When & How to Make an EAP Referral

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When an employee is experiencing personal problems, whether it is emotional, relationship, money, stress, substance abuse, or whatever, it often affects their performance at work. In fact many of the work performance problems that you deal with at work have something to do with problems that employees are facing in their personal lives. That is why we have the Employee Assistance Program. So when and how do you go about getting employees to take advantage of the EAP? Following are some tips for when and how to make an EAP referral.


  • An employee shares with you that they are experiencing problems in their personal life,
  • You notice that an employee has emotional outbursts or seems distracted,
  • Performance drops from their normal level, or
  • There are changes in the way the employee interacts or gets along with customers or other employees.


  • Keep EAP materials (posters, brochures, newsletters, magnets, etc.) readily available for employees.
  • When an employee comes to you with their personal problems, listen and be empathetic, then remind them that the EAP is available to help them. It’s free and it’s confidential. Give them a card or brochure with the EAP phone number.
  • Anytime you have a discussion with an employee about performance improvement it is always appropriate to offer the EAP. An example may be, “I don’t know if there is something going on in your personal life that is affecting your work. If there is, it’s none of my business, but I do want to remind you that there is help available through the EAP. It is free and confidential, and I would encourage you to give them a call.”

Don’t try to diagnose or fix employees’ personal problems. Your focus is on work performance.

If you are facing a difficult situation with an employee you can call the EAP, and the phone counselor can help you develop an effective course of action and coach you on how to refer the employee to the EAP. The phone is answered by qualified counselors 24 hours a day.