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Mid Council and Employer Support

Church leaders and other managers of employees in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and affiliated employers who need assistance with difficult management or employee performance issues or workplace crises have access to management consultation services through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Administered by Cigna, the services include information, support, counseling, and, under certain circumstances, onsite workshops.

To take advantage of these services, call 866-640-2772. You’ll be put in touch with an employee assistance consultant who will help you to assess the situation and determine what to do. Employee assistance consultants are licensed, master’s degree-level clinicians with backgrounds in theology (see bio below).  

Call when

  • a problem surfaces or a crisis strikes;
  • you encounter a situation that makes you stop and wonder, “How should I handle this?”;
  • someone’s work is suffering because of personal concerns; or
  • you find yourself worrying about an employee’s welfare.

Management consultation services fall into four broad categories:

  • informal referrals
  • formal management referrals
  • crisis response services
  • guidance for other concerns

Informal Referrals

You may suggest the EAP to individuals covered by the Medical Plan (for self-referral) as a way to help them deal with personal problems that aren’t yet affecting their work performance. It’s an expression of our Christian compassion to reach out to employees who are struggling with personal concerns and remind them of the support — and practical solutions — available through the EAP.

Formal Management Referrals

Make a formal management referral to the EAP for an employee covered by the Medical Plan to get help with personal issues that are beginning to affect work performance. A referral to the EAP can be mandatory and a condition of the covered employee’s continued employment.

An employee assistance consultant can work with you to help you decide which type of referral is appropriate and how to proceed. Speaking with an employee assistance consultant may also help you in developing a strategy for managing an employee who is not meeting performance expectations and assisting that individual in becoming more productive and effective on the job.

You also will be directed to consult your organizational policy and/or HR representative, if applicable, as you make your decision.

Use a formal management referral when you

  • observe a pattern of performance issues and/or disruptive behavior;
  • want to use the EAP as part of a performance improvement plan for a covered employee;
  • want confirmation of an employee’s follow-through with the EAP referral process and recommendations.

Note: An employee’s use of the EAP is confidential. If reporting on the employee’s progress is a term of the performance improvement plan, the employee must agree to this reporting, and the consultant will provide EAP Formal Management Referral updates. These updates are essentially status reports so you may hold the employee accountable to the EAP referral while preserving the employee’s privacy. The employee assistance consultant may not, and will not, share detailed clinical information in updates to you.

Crisis Response Services

These services through the EAP can help you handle the impact on work of any workplace or societal event that may cause psychological stress or trauma.

Examples of incidents for which crisis response services may be warranted include

  • major organizational change and workforce reduction/reorganization;
  • employee death/serious illness;
  • natural disasters;
  • mass transportation accidents;
  • threats of violence or terrorism.

Crisis response services offered through the EAP are available to PC(USA) church staff, employers, and mid councils to benefit plan members. These services can also assist you and your staff to meet training needs or participate in wellness seminars. Crisis response services may be delivered by a professional consultant at your work site.  

Advance approval requirements apply. To request crisis response services, call 866-640-2772; Cigna will coordinate approval with the Board of Pensions.

Guidance for Other Concerns

An EAP employee assistance consultant can help with a multitude of issues that arise in the workplace — and elsewhere — that affect one’s work life.

Examples of other concerns they can help with include

  • job performance issues, such as absenteeism, disruptive behavior, and interpersonal conflicts;
  • sexual misconduct;
  • potential substance abuse;
  • violence at work or home;
  • suicide risk;
  • return-to-work issues.

With the counsel of an employee assistance consultant, you can better encourage and support your employees during difficult situations and get help dealing with employee performance issues that arise.

Cigna Consultant for Church Leaders and Managers

Dan Ahlfield, MA, LP, LPC, CEAP

Dan Ahlfield is a licensed psychologist and certified employee assistance professional with a particular interest in the spiritual components of treatment. Since 1991, Dan has served primarily as an employee assistance consultant for Cigna. He also maintains a small, private counseling practice, specializing in general mental health, substance abuse, and marital therapy.

Dan earned a bachelor’s degree in theology and a master’s degree in counseling.