10 Good Reasons to Provide Employee Assistance Programs
In an ideal world, people would be able to keep their personal lives separate from their professional ones. In the real world, this is usually not the case, which is why employees who are struggling with personal issues have difficulty focusing on their work. Fortunately, company managers are fully aware of the problems this can create, which has led to the implementation of Employee Assistance Programs.
An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential, work-based program which is designed to aid employees and their families who are dealing with work-related or personal problems. An EAP can help employers because it makes for happier and more productive employees by resolving problems so that they don’t carry over into the workplace. Around 77% of company owners offer their employees an EAP.
How Does an EAP Work?
When you set up an EAP, you will provide resources, referrals, and counselors to help your employees and their family members. All EAP benefits remain completely confidential. While you are paying for the service, you will have no insight into the employee’s specific use of that service.
Typically, an employee who needs to use an EAP service can call a number to get help from a professional counselor straight away. Employees may seek help with a range of issues, including:
- Workplace conflicts: how to resolve issues with a co-worker or manager.
- Mental health issues: how to deal with depression, anger management, anxiety, or other mental health needs relating to themselves or a family member.
- Legal and family advice: how to get couples counseling, and divorce and child custody issues.
- Drug addiction: how to deal with their own or a family member’s addiction.
- Heath and caregiving issues: managing issues related to returning to work after an injury, making a worker’s comp claim, managing a health or disability issues in the workplace, getting assistance for an elderly or ill family member.
- Financial counseling: strategies for avoiding bankruptcy, advice on how to pay down debts, how to create a personal budget.
- Grief counseling: dealing with the loss of a loved one, coping with a traumatic event in the workplace.
Usually, an EAP will offer a specific number of counseling sessions at no cost to the employee, enabling the counselors to assess the individuals’ needs before recommending a resource or service to the employee.
How EAPs are Administered
An EAP is paid for in full by your company, and all services are typically operated via a contract with a third-party administrator. Setting the EAP up this way enables your employees to feel completely confident that they can speak with professionals about their problems, that all sessions will be confidential, and they need not feel losing their job.
While EAPs are considered to be accepted benefits, they are not portable and will expire when an employee leaves the company.
Reasons to Provide Employee Assistance Programs
There are a number of very good reasons why you should consider offering your employees an EAP. These include:
Boosting productivity: When employees are struggling with difficult personal issues, their motivation and ability to concentrate are compromised. An EAP can help them face their personal problems and deal with them so that their productivity will improve. EAP has been shown to reduce employee turnover, accidents, and absenteeism.
Reducing company expenses: Employees’ personal problems can become costly for your company. It is a well-known fact that employees who are troubled by family issues are prone to having more accidents at work, take more time off, and make more claims on their health insurance. An EAP will make sure that when an employee is suffering emotionally, their productivity won’t suffer.
Ensuring confidentiality: Because the EAP is provided by a third party, employees are more likely to seek help knowing they can discuss their personal, confidential information outside of the workplace. This also benefits your HR team, because they are not put in a position where they have to try and deal with issues they are not trained to deal with.
Resolving workplace problems: Problems between employees or between employees and management are bound to arise from time to time. EAPs can help employees sort out this type of issue and get their work back on track. EAPs can also be used to help employees develop a new set of skills for coping with problems at work.
Retaining valued employees: Because an EAP gives value-added benefit to your employees and their families and provides confidential resources they may otherwise not have access to, it builds morale. When employees can see that employers support their wellbeing, this strengthens loyalty to the company.
Providing the right resources: When employees are dealing with difficult life experiences in isolation, they may be overwhelmed or confused about what kind of treatment, counseling, or services they need. Sometimes, they may just not know where to turn. Before long the problem spirals out of control and is affecting all aspects of their lives. Qualified and experienced EAP counselors are able to see issues clearly and designate the appropriate referral and resources which can lead to consistent and ongoing support for employers and their families in need.
Management assistance: In certain situations, supervisors and managers need help with confronting and handling a difficult employee or a challenging workplace situation. An EAP is a valuable resource for coaching, as well as management training and consultation. It can assist with issues from sexual harassment to workplace violence.
Providing training: An EAP can provide both on location and online training in a wide range of topics for supervisors and employees. Many EAPs are also on hand to provide counseling after a traumatic event has occurred in the workplace, such as a shooting or an employee death.
Offering drug testing programs: Drug testing programs are a key component of employee safety. An EAP can help supervisors and HR with their current drug testing programs by providing assessments, case management, referrals, and assistance with incidents when employees test positive for drugs in the workplace. In some cases, an EAP can help employees get straightened out without having to lose their jobs.
Providing referrals and resources: Don’t forget that an EAP can offer a wealth of information and referrals to your HR and management, your employees, and their families. An EAP is not only there to help with your employees’ psychological well-being, but can also help with many other issues such as childcare and divorce issues, legal issues, eldercare issues, community resources, treatment programs, and HR assistance.
Why Your Company Needs an EAP
In general, employers put an EAP in place because they care and want to make it as easy as possible for employees to manage their daily lives and remain engaged, even when they are dealing with difficult life experiences. Once you have set up an EAP, you should advise all employees about its availability and explain that they do not have to pay for this type of support.
If HR support is unable to resolve a particular employee matter with traditional on the job coaching, managers can refer the employee to the EAP. Offering an EAP is not only a great way to show your employees how much you care; it can also save your business time and money in the long-term.