Studies show that EAP services are a great way to increase employee productivity, happiness, and wellness. For companies, they deliver a $6.47 return on investment for every $1 spent. This is likely why 79% of organizations offered an EAP 2019. When they’re implemented well, EAP’s have the potential to get ahead of problems that cause absenteeism, presenteeism, drops in limited productivity, and worse.
- Companies with more than 5,000 employees have EAPs 95% 95%
- Companies with 1,001 to 5,000 employees have EAPs 80% 80%
- Companies with 251 to 1,000 employees have EAPs. 75% 75%
How an EAP works
The Federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) defines an EAP as “a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems.”
Typically, an EAP will connect employees with counselors, social workers, support groups, lawyers, or other resources to meet their needs. Say an employee is going through a divorce. This sort of personal crisis is almost sure to bleed over into the workplace. With the help of an EAP, the employee can connect with legal services, explore financial assistance, and access counseling to support their transition.
One main feature of most EAP programs is short-term counseling. Short-term counseling addresses problems like depression, anxiety, grief, stress, relationship issues, and substance abuse. Mental stress from legal issues, a job transition or financial concerns can also lessen with short-term therapy (see Does Short-Term Counseling Really Work? for more)
The assistance isn’t limited to 1-on-1 or group counseling, however. Services that help employees maintain their work-life balance are core to EAP’s, including help with finances, legal, elder care, estate planning, debt counseling, retirement assistance, and much more. The goal is to address personal and professional struggles before they have lasting impacts in the workplace or at home( see How to Highlight Overlooked EAP Services and The Most Utilized Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is Here).
Does Short-Term Counseling Really Work? »
How to Highlight Overlooked EAP Services »
The Most Utilized Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is Here »
Schedule a HealthJoy QuickLaunch demo today to see how HealthJoy is building a better employee benefits experience.
Why an EAP benefit is so essential
Employee assistance programs are, in short, a critical part of your employee benefits package. This is especially true as we learn more about the importance of addressing mental health in the workplace (see Why Your Company Needs to Address Mental Health for more). Here are a few more powerful arguments for adding and promoting a company EAP.
Increases employee productivity
Employees with conditions like depression or anxiety aren’t only struggling mentally – they feel it on an emotional and physical level as well. As a result, the World Health Organization estimates that depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. Whether it’s by offering counseling services, or providing access to meditation apps, giving employees resources to take care of themselves can help them reset and produce better work.
Saves company healthcare costs
Mental health issues are expensive. A study looking at the financial impact of employee health problems found that depression was the most pricy condition, followed by obesity, arthritis, back or neck pain, and anxiety. Research has found that for every $1 put into treatment for common mental disorders; there’s a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. Proper mental health management also has the potential to reduce the number of doctor’s visits or prescription medications needed in the future.
Mental and emotional challenges are isolating. Whether it’s financial hardship or legal troubles, the support from an EAP could change employee lives for the better. An EAP shows employees that you’re invested in their wellbeing, which will lead to a noticeable boost in morale, company loyalty, and overall happiness.
Depression is the leading cause of absenteeism in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It costs roughly $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,650 each year for salaried employees. But it’s not just the financial impact that’s harmful. Absenteeism can create a vicious cycle: the more days of work an employee misses, the more overwhelmed they feel. The cycle continues until employees have tools to address issues proactively.
If you’re one of the few companies that doesn’t invest in employee wellbeing, your employees and job candidates will notice. On the flip side, being one of the companies that offer impactful mental health benefits will improve your recruiting efforts. It will also keep your existing employees happy and more likely to stay at the organization.
Decreases number of accidents in manual positions
Mental health affects every industry. It’s reported that one in five construction workers struggle with mental health issues. A manual worker who is depressed, losing sleep, or abusing substances is much more likely to get hurt on the job than someone who is mentally well. Finding ways for these workers to access the care they need can decrease accident rates and improve their overall wellbeing.
Helps employees cope with grief and loss
Most of us will experience a loss at some point in our working lives. When your employees are grieving and have difficulty reacclimating to the work environment, pointing them to counseling can be incredibly helpful. See Dealing With Death in the Workplace
Addresses the rising problem of employee burnout
Last year, the WHO declared burnout as an official “occupational phenomenon.” Employees experiencing this phenomenon could be distracted and less productive, easily frustrated, avoiding social interactions like their normal lunchtime chat, or taking more sick days than before. See Is Employee Burnout Taking a Hidden Toll on Your Workplace?
Offers a compassionate way to deal with substance abuse
Nearly 21 million Americans, or 6.5% of us, have at least one addiction. Of those, only about 10% will receive treatment. Substance abuse shows up at work in loss of productivity, absenteeism, increased sick leave, and distraction. More importantly, you’ll see the human toll that substance abuse exacts on your employees, their family, and your coworkers. An EAP offers a compassionate first step toward coping. See The First Step in Handling Employee Substance Abuse for more.
Provides resources beyond mental health
If you want healthier, happier employees, you must include behavioral health benefits like an EAP program in your benefits. Otherwise, you miss the opportunity to improve your employees’ lives – which you’ll ultimately notice in your bottom line (see Health Insurance Plan Design Pitfalls to Avoid in 2020 for more)
Once you add an EAP, though, the work isn’t done.
Why Your Company Needs to Address Mental Health »
Dealing With Death in the Workplace »
Is Employee Burnout Taking a Hidden Toll on Your Workplace? »
The First Step in Handling Employee Substance Abuse »
Health Insurance Plan Design Pitfalls to Avoid in 2020 »
Why employees don’t use your EAP
Despite how impactful an EAP benefit promises to be, no one seems to want to use them. In fact, like telemedicine, utilization might be this benefit’s biggest struggle. One survey found that usage of EAP programs remains at only 7%. We see that employees struggle first to remember their EAP benefits, then to understand them, and finally to get past stigma and fear to use them.
Let’s examine a few more reasons why your employees may not be taking advantage of their EAP benefit (read all the details in our post Why Employees Don’t Use Your EAP Program)
Lack of Awareness
Lack of program education
Fear of stigma
Even when they know they exist, employees don’t make use of EAPs because they’re worried about the associated stigmas. Perhaps they’re ashamed to address an alcohol abuse or problem or talk about their divorce. Mental health issues carry plenty of societal stigma, and this can make employees reluctant to reach out for help. Men, in particular, are prone to this, which is likely why 60 percent of employees who use EAP services are female.
Misunderstanding of Cost
Hesitation Around Asking for Permission
Lack of Centralized Benefits
Finally, it’s important to centralize all your benefits by designing a seamless benefits experience. Employees aren’t going to go out of their way to find and use a service. When they’re located in a benefits booklet that’s buried in a drawer, there’s almost no chance employees will remember to reach out for help.
An EAP program can be a truly wonderful tool for employees. Getting employees to use yours could simply be a matter of examining why utilization of this benefit is so low, then investing in a few starting steps. Helping employees make the most of an EAP benefit is critical to your success, because it’s the step that will lead to higher performance and productivity for your organization. Let’s dig into how you can make an EAP benefit work better and drive EAP utilization.
Why Employees Don’t Use Your EAP Program »
Why Employees Need A Seamless Benefits Experience »
Help employees make the most of an EAP
Invest in education before launching an EAP Program.
Ask EAP program providers to come into the office and present.
Create physical and digital FAQs.
Include EAPs as part of your open enrollment communications.
Don’t just lump the program in with your wellness benefits in your open enrollment materials. Instead, explicitly state that your company has an EAP. Then explain what services are offered. See How to Simplify Benefits Communication for Open Enrollment for more.
Make EAP part of your year-round benefits communications.
It’s not enough to promote this benefit only during OE. Employees need to know it exists when they need it, and that familiarity only comes from repetition. See How HealthJoy Gets in Front of Healthcare Decisions for more.
Offer a training session for all managers.
Most managers are in the same boat as other employees: they don’t know that EAP’s exist. However, if you create opportunities for these company leaders to get familiar with this benefit, they can serve as internal advocates for the program. This can play a big role in raising overall awareness among employees.
Create a culture of openness.
When employees fear stigma in the workplace, it’s because they’re nervous about how they’re going to be perceived. Creating a culture of open-mindedness will help employees feel comfortable being themselves. You can do this by openly discussing tough topics like mental health and finances. While a culture change won’t happen overnight, it’s a powerful goal.
Have company leaders share their personal experiences.
One way to create a culture of openness is by encouraging vulnerability – especially among company leaders. Encouraging the leadership team to share their battles with mental health or work/life balance will help to break down barriers.
Make sure employees understand that there are privacy laws in place.
Build trust with your employees.
Focus on building a trusting relationship with your team. If your employees believe that leadership has their best interests in mind, that trust will extend to other realms. See Building Trust in Your 2020 Benefits
Separate EAP services from other healthcare benefits.
Highlight the free services.
EAP counselors are equipped to deal with categories of problems that many health plans won’t cover. This is a huge benefit for people who are interested in counseling services but are deterred by the cost. Emphasize that EAPs are a great and convenient alternative to seeking expensive providers outside the program.
Make instructions clear.
Provide easy access.
Pick the right vendor.
Choosing the right partner is critical to centralizing your benefits. Select a vendor that can easily integrate with your existing portals. Also look for a user-friendly interface that won’t be difficult for your HR team to manage. And make sure to ask the vendor how they’ll support you through open enrollment and beyond. See What are HealthJoy’s JOY Campaign Journeys? And How Our Benefits Wallet Engages Employees for more.
How to Simplify Benefits Communication for Open Enrollment »
How HealthJoy Gets in Front of Healthcare Decisions »
Building Trust in Your 2020 Benefits »
What are HealthJoy’s JOY Campaign Journeys? »
How Our Benefits Wallet Engages Employees »
An EAP benefit isn’t optional anymore
Over three-quarters of employers offered an EAP last year for a reason. The EAP benefit offers essential support that helps employees navigate life’s most difficult moments. That means healthier, happier employees and more successful cost-containment efforts (See HealthJoy Accelerates Your Cost-Containment Strategy for more). The bottom line: finding and implementing a highly-utilized EAP should be a priority for every company.
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