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Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) – The What, Why and How

When personal problems spill over into the workplace, they can cause undue stress, lower productivity, and create uncomfortable working conditions. Employee assistance programs (EAPs) are confidential and short-term counseling services that can help employees facing personal or professional challenges that negatively impact their performance at work. EAPs can also include training and development of employees and supervisors, policy creation, family support, and programs for alcohol and substance abuse.

Benefits of EAPs

According to opm.gov, including EAP services in benefits programs can benefit HR managers, executives, and their companies in many ways, including:

  • Improved employee productivity and engagement
  • Improved manager and employee workplace stress management skills
  • Reduction in workplace absenteeism
  • Reduction in healthcare costs related to depression, stress, and other psychological problems
  • Reduction in employee replacement and turnover costs
  • Support during workforce change events like reductions in force and employee restructuring
  • Reduction in workplace accidents
  • Reduction in the possibility of workplace violence
  • Support for emergency and disaster preparedness
  • Facilitation of timely, safe, and effective short-term employee return-to-work and absence extensions

Job stress costs U.S. businesses up to $190 billion annually due to absenteeism; employee turnover; diminished productivity; workplace violence; and direct medical, legal, and insurance fees. Mitigating those costs by implementing an EAP at your organization can save you thousands of dollars a year.

Calculating the return on investment (ROI) of implementing an EAP should not only include hard dollar costs; you should also consider these hidden costs that have an impact on your bottom line:

  • Measurable Benefits – These are outcomes of using an EAP and include decreased long-term sickness and absence, grievance procedures, and staff turnover.
  • Visible but Unquantifiable Benefits – These are benefits that result from working with an EAP and include performance improvement, positive impacts of solving problems, and time savings for employees dealing with various issues.
  • Invisible Benefits – These include motivation, increased morale, and improved reputation or image of your company’s brand.

Implementing Your Employee Assistance Program

Evaluating multiple EAP providers is key in determining which company will be a good fit for your business’s culture. For example, do you prefer a local provider with 24/7 availability or is a toll-free phone-based provider a better option?

Once you’ve decided which provider to work with, it’s critical to inform your employees about the EAP services available to them. You can use via multiple communications channels such as email, direct mail to their homes, and posters or table tents placed in the business and break rooms.

Evaluating Your Employee Assistance Program

It’s important to evaluate your provider’s procedures, systems, and outcomes on a continual basis to ensure your business and your employees are benefiting from the service. You should assess whether calls are handled in a timely manner and if crisis cases are appropriately prioritized. Ensure that your company’s needs are being met by the program and determine if there are additional services you require. Also, make sure that your provider is sending timely reports and surveying users to help determine the efficacy of the program.An employee assistance program can be an enormous asset to your company, improving employee engagement and retention, and ultimately, benefitting your company’s bottom line.

Southwest EAP has provided employee assistance programs and risk management solutions to companies since 1978. Our commitment to excellence is founded on the belief that active partnership with our client companies and delivering face-to-face services produces the best results. For more information please visit www.southwesteap.com.

Categories:EAP Effectiveness

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