Definitions of an Employee Assistance Program and Core Technology

Nov 1, 2010
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A “core technology” definition for employee assistance programs (EAPs) originated in research conducted by T.C. Blum and P.M. Roman in the 1980s. The Employee Assistance Professionals Association has updated the definition and core technology wording four times since then. The changes reflect a migration from a primary focus on alcoholism intervention to programs that include any personal concern that interferes with an employee’s ability to perform their job functions. Here is the most current version, recently adopted by the association’s board of directors.

The association defines employee assistance as the “work organization’s resource that utilizes specific core technologies to enhance employee and workplace effectiveness through prevention, identification and resolution of personal and productivity issues.” This definition originates from research conducted by Roman and Blum resulting in EAP Core Technology—the unique characteristics common to all EAPs, which were recently confirmed as still relevant to the field through survey research. The current EAP Core Technology includes:

  1. Consultation with, training of and assistance to work organization leadership (managers, supervisors and union officials) seeking to manage troubled employees, enhance the work environment and improve employee job performance.

  2. Active promotion of the availability of employee assistance services to employees, their family members and the work organization.

  3. Confidential and timely problem identification and assessment services for employee clients with personal concerns that may affect job performance.

  4. Use of constructive confrontation, motivation and short-term intervention with employee clients to address problems that affect job performance.

  5. Referral of employee clients for diagnosis, treatment and assistance, as well as case monitoring and follow-up services.

  6. Assisting work organizations in establishing and maintaining effective relations with treatment and other service providers, and in managing provider contracts.

  7. Consultation to work organizations to encourage availability of and employee access to health benefits covering medical and behavioral problems including, but not limited to, alcoholism, drug abuse, and mental and emotional disorders.

  8. Evaluation of the effects of employee assistance services on work organizations and individual job performance.

In addition to the Core Technology and program standards developed by the association, the EAP field has voluntary standards for program accreditation developed through a collaborative effort between the Employee Assistance Society of North America, an employee assistance business organization, and the Council on Accreditation. These standards also define an EAP based on the original Core Technology developed by Roman and Blum in 1988. In addition to program standards, the Certified Employee Assistance Professional credential is recognized internationally as the knowledge standard for individuals who provide employee assistance services.

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