You might have never heard of an Employee Assistance Program, or an EAP as it is often abbreviated. That’s fine, and you are certainly not alone. The EAP is a relatively new concept as we know it today, however, it has been around in some format since the 1930s. Today’s digital capabilities have catapulted the modern-day EAP to the top of many HR professionals’ list of resources to help cultivate a happier and more productive workplace.
What is an Employee Assistance Program?
An EAP is a work-based intervention program that gives employees access to the help and support they may need when facing challenging circumstances in their professional and personal lives. The Employee Assistance Program has come a long way since the 1930s when it was essentially implemented to support employees with alcohol addiction.
Today, a fully-fledged Employee Assistance Program will give employees access to professional therapists who offer support and counseling for a broad range of psychological and mental health stresses including grief, financial debt, relationship challenges, or in need of legal support. Most EAP providers now have a mobile application that allows for video calls or will at least provide you with the information you need to contact your therapist, over the phone or even face to face.
The Employee Assistance Program will provide employees with free access to the support they need, however, the cost is not the only reason the EAP has become a must-have employee benefit.
Why is an Employee assistance program (EAP) so valuable to companies?
It is no secret that healthier, happier employees contribute to creating positive working cultures whilst keeping employees in the right frame of mind to concentrate on tasks at hand will only maximize output and increase overall productivity. Companies who offer an EAP will see sick days reduce and overall attendance increase. Employee turnover is shown to decrease which means less time and money spent on recruitment and the contractual aspects of seeing staff leave a company which can affect a company’s bottom line.
As the world becomes more aware of EAPs and their undeniable importance, it’s also becoming a more valuable recruitment tool showing prospective employees the company cares for their employee’s health and wellbeing. Medical inflation and the rising cost of health insurance premiums is a considerations that companies are increasingly aware of. Encouraging employees to make use of the EAP will reduce the burden on health insurance, reducing claims utilization and potentially lowering renewal premiums.
So great for companies, but what about the Employees?
I mentioned previously about free access. Employees will not pay towards the cost of the services offered through an Employee Assistance Program, not even a co-payment which is applied to most outpatient benefits on employee health insurance policies. The high cost of seeing a professional therapist or counselor is often the barrier that prevents many struggling people from accessing the support they so desperately need.
Because of the limited number of sessions included, therapists take a short-term focused approach to the therapy which allows for faster resolutions to an issue, which is contrary to the normal perception of counseling which can be drawn out over many time-consuming appointments. An EAP is completely confidential. An employer will not be informed when a service is used meaning employees can get the help needed with complete anonymity. Members will have direct access to professional support without leaving the comfort and privacy of their homes.
As psychological pressures become ever more prominent in today’s world, an EAP is a great benefit employers can offer to support their employees through challenging situations with minimal cost to the business but the maximum impact for employees with utmost convenience.
How do a Corporate Wellness program and EAP work together?
A comprehensive corporate wellness program can help to raise awareness on both the existence of and usage of an EAP plan, especially as EAP’s are not incentivised to build awareness. A comprehensive corporate wellness program such as those offered by Safe Hands can help to improve utilisation rates, ensuring that a plan is utilised to its full potential.