What is an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) & How Does it Work?
Every so often, employees may experience problems in their personal lives and this can impact their mental health and overall wellbeing. Needless to say, this can easily spill over into the workplace too and affect their job performance – which can cost a business in several ways, such as:
- Increased sick leave
- Lack of focus on the job
- Conflict between team members when employees fail to pull their weight
- Resignation when such ones can no longer cope at work
Ignoring mental health in the workplace comes with a high financial cost. In fact, evidence shows that one in five employees struggle with their mental health and this costs businesses approximately $10.9 billion each year.
For these reasons and more, employers are now beginning to recognise the benefits of providing Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) – but what is an EAP and how does it work?
What is an Employee Assistance Program?
An EAP is a confidential workplace therapy service that employers pay for. They are provided to help staff cope with both work-related and personal problems with the aim of helping workers remain productive. An employee assistance program is commonly – but not always – offered in conjunction with a workplace health insurance plan and depending on the arrangement, an EAP can sometimes extend to family members too.
EAP’s allow employees that are under stress to get immediate help from a professional counsellor for problems such as:
- Workplace conflicts – suggestions and advice on how to deal with difficult co-workers
- Mental health issues – help to deal with anxiety, depression, anger management issues or other problems
- Family advice – providing couples counselling and help to deal with divorce and child custody issues
- Financial counselling – help on how to avoid debt and bankruptcy
- Addiction – advice on how to deal with gambling problems and alcohol or drug use
- Grief assistance – support for staff who have lost a loved one or after the loss of a co-worker
EAP can also include workshops that cover a variety of topics such as effective stress management, team building and mindfulness in the workplace.
NOTE: any employee assistance program benefits received will ALWAYS remain confidential. While your employer may pay for this therapy service, they have no insight or right to know the employer’s specific use of the EAP service.
EAP Counselling Helps Create A Safe Working Environment
Under the Work Health & Safety (WHS) Act 2011, employers are required to provide a safe environment for workers – both physically and mentally. That means that businesses must minimise the risk of psychological damage by having effective control measures in place. Issues such as workplace bullying, discrimination or stress can cause depression, panic attacks, anxiety, poor sleep and physical illness. Recognising and responding to emotional risk factors by offering EAP counselling, helps ensure that employers are doing what they can to help staff work in a healthy environment.
An EAP is an effective workplace service that pays for itself by helping to keep employees personal and interpersonal issues in control. Both the employer and the employee suffer until a problem is resolved and EAP services offer easy access to effective resolutions. Clearly, providing EAP counselling for staff members not only benefits the employees but has a high return on investment for businesses too.
If you own or manage a business and are interested in offering this beneficial service to your employers, PMW are employee assistance program providers and we would be happy to help – learn more here.