More and more, businesses are realizing that it's not and that they should be helping their employees shoulder these burdens — for reasons both practical and moral. This is often done through employee assistance programs. These programs are a valuable resource that's often overlooked. Here's what you should know about them.
What Is An Employee Assistance Program?
An employee assistance program (EAP) is a sort of catch-all program that assists employees with various personal problems. That could include everything from financial problems, marital problems, emotional problems, all the way to substance abuse issues. They were originally created to help deal with alcoholism in the 1930s when drinking on the job was the norm, and quickly expanded to deal with many of the other issues employees face.
EAPs are best thought of as a way to recognize issues and point employees in the right direction rather than a program to directly cure these issues. This is especially true when tackling issues that are better left to experts in their respective fields such as substance abuse or mental illness.
Are EAPs Effective?
Currently, there isn't much research on the efficacy of employee assistance programs. That doesn't mean they don't work or that they aren't valued by the employee; it simply means that the jury is still out on the specifics. The studies that have been done show consistent positive results including reduced turnover and higher employee productivity.
Right now the best way to approach employee assistance programs is as a courtesy to employees. It doesn't take a team of researchers to tell you that pointing a struggling employee in the right direction can help with their recovery. Employee assistance programs don't need to be a magical cure-all to be worth pursuing.
What Employees Think Of EAPs
So, maybe they are effective in some ways, but will your employees appreciate EAPs? That depends. EAPs often deal with extremely sensitive issues like substance abuse or marital relations, and as you can imagine it's easy to overstep your bounds as an employer in these situations. That's why it's important to be thorough and methodical when developing your employee assistance program. These are not issues to be dealt with lightly. A flippant worksheet won't cure an employee of an addiction or repair a strained relationship.
The best thing you can do in most of these scenarios is to offer support and resources in a non-judgemental and discreet environment. It goes without saying that privacy should be your number one concern with employee assistance programs. As long as employees feel like their boundaries and their right to privacy are being respected, then they typically respond well to these programs.
A hefty salary alone is no longer enough of an incentive to attract new talent and create loyal employees, and that is why you must offer a comprehensive benefits package. Please, contact us at Summerlin-Roberts to learn more about our services which include employee benefits programs as well as communication and support.