One of the biggest challenges that employees and employers have to overcome is stress. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, work-related stress is the number-one workplace health problem. Due to stress, employers are seeing high levels of absenteeism that cost them $225.8 billion every year.
If you want to mitigate stress in the workplace, employee assistance programs (EAPs) are a cost-effective means of doing so. Despite the benefits of implementing these programs with the help of HR & business services, employees consistently underutilize EAPs, with utilization falling under 10 percent. One of the reasons for this is that managers aren't adequately championing these programs. However, they can easily get buy-in from both management and employees by talking about the benefits of EAPs.
What Is an EAP?
An EAP is a type of wellness program for employees intended to help improve employee performance in a number of ways. Specifically, it helps resolve personal issues that employees experience, which could include physical, mental health, legal, and financial issues.
These services are more frequently used to help with mental health issues, but they offer additional support in a variety of other ways. For instance, an EAP could help resolve issues around childcare, pet sitting, elder care, and the first purchase of a home. Oftentimes, the support that an EAP offers extends to employees' immediate and extended family, along with other potential dependents.
The ultimate goal of these programs is to improve employee psychology and encourage long-term increases in engagement levels. In addition, they can help reduce overall risk in the workplace.
What Are the Benefits of an EAP?
If you're wondering whether it's worth it to offer an EAP to your employees, there are multiple benefits that come with one. The following are some of the key advantages of offering an EAP.
Employees often experience distractions in the workplace due to personal and professional problems, killing productivity in the process. When employees are struggling, they'll be less driven to do good work and practice creativity, which hurts workflows.
By introducing a good EAP, employees will benefit from support for their problems to inspire increased productivity. An EAP can help resolve challenges of all types, whether work-related or personal in nature. In turn, employees won't be as distracted and you'll see a boost in productivity.
Affordable for Employers
Another benefit of an EAP is that these programs are highly affordable, costing as low as $42 to $60 per employee every year. The key is to make sure that employees know about this program and to ensure they're consistently aware of it. Without frequent reminders, they'll be less likely to remember that it's an option, let alone use it.
Helps Save Money
EAPs also help businesses save money by addressing employee mental health. Issues pertaining to employee mental health cost employers billions every year, making it one of the biggest potential expenses. With the help of an EAP, employers can successfully assist with improving employee mental health. This helps reduce healthcare costs and insurance usage while contributing to a reduction in absences and disability claims.
Turnover is another big challenge that businesses face. Companies could spend a lot of money on high employee turnover, which can dramatically affect their bottom line.
One effective way to reduce turnover and increase employee retention is to offer support to employees when they're experiencing certain issues. EAPs can help identify specific issues that employees face and offer helpful solutions. As a result, employers and employees benefit, as employers see reduced turnover while employees feel more valued.
Employees' well-being should be a top priority for all businesses. If employees don't feel as though their employer cares about their well-being and they suffer either professionally or personally, they'll be less inclined to go to work.
If your business needs to reduce the rate of absenteeism in the workplace, EAPs can identify and address employee concerns. You'll be able to find out exactly what employees are struggling with and offer the most appropriate solution to help them along. This will show that you're eager to help employees and improve their well-being, which will lead to fewer instances of skipping work.
While companies often have certain employees who perform particularly well, they could experience a decrease in morale at certain times. This could lead to lower quality of work that puts your business at risk. If you find that your employees don't have sufficient morale and confidence, it's important to address their struggles.
An EAP will help determine what challenges employees are facing. It will then provide support to help solve these challenges. In the process, you'll see an increase in employee morale along with the overall quality of work they complete. This boosts your company's profitability while ensuring employees are regularly motivated to do their best.
How Can Management Increase the Use of EAPs?
Due to the numerous benefits they offer, EAPs are potentially invaluable for businesses to offer. Unfortunately, employees often neglect to utilize EAPs, which is why business owners need to do what they can to encourage their use.
There are several reasons why EAPs are underutilized, including the fact that many employees don't know what they are in the first place. EAPs can also be difficult to navigate due to a lack of clarity around available features. Additionally, employees may be reluctant to take advantage of EAPs out of fear of divulging personal information or the belief that an issue is too small.
The best way to increase EAP utilization is to accurately and regularly communicate your EAP’s value. Help employees to understand what the program specifically is, what features it includes, and how it can help them with issues of any type or size. Through the successful development and communication of an EAP, your business will have the opportunity to maintain employees' well-being and subsequently improve operations.
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Tom DiSilva has been providing professional human resource services for over 30 years. As the CEO of Navigate PEO, he actively partners with organizations of all sizes in the Greater New England area and across the country to help their businesses grow. He has expertise in HR and Labor Management, offering guidance and support for key areas of business such as negotiations, operations management, employee coaching, and employee benefits design.