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By Norma Montagnino-Gemza, Guest Bloggerrisk-assessment-reports

In my role in HR, the tables turned: I became a purchaser and management user of EAP – in other words, a customer. I witnessed first-hand that EAPs know what they provide, but they didn’t necessarily know what I needed as an HR professional.

In the years that I previously spent in EAP, I never wanted to sign a company that didn’t need the service. What I wanted were answers to questions that included:

*Why do you think you need an EAP?

*How do you see an EAP meeting your business’s needs?

*What personal problems are your employees facing that you are aware of or hear about?

*What organizational problems are you faced with?

*How large is your HR department? Your management staff? How many “layers” are there in your organization?

survey-resultsThe point is, during the initial phase of sales, I wanted to form a relationship as well as conceptualize the business and what it would be like to work with them. During this process, EAP was explained — interwoven with questions and answers.

What didn’t work for me as a purchaser were statements such as: “We offer a 3, 5, or 8 session model. And because you are small (under 100 employees) we’d have to charge you $__/employee per year.”

Meanwhile, HR might respond: “Coincidentally, our small business has low EAP utilization, not because we don’t publicize and promote it, but because we have low need. So, please do an assessment to determine if there’s anything else you can offer. By the way, I’ll take the 3-session model, but let’s talk further because we have an aging Baby Boomer population and an increasing number of workers’ comp. and disability cases.”

The position between EAP and HR doesn’t have to remain precarious. Great potential exists since there are new and growing needs in the businesses that EAPs serve.

Norma Montagnino-Gemza will soon be retiring from her position as the Human Resource Director at JAY-K Independent Lumber Corp., in New Hartford, NY. She is also a former CEAP. Editor’s note: A version of this article will be appearing in Employee Assistance Reporthttp://www.impact-publications.com

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