The standard definition of an employee assistance program (EAP) is generally one that describes it as an employer-paid program designed to help employees deal with personal problems. That definition is certainly accurate. It is also somewhat misleading.
What gets overlooked is the value EAPs bring to employers in terms of enhancing an organization’s performance, its culture and its business success. An effective, professional EAP addresses personal and work-related employee issues that have the capacity to interfere with both quality and production.
Creating and maintaining a work environment that ensures quality production is a primary goal of every business. EAPs can help businesses to achieve that goal.
Three Ways EAPs Provide Value to Businesses
- Leveraging the value of an organization’s workforce
- Addressing the cost of doing business
- Helping an organization mitigate its business risks.
- Leveraging an Organization’s Investment in its Workforce
An EAP is a key component of an employer strategy to increase employee engagement and improve productivity, morale, and workplace harmony. An EAP can help an employee learn how to bounce back from personal and work-related challenges, and, as a result be better able to produce at maximum capacity.
EAPs also develop leadership, management, and supervisor competencies through coaching and consultation. EAPs train managers on how to best handle difficult employee situations – including substance abuse issues. EAPs provide ongoing support and direction through coaching, and are available 24/7 to meet needs as they arise. And, when management is operating effectively, engagement and productivity increase in the workforce.
- EAPs and the Cost of Doing Business
EAPs connect employees with the appropriate resources that allow for early identification and intervention, care management, and recovery programs. The result is often more efficient use of healthcare. EAPs also have proven experience in lowering employee turnover and replacement costs.
EAPs provide access to services designed to reduce workplace absences and facilitate a safe and timely return to work. EAP services proactively work with employees to manage day-to-day challenges and that helps to limit disruptions. Because out-of-work issues can affect an employee’s focus at work and affect an employee’s need for more time away, limiting disruptions is an important role for EAPs.
When an employee goes on a leave of absence, an EAP can be engaged early to determine if there are any issues beyond the reason for the leave that need to be addressed. The employee and the EAP can work together from the start to achieve resolution, thereby facilitating optimal outcomes and return to work.
- Mitigating Business Risks with EAPs
EAPs make workplaces safer because they promote and support drug- and alcohol-free workplace policies and programs. Through the use of EAPs by leaders, managers and employees, some safety risks – such as workplace violence – are diminished. EAPs help maintain business practices that promote a violence-free workplace, thereby reducing the likelihood of legal action or liability. Disaster and emergency preparedness are also roles filled by EAPs, which helps to minimize the disruption after such events.
Choose an EAP that can optimize its value to your company’s culture and workforce to ensure the achievement of your business objectives. Weigh an EAP’s experience and expertise in your field, the credentials of the EAP’s staff, the EAP’s level of responsiveness and accessibility, its ability to integrate with other key benefit providers and whether it can tailor a plan design to fit your company’s specific needs.
Susan Stocker is an account executive for LifeSolutions, which is part of the integrated partner companies of the UPMC Insurance Services Division. For more information about EAPs, visit http://www.lifesolutionsforyou.com/.