Employees probably already know about health insurance, and other benefits employers provide. However, going through company benefit materials to see what else they offer to improve health and lifestyle is part of education on programs employees could easily overlook. Many companies need to educate their employees much better on benefit offerings.
For example, many employers offer what is known as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An EAP offers guidance and counseling on a whole range of issues both inside and outside the workplace. This program helps people deal with everyday issues like stress and depression before they turn into major problems.
This benefit can save you and your employer big money and much more in hidden costs. Did you know about it?
Issues EAP programs cover include:
- Alcohol and drug use
- Family and relationship problems
- Child care
- Elder care
- Legal issues
- Financial issues and guidance
EAP services are typically available to all employees, regardless of health plan enrollment status.
Improved Work-Life Balance
Between responsibilities at work and home, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. When employees decide to participate in an EAP, more than 90% said that the EAP helped them manage work-life balance. For example, a working parent in an EAP program might seek out assistance in developing better time management skills, which helps improve productivity, reduce hours at the office, minimize stress, and have a big impact on a positive environment at home. Many programs can also help people find affordable child or elder care options.
According to a Harvard Business School study, job stress costs the U.S. economy $190 billion a year in healthcare costs. EAP programs have specifically designed helped them better manage their stress. EAP programs also have wide ranges of services ranging from counseling, client advocacy, case management, and much more. Less stress means less illness and lower health care costs. For employers, controlling stress in the workplace can help reduce costs related to job turnover and absenteeism and help improve employee performance.
Better Financial Management
Work-related stress is common, and so is stress related to personal finance. 53% of Americans who experience a “great deal” of stress reported that financial issues are a factor, according to a study by the Harvard University School of Medicine.
An EAP counselor can put employees in contact with a wealth of personal finance resources, including credit and debt management counseling, budgeting guidance and even retirement planning. Developing strong personal finance skills can mean less money spent and more money earned via investment and saving.
A study published in the Journal of Health and Productivity surveyed employees in five key areas before and after they accessed EAP services. Employees in the study showed improvements in all five areas surveyed: absenteeism, presenteeism, work engagement, life satisfaction, and workplace distress. The EAP programs provided counseling services to help employees cope with stress and problems in all aspects of their lives (and not just work stress). Many employers focus on programs in the workplace that encourage a strong safety culture, but EAP services can go a step farther in helping with stress management and taking a more holistic approach to solve the problem(s) as a whole, not just treating isolated behaviors and issues.
Only 4% to 6% of people with access to EAP programs use them. Low participation is likely due to people not knowing about these programs. NARFA is pleased to offer a comprehensive EAP program to members and their dependents.