While working as the head of Human Resources for companies large and small, I found that many employees needed help regarding a plethora of personal issues. These issues oftentimes impeded their work performance, so it was a part of my job to see that they were offered the help that they needed. This help fell along the guidelines of an EAP or Employee Assistance Program, which helps workers deal with issues that may be affecting their job performance.
An Employee Assistance Program is one that is an added benefit to employees. By offering assistance in the form of short-term counseling for a variety of issues included but not limited to personal counseling, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, emotional abuse, dealing with family changes such as a birth or a death, etc., employers can help facilitate the proper care and treatment of an employee experiencing these issues. EAP’s are not only offered to just the employee, but to their spouse or children as well (members of the household). An effective EAP can help lower employee absenteeism rates, retain employees, and help workers be more productive at work. It can also lower costs associated with healthcare, which is why most medium to large sized companies offer it as a benefit.
Utilizing an EAP can help employees in a variety of ways. And because it is at no-cost to you or your household, can really help when needed.
There are some who pushback on EAP’s due to the fact that is a benefit offered to employers by the employees. When dealing with psychological issues or sensitive personal subjects, some feel that the employer is playing the middle man to treatment. In response to this, I say that most EAP’s are administered by a third-party provider, and none of the information regarding the treatment of the employee or their families can be shared with the employer due to HIPAA laws.
The goal of an Employee Assistance Program is to help those employees who need it. It is not to be used as a way to get rid of an employee.
If you aren’t sure if your employer offers an EAP, then contact your manager, supervisor, or refer to your Human Resource department. Most information regarding EAP’s should be also available in your employee benefit packet or handbook.