Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are excellent benefits to accompany any sized wellness program. Studies show that 75% of companies with 251- 1000 employees currently use EAPs. Today, the number of employers using the service continues to grow. EAPs not only offer employees great benefits on a wide array of personal issues, but they also allow employers assistance in improving employee work relations and performance.
Benefits of EAPs
EAPs offer great wellness benefits for employees. The majority of plans will offer services for issues related to mental and emotional health, legal and financial advice, workplace relations, career planning, alcohol and drug abuse resources, childcare and elder care resources, as well as retirement planning and grief counseling. Employees will go through many of these lifetime milestones, and sometimes may need a little help getting through the transition. EAPs are there to provide employees with resources, and trained professionals who will listen to their issues without compromising confidentiality.
Employers also reap several benefits from EAPs. Many employers who have already used EAPs report an increase in employee productivity, lower absenteeism rates, and quicker resolution of workplace conflicts. Ultimately, these employers find that their employees have greater wellbeing and greater work performance. This provides employers a significant return on investment.
Elements of a good EAP
Full-service EAPs will vary depending on the vendor. All reputable EAPs, however, should offer the following elements:
• 24-hour crisis telephone response – Your vendor should provide employees access to live and immediate telephone crisis counseling 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
• Confidential assessment and counseling services – Your vendor should provide licensed counselors experienced in EAP services. Counselors should provide counseling in private, confidential offices.
• Referral support, tracking and follow up – Vendors should provide referral services for employees in need of long term or specialised care. The vendor should also follow up on employees’ care and treatment.
• Emergency intervention/critical incident stress management – Care should be provided in a timely fashion in emergency situations. Debriefing should be provided to management and employees for crises response needs.
• Substance abuse expertise – All reputable vendors should provide knowledge, training and treatment of addictions.
Questions to ask your vendor
HR professionals should ask the following questions to help them determine the right vendor for their company:
• Does the vendor provide a guarantee of privacy? – It’s important that your employees’ information is kept confidential. Your vendor should have the same policy.
• Does the vendor provide direct management communication and support? – Direct communication will let employers know how useful the program actually is to its employees.
• Does the vendor offer proven results? – A reputable company will provide utilisation, customer satisfaction, and client-specific ROI reports to their clients.
• Does the vendor provide a dedicated EAP network? – Counselors should be licensed and EAP accredited.
The bottom line
EAPs are a great addition to wellness programs. When choosing a vendor, HR professionals should be sure their vendor provides critical elements, including confidentiality, 24 hour/7 day a week service, licensed professionals, and referral and follow up employee support. A great EAP will provide complete wellbeing support for employees, and an improved work environment.