An Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, is a work-based benefit offered by employers to their employees on an as-needed basis. Such programs can provide employees with services or referrals to help them manage family issues, financial problems, or legal concerns.
These programs don’t just benefit employees though. Here are three benefits of employee assistance programs for employers.
Benefit #1: Decreases Absenteeism
Most employees need to call in sick from time to time. But chances are, not all are fighting the common cold or nursing a toothache. In fact, a study conducted by Harris Poll and Career Builder found that only about a third of sick days are used by employees who are actually sick.
The study found that 27% of sick days are actually used to tackle errands or doctor’s appointments while an astounding 52% of sick days are taken because employees either didn’t feel like going to work or because they just needed to take a break and regroup.
Does this make you think your employees are taking advantage or being lazy? Don’t jump to conclusions just yet. Some employees use sick time due to depression, anxiety, or stress, all serious mental health conditions.
As an employer, you likely already know absenteeism comes with a price. But it might surprise you to learn that the average business loses $3,600 per year for unscheduled time off taken by each hourly employees and $2,650 per year for unscheduled time taken by salaried employees.
It is not just calling in sick that costs money. Your employees may show up to work overly fatigued, stressed, depressed, or otherwise not operating at normal levels of productivity.
If you believe employees are taking sick days because of mental health issues or other personal struggles, an EAP can help you minimize absenteeism and its associated costs. Though EAP services vary by program, many offer professional counselors and other types of specialists to help employees tackle mental health issues, stressful financial problems, or family issues that could be leading them to call in sick or be underproductive at work.
Benefit #2: Improves Work Environment
How their work environment makes employees feel has a trickle down effect that impacts productivity, retention, and health. From temperature (53% of those surveyed from a CareerBuilder study reported being less productive when their office is too cold) to layout (an Exeter University study found that open office layouts reduce productivity by 15% and overall well-being by 32%), every detail of a work environment has the chance to affect “business as usual”, including employee stress.
EAPs can help employers improve work environments in several ways. Co-worker conflicts, unsustainable workloads, and personal problems that creep into the office can lead to a stressful environment and tense discussions. EAPs provide employees with several types of resources to help them manage and balance their personal and professional lives, leading to less stress and more teamwork.
Here’s an example to consider. Jerry’s going through a rough patch at home. A pending divorce and uncertainty over custody arrangements has left him unfocused in the office. He finds himself lashing out at his coworkers and slacking on his responsibilities. He turns to his company’s EAP for family and legal advice. As he begins to work through his personal challenges with a professional, he learns to manage his stress and becomes a team player once again.
Benefit #3: Saves Money
Many employers fear there is a limited return on their investment when it comes to an EAP program. But research shows that EAPs can help employers save money year round, freeing up more money for growth. Here are just a few ways.
- EAPs can help identify policies and processes non-compliant with OSHA or DOT standards, reducing the risk of injury, fines, and litigation.
- Resources provided by EAPs can help employees better manage their stress, leading to reduced absenteeism and its associated costs to employers.
- EAPs improve employee’s lives in many ways. According to a recent Workplace Outcomes Annual Report, EAPs improve workplace distress by 8%, presenteeism by 26%, and overall life satisfaction by 9%. These combined improvements can lead to a boost in retention, helping employers avoid the average cost of $4,129 to hire a new employee. Just make sure you’re explaining benefits to your employees so they understand how to take full advantage of them.
Are You Missing Out on the Benefits of Employee Assistance Programs?
Every relationship between employer and EAP is unique, as are the specific benefits experienced by covered employees and their family members. But employers from multiple industries have experienced the benefits of employee assistance programs firsthand. Will you be next?
If you’re ready to learn more about benefits plans and how they can improve your business call 630.928.0500 or fill out the form and one of our Benefits Experts will contact you.