Person receiving counseling through an employee assistance program.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP): Get Started Today!

If you run a small business, it’s important to keep your employees happy – especially in a post-pandemic environment where competition is fierce when hiring and retaining a workforce.

No matter the industry, employees are looking for competitive salaries and good health plans/benefits, which can include an employee assistance program. EAP services support the well-being of your staff and ultimately affect their productivity and morale at work—which is good for both parties involved!

What is an Employee Assistance Program?

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is funded by the employer and is free for employees (and often their immediate family members). It provides confidential guidance for personal problems and concerns like substance abuse, mental health services, relationship issues, legal problems and financial difficulties. Services are delivered by a network of qualified, independent professionals and are focused on resolving issues that negatively impact work performance.

An EAP service can provide counseling sessions, on a confidential basis, for problems that affect an employee’s ability to function effectively at work, helping employers reduce absenteeism and increase productivity or job performance.

EAP Benefits

EAPs are designed to help employees with personal problems that negatively impact work-related performance. An EAP can be accessed by anyone in the company, from a brand new employee to a decades-long team member.

Any type of business can implement an EAP – from restaurants to construction companies – and below are the top 5 reasons why employers across the globe are adding employee assistance programs to their benefits packages:

Reduces Absenteeism

With an EAP, companies reduce absenteeism and ultimately increase productivity among participating employees. When employees have outlets and guidance for stress management, they can more effectively address concerns outside of work (like financial problems), which then results in fewer absences. EAP support provides peace of mind and allows workers to focus more energy on doing good work during work hours.

Reduces Health Insurance Costs

Employee assistance programs reduce health insurance costs by improving the mental and physical health of employees, decreasing the number of doctor visits, and reducing the effect of chronic health conditions. Since EAPs promote a positive employee experience, they also decrease the costs associated with the treatment of substance use disorders or mental health issues.

Additionally, an employee assistance program can contribute directly toward lowering your company’s health insurance premiums because many employers are eligible for tax credits when they provide EAP services.

Reduces Turnover and Increases Retention

It’s well-known that employee assistance programs reduce turnover.

Constant hiring or replacement of staff costs an organization a lot of money; in fact, many companies spend thousands of dollars on each new hire. So, reducing turnover saves a ton of money in the long run.

Employees who feel supported by management and a well-rounded benefits program (which includes an EAP) are more likely to remain with a company for longer periods, and also perform better overall than people who don’t feel cared about.

Improves Work Productivity

An employee assistance program is one of the most effective ways to improve productivity and reduce stress at work. It offers employees access to confidential short-term counseling so that they can deal with problems without fear of judgment or retaliation. As a result, employees have more time for family and friends outside of work, as well as time for themselves (and sometimes even hobbies).

Ensures a Positive Work Culture

A positive work environment is one that encourages employees to feel comfortable bringing up issues that affect their work performance or the workplace itself. These issues can range from personal problems, like a death in the family, to professional ones like workplace discrimination. An EAP helps facilitate a positive environment by providing confidential counseling services so that issues can be addressed and employees can return to work.

Many times, employees hesitate to seek help from their managers because they fear negative repercussions from doing so—such as being seen as weak or not performing well enough on the job—which makes offering an EAP a great way for you (as an employer or manager) to show that you care about your employees’ well-being.

Other Services Available Through an EAP

The types of services available through an EAP vary, but they typically include the following components:

    • Counseling

– Counseling can be in-house or over the phone and is provided by a licensed therapist or counselor.

    • Health and Wellness Programs

– Programs might include smoking cessation classes or meditation workshops for employees.

    • Referrals to Community Resources

– Referrals can be made to organizations like food pantries, shelters, and domestic violence support groups.

    • Legal Consultations

– Consultation may be available for issues like debt management, divorce proceedings, child custody disputes, retirement planning and more.

    • Work-Life Balance Programs

– Work-life balance helps people manage stress levels so that they can increase work productivity. Programs can offer tips for improving sleep patterns or creating healthier eating habits, under the umbrella of “behavioral health.”

    • Caregiving Services

– Services can include guidance for child care or elder care support.

Setting Up an EAP For a Small Business?

Getting started is simple.

First, have your human resources manager contact a local EAP provider to discuss account set up and budgetary requirements for the employee benefits your company wants included. The provider will then arrange training for supervisors and employees on what EAP services are available and how to access them.

Depending on the provider, some EAP services are available to employees, their spouses and their dependents (including children).

Strengthen Your Workforce With an EAP

EAP counselors help employees cope with a variety of issues, whether it be substance abuse, relationship problems, or a family crisis. These services are completely confidential; everyone who uses an employee assistance program receives the same level of confidentiality they would get from seeing a therapist individually in private practice (which is why so many businesses prefer this option when it comes to mental health care).

EAPs help employees manage issues like stress, burnout, relationship problems, substance abuse problems, legal concerns and other life challenges. Counseling is also available for organizations that want to learn more about helping employees through difficult times.

Interested in learning more? Contact Meridian HealthCare to see how we can help you set up an employee assistance program for your business!