Happy employees make great employees! Modern-day stressors can undermine employee happiness and well-being. For employees to remain focused, productive, and satisfied at work, they may need help in the areas of mental health, drug addiction, alcoholism, financial wellness, care giver location assistance and much, much more. Over time, if not dealt with appropriately, these issues seep into the workplace and may affect an employee’s overall work performance.

How can employers help their employees?

As early as the mid-1800s, employers became aware of the relationship between the open use of alcohol in the workplace and work-related injuries. This realization began a temperance movement to sober up the American workforce, which led into occupational counseling programs and eventually Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) as they are known today.

According to the United States Office of Personnel Management, “An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems. EAPs address a broad and complex body of issues affecting mental and emotional well-being, such as alcohol and other substance abuse, stress, grief, family problems, and psychological disorders.” The benefit is usually available to both employees and their families.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are an added benefit that employers may offer to their employees to enhance the benefit toolkits. Not all EAPs are alike. Offerings depend on employer’s culture, philosophy, and their financial affordability.

By partnering with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), such as Resourcing Edge, HR and Benefit professionals can assist you with adding an EAP to your benefits lineup.

What are the advantages of Employee Assistance Programs?

Employee Self-Referral

Employees have direct and immediate access to the program and its professional providers, which are maintained off-site. There is usually no wait like there is to see a doctor. Most EAPs have 24/7 access.

Confidentiality

The employer never knows who uses the self-referral services. The EAP service will provide either monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually aggregate utilization report with no identifying information to the employer.

Employee Engagement and Participation

When employees are free from the stressors in their lives, there are able to participate and engage in their own development and the growth of the company.

Employer Benefits

Employee Assistance Programs may offer some of the following benefits to you: increased job performance; reduction in work-related accidents, absenteeism, and overall health insurance costs; and so much more.

What are the disadvantages of Employee Assistance Programs?

Misunderstood Benefit

Many people will research and review the newest technical gadget or car more thoroughly than they will their own insurance benefits. Why is this? The newest tech gadget or car is way more fun. While it is understood that benefits are important, they can be complicated. Employees sometimes procrastinate during open enrollment, waiting until the last minute, then asking our Human Resources person, “which should I pick?”

Communication is the key to understanding what an EAP can do for an employee. You know your employees. Speak directly to them about the benefit. Let them know what it will do for them. Prepare a pamphlet spelling out what your EAP covers and the services that it covers. Business cards with a summarization of the benefit and the EAPs contact information. After using these in presentations to employees, they can be left on break room tables, at the front desk, or anywhere else employees gather and can be casually picked up by employees that are interested.

Confidentiality

Confidentiality is a big concern in today’s world. As most EAP services center around the employee or their family’s health care, some are afraid that these services are not confidential.

  • EAP Services that are confidential. When employees or their family members voluntarily elect to use the EAP, it should always be confidential. The employer never knows who uses the services. EAPs are mostly used in this capacity.
  • EAP services that are not confidential. At times an employer refers an employee to the EAP provider due to behavioral issues or drug testing results. There may be feedback given to the employer regarding the employee’s participation and completion.

Aggregate utilization reporting plays a key role in the assessment of any Employee Assistance Program. This type of reporting is a compilation of data providing the employer with only participation numbers. The EAP provider does not share any confidential information in these reports.

The Cost

The expense involved with providing an EAP might outweigh the benefit. Many employer-provided group health plans offer an associated EAP, but many feel that money might be better spent offering a more robust health-plan benefit.

The Effectiveness

The effectiveness of your EAP provider is totally dependent on the services offered. If employees see no value in the services or the provider, they will not utilize the benefit.

Why should an employer invest in an EAP?

Think about it. Increased overall job performance, improved financial security, and reduced stress levels can lead to a healthy bottom line for your business. It a win-win for all involved. Put a smile on everyone’s face by providing the tools to improve the quality of the employee and their family’s lives.

Are you ready to introduce an Employee Assistance Program to your organization?

By partnering with Resourcing Edge, companies can depend on its HR expertise to offer benefits, such as Employee Assistance Programs, that meet their employees and business needs.

If you would like to add an Employee Assistance Program to your competitive benefit lineup, contact Resourcing Edge.

Jackie Clausnitzer, HR Services Partner at Resourcing Edge, has more than 25 years of HR experience gained at manufacturing and service companies. She is certified as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and a SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP).

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