Does your company or organization offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) as part of its benefits?
There are at least two very good business reasons to do so:
1. As comprehensive benefit packages begin to be valued over salary by many employees and potential future hires, an EAP makes any plan more well-rounded and attractive.
2. EAPs can improve overall workplace culture, as they’re designed to help employees deal with stressors in their own lives, which inevitably impact their work lives.
Here are some frequently asked questions (and answers) about EAPs that should help you further consider whether an EAP may work for you:
What is an EAP?
As already mentioned above, an EAP provides resources for employees to help with life stressors.
Typically this involves counseling services for issues such as divorce, addiction, financial problems, etc. For most employers who offer an EAP, participation is free for employees, as the program is part of ancillary coverages such as voluntary life and disability insurance.
What do my employees need to know about an EAP?
Three key things:
It’s the job of your benefit advisor to educate you about EAPs, so you can in turn educate and motivate your employees to make good use of yours when necessary.
Do employees use EAPs?
The best answer is: It depends. Some data shows higher utilization rates and some shows lower. These rates vary by industry, time of year, etc.
However, it’s worth considering that low utilization may actually be preferred when it comes to an EAP, as it hopefully indicates a workforce that is successfully coping with stressors. As an employer, effectively offering an EAP – knowing that your employees have that resource if and when they need it – is perhaps preferable to having high EAP utilization.
In any case, the most important takeaway regarding this question is that utilization rates are largely dependent on how an EAP is presented and supported. Employees need to know what resources are available to them, that there’s no stigma surrounding usage and that utilization is private, and so on.
Do EAPs work?
This really needs two answers, as it’s two questions in one.
First, EAPs definitely work in terms of making a benefits plan stronger, for those two business reasons given at the outset of this article.
Second, research suggests they also work in terms of actually reducing stress for employees who utilize them. This research is sometimes called into question, but the fact remains: At least giving your employees the opportunity to participate in an EAP is preferable to them not even having access to resources that very well may help them.
Making the Complex Simple
An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can enhance your benefits plan, help your employees and improve your workplace culture. Effectively offering this benefit puts your company or organization in a much better position when it comes to your most important asset – your people.