›› Four Types of Intervention in the Workplace

Whenever an employee's work performance declines, the workplace has a right to intervene. With basic training or references on proper intervention, supervisors can often get a good result. When an employee wants to save his job, the supervisor is in a particularly influential position.

There are four types of intervention: informal, structured, executive, and peer.

The informal intervention is just a discussion between a supervisor and the employee. Despite its informal nature, it is vital to have well-documented evidence of the problem. Examples could include absenteeism, lateness, poor work quality, complaints from coworkers, missed deadlines, lying, and other unprofessional behavior. The supervisor may ask the employee to seek treatment on his own or ask an employee assistance professional (EAP) for a referral. At times a supervisor may participate in a family intervention.

A structured intervention is much like a family intervention. An intervention team is assembled from coworkers, supervisors, and other management. Family members may also be included. The addict is not informed about the intervention in advance. This is particularly importance when the addict may choose to leave the job rather than confront the addiction.

Executive interventions are specifically for executive officers, senior partners in law firms, doctors, and other professionals. These interventions are more delicate for two reasons: Money and power can insulate executive from the effects of addiction and make it more difficult to convince them to accept treatment. Any publicity about the addiction problem can create panic among employees and clients and cause difficulty for the entire company. There are professional interventionists who specialize in handling executives, and they can help smooth out this difficult handling.

Peer intervention most often happens when coworkers are seriously affected by the addicts work performance. This kind of intervention often occurs among doctors, airline pilots, psychologists, and musicians. In this case, the coworkers usually make it clear that continuing employment may be dependent on recovery and may involve licensing boards, superiors, or even family.

When the workplace gets involved in intervention, the employee has a greater sense of accountability. Knowing his job is on the line, he is more likely to finish treatment, follow recovery guidelines from his counselor, and attend 12-step meetings. Because of this greater accountability, addicts who must answer to their employers generally have a greater success rate.