Organizations have always focused on measures that improve employee productivity. Happy, satisfied employees are high-performing employees and the key for businesses to succeed. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) is one approach for companies to ensure employee health and emotional well-being in times of stressful life events like bereavement, separation, long-term illnesses, etc. EAPs also help employees chalk out and sync career goals with talent, thereby ensuring motivated teams to ensure business operations keep running smoothly.
Employees’ work-life management improved by 45 percent when EAPs were implemented, and a phenomenal 86 percent of the workforce reported that EAPs had a good impact on their wellbeing.
What is the Employee Assistance Program?
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) give companies a way to support their employees with their well-being and can benefit employees’ productivity, personal wellness, and organizational performance.
Why is EAPs Important?
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) assist employees in resolving emotional issues that may impact an employee’s work output. Through regular counseling and consultations, employees get to express their concerns and work through them with experts who can guide them to appropriate solutions. Employees feel equipped to overcome life’s challenges, resulting in consistent workplace engagement.
Some areas where EAP has been successful across organizations include:
- Assistance with finances
- Improving workplace interactions
- Improving performance
- Dealing with mental health issues
- Assisting with fighting substance abuse, especially in cases of child and eldercare
Features of a Well-implemented EAP
Companies commonly include EAPs as part of their employee benefits package, where employees get support in various stressful life situations. Most successful corporates will ensure their EAP process works in an efficient manner with the below features in-built into it:
Ease of Accessibility
Employees can access EAPs via the internet through online platforms, where employees can log in and access self-help podcasts, videos, as well as interact with a live counselor for any specific needs.
Employees and their immediate family members have access to Employee Assistance Programs at all hours of the day or night, seven days a week if they fulfill certain eligibility criteria. Most corporates will allow employees to connect with counselors through various means including SMS, emails, etc. to receive timely assistance
Confidentiality and One-to-One Counselling
One of the most crucial aspects of a successful EAP is employee confidentiality and no organizational intervention in any way. In accordance with the confidentiality clause, it is important that every employee has one-to-one counseling sessions with their dedicated counselor.
The credibility of the Counselling Agency
To establish employee trust, it is important that the counsellors and others working in EAP have proper credentials and certifications. A credible EAP goes a long way in building a motivated and productive workforce.
Advantages of Employee Assistance Programs
Healthy work environment
Stressed employees can hamper teamwork and cause attrition of other employees working on the same project. To ensure an amicable and engaged workforce, an EAP can help ease the pressure that troubled employees are facing by assisting them with their problems. A favorable work environment and reduced stress levels are bound to be conducive to enhanced productivity.
Employee Assistance Programs have been also known to reduce employee absenteeism, as employees have the comfort of venting out personal and professional challenges. Since EAP portals are readily accessible, employees are always assured of peace of mind and focus better on tasks.
Increased Focus and Productivity
Employee productivity is known to be hampered due to distractions arising out of personal or professional issues. EAPs help organizations address these distractions in a systematic manner resulting in employee productivity. Be it financial issues or workplace conflicts, EAPs help employees find solutions, so they can focus well on their work.
Reduced Employee Attrition
Most organizations struggle with containing employee attrition to under 10 percent. Training new employees add a substantial cost to the company before the employee starts being productive. Implementing an effective EAP reduces attrition by ensuring better employee engagement and experience through timely intervention for issue resolution. A win-win for both businesses and employees, EAP lets employees feel valued by addressing their critical issues.
EAPs Boost Employee Morale and Performance
By helping employees overcome their personal and professional challenges, EAPs enhance employee potential by instilling confidence during tough times. Employees get support for a deeper understanding of their emotional, financial, or interpersonal issues through EAPs, thereby improving their problem-solving capabilities. This learning can even be expected to be applied in their workplace and improve productivity.
Various EAP Formats for Businesses
Organizations most often provide employee assistance programs at low or no cost to employees. Employers usually partner with external EAP providers to offer a variety of services.
Organizations onboard EAP service providers when EAP programs are in-house. This may include a fitness facility, childcare, and other employee wellness services. Some organizations have an onsite therapist to address employees’ mental health issues, as an increasing number of employees tend to abandon work if suffering from mental health issues.
Contractual or fixed partnership
Employers collaborate with a third-party provider through a contractual arrangement, where providers may even have their own treatment centers or online mental health counseling platform.
Contractors in such arrangements usually charge a fixed fee irrespective of the number of employees availing of such EAPs. On their end, businesses can create tailormade EAP benefits aligned to the allocated budget and employee needs.
Contract with a per-use fee
Under this type of EAP arrangement, organizations chalk out a contract with service providers on a per-use basis, so the employer reimburses employees for the services they use through EAP. For this EAP to work, the benefits need to be easily quantified to be able to simplify the charges for employees.
Employee Assistance Programs Implementation
Employee Assistance Programs are beneficial only if implemented and promoted well and the stakeholders driving it to have a complete understanding of how it works. Like all organizational processes, it needs to have a systematic process if the business aims to benefit from it.
Make a Structured Plan
Plan a workable and easy-to-understand design of how the EAP should be before you start implementing it. Aim to define goals for the EAP in the organization and have some level of flexibility to include essential modifications in a structured manner. Build target outcomes within the program such that the organization maximizes the program’s effectiveness.
Have a Ballpark Budget and Assess Vendors
Both large businesses and SMEs can avail of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). Of course, allocated budgets will define all that you can include in your EAP offerings and which among the many vendors is appropriate for your company. Also, assessing employee requirements will help zero in on the right vendor and the services they provide.
EAP Must Be Flexible
A program’s adaptability makes it more successful and sustainable. Employers can make periodic changes and include services based on the changing requirements of employees, and for this, the EAP must be flexible. This also ensures that the EAP is effective in the long term.
Introduce EAP to Employees
The most crucial step in effectively deploying EAP is introducing it to your employees. Once employees know they have a facility or offering that can help them in their challenges, it can go a long way in building employee loyalty, trust, and productivity.
Well-designed employee assistance programs (EAP) can be a cost-effective way to add value, increase employee retention and improve employee performance. When used in conjunction with health insurance, they provide more comprehensive wellness support. Employees who have resources to deal with stress, personal difficulties, and work-related worries are more likely to be happier and more productive. For long-term business growth, it’s a win-win situation.