Should Your Business Offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?
Posted on January 23, 2018
EAPs provide needs assessment, help, counseling, and referrals for employees and their family members when faced with mental health or emotional issues. EAPs assist the employees when he or she needs help dealing with life events, workplace issues, and other personal problems and challenges.
An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is often offered as part of a comprehensive benefits package that employers provide their employees.
EAPs are frequently, although not always, thrown in by the employer’s health or life and disability insurance plan. Sometimes employers will offer a standalone EAP at a nominal cost per employee.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offer assistance in these areas:
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Marital difficulties
- Financial problems
- Emotional problems
- Legal problems
More comprehensive EAPs will also offer referrals for day care, elder care, and even pet care service.
EAPs will refer employees to counseling and other support resources and often provide 2-3 free sessions. Short-term counseling and support may be all that an employee needs but if they require more long-term assistance they can provide resources for that as well.
EAPs give employers a referral option when managers and Human Resources staff are helping an employee deal with life and work issues that are beyond their training and scope. It also allows HR and managers to maintain a professional distance from employees and not get embroiled in their personal life issues. Managers and Human Resources staff are generally not trained to provide therapy or counseling to employees and EAPs give them a way to help without turning away an employee in need.
EAPs can also be invaluable when an employer is faced with a crisis. For example, recently one of our clients lost an employee in a car accident. The EAP referred them to a grief counselor to come onsite to talk to employees, as well as provide on-going support for any grieving employees who needed it.
Little evidence exists that demonstrates if, EAPs are in fact effective in maintaining productivity and healthy, well employees. However, EAPs give the employer an option when dealing with troubled staff members whom they are ill-equipped, and not in the business, to serve.
Because of this, an EAP can be an appreciated part of a benefits package, and since the cost is usually nominal or free, one that will more than provide value to an organization.
Lauren Sims is the article’s author and the Director of Human Resources.
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