Loyal and productive employees are the backbone of any organization. No business can thrive and succeed without the efforts of all the workers and staff members.
This is why skilled and experienced employers do their best to support, reward, and uplift their employees whenever possible.
The problem is that an employee’s productivity can be affected by several factors outside of the workplace. Some of the factors that could cause an otherwise excellent employee to turn apathetic and unproductive in the workplace are:
- Physical and mental health issues
- Financial problems
- Tumultuous personal relationships
- Grief over the death of a loved one
- Substance abuse problems
When employees are stressed and anxious about their personal problems, their workplace performance naturally suffers. This is why more and more employers are now offering high-quality Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs).
An EAP is simply a work-based intervention program through which organizations can help employees resolve some of the personal issues that are negatively affecting their performance at work. The 2019 SHRM Employee Benefits research report found that nearly 80% of all employers offered EAPs in one form or another.
How Can an EAP Help Employees?
There are many ways in which a well-designed and efficiently-run EAP can support employees during times of stress and hardship. In fact, it’s one of the most important employee perks offered by Perkbox and other reputed employee benefits and rewards platforms. This is because EAPs offer a wide range of benefits for employees.
The corporate world is changing and evolving rapidly with every passing year. This puts an incredible amount of pressure on employees, who have to not only keep up with these changes but stay on the cutting edge of new discoveries and best practices.
When these workplace stressors are combined with some personal problems — such as financial setbacks, health issues, or familial conflict — it can lead even the most dedicated employees to burnout.
An EAP can effectively combat this problem by providing the struggling employees with the counseling and the stress-management resources that they need.
To lose a loved one is always devastating, and it can prove very difficult for employees to keep working while dealing with their grief. Work performance often takes a backseat when one is struggling to come to terms with their loss.
To ensure that grieving employees can overcome their feelings of loss without breaking down completely, an organization can arrange for reliable grief counseling sessions through the employee assistance program.
Grief counseling is a time-tested way to help people stay functional through the emotional turmoil caused by grief and loss. Timely grief counseling can also help employers by enhancing employee retention and reducing absenteeism.
Many employees are unable to achieve their fullest potential at the workplace due to their problematic home lives or toxic relationship situations. Problems like domestic violence or constant familial conflict can take a major toll on employees, affecting their performance at work.
This is why the best EAPs offer high quality domestic violence resources, ranging from counseling to legal intervention. EAPs also provide a venue for employees to speak freely and privately about their family problems, working through them without the fear of being judged by their peers and colleagues.
If an employee is facing financial problems, this could have a profound effect on their ability to perform at work. This is not simply because of the mental stress caused by financial setbacks. In fact, not having enough money to get by can impede a person’s work performance in numerous ways.
For instance, an employee might take a day off work just because they can’t afford the fuel needed to drive to the office. An employee who could not afford to buy lunch, on the other hand, might make mistakes due to a loss of mental clarity caused by hunger.
An EAP can help employees resolve some of these issues by providing the guidance they need to better manage their finances.
The employees participating in this program can talk to experts who’d help them create a budget, start paying off debt, and set savings goals — so that they may overcome their financial troubles.
Alcoholism and substance abuse are some of the greatest productivity-killers of all time. Addiction can lead to financial as well as health-related problems, and this, in turn, will cause stress and lower productivity at work.
A high-quality EAP will provide a safe space for the affected employees to discuss their problems freely and openly with an experienced professional.
EAPs are best suited to helping employees identify their issues and guiding them to the qualified professionals who can help them overcome their addictions. EAPs also provide resources and information that can be helpful on the path to recovery.
Many employees struggle with undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues that can affect their performance at work. Various mental health conditions — such as ADHD, GAD, and OCD — can go undiagnosed for years because they’re often manageable and not completely debilitating.
Despite this, these mental health conditions can introduce various challenges in one’s life, making it hard to perform well at work.
An EAP can help the affected employees identify the probable cause of these challenges, and then refer them to specialists who can provide the help and counseling they need.
Childcare and Caregiving
Employees in the modern workplace are stretched thin because of the many demands on their time and energy. Apart from their full-time job, many might also have elderly or disabled family members at home, for whom they’re the primary caregiver. Similarly, parents with young children also need to invest significant resources on childcare.
An EAP can help by connecting employees with experts who specialize in the required field. For instance, if an employee is the primary caregiver for their aged parents, the EAP can put them in contact with a reliable geriatric care specialist.
For the parents of young children, the EAP can help with finding (and financing) a reputed childcare expert. The EAP can also help with budgeting for a growing family and planning family or medical leave.
Features of a Great EAP
While every employee assistance program is unique, all EAPs must have certain features in common, in order to be effective. Some of the universal features of a great EAP are:
A written confidentiality policy is a must for the success of any such program. Since the problems discussed during these sessions are intensely personal in nature, there should be no risk of information leakage. Unless their privacy is fully ensured, employees will feel wary of divulging any private or sensitive information.
Employees may seek out support in many different ways, through different mediums of communication, so the EAP must be flexible enough to accommodate their needs. Employees should be able to avail the services via phone, email, or in-person meetings.
The EAP services should ideally be available 24/7, so that employees can get help immediately at a time of crisis. For the best results, the program should also be available to the employees’ immediate family members, so that they can seek help on behalf of the employee, if needed.
When implementing an employee assistance program within their organization, employers must adhere to all legal and regulatory compliance protocols. This is important because most EAPs offer some form of financial and mental health support or advice.
So, it is essential for all parties to understand the legal and regulatory concerns that surround service areas such as financial advice and mental health.
How an EAP Can Help Grow Your Business
So far, we’ve talked about the various ways in which a high-quality EAP can help employees improve their work performance and quality of life. However, EAPs also offer many benefits to employers. In this section, therefore, we’ll cover the ways in which an EAP facilitates business growth and increases your bottom line.
A report by Gallup suggests that when an employee resigns, finding his or her replacement can cost a business an amount equal to that employee’s annual salary. Stress and mental health struggles are some of the major reasons why employees leave their organizations, looking for a fresh start.
An effective EAP can, therefore, save you thousands of dollars every year through lower employee turnover rates. EAPs are an indication that the company cares about the health and wellbeing of its workers. EAPs can also make employees feel more relaxed and engaged in the workplace, giving them a reason to stay.
When employees are stressed out and anxious about their personal problems, they’re more likely to take sick days to attend to those problems. A good EAP will provide employees with the personal support they need in order to deal with their financial, psychological, and familial issues, so that they can focus solely on work during office hours.
According to a study conducted by Federal Occupational Health (FOH), employers who offered EAPs saw a nearly 70% drop in absenteeism. Furthermore, employees who’re both physically and mentally healthy naturally take fewer sick days than those with undiagnosed or untreated conditions.
Therefore, implementing a reliable EAP is as beneficial for the employers as it is for the employees. Greater worker productivity, better morale, and a positive work environment at the office are some of the other important benefits of EAPs.