EAPs: Keeping the Pace
As professional businesswomen, most of us will admit there is evidence of an increased level of stress in our lives caused by the pace of our society and the multiple roles we take on. We try to manage our families, excel in our professional careers, contribute to our communities, and if there is any time left at all, be attentive to our own self-care.
Most of us can deal with life’s problems on our own, but sometimes they can be difficult and even too much for us to handle. Have you ever experienced this? Chances are, you probably have … and so have your employees.
According to the American Psychological Association, over half of working adults are concerned about the amount of stress in their daily lives. In some cases, it’s something your employees don’t want to discuss with family, friends, or coworkers — or maybe they just need an outside opinion.
This is where an employee assistance program comes into play. How can you determine which EAP model is the best fit for your organization?
I was recently the passenger in my daughter’s car and had to ask how to put the window down. She said, “Mom, see the handle? You have to roll it down the ‘old-fashioned’ way!” We both laughed.
This is what comes to mind when I reflect on the pace of change in our world. Our workforce needs have changed, technology has improved, and the EAP model must rise to the challenge.
The EAP goal should be to provide top-quality, comprehensive services that allow employers to maximize the potential of their greatest asset: their employees. So, no more rolling down the window by hand!
The benefits of an EAP for human resources departments and supervisors include:
Solving employee performance problems. Offering counseling through the EAP as a part of the discipline process can help to solve the root of the problems that are resulting in performance issues rather than just dealing with the matter on a temporary basis.
Since employee absenteeism and tardiness cost U.S. companies as much as $3 billion a year, it is wise to implement an effective and comprehensive EAP in your organization.
Providing supervisory training and support. Having the option to refer employees to the EAP for their personal problems allows supervisors and HR to focus on their own jobs rather than having to take on the additional responsibility of being an onsite counselor.
EAPs can also work with supervisors/management staff with “problem” employees and determine the appropriate course of action to help these employees. Policy and procedure development is another way the EAP can assist HR, and many EAPs provide a number of training programs to address a broad range of organizational issues. In the event a layoff occurs, the EAP can be called in to assist with the emotional impact.
Masi Research Consultants recently conducted an EAP study that found a $13 return on every $1 invested if a supervisor recommended the EAP to an employee who demonstrated poor work performance. This savings typically goes unnoticed.
Improving morale. The EAP is an important benefit for your employees and shows that you care about their mental and emotional health and well-being, the way your health, dental, and/or vision insurance shows that you care about their physical health.
The EAP can also act as a cost-containment measure. Recent studies show that the return on investment for an EAP ranges from $3-$12 for each dollar invested. EAPs offer long-term cost savings by:
Improving employee productivity. Recent studies indicate that impaired employees function at 75 percent of productivity when compared to unimpaired employees.
Assuming that 10 percent of the workforce has problems serious enough to affect productivity, you can estimate the cost to your company by using a simple formula: (number of employees) x (average salary of all employees) x 10 percent (.10) x 25 percent (.25) = dollars lost annually.
Decreasing unplanned absenteeism. Some employees unexpectedly take off from work to deal with personal/family issues, while others need the time to recuperate from drug or alcohol abuse. The average employer loses $688 per employee per year on unscheduled absences.
Increasing employee retention. Substance abuse and mental health services reported that EAPs contributed to 35 percent reduced turnover. The average cost of turnover can be between 50 and 150 percent of an employee’s annual salary.
Limiting liability and promoting workplace safety. The EAP helps to reduce or eliminate employer liability by providing a system for professional problem assessment and treatment for mental health as well as substance abuse issues, thereby decreasing accidents due to those issues.
Reducing health insurance claims. Every claim on your health insurance has the potential to increase next year’s premiums. EAP sessions are never reported to your healthcare provider. Also, counseling can be an alternative to taking costly prescription drugs or a supplementary treatment to increase the effectiveness of medications or decrease the need for them.
There are a few important questions that are necessary when choosing an EAP:
1. What services and promotional materials are included in the EAP contract’s costs?
2. Does the EAP have additional services to meet the needs of your company? (Hiring support, job benchmarking processes, EQ and competency/behavior assessment tools, 360 feedback processes, succession planning, mediation, coaching, trainings, management consultation, retirement workshops, outplacement services, a wellness model, and/or live people answering the phone 24/7/365)
3. Is the EAP willing to tailor the contract and provide the additional services to meet your corporate cultural needs?
4. Is the EAP woven into the fabric of your organization, providing support to each employee, or is it just a website with online resources?
A quality employee assistance program will have its finger on the pulse of your organization’s operation and become a partner in improving the overall climate and processes. As the workforce and the demands of our economy change, it is important that EAPs be a vital part of the industry’s efforts to address and meet challenges of the ever-changing work environment.
Cheryl Raudenbush, M.Ed., is the director of engagement for Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP Services. Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP Services has been providing a comprehensive employee assistance program since 1984 and continues to grow, serving corporations nationwide. www.mseap.com