How to Make A Referral


The majority of individuals (80-90%) using the EAP are self referrals. This type of referral to the EAP involves individual contact with the EAP by someone that recognizes on their own that they want help. Another type of referral is the suggested referral, or contact by an individual seeking service from the EAP at the suggestion of a co-worker, supervisor, manager, or family member. Finally, the EAP also works with companies and organizations that want to refer an employee to the EAP as a result of job performance difficulties. This type of referral to the EAP is often called a job performance referral or a formal supervisor referral. The formal supervisor referral is a very useful tool to help employers keep good employees. It is described in detail below.


As a supervisor, the job performance of your employees is always a primary concern. Your role involves observing and then documenting both the positive and the negative quality of employee performance. When an employee is having job performance difficulties, your documentation of these problems then becomes the rational for planning a meeting to discuss the problems with that employee. Such a meeting involves addressing the job performance problems and conveying expectations for change. In addition, this meeting can also involve referring the employee to the EAP. The intention of the formal supervisor referral is to help the employee resolve the issue or issues that led to the employee’s declining work performance.

The formal supervisor referral is made to the EAP only as a result of an employee’s deficient job performance. Your role is not to diagnose a problem, but to utilize the EAP as an effective intervention to help an employee’s job performance. It is not typically used as part of a disciplinary procedure, and it should not be presented to the employee in this way. Furthermore, supervisors should never allow an employee’s compliance with the EAP to be used in lieu of warranted progressive discipline. Nor should non-compliance with the formal supervisor referral be a basis for any disciplinary procedures. Progressive discipline should be applied in relation to job performance issues only.


Before meeting with an employee, supervisors, managers may call a HelpPeople counselor to discuss how to approach an employee that is experiencing job problems or is having a negative impact on the ability of other employees to do their jobs. After dialing 470-7447, simply state that you are with X Company and would like to speak with a counselor about an employee. A counselor may help in scripting out your dialogue with the employee.

The next step in making the formal supervisor referral is arranging the private meeting with the employee. Be sure that you have specific documentation (see Documentation Worksheet in the HelpPeople Supervisor Manual) of the employee’s job performance history, including details of specific incidents, deterioration and any patterns of deterioration. Clearly inform the employee about the reason for the meeting. Listen to the employee, but inform him or her of the specific changes that need to be made in the employee’s job performance or conduct.

At this point you should inform the employee that you would like him or her to contact the EAP in regards to the work performance issue(s) discussed in the meeting. NOTE: Do not tell the employee to contact the EAP for help with personal problems – Stay focused on the job expectations. Inform the employee that you will also contact the EAP with the information discussed in the meeting. The information that you provide to the EAP is an important step in helping the employee with his or her problem(s) at work. The employee should then be asked to contact EAP within a certain time frame (usually within a week) to schedule the appointment. Whether an employee calls the EAP on his or her own or is referred by a supervisor or human resources representative, an employee’s use of the program is voluntary. The program is also completely confidential, unless an employee signs a release of information form at the time of the EAP appointment, allowing the EAP counselor to contact the referring supervisor or human resources representative.

In your meeting with the employee, it is best to let the employee know that you are requesting that he or she sign the release of information form. Let the employee know that the feedback that you want and that you will get from EAP will be limited. Assure the employee that you simply want to know whether he or she is working on the issues discussed in the meeting. Reassure the employee that it is the job performance issues that are your concern, even though other issues may or may not be discussed with the EAP counselor.

Typically, the information that the counselor discloses to the supervisor / human resources representative addresses; (1) whether the employee attended EAP, (2) whether it is recommended that the employee return for follow-up appointments with the EAP or accept a referral to a provider and/or community resource, and (3) whether the employee is progressing with the action plan. Further information can be disclosed should the employee authorize it in the appropriately signed release of information form.

Be sure to contact EAP as soon as possible either before the meeting with the employee, or immediately afterward. Have the documentation in front of you. It is very important that the EAP have accurate information about the performance issues. The EAP counselor will indicate that he or she will contact you after the employee attends the session and signs the authorization for the release of information form.


  1. Call a HelpPeople counselor at 315/470-7447 to discuss how to approach employee. Review this form before calling.
  2. Meet with the employee.
  3. Review job performance problems and expectations for change.
  4. Inform the employee that you are making a referral to EAP.
  5. Inform the employee that you would like the employee to contact EAP within a certain time frame (usually within one week).
  6. Inform the employee of your interest in feedback from the EAP.
  7. Plan to meet with the employee at a later date to discuss performance status.
  8. Call EAP with information from the meeting and with information about the employee’s deadline to call EAP.
  9. Follow-up with the counselor about the employee’s progress.