Managers and leaders are accustomed to making decisions. Quick decisions, gut reactions, trusting your instinct but if you have put on a hat saying you can decide if a person will be ok, then what?
- Are you going home worried and wondering about an employee?
- What is the risk of making an assessment about whether someone is ok when they have been teary or angry in the workplace?
- What’s your responsibility and duty of care as an employer if you’ve made that decision and the person doesn’t show up the next day?
These are not questions we want to think about as an employer, but we all recognise them. Most of our decisions about risk relate to some kind of potential physical risk or crisis – safety requirements, legal compliance, or financial – the withdrawal of a contract, these are observed risks. But an EAP crisis can be almost invisible. Our culture doesn’t support saying I’m not ok, have you noticed that generally the answer to are you ok? is Yes? Whether we believe the answer we let it go at that. It’s our culture.
What does an immediate need for EAP support look like? It’s when a reasonable person determines there is an immediate need; for example, after a critical incident – to debrief staff, on hearing accusations of bullying, becoming aware of conflict, or, one or more staff members are not functioning well. The most important indicator is your concern about someone. As employers we trust our instinct on business decisions, we need to extend this business decision making ability to include judgements about employees wellness and overall functioning.
The decision on whether the person is ok must be made by a professional. The risk of wearing a hat saying you can decide if a person will be ok is too big, for you and the employee. You wouldn’t do your own audits, you shouldn’t do your own mental health assessments for employees. ACT Curious EAP will respond quickly and make timely professional assessments recognising when someone is not ok or when there is a growing risk of a mental health incident.