This is a guest post from Marina Salsbury.  

Before I post her article, though, I want to point out that employee assistance programs can be a very helpful asset to both employees and employers.

If you are an employee, you can call your Employee Assistance Program anonymously and ask any questions you may have about confidentiality.  This is of the utmost importance, since you don't want to have your private information informally or formally 'held against' you by your employer.

Employee assistance professionals are licensed psychotherapists who will help you problem-solve any number of personal, financial, relational, and even employer related difficulties you may be having.

And now, on to the article:

Employee Assistance Programs: A Win for the Business and Employee

Employee Assistance Programs, otherwise known as EAPs, are a part of an employee’s benefits package that can help both an employee and their employer. EAPs are designed to help employees deal with a variety of personal problems that could impact their work performance. According to a blog article found on MBA Online, many companies are rethinking traditional methods of managing their employees to increase productivity and overall satisfaction among employees. As a result of having an Employee Assistance Program in place, many businesses report higher levels of productivity and workplace happiness among their employees, truly a win for both the business and employees.

EAPs can offer a variety of services, but most of them concentrate on providing problem assessment, short-term counseling and counseling referral services. Services are typically offered to both employees and members of their immediate household, since problems within an employee’s house can impact their work performance even if the problems do not affect the employee personally. Usually, EAPs assist employees and their families with personal issues such as substance and drug abuse, emotional distress, major life events (i.e. birth, death, marriage, etc.), health care crisis, legal problems, financial counseling, and workplace relationship issues. Further information on the types of services typically offered can be found at the Washington State Human Resources.

The services of an EAP are typically offered at no cost to an employee or their family, since they are typically a part of the total compensation package received by the employee. At many companies, EAPs are offered through third-party providers that are hired by the employer. In many cases there are non-profit organizations that provide services.

In addition to a variety of counseling services, some EAPs offer services such as law professionals, financial advisors, travel agents, and babysitting services. By providing these services to their employees, a company gains a workforce that is more productive and focused on the workplace.

Furthermore, a few studies comparing companies that offer EAPs to those that do not have shown that offering EAPs can result in a variety of benefits for the companies. These benefits included lower medical costs, reduced employee turnover and absenteeism, and higher levels of productivity. In addition, there are many benefits to employees, resulting in better mental and physical health for employees and their families. It should be noted that EAPs are among the cheapest benefits for companies to offer to their employees. Considering the benefits, EAPs are among one of the best human resources investments a company can make.

Employee Assistance Plans are able to offer a variety of benefits to both employees and the companies they work for. For relatively little money, a company can provide a support network to its employees that can ensure its workforce remains productive even during stressful times. Carefully research the options available to your company for setting up your own Employee Assistance Program.

photo credit: mikebaird