Many organizations receive their Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, as an embedded resource within some other benefit, usually within their long- or short-term disability insurance.

While this approach has many short-comings impacting employee well-being, I want to focus my attention on how this approach also has many short-comings that can impact an employer’s organizational development opportunities.

I recently participated in a team meeting with a prospective customer who asked if we could provide fitness for duty support (FFD). Before providing an answer, I wanted to clarify their understanding of FFD.

FFD is usually associated with roles or positions that have specific safety aspects associated with them. Consequently, I was surprised to learn that they believed an FFD applied to every department and job function. With additional questioning, our team realized that much of what they considered FFD really fell within “manager consultation.”

Here’s a quick description of their situation: Two human resource managers contacted their account manager about an employee who they thought had mental health issues. They were concerned about the employee’s fitness to continue working and believed that the individual would be reluctant to participate in a conversation regarding the concern.

The account manager and human resource managers devised a plan that included safety planning, their limits in requiring this employee to get treatment, and role-play focused on how to say what they needed the individual to hear AND get some sense that he was hearing them. Using what the account manager shared, they positively met with the employee, and in the end, the employee recognized the value of using FMLA to take time off work to attend to health needs.

With an embedded EAP, this type of consultation is, by and large, non-existent, and the employee and organization may both have been negatively impacted.

Most traditional, standalone EAPs offer some level of manager consultation. FEI takes things a step further within the organizational development concept by assisting employers with policy review, and a range of organizational training resources that include, but are not limited to: substance abuse, violence prevention, crisis management, diversity and implicit bias, etc.

While we would like to be every organizations’ EAP, we recognize that this is a lofty goal. However, if you would like more information on our organizational development capabilities, please contact FEI.  We would be happy to assist, even if your organization does not receive its EAP from us.