An employee assistance program (EAP) is a benefit employers offer to their staff, typically free of charge, to help them with a variety of personal issues. EAPs are an inexpensive offering that can increase employee morale and provide assistance to employees when they need it most.
How an EAP benefits employees:
EAPs offer confidential, short-term assistance for many personal issues. These programs offer a limited number of counseling sessions that can cover stress management, grief, substance abuse, caregiving burnout, financial planning, time management, and more. They can also help with immediate needs, such as escaping domestic violence, a sudden medical crisis, a divorce, or coping with an increase in caregiving responsibilities. EAP counselors can also help with finding resources you need in your area, such as childcare or eldercare providers, longer-term counseling, or financial planning advice.
All conversations with an EAP are confidential and never reported back to the employer. The employer may receive data on how many people reached out to the EAP< but they never get names or the content of those conversations. So an employee can even use the EAP to deal with job-related problems they may not want their employer to know about.
How an EAP benefits employers:
EAPs not only benefit employees, but they can also benefit you as an employer.
Employees who have the resources they need to deal with the issues in their personal lives have more energy and mental bandwidth on the job. It’s easier to concentrate on work during the day when you have the help you need with your issues at home. This also helps improve employees’ overall health, leading to fewer medical, disability and life insurance claims.
Offering an EAP also shows that the organization cares about its employees’ wellbeing, which increases loyalty. EAPs provide assistance for a variety of issues in one convenient place, and usually free of charge to employees. Outside counseling can be expensive and have long waitlists, so employees appreciate the time and money savings that come with their employer’s EAP.
And they’re not costly for the employer, either. Many life and disability insurance carriers either have their own EAP or contract with another provider, and they will tack on an EAP to your existing package for a nominal fee.
The only big problem with EAPs?
Most employers don’t publicize them enough, and too few employees even know they have this benefit. Many companies might hand out an EAP flyer when they first get one or post a flyer in the break room, but employees often quickly forget about it and may not feel comfortable asking their HR department specifically abut the EAP. So employers, make sure to include EAP information at every open enrollment, and the HR department can send periodic reminders to everyone about the EAP, without drawing attention to any partocualr employee.
If you’re interested in learning more about employee assistance plans, contact one of the benefits advisors at Kamm Insurance Group to review your information and determine the solution to your employee benefits needs.