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EASNA update

April 1, 2007
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What's happening at the Employee Assistance Society of North America

The Employee Assistance Society of North America (EASNA) is an association focused on advancing knowledge, research, and best practices toward achieving healthy and productive workplaces. Comprised of thought leaders and change agents, EASNA is focused on ensuring that the EA field continues to grow and flourish by broadening its base of engaged and committed stakeholders.

EASNA was founded in 1985 to develop standards of excellence for EAPs. In 2001, the successfully developed accreditation function was divested to the Council on Accreditation (COA). EASNA continues to actively support accreditation, but its new charter has a broader focus on encompassing a diverse community of professionals interested in healthy and productive workplaces.

Historically, the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) and EASNA have been considered competing organizations. Yet EASNA's focus is on supporting EAPs and their continued growth through research dissemination and educational opportunities that compliment and enhance, rather than compete with, existing efforts within the industry.

Whether you are an EAP, work/life professional, wellness agent, behavioral health productivity expert, or a related researcher or academic, EASNA wants to engage you in this larger effort. EASNA believes strongly that by working together, rather than in separate silos of our expertise, we can make a larger impact on the workplace and the U.S. and Canadian governments.

To this end, EASNA has made some changes. EASNA offers its members the recently revamped Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, the only peer-reviewed journal focused on EAP research-related issues. EASNA recently entered into an agreement with Technology Systems, Inc., to develop and maintain a searchable database of EAP-related abstracts, articles, bibliographies, and prepackaged booklets. EASNA also recognizes the challenges professionals have in completing in-person trainings. To meet this need, we launched in 2006 the industry's first competency-based online courses, available on a variety of topics affecting the workplace and EAPs.

In addition, EASNA continues to offer its popular annual institute. This year the 19th Annual Institute (May 9-11 in Atlanta) is focused on “Creative Collaboration: Strategies that Deliver Results.” One of the reasons that EASNA chose this topic is that the EA industry is transforming, and partnerships are more important than ever before. These partnerships include not only those with purchasers but with organizations that can offer a wider array of wraparound services.

There is a great passage in Thomas L. Friedman's book The World Is Flat: “Those who get caught in the past and resist change will be forced into commoditization. Those who can create value through leadership, relationships and creativity will transform the industry, as well as strengthen relationships with existing customers.” Friedman may not be speaking specifically of the EAP industry, but I think his words are equally relevant. It is up to all of us to play a part in helping to transform this industry, as no one individual or entity will be successful in such an important endeavor. EASNA is a partner with you in that effort.

Rich Paul, MSW, CEAP, currently is serving his second year as President of EASNA, and he is Vice-President of the health and performance solutions department at ValueOptions. He is a frequent speaker and has authored dozens of articles on a variety of issues that impact productivity and organizational performance. He is a coeditor of Workplace Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Management.