This year, major stressors both within and outside of the work environment have impacted employee mental health. Although many employers offer an employee assistance program (EAP), few employees take advantage of this resource for support. Here are several key questions about EAP programs, explained:
What is an Employee Assistance Program?
An Employee Assistance Program, also known as EAP, is a voluntary, employee benefit that helps workers with problems impacting their emotional and mental wellbeing. The work-based program often offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems. Employee assistance programs are confidential in the sense that employee participation is not shared with employers by the EAP provider in order to protect employees. It is also short-term in the sense that they are not intended as a substitute for long-term care.
The rate of stress in the workplace is high and getting higher. Work related stress may exacerbate or cause:
- Sleep disturbance
- Substance abuse
- Family problems
- Workplace performance issues
How does an EAP Benefit Employees?
EAP benefits are not limited to helping work related problems. These programs can also support employees who are facing:
- Illness and injury
- Minor medical emergencies
- Relationship concerns
- Marriage concerns
- Family problems (divorce, domestic violence)
- Grief and loss
- Emotional distress
- Financial and personal legal issues
- Substance abuse
- Occupational stress or burnout
- Stress management
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Wellness and nutrition
- Crisis management
- Retirement planning
How do I Access my EAP?
Many employers allow employees to refer themselves for counseling. If you are interested in your company’s employee assistance program, contact your human resources department and ask about the process for using EAP.
How does an EAP Benefit Employers?
It’s clear that employee assistance programs provide support for the employees, but there are several benefits for the employer as well. EAPs are designed to improve the wellbeing and productivity of a company’s workforce through its counseling services and other resources. And when employees are happy, the work environment is positive and productive, allowing everyone to thrive while working together towards a common goal. Employer benefits include:
Positive Work Environment
As EAPs support employees with various challenges, there will be noticeable changes in the work environment. Overall stress levels will decrease as employees learn to cope with their struggles. As stress is alleviated and employees are happier, the overall morale of the company will improve.
When employees are distracted by their problems, they become less motivated to work. Stress can cause employees to be “checked out” even though they are physically at work. As employees utilize their EAP, they are able to reduce stress which then allows them to concentrate on their work. This then results in increased presenteeism and productivity.
Employees experiencing depressive symptoms are more likely to be absent and use more sick days due to illness, accidents or even as an effort to cope. With EAP in place, employees will have a resource to help deal with stress and will be more likely to feel better mentally. This will then lead to better attendance.
Reduction of Injuries
Stress can cause an employee to be unstable which then contributes to an unsafe work environment. With counseling and referrals, EAPs can help employees to resolve issues that may put them in danger of injury. And if an employee is injured in an accident, EAPs can help expedite recovery for a quick return to work.
Greater Employee Retention
High stress work environments lead to decreased productivity and high employee turnover. That’s why having a positive work environment is key for retaining talented employees. Eighty-six percent of employees believe that a company’s culture should support mental health. When a company provides an EAP, it is an indication that the company is listening and that they care about its employees. These programs keep employees happy and engaged and as a result, companies see better employee retention.
Lightening Burden on Managers
Having an EAP in place takes some pressure off of the managers. Most managers are not trained or equipped with the skills to help employees who are experiencing trauma. An EAP is a source for them to rely on in challenging situations with their employees.
At Clear Recovery Center we are devoted to helping those struggling with mental health or addiction. If you or a loved one is interested in learning more about our treatment programs and services, visit our website or contact our expert clinical team today.