• The Case for a Trade Association for Employee Assistance

      Evans, Phil (2010)
      With the support of our volunteer Board of Directors and dozens of Committee members, and the guidance of our professional management company, EASNA has made great strides in its ability to deliver on its mission. While the hopeful signs of an economic recovery may be a part of the explanation for this year’s 75% increase in attendance at our Annual Institute in May in Montreal, it is certainly also the result of consistently reaching out to our constituents with meaningful and valuable content and services. One of the essential characteristics of a strong and resilient industry is a well structured and active trade association. An effective trade association can create greater product awareness, adoption of standardized and ethical processes and best practices, and dissemination of a unified message to help the industry communicate with its stakeholders and customers. However, many people inside the Employee Assistance profession will describe our industry as fragmented and suffering from the unsustainable margins that result from commoditization, rapid consolidation and channel confusion among related industries. Perhaps most threatening to the industry is the current lack of a strong strategic plan at the industry level to deal with the threats and opportunities created by the rapidly changing landscape of healthcare and employer sponsored benefit plans. The terms “trade association” and “professional association” are often thought of synonymously; however, the term “trade association” is used to more deliberately reflect an emphasis on organizational/business representation rather than individual practitioner membership. We further assert that the functions of a trade association are not currently being addressed in a cohesive and unified manner.