EAP Critical Incident Continuum of Services (see graphic)
The well-placed and well-functioning EA professional is strategically positioned in the workplace and recognized as an expert on human dynamics. The EA professional does not function as a mental health counselor, but rather as a management consultant for workplace human dynamics and a provider of services to employees and managers affected by a workplace critical incident.
Before a workplace critical incident occurs, the continuum supports EAP involvement with pre-incident planning in the areas of assessing risk, working with human resources staff to develop policy, consulting with managers to help increase resilience, and educating managers and employees on critical incident response and disaster preparedness. EA professionals will often offer “stress hardening” or “stress inoculation” training as preparation for responding to workplace critical incidents.
Finally, the EA professional is in a unique position to formulate and develop relationships with other critical incident community providers and response teams, local hospitals, and emergency response personnel. These relationships can prove invaluable during a critical incident, but they cannot effectively be developed in the midst of responding to a workplace critical incident. The task of fostering such relationships needs to occur in the pre-incident phase of the continuum, when the workplace is functioning in its usual state.
During a workplace critical incident, the EA professional’s role is mostly one of providing coordination and guidance. This includes working collaboratively with management to help ensure the most appropriate response. After security personnel and other first responders have verified the safety of the workplace, EA professionals can begin working as partners with, or consultants to, management as they strive for workplace stabilization and recovery.
Following a workplace critical incident, the EA professional often takes on a more visible role in the workplace as s/he works with management to assess the needs of the workforce and identify the appropriate services to provide, such as defusings, debriefings, and/or educational sessions that explain normal responses to workplace critical incidents. The EAP firmly grounds its response in management protocols and includes an educational debriefing if appropriate. It does not frame the overall response in medical or psychological terms.
EA professionals are positioned to consult with management regarding employee recovery through information shared by management, such as workplace attendance, performance, and conduct assessments. This information can be used to identify employees or work groups requiring additional assistance following a workplace critical incident. EA professionals are often allowed to provide services and referrals to employees’ family members who may have been affected by the incident. In addition, EA professionals can provide follow-up services to supervisors and managers that include, but are not limited to, management debriefings and consultation.
After a workplace critical incident response concludes, the EA professional’s role involves supporting research and evaluation efforts aimed at determining the overall effectiveness of the response, then consulting with management and human resources to improve the organization’s disaster response plan. The EAP Continuum encourages EA professionals to work collaboratively with management and human resources to evaluate policies related to disaster preparedness and response and offer expert guidance to revise the plan. The continuum also encourages EA professionals to support long-term responses to critical incidents and, when appropriate, provide follow-up services for employees who were more severely affected by the incident.
The EAPA Workplace Preparedness Disaster Panel works to provide resources for EAPA members regarding critical incidents. EAPA would like to thank panel members past and present for their work and for creating the EAP Critical Incident Continuum.
2014-2015 members of the panel are: