Employee Assistance Program

Dealing with job-related stress or personal problems may interfere with regular attendance or optimal performance at the office. Stress-related illness has long played a role in missed work days. For employees who are experiencing difficulties, it can be extremely helpful to seek support. An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) helps employees to resolve work or personal issues that may influence work productivity.

How the Program Can Help

An Employee Assistance Program provides professional support, counseling and referral services for employees to help resolve a variety of problems.These may include marriage and family issues, emotional problems, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, physical illness, and financial or legal concerns. Services are extended to the employee’s immediate family, and some EAPs even provide child care and/or elder care for family members of employees. Counseling services offered are typically short-term, with referrals to outside agency professionals as necessary. Program services are generally provided at either low or no cost to employees.

History of EAPs

Early programs were designed primarily to help employees with presenting drug and alcohol dependency issues that were interfering with their work performance. Over the past several decades, the scope of EAPs has broadened substantially to address other personal problems that can equally affect workplace performance. As employers strive to provide comprehensive wellness programs for employees to increase job satisfaction and overall productivity, the number of companies offering EAPs has greatly increased. EAP benefits have become a common component of many employee health insurance plans.

How It Works

Information about EAPs within the workplace is made readily available to all employees. Employees may independently contact the EAP personnel to request services or they may be referred to the program by a supervisor if the presenting problems appear to be hindering work productivity. Employers who offer EAP benefits may use contracted providers or their own staff of professionals to provide counseling services to employees in need. All services provided to employees through the EAP are strictly confidential. Services are voluntary, with the exception of referral by an employer when disciplinary action has been taken.

Program Success

The main goal of the Employee Assistance Program is to restore the level of productivity for a referred employee to an optimal level. An effective EAP is one that holds to the highest standards for maintaining client confidentiality. The program must be easily accessible to employees and their immediate families and provide a strong commitment to linking employees with appropriate resources to address their concerns. It is important that employers encourage employees to utilize the services as part of a comprehensive benefit of the organization. The EAP should be consistently monitored and evaluated to ensure its effectiveness for employees.

Many EAPs provide additional specialized services like critical incident intervention and disability management support. Most programs provide employers with supervisory and management consultation on employee problems. EAPs can help employees to effectively resolve personal conflicts that affect their ability to perform assigned duties at work.Offering this valuable service for employees helps companies to increase productivity and overall job satisfaction.