The men and women of our workforce are our most valuable assets in business. Good employees are hard to find and expensive to train. Employee Assistance Programs like the one offered through the David Lawrence Center’s affiliate, Employee Assistance Services of Southwest Florida, prove worthwhile for employers who realize that keeping employees healthy and happy is a profitable way of doing business.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are confidential, short term, solution- focused counseling programs offered to employees and family members at no charge to the employee. The cost is paid by the employer at a nominal cost per employee per year. Companies utilizing EAPs enjoy lower insurance rates and gain a business partner in managing employee moral, wellbeing and satisfaction.

Too often employers find themselves in the uncomfortable situation of serving as counselor and advisor to troubled workers. EAP counselors help because they are professionals – trained in the therapeutic skills necessary to help people identify the cause of their discomfort, reframe their perspective, and make positive changes, resolving issues before they get out of hand. All this is done in a safe, confidential environment of non judgment, with positive regard for the client.

Life is filled with challenges and stressors – the death of a loved one, separation or divorce, changes in the workplace, family problems, substance use, and natural disasters to name a few. Even happy events such as a child leaving home for college, the birth of a baby, and planning a wedding can cause excess stress. All of these potentially stressful events can add up and affect our ability to function at full capacity. EAPs offer a helping hand in times of need and teach coping skills that improve our capacity to deal with life’s challenges.

Statistics show that when people are concerned about problems in their personal lives or at work, they have less ability to function effectively, adversely affecting productivity, absenteeism, concentration, sick leave, and workplace injuries – not to mention higher costs of doing business for the employer.

These statistics from the US Department of Labor speak for themselves:

  • EAP usage is credited with 14% increase in productivity, lowered recruitment cost, 21% reduction in absenteeism, 75% reduction in inpatient alcohol and drug abuse costs, 33% less use of sick leave benefits, 65% lowered incident of workplace accidents, lower use of medical benefits, and 30% deduction in workers compensation claims
  • For every dollar invested in an EAP, employers generally save from $5 to $16.

EAPs provide educational trainings sessions on subjects such as Conflict Resolution, Anger Management, Cultural Diversity, Drug Free Workplace Policies, and Stress Management. And, EAP counselors are often called upon for Critical Incident Debriefings (immediate response to a crisis such as bank robbery, workplace accident or death, or natural disaster).

Reasons for attending EAP range from approximately 50% psychological or emotional issues such as stress, anxiety, grief, conflict, or anger; 30% couples or relationship counseling; and 20% family or child related issues. Over half of our clients resolve the issues without needing further referral, eliminating the need to utilize insurance benefits.

On occasions when employers are concerned about an employee’s personal or work related issues, or a Drug Free Workplace Violation, they may request or mandate they attend EAP. In cases of a MANDATORY REFERRAL (about 10% of EAP clients), the employee must sign a release of information to the employer, allowing the clinician to report compliance. Mandatory referrals most often prove helpful to both employer and employee and a few visits with an EAP professional can often steer the employee “back on track,” and save the time and expense of replacing a troubled employee.

A positive experience with EAP instills hope in people who are feeling hopeless, encourages individuals to believe in themselves and their capacity to change, and offers solutions to problems that may have seemed insurmountable – all the while improving work related performance and keeping good workers on the job.

Mar 01, 2008 | Mental Health

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