RAISING THE BAR FOR EAPS
NTC Launches 'Benchmark' Program to Certify Employee Assistance Program Specialists
Apr 04, 2017
By Jonathan Powell and Ron Russell
Envisioned as an industry benchmark, a rigorous new training program will make “a world of difference” for FCA US Employee Assistance professionals who help coworkers cope with personal or family issues that affect them after the job.
EAPs from FCA facilities across the country completed the session of classes that lead to certification as Employee Assistance Program Specialists. The 160-hour curriculum was developed by Wayne State University in collaboration with the National EAP Department of the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center.
“You have to keep learning about new things that are happening in the industry, new clientele, techniques and issues that are forever changing. It’s always a learning process,” said Daniel P. Manuel, veteran UAW Local 125 EAP Rep at the Minneapolis Parts Distribution Center.
“This training will drastically enhance my performance, because I’m going back home with the assurance and extra confidence that will make a world of difference in how I do my job.”
Manuel was one of 47 EAPs from manufacturing, parts distribution, engineering, office and clerical locations who participated in the launch of the new certification training, held March 20-23 at the UAW-Chrysler World Class Manufacturing Academy in Warren, Mich.
The advanced training – the most comprehensive of its kind ever provided to FCA EAPs from management and the UAW – consists of six sessions that will take three years to complete. The curriculum is designed to foster standardized and consistently-applied EAP practices.
The classes earned good grades from the participants who studied EAP theory, vocabulary, know-how, processes and tools required to assist employees who confront problems ranging from financial difficulties to depression, domestic violence and alcoholism and chemical dependency.
Delrico Loyd, UAW EAP Coordinator, said the training delivered by Wayne State and NTC instructors enhances the professionalism and credibility of the EAPS, who follow a strict code of confidentiality in connecting employees with the resources or services necessary to resolve their issues.
“Each of them left with new information or they left with confirmation of old information required to do their jobs more effectively,” Loyd said. “More today than ever, our members can feel comfortable and confident that there are folks being trained, ready and willing to provide both them and their families with any assistance they need.”
Kevin Waszak, FCA EAP Coordinator, said the classroom setting provides opportunities to learn from case studies, role playing and other activities that build new skills which put “more and better tools in the toolbox” for EAPs.
“The partnership we established with Wayne State University has paved the way for the UAW-Chrysler NTC to develop a comprehensive EAP Certification Program that we believe is world class, and have targeted as a benchmark for industrial America,” Waszak said.
“When applied by EAPs during their daily encounters with employees at their locations, the additional knowledge they acquire will result in a value-added EAP Program for our customers.”
The certification classes covered a wide range of subject matter. Some of it related to how services provided by EAPs fit within FCA’s human resources organization. Some of it related to EAP ethics, such as the high standards of conduct expected when dealing with issues like informed consent, confidentiality and client records.
And some of it related to causes, signs and symptoms of specific personal or family problems faced by employees, as well as treatment options and resources in the community to which employees can be referred for help.
Interpersonal communication skills needed by EAPs also are part of the curriculum. That training module covered presentation skills, public speaking, persuasive communication and managing relationships.
An EAP Rep for nearly 16 years, Cathy Pulliam said the new classes raise the bar compared to previous certification training offered to EAPs at Chrysler.
“This training is more robust, interesting and exciting,” said the Human Resources Business Partner – Corporate, based at the Chrysler Technology Center in Auburn Hills, Mich. “The material is so much better and, instead of a classroom-style lecture, there is more interaction based on real-life experiences.”
Sue Tyndall, Labor Relations Supervisor and Management EAP at Sterling (Mich.) Stamping, also raved about course content and the interaction among EAPs that she experienced during her first certification training.
“I liked the full participation – you’re forced to participate if you’re a little bit shy,” she said. “You have to come out of your shell because you are presenting, you are working as a team. And that’s fantastic and the best way of leaning.”
Tyndall added that there’s much at stake for EAPs. “We get a lot of sensitive issues coming from the union and a salary perspective. We want to make sure that people are directed to the proper resources and get the help they need.”
Karen Jarrells, UAW Local 889 EAP at the Chrysler Technology Center, said networking opportunities and team-building with other EAPs were an integral part of the training.
“Everyone is participating and sharing and helping one another – it’s great,” she said. “It’s been really good to exchange ideas. I walk away with a multitude of new skills that will help me become a stronger person and perform better on the job.”
While Wayne State faculty members teach the certification courses, National EAP Department staff members will be teaching four competency classes on life skills that also are required for certification as an EAP Specialist. They are effective listening and feedback, conflict management, facilitation skills and critical thinking.
The UAW’s Michelle Adams joined Loyd to teach effective listening and feedback, which proved to be among the most popular classes in the first training session, in part because of the camaraderie that exists between EAPs from FCA locations and the National EAP Department.
“We wanted not only to make this training our own, but we wanted to make sure it was fun and interactive for the participants,” Adams said.
And that’s exactly how it turned out. “It was excellent – like a big family,” she said. “We all got to see each other in a different light because we shared stories about ourselves through introductions. We also did a lot of team-building exercises. It was a warm family feeling every day. I miss the participants already. I really do.”
Not to worry. Adams and her EAP comrades won’t have to wait long for a family reunion and new learning opportunities. The second session of certification training is planned for August.
Photographs by Jonathan Powell and Michelle Adams