Employee assistance programs, or EAPs, have evolved since their inception just under a century ago. So much so, that what we know as today’s broad EAP scope stemmed from a single program. The original Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was created to treat the negative effects alcoholism had on overall job performance. In the last 80+ years, EAPs have grown to encompass a multitude of services which tackle struggles faced both in the office and at home. EAPs aim to treat the effects these struggles have on employee well-being, productivity, and overall happiness.
Simply put, employee assistance programs offer resources for ALL employees to achieve a healthier work/life balance. While the utilization of EAPs has increased since 1940, these beneficial programs are still considered underutilized at a reported less than 10% (shrm.org). Why? Many employees are simply not educated on the depth and availability of EAPs.
The stigma that employee assistance programs are only for individuals who suffer from substance abuse or mental health struggles is simply not true. The progression of EAP development encompasses needs for all walks of life. Typically offered at no cost to employees as a perk included in company-sponsored benefit plans, EAPs’ completely confidential expert services could cover; financial stressors, legal problems, marital struggles, adoption assistance, sleep disturbance, retirement planning, virtual doctor visits (telehealth), depression, anxiety, workplace performance issues, trauma recovery, life coaching, and much more. Today, nearly all employee assistance programs offer telephonic or video-based counseling sessions.
The Benefits of Employee Assistance Programs Extend Beyond the Employee
EAPs are a substantial perk for employees. Furthermore, the eligibility of these programs extends beyond the employee to their spouse and dependent(s). Telehealth services have allowed for children to receive counseling via a smartphone, tablet, or laptop from the comfort of their own home. With the extension of these benefits to spouses and dependents, the whole family can better tackle life’s obstacles and increase individual and family well-being.
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Why Should Employees Consider Using EAPs?
According to a recent SHRM employee benefits research pole, 79% of surveyed employers offer some form of employee assistance program(s). As the scope of EAPs has progressed and utilization has increased, some studies suggest that an increase in utilization has resulted in lower medical costs, less absenteeism, and an increase in employee productivity.
Begin Your Search For Employee Assistance Programs.
Fortunately, there are many employee assistance programs available, ranging from free community resources, employer-sponsored plans and programs offered as part of an insurance benefit. The goal of this article is to help align you with the EAP resource(s) available to you and those around you.
Search our EAP library for your insurance carrier to find available employee assistance programs!
Today, there is a clear disconnect reported regarding the availability of resources versus employees' perception of access. This shows that communication is key to effective EAP and benefit offerings. Choose an uncluttered, engaging medium where you can relay important information to your employees. Whether email or a company intranet, know that choosing a communication method is the most important step you will take in helping your employees and organization thrive.
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