Learn what employee assistance programs are and how they can help you.
Sometimes life can get in the way of work. Everyone has days once in a while when they don’t get much work done. But if you’re taking care of an elderly parent or having trouble paying your bills, it can be extremely difficult to focus on your job duties every day.
Employers know this happens to their employees. Some companies have special services to help their employees cope with their personal issues. Learn more about employee assistance programs.
What are employee assistance programs?
An employee assistance program (EAP) is a service offered by a company to help their employees deal with personal problems. EAPs can help with many issues, such as:
- Physical and mental health
- Family, marital and elder care
- Financial and legal
- Alcohol, drugs and other addictions
- Emotional and stress
Now and then good employees have something going on at home that gets in the way of work. The employee may be absent more often than usual or be doing poor quality work. EAPs try to get employees working at their peak performance level again by helping them deal with their issues. EAP services help employees with these issues by:
- Preventing troubles from starting
- Identifying problems when they begin
- Finding solutions to help solve personal problems
Benefits of employee assistance programs
Many studies have shown the benefits of EAPs for both employers and employees.
Benefits for the employee
EAPs help workers by giving them access to professional help when they need it. These services are usually free and confidential. EAP services may also be available to family members of employees. EAPs provide employees with:
- Evaluation of the employee’s situation
- Short-term counseling or treatment
- Referrals to doctors or other programs that can further help
EAPs offer these services in a number of ways. The specific services are different at each company. Some examples may be a yoga class to deal with stress or counseling for someone going through a divorce.
Benefits for the employer
EAPs help employers because their workers will be more productive, and do better work more efficiently. These programs may:
- Improve productivity
- Decrease time away from work
- Lower health care costs because employees need to use health care services less often
- Improve employee retention
- Reduce accidents at work
EAPs largely focus on helping individual employees and their families. But EAPs can also be used by company leadership to strengthen the organization as a whole. EAPs provide services for the company, such as:
- Crisis response
- Advice on coping with company reorganization, such as downsizing
- Grief and loss support in the workplace
- Services for a drug-free workplace
- Conflict resolution
- Disaster planning
- Team building
- Consultation on mental health and substance abuse policies
Ask your employer if they have an EAP program. Don’t be afraid to speak up and use your company’s EAP for help when you need it. Doing so may help both you and your employer.