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What are the main characteristics of an Employee Assistance Program?

Struggling to maintain a work-life balance, paying off a mortgage, and raising a family at the same time can lead to serious mental problems, such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia. No matter how well you’ve trained your employees to separate their personal lives from work, these personal struggles often seep through the cracks and can affect your employee’s performance and productivity. As businesses start to realize that personal wellbeing and job performance are closely connected, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are gaining popularity all over the world.  

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In this article by Pacific Prime, we will explore the key characteristics of EAPs and their potential impact on your business.  

What are EAPs?

EAPs are offered by businesses to help employees cope with personal and work-related issues that may have negative ramifications on their job performance, health, and general wellbeing. These programs ensure that your employees have someone to talk to about their concerns and offer counseling advice to help them cope with these issues.

Problems they address

Employees encounter stress from countless sources in their work and personal life. EAPs are designed to offer a holistic framework for employees that address common sources of stress such as: 

  • Mental health problems
  • Work-related issues
  • Relationships 
  • Grief over the loss of a loved one
  • Marital strife
  • Substance abuse and other types of addiction 

EAPs will connect your employees with professionals that offer coaching and counseling sessions to help your employees get back on track.  

Different employee assistance plans will offer varying services depending on the insurer and your budget. These are some common employee assistance services offered by leading global insurers that Pacific Prime partners with, such as Aetna, Cigna, and Bupa.

  • 24-hour/7-day hotline counseling service: Employees can gain access to around-the-clock service from qualified counselors to help manage sudden spikes in stress levels.
  • Therapeutic counseling: Clinical therapists will help your employees determine the best route of therapy. This type of service can help employees cope with clinical problems such as depression and anxiety, and can either happen over the phone or in person.  
  • Work-life services: With this service, you’ll be able to explain your needs to someone over the phone. They will then find trusted service providers, including banks and schools; make travel arrangements for you; or put you in touch with recommended third-party experts. This service can help employees address institutional issues such as financial stress and educational needs.
  • Manager assistance services: Offers coaching and training sessions to help managers develop skills such as time management, communication, employee dispute mediation, and providing constructive feedback.  
  • Critical Incidents service: Provides support to employees who are coping with the physical and psychological symptoms caused by critical incidents or trauma.

Additionally, these programs will guarantee the confidentiality of your employees, giving them access to secure and private assistance that helps address their work-related and personal issues.  

Cost and duration

The cost and duration of EAPs will depend on which country you are in and the type of programs you intend to purchase. EAPs will usually come with a base fee along with additional charges for further services such as therapeutic counseling sessions.

The duration can also vary depending on the type of service. 24/hour hotline services can be available continuously depending on the plan’s contract, while each counseling service or training course can up to take several weeks.

EAPs impact on your business

The distress caused by work-related and personal issues can lead to increased absenteeism, which causes a total loss of $312 billion annually for businesses. Here are a few ways EAPs can help you reduce costs while also improving your business’s performance.  

1. Increased productivity

Studies show that after employee assistance services have been made available, employee sick leave has reduced by 33%, work-related accidents decreased by 65%, and lost time got reduced by 40%. 

In practice, this translates to fewer distractions and disruptions in the workplace, which in turn, leads to a more productive team of employees. Morneau Shepell research group found that for every $1 you invested in EAPs, the return is 8 times greater!

2. Improved employee retention rate

Improving the wellness of your workforce often means that their engagement level in the company increases. This can improve your employees’ job satisfaction level and increase your employee retention rate.

3. Lower insurance claims

EAPs can help reduce the number of insurance claims by your employees as they address stress-related problems that may lead to work-related accidents and mental health issues. This will then allow you to get lower insurance premiums from your insurer over time, further reducing costs for your business. 

What to look out for 

Like any other type of investment, you want to get the most returns out of EAPs. If your EAPs are not working effectively, you need to be able to identify the flaws and make adjustments to your plan as soon as possible. There are the key signals of a poorly functioning EAP to look out for: 

  • Negative feedback on the EAP services from your employees
  • EAP services are not being used by your employees
  • EAP services are not solving the issues your employees face
  • Your employees see the EAP as a form of punishment for poor performance

While most employers see EAPs as a necessary tool to improve their employees’ wellbeing and increase their productivity, not all services that an EAP provides will fit your employees’ needs. For this reason, it is important for you, the employer, to actively look for ways to adjust and improve your employee assistance plan.  

Finding the best EAP for your business

To learn more about EAPs, you can visit us at Pacific Prime for further advice from our experts. As an insurance brokerage with almost 20 years of experience, we work with over 3,000 corporate clients from all over the world to help them find the best employee benefits solutions at the most optimal price. Contact us today to get started, and get answers to all your questions.

Content Creator at Pacific Prime
Phuwit is a content writer who helps inform readers on insurance-related issues through writing articles, blogs, and more.Phuwit strives to produce quality content that makes insurance easier to understand for readers.

In his free time, Phuwit enjoys reading and playing badminton. He also loves a good cup of coffee.