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Employee Assistance Programs

Employee Assistance Programs: What Are They & Should You Offer One?

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Employee Assistance Programs, also known as EAPs, have often been compared to office therapy. A safe haven for employees with personal difficulties who are looking for dedicated assistance that can help them.

EAPs serve as confidential counseling services to enable productivity and prevent or handle a situation where workplace performance is affected. These services can indeed come in handy when problems arise, such as substance abuse or mental health issues that are affecting the workplace and daily work activities.

By offering this type of program, you show your employees that you respect and care about them. From an employer perspective, EAPs can also help you retain an employee whom you might have considered terminating. For an employee who is struggling, an EAP can be exactly what they need to get back on their feet.

Apart from counseling and referrals, many EAPs offer other helpful services, such as supervisor coaching and employee education.

Key Elements Of Employee Assistance Programs Include:

  • A well-defined policy statement
  • Coaching services for managers on referring troubled employees
  • Activities to ensure the visibility of Employee Assistance Programs
  • Insightful programs on pressing issues such as drug and alcohol abuse
  • Problem identification and referral services for employees and family members
  • A listing of qualified providers of assistance and treatment

Now, let’s delve into reasons why Employee Assistance Programs, aka ‘office therapy,’ are the way to go and why your company should offer one:

1. Increased Productivity And Engagement

Personal difficulties can lead to low spirits and decreased motivation. It’s not unusual to find employees utilizing more sick days to care for their battles and struggles. As expected, these absences often have adverse effects on productivity and work management. The Harvard Business Review has highlighted an increase in productivity and engagement when employees use EAPs, due to the support of the program.

2. Affordability

Many EAPs cost between $42 to $60 a year per employee. This is less than 1% of what employers averagely pay for health insurance annually. While EAPs are thankfully very affordable — make sure you communicate their availability and value, so employees are aware of this wonderful resource.

3. Saves Businesses Money

Did you know not addressing the mental and emotional wellbeing of your employees could cost you a whole lot of money? The World Health Organization reported that this has cost employers and the world economy a whopping $1 trillion annually. Ouch! Think of how much you would be saving and gaining by utilizing an EAP in your organization. There will be reduced healthcare, medical insurance, disability claims and absence costs, which all benefit the bottom line with just a tiny investment.

4. A Healthy Work Environment

A troubled and unproductive employee with increased absenteeism has more power and influence on the overall health of your organization than you think. Picture a stressed person who is uncooperative, aggressive and/or very quick to rant. Not a pretty picture.

Also, consider the undue stress that it’s putting on other members of the team. With unfinished projects and missed deadlines, the work will need to be funneled to already stretched staff. Employee Assistance Programs provide support and a safe place to talk about difficulties. This in turn, brings more positivity and improvement in stress levels.

5. Increase In Employee Retention

Studies by the American Health Association found that over 50% of working individuals stayed at their jobs because of great working relationships. They wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true! A positive work environment equals higher retention of employees. The presence of Employee Assistance Programs makes all the difference and does more than you think in retaining valuable, engaged and happy employees.

In today’s world, where everyone is facing increased stress and anxiety, the costs of not offering Employee Assistance Programs are not worth the potential outcomes. Now more than ever, employers need to think and prioritize the ‘whole employee’ and go beyond the category of 9-5. Creating frameworks and programs that support the well-being of your employees will ensure employees stay happy and productive.