What is an EAP and Should You Have One?

An employee assistance program (EAP for short) is a program that enables member employees to gain access to confidential assistance from mental health experts, financial advisors, and other professionals. Just as companies offer employees the option to join a healthcare network for insurance purposes, an EAP allows employees to tap into a "network" of qualified therapists, counselors, and advisors for help with a variety of personal and work-related issues.What is an EAP Program and Should You Have One

An EAP may offer services such as:

Short-term mental health counseling for employees

Employees may be able to reach professional counselors in an EAP network in-person or over the phone. These counselors can provide assistance with regard to work-related anxiety, depression, addiction issues, isolation, stress, and other issues concerning mental and emotional well-being.

Work-life balance assistance for employees

Counselors and coaches can help employees to achieve a better work-life balance through time management and organization skills, prioritization exercises, and even nutrition advice. They can also help employees to gain access to other important services, such as child care or elder care.

Financial advice for employees

EAPs often provide helpful assistance to employees in regard to retirement planning, identity theft prevention and recovery, and other financial issues.

Despite the fact that EAPs provide exceptional benefits to employees, many workers are totally in the dark as to whether their company has an EAP, or what it actually entails. One simple way to promote your EAP and ensure that your employees have full knowledge of its existence and function is to have a PEO act as a liaison between your team members and the EAP provider.

Of course, if you don't currently have an EAP in place you may be wondering, "Is it worth the investment?" The following information will discuss four key EAP benefits for your company.

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Companies with EAPs Have Higher Retention Rates

Tracie Sponenberg, the chief people officer at plumbing supply wholesaler the Granite Group said this about EAPs:

"I would never not have an EAP. It's low-cost, and if two people get something out of it, the program is worth it."

The Granite Group has used EAP providers that offer services ranging from crisis management and training to online mental health sessions, telemedicine, and party and vacation planning assistance. This company is just one example of how businesses are leveraging EAPs to improve employee retention.

Statistics confirm why EAPs are important when it comes to increasing retention rate. For example, 86% of employees believe a company's culture should support employee mental health — a key component for most EAPs.

EAPs Reduce Workplace Accidents

Employee assistance programs are an excellent means of reducing work-related injuries and workers comp claims, because they can address a variety of root causes that contribute to workplace accidents. For instance, many EAP providers include alcohol and substance abuse counseling in their services. Since 10-20% of workplace fatalities have been linked to alcohol or substance abuse, EAPs may contribute to fewer workers' compensation claims, and even fewer work-related deaths.

EAPs Lower Healthcare Costs

The rise of self-care culture has made more and more employees conscious of eating well, exercising regularly, and stress management. EAPs can be a major touchpoint between companies that want to reduce healthcare costs and workers seeking to achieve enhanced health and well-being.

Research has shown that EAPS can yield an exceptional ROI with regard to healthcare costs. A study of 185 workers at one employer found that those who received cardiac rehabilitation and exercise training from professionals converted from high-risk status to low-risk by the end of six months. In addition, medical claim costs for each participant in the program declined by $1,421. In other words, the company saved $6 on healthcare costs for every dollar invested in the program.

Companies with EAPs Experience Less Employee Absenteeism

Productivity losses from absenteeism related to stress cost employers $225.8 billion per year, according to the CDC. Obviously, workers that are stressed, depressed, or struggling with serious mental health issues are less productive, even if they are physically present at work.

EAPs help to create more engaged and productive employees by destigmatizing mental health issues and offering a "safe haven" for distressed workers to express themselves and obtain professional help. The powerful impact that EAPs can have is demonstrated in one study, which found that companies with a proven track record in health and wellness initiatives outperformed competitors by 235% over a span of six years.

Developing an EAP for Your Company

An EAP can provide wonderful benefits for your employees and your company as a whole. If you haven't already invested in such a program, now is the time to consider your options and move forward. Be sure to consult with a reputable PEO before making your final decision. The team at the PEO can help you to select an affordable EAP as part of your benefits package, while ensuring that your company receives the many benefits of an EAP at minimal cost.

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