In the early 80s, I was promoted into an HR executive role. Part of my new responsibility was the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Our organization was ahead of its time; EAPs were relatively new back then. Ours consisted of a manager and EAP counselors, all employees of the organization. The overhead cost of the function was rolled into HR – my department.
The EAP counselors helped employees when performance indicated there might be a problem; alcohol and drugs seemed to be a common culprit. They made heroic efforts to distance themselves from the organization, so that confidentiality would not be questioned. The offices were intentionally remote, and those in HR (including myself) knew nothing of the work being done, to ensure confidentiality.
I found myself conflicted. As a business person, I should be able to justify and explain any expense under my responsibility. But whenever I asked questions about the cost of the EAP program as compared to the value it provided, I got a very defensive “if we don’t help these employees they could lose their jobs, or worse” response. How do you counter that without sounding like a total sleaze? (more…)