What are Employee Assistance Programs?
As stated by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Employee Assistance Programs, or (EAPs), are voluntary, work-based program that offer free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems.
EAPs were originally created to address drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace. However, they have completely evolved since their early days of use. According to Gregory DeLapp, CEO of the International Employee Assistance Professionals Association, EAPs are now equipped to address just about any issue an employee may have.
What Are the Benefits of EAPs?
Some of the most common reasons employees seek out employee assistance programs are stress, depression, and anxiety. Getting help and guidance from EAP professionals leads to numerous benefits for both employees and employers, including:
- Improved mental health and overall wellbeing
- Improved productivity, engagement and job satisfaction
- Reduction in absenteeism and turnover rates
- Reduced risk of accidents, sexual harassment, or violence in the workplace due to proper training and counseling
- Reduced medical costs
EAP Best Practices
- According to the International Employee Assistance Professionals Association, you should consult the EAP Buyer’s Guide to help you make informed decisions about selecting or designing an effective employee assistance program. This guide identifies all the essential questions to ask in the purchasing process and offers practical guidelines, so organizations can be sure the EAP they choose will support a healthier workforce, maximize employee productivity, and provide the greatest return on investment.
- When choosing an EAP provider, ask about the analytics offered to help you understand whether these programs are being used, and what impact they may have on the business. Most EAPs offer activity and usage metrics, but make sure they will be providing outcome measures that demonstrate results.
- Survey your employees to learn more about what may be causing them problems. Is it their finances? Their health? Their work or personal relationships? Understanding this allows you to combine your organization’s EAPs with other benefits programs, such as Financial Planning or Wellness Coaching, for maximum results.