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Overall work performance includes work, behavior, and attendance patterns. You are aware of many of the signs of deteriorating performance. The following signs may indicate that a personal or job-related problem could be involved.

Increased Absenteeism
  - Unexcused absences
- Excessive disability
- Repeated short absences
- Improbable excuses for absences
- Abnormally high absences for minor illnesses
- Excessive tardiness

"On-the-Job" Absenteeism
  - Continued absences from desk/work station
- Increased number and length of "coffee breaks", increasingly long lunches
- Increased number of trips to rest room
- Physical illness on the job (headaches, stomach aches, etc.)

Concentration Problems
  - Work requires greater effort
- Job and projects take longer
- Easily distracted

  - Difficulty in recalling instructions and details
- Increasing difficulty in handling and completing assignments
- Difficulty in recalling own mistakes

Spasmodic Work Patterns
  - Extremes of high and low productivity
- Extremes in quality of work
- Having to put in extra hours to finish work

Lowered Job Efficiency
  - Missed deadlines
- Increased number of errors
- Poor decision making
- High Accident Rate

Friction With Other Employees
  - Over-reaction to real or imagined criticism
- Wide swings in mood
- Complaints from co-workers
- Unreasonable resentments
- Irritability

Unusual Behavior
  - Temper tantrums
- Physical violence
- Emotional outbursts

In situations where an employee has a performance problem, be alert to the possibility of an underlying personal problem. Follow the do's and don'ts listed below. These are basic and can be followed in dealing with any personal problems.

  1. Make sure each employee knows what is expected in terms of job performance, behavior, and attendance.
  2. Be alert, through continuing observation, to changes in employee job performance, behavior, and attendance patterns.
  3. Document, by keeping a record for yourself, all instances of job performance, behavior, and attendance that are ABOVE or BELOW what is expected.
  4. Hold a performance discussion with the employee as soon as the problems are more than just isolated incidents.
  5. Hold the discussion in private.
  6. Tell the employee what you have observed and what you recommend to correct the situation. Refer to your documentation. Get the employee's viewpoint of the performance problem. The employee may or may not tell you that a personal problem is involved. Tell the employee that, if a personal problem is involved, he/she should contact the EAP. If the employee does not have a copy of the employee assistance brochure, furnish one. Frequently, an employee will have rationalized that a personal problem isn't impacting his/her job because you haven't said anything. Telling an employee that there is a very real performance problem may help the employee realize the impact of the personal problem. Document for your own records this first discussion with the employee.
  7. If performance does not improve, hold additional performance discussions, and document these discussions. Encourage the employee more strongly to contact the EAP, particularly if other efforts to improve performance have failed. Tell the employee that he/she faces possible performance based action unless performance improves.
  8. When taking action based on performance, follow the procedures set forth in the personnel manual and any additional guidance furnished by your Department. The number of discussions you will need to hold before you take some action will depend on the situation. When deciding how to proceed, you should get advice from your supervisor. If the employee is placed on warning, you should include a paragraph in the letter of warning encouraging contact with the EAP.
  1. Don't be a diagnostician. You are knowledgeable in the area of performance. Other people can better determine the nature of any personal problem.
  2. Don't get involved in a detailed discussion of a personal problem or the reasons for it. You are evaluating performance, not a personal problem.
  3. Don't apologize for bringing up performance deficiencies. As a supervisor, you have the right and responsibility to do this.
  4. Don't moralize. There should be no stigma attached to personal problems.
  5. Don't get involved in any discussion about possible treatment. An employee may say that he/she is seeing or will see someone for the problem. Recommend that the employee contact the EAP for advice and recommendations.
  6. Don't take any adverse action against a previously satisfactory employee without first offering help through the EAP.

Click to open a PRINTABLE FORM.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available as a resource to supervisors/managers whenever an employee's job performance or attendance fails to meet company standards after initial corrective attempts. Referring employees based on unsatisfactory job performance or attendance eliminates the need for supervisors to be involved with diagnosing or counseling employees on personal or medical matters. When making a formal management referral, it is imperative that you consult with your Human Resources Representative and Employee Assistance Professional for guidance and advice during this process.

Employee Assistance is not to be used as a disciplinary action nor is it a substitute for corrective action. Whether or not an employee chooses to participate in the EAP, the employee will continue to be accountable for his/her job performance. The employee will not be exempt from the standard administrative practices applicable to job performance requirements. In certain circumstances, the supervisor/manager can make the employee's interaction with the EAP a condition of continued employment.


Most employees seen by Employee Assistance Counselors are self-referred. That is, they recognized their need for assistance and scheduled a time to discuss their situation with a trained professional. You, as a supervisor will be aware of this only if the employee shares the information. Appointments with Employee Assistance should be treated as any other professional appointment and employees should be encouraged to schedule their appointments at times that do not interfere with work.

An informal supervisory referral to the EAP generally occurs because the employee has said that he/she is having personal problems. The referral in this instance is a suggestion or recommendation only. The supervisor can give the employee a brochure for the EAP and encourage follow-through but, on an informal referral, follow-through is not a condition of employment. It will be helpful to the EAP staff if the supervisor will call to say the referral has been made and is an informal referral. The supervisor will NOT be given any information including whether or not the employee made an appointment without signed consent of the employee.

A formal referral to the EAP is job performance related. With a formal referral, making an appointment with the EAP counselor and follow-through on EAP recommendations is still voluntary but the employee should be informed that failure to restore satisfactory job performance will result in appropriate disciplinary action which could lead to termination. Making an EAP appointment and following through with the recommendations will be viewed as an attempt to improve job performance.

When making a formal referral to Employee Assistance, the supervisor should complete the Supervisors Referral Form, (available in your Human Resources Department) and have it signed by the employee. The supervisor should then instruct the employee on how to contact the EAP to schedule an appointment. Fax the Supervisor's Referral Form to 903-893-5183. When a supervisor makes a formal referral and has the employee sign the referral form giving his/her consent, the Employee Assistance counselor can inform the supervisor of the employee's status with the EAP program for up to one year from the referral. Any other information about that employee and his personal problems will be kept confidential.

The EAP and the supervisor/manager will establish a schedule of periodic contacts to communicate the status of an employee's continued compliance with EAP recommendations. If the employee independently discontinues compliance with these recommendations against the advice of the EAP, this discontinuance will be communicated to the supervisor/manager immediately.

When a manager decides to make a formal referral to the EAP, he/she should document critical and relevant information and review with the employee. This information should be captured in a written letter that includes the following:

  1. Employee's Name and Supervisor's/Manager's Name

  2. Date of referral letter

  3. Date/Time/Place of Event and Personnel involved in the precipitating incident (if applicable).

  4. Description of policy/procedure which was violated or performance requirements not met. (Cite specific personnel policy, performance requirement, previous documentation, etc.)

  5. Description of any management interaction with operating company Human Resources or Employee Relations on any existing Performance Improvement Plan that may be in effect and how this may impact an employee's return from an approved medical or administrative leave (if applicable).

  6. Description of employee's poor performance or other behavior (be specific and factual, use observed behavior or results). Refer to your company's corrective action guidelines. Describe the consequences of employee behavior (on employee's work record, on other employees, etc.).

  7. Description of management action to be taken (i.e., referral to EAP):
         - Call the Performance Plus 800 line (1-800-862-3398) first to alert them of the referral.
         - Obtain any necessary documents (Release of Information form).
         - Provide employee with the EAP phone number so that he/she can call to schedule an appointment with a counselor.

  8. Outline of expectations for desired work performance of the employee.

  9. Reasonable time frame for improvement and/or for calling the EAP.

  10. Follow up date

  11. Manager and Employee signature on the letter after it is reviewed.

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