In an effort to maintain a healthy and productive workforce, employee assistance programs (EAP) are put in place by companies of all sizes. These programs are designed to provide employees with resources to help manage stress, substance abuse, depression, family issues and other personal challenges. Organizations value from delivering benefits that helps improve workplace performance and productivity, while ensuring employees receive needed services in an out of the workplace.
Increasing EAP Utilization Among Employees
However, recent statistics indicate very low utilization among companies and employees. In the United States, utilization rates were less than 7%, according to a 2016 EAP trends report by Chestnut Global Partners. The reasons for underutilization include a lack of knowledge about the program, managers not referring employees to the appropriate resources and a stigma attached to using the services.
EAPs Address Stress and Increase Wellness
As studies continue to demonstrate an increase in stress and anxiety among employees, it becomes critical that employees are provided and access support. Services under the EAP umbrella have expanded over the years to address the rise in issues associated with economical stress, organizational change and mental health and wellbeing soundness.
How Companies Are Offering EAPs
Health insurance and EAP programs are working hand-in-hand to produce positive results for organizations. Some health insurers include free EAP programs, offering employees a set number of counseling session and crisis management tools. Many larger companies are embedding EAPS with their health plans as well with long-term disability, life insurance and other ancillary benefits to give their employees a range of support services.
Organizations and EAP providers are challenged to increase utilization and demonstrate a positive return on investment. Clear communication about the availability and value of services needs to happen along with manager training about when and how to refer employees for services.
Continued emphasis on building awareness and increasing use remain important steps for companies to take as does doing more benchmarking activities. Metrics need to be in place to track reduction in absences, increases in productivity and outcomes that lead to behavioral changes and improved health. Showing positive outcomes that align with organizational goals will help substantiate the value of an EAP to all involved stakeholders.
Source: Workforce. EAPs: Use It or Lose It. May/June 2017. PP52-53.