Making a Supervisory Referral

The word Referrals posted to a bulletin board
The word Referrals posted to a bulletin board

An employee’s performance problems can be a cause for concern and may be linked to   underlying difficulties.  As a supervisor, you are in  a unique position to intervene with an employee and provide motivation toward health and wellness by offering a source of professional help.

How do I make a Supervisory Referral?

The UI Employee Assistance Program (UI EAP) is purely voluntary and an employee’s participation cannot be considered discipline. As always, all conversations between the employee and the UI EAP counselor are confidential and UI EAP may not disclose any information to the supervisor unless the client signs a written release of information. The supervisor may schedule an UI EAP appointment for the employee if the employee is with the supervisor and requests the supervisor’s assistance. A supervisor may suggest to employees that UI EAP may be able to help in their efforts to address issues that may be affecting performance but may not refer an employee as a condition of continued employment.

When referring an employee to UI EAP for counseling consider the following:

  • Make sure that the conversation takes place in a private setting.  When you make sure that you meet in a private setting, you are modeling that you care about the employee’s privacy and the situation that they may be facing.
  • Be clear but not judgmental when you share your observations, such as “ I have noticed that you seem to be less interactive and motivated than you have been in the past.”
  • Use open ended questions to allow the employee to discuss the situation should they choose.
  • Do not try to diagnose personal problems.
  • Recommend the UI EAP as a resource to help resolve problems. The earlier an employee seeks help, the more easily problems can be resolved.
  • Contact EAP to inform us of a potential referral.
  • Schedule a follow-up meeting with the employee to check in.   

What Happens Next?

When an employee has been referred to UI EAP, the counselor may request written permission for the supervisor to be contacted, especially if there may be performance problems. Unless otherwise specified, the supervisor will only be told that an initial session was held, and whether further appointments are scheduled. The specific nature of the employee's problem is confidential and will not be disclosed. The counselor will work with the employee to try to resolve his/her problems and may recommend the use of additional resources.

What if an employee refuses to use the UI EAP?

Again, an employee's involvement with UI EAP is voluntary. Whether an employee chooses to use UI EAP or not, the supervisor needs to continue monitoring job performance. An employee is not sheltered from disciplinary procedure by participation in counseling. Nor can an employee be disciplined for not seeking assistance.

How Else can UI EAP Assist Supervisors?

Talking with an employee about a problem is never easy, but by planning ahead and using good communication skills, the supervisor can make the interaction easier for both of you.

Additional services we provide include:

  • Suggestions on how to present and frame the problem
  • Planning ahead to predict the employee's reaction and how to handle it
  • An opportunity to rehearse your conversation 

What other resources are available?

UI Employee Assistance Program

Campus address
121-50 USB
U.S. mailing address
The University of Iowa
121 University Services Bldg., Ste. 50
Iowa City, IA 52242-1911