Employee Assistance Program: What Is It and How It Can Benefit Your Business

Employee stress levels are skyrocketing, whether work-related or not, and this tendency is prominent across all industries and sectors.

With recent global upheavals, social tension, and other stress factors, it is evermore present in the workplace and has substantially undermined employee productivity and engagement. To address this issue, more and more organizations are turning to Employee Assistance Programs to help their employees cope with stress and related issues.

What is an Employee Assistance Program?

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) provide a range of services and resources to help employees deal with personal and work-related problems that may affect their job performance, health, and well-being.

These programs can offer confidential counseling, referral, and education services to help employees manage stress, improve their coping skills, and enhance their overall well-being. By introducing EAPs in the workplace, organizations can create a healthier and more supportive work environment that promotes employee wellness, reduces attrition risks, and enhances employee engagement.

We have analyzed and explored the key advantages of introducing EAPs in the workplace and how they can benefit your business. In case your company is now offering this modern must-have benefit to their employees, we have prepared a list of crucial steps and the best practices for implementing and promoting an EAP program in the workplace to ensure that employees can enjoy it to its full potential.

Benefits for the company

Encouraging open lines of communication regarding employee well-being has often been linked to business success. It is reported that with the implementation of EAPs, employers, on average, see a 45% improvement in the work-life balance of their workforce, with 86% of the employees reporting that the introduction of various EAPs had a positive impact on their well-being.

Asking workers how they’re doing and reminding them about the importance of self-care, as well as training and encouraging managers and supervisors to identify at-risk employees and take appropriate action, is the absolute necessity for creating a productive work environment. In that regard, EAPs can serve as an actionable tool to address the existing issues and prevent additional stress from entering the office.

ROI beyond metrics

According to WOS annual report, statistics show that ROI from introducing EAPs in the workplace varies from 25% for smaller companies to 17% and 10% for medium- and larger-sized companies. Investing in employees’ well-being significantly cuts the company’s potential expenses associated with turnover and reduced productivity, as happy employees tend to perform better and, in turn, generate greater profit.

With EAPs presenting a solid business case, high metrics scores are not everything that there’s to it. We cannot underestimate how tremendously it can impact employees’ lives.

Providing people with access to services that can help them manage their work-related and personal issues, process, and relieve stress is invaluable in recognizing employees as co-workers but also parents, caregivers, and simply human beings.

When the company values its employees in an all-encompassing way, providing support when it’s most needed takes employees’ perception of their role and mission within the collective to a whole other level.

Put employees back on track

When employees feel undervalued or under appreciated in the workplace, it generates a range of problems. Such employees start leaning towards simply ‘showing up’ to work instead of actually contributing to the work or tend to skip the work as much as possible.

While identifying such unengaged employees is a task for people analytics tools like Performica, having an Employee Assistance Program targeted explicitly at detecting and addressing the factors contributing to such behavior outside the office can significantly help the situation.

Absent or barely-there employees that don’t participate in the working process can substantially harm your business — financially, due to low productivity, and culturally, spreading disengagement through their network in the company and negatively influencing the morale of their co-workers.

Reasons for such behavior in the workplace can be many — work-related, like burnout or incommensurability with the current role, and personal, like health or family issues. Having EAPs that can assist employees in such challenging situations is in the best interest of any employer. By helping them address the problems properly and on time, you ensure that they get back on track and continue to perform in their role, doing their best for the company.

Reduce Turnover and Attrition Rates

Overwhelmed employees tend to cope with their issues by distancing themselves from the work environment, no matter how cohesive and encouraging it may present itself. Such employees can contribute to the spike in turnover and attrition rates impacting the business revenue and the company’s image in the labor market.

By addressing such cases with solutions that EAPs provide, the company can assist at-risk employees and retain precious talent. In that way, the cost of possible voluntary attrition, contract termination, and recruiting to fill the role significantly outweighs the expenses towards comprehensive EAPs.

Improve Employee Engagement

The more engaged your employees are, the more productive they will be. They will put in extra effort beyond what is required to do a great job. On the other hand, personal or professional problems can be a major distraction for your employees, causing them to lose motivation and creativity at work, which slows down productivity.

Through EAPs, you can assist employees who feel disengaged and frustrated, help them find their place in the workplace and adjust to their current roles or opt-in for a better-fitting one. By providing this support, EAPs can turn employees who do their job into highly engaged top performers and encourage and provide training to those who underperform to do a better job.

Offering an EAP program shows employees you care about and value their well-being. It can improve their morale and increase their working capabilities. If you notice a drop in an employee’s morale or quality of work, EAPs can help clarify any problems they may be facing and provide solutions to improve their situation.

Streamline Conflict Resolution

No matter how smooth the workflow may seem, conflicts in the workplace can occur from time to time. As we discussed in our previous blog post, finding a solution to workplace conflict requires strong conflict resolution skills and high emotional intelligence of the parties involved.

With EAPs, employees can access various counseling and support services that will ease the impact of personal or work-related problems on job performance and stress levels. Also, in the context of workplace conflict, EAPs can provide a neutral third-party perspective and a safe and confidential space for employees to discuss their concerns and work through their conflicts, resulting in a faster and more satisfactory resolution for all parties.

As for HR management, EAPs can also provide resources and training to managers and supervisors on conflict resolution techniques and best practices for addressing workplace conflicts. It can help prevent escalating conflicts and promote a positive and productive work environment.

How to introduce and educate employees on EAPs

Introducing and keeping employees informed about the benefits and services they can access in their workplace lies in guided, constant communication. Reminding employees about their employee assistance program, well-being, and other benefits, and how they can access better help in the workplace should be firmly set within the priorities of any proactive HR leader.

As the ultimate goal is to create an environment where people feel comfortable and supported, provide a narrative that speaks volumes about who you are as an employer, which will mean a lot to the people who contribute to your business’s success.

Go above and beyond with onboarding

Though 57% of US companies offer some EAP to their employees, it reportedly remains the most widely misunderstood workplace perk despite its potential positive impact. Introducing an EAP requires comprehensive onboarding to ensure employees understand the range of services offered and how to access them.

Promote EAP benefits

Engage various communication channels, both digital and printed, to keep employees informed about the EAP at all times. Advertise the program’s appeal to the employees, stressing the diverse benefits it can provide. Some people are excited to access free or reduced-fee services, and some are interested in specific targeted solutions. Best practices also include having scheduled regular reminders regarding EAP with relatable associative examples to make the list of services memorable.

Make it accessible

Ensure that EAP information is accessible to the employees at a tap. Provide clear and easy-to-follow instructions, contact information, and, where possible, direct online access to essential EAP services, such as training courses, webinars, or online counseling.

Provide confidentiality

Employees in need of assistance often happen to be in their most vulnerable state. It can be easier for them to distance themselves from the team and the workplace rather than bring the issue up, risking to trigger social stigma. Make sure you create a safe space where they can raise their concerns and access appropriate help with no fear of the information they have gained the courage to share leaking to their colleagues. Confidentiality and, sometimes, anonymity are critical to successful EAP performance in the workplace.

Bring managers into the conversation

Direct managers working closely with teams daily tend to better understand employees’ concerns and insights about their personal well-being. Regularly inform managers of potential EAP benefits providing them with a range of solutions and services to address employees’ issues on the spot.

Must-have in the long run

When picking EAP providers or adjusting the existing EAPs, it would be crucial for the program’s success to take employees’ detailed and honest 360° feedback. By giving people a sense of control and respecting their personal preferences and situations, you ensure that the program matches their needs and will serve as a helpful tool to relieve work- and life-related stress.

It is important to keep in mind that any EAP will require time to show visible results within the company. Yet, it is worth mentioning that EAP is a significant asset that assists employees in dealing with day-to-day challenges, providing a chance to enhance morale and productivity. The workplace should be where everyone feels at ease and eager to perform to the best of their abilities.

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