EAP, have warm bodies available to those who need it, if possible.
The more ways you can reach supervisors, the more likely it is that you will deepen your relationship with them. This is why many internally staffed EAPs have high utilization. It’s the relationship naturally working overtime that makes it happen. I know one EAP that consistently gets 14-16% each year.
Remember, you are not just in the EAP business. You are in the “marketing business.” If you do not see yourself as a marketer, you will not meet the goals of your EAP. Think “marketing”. Marketing means getting attention. And getting attention means offering overwhelming value, while mixing up the channels by which your message gets out. It works with widgets and supervisors. Combine strategies with frequency, and you will see things change.
Make communication informational, short, and compelling for supervisors, and include answers to burning questions they have about managing employees and their role. Throw in some good tips on supervisor stress management, and boom, the number of your supervisor referrals will jump.
There are five primary channels for educating supervisors that you can use if your training requests get refused by the top brass. Can you guess which ones they are? I will begin talking about each in the next Toolbox.
Dedicated to Your Effective EAP,
Dan Feerst, LISW-CP, CEAP