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    Should You Offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

    If you didn’t already know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This focus on mental health awareness opens the discussion for why companies should consider offering an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An EAP provides free and confidential assessments, counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who experience personal and/or work-related problems. Mental illness is one of the most common health conditions that Americans experience, with one in five U.S. citizens suffering from a mental illness in any given year, according to the CDC. An EAP is an additional tool for your employer toolbox to help keep your employees healthy in both body and mind. EAPs also help businesses address organizational components that may be contributing to a negative work environment, so they're able to resolve and prevent those types of issues from occurring.

    Getting Started with an EAP

    As a business owner, you may be wondering—why should I consider implementing an EAP and where do I start? First, it helps to understand the importance and benefits of an EAP program and the impact it could have on your employees. EAPs can help businesses and their employees:

    • Decrease absenteeism
    • Reduce accidents on the job
    • Reduce medical costs
    • Contribute to a healthy work/life balance

    In addition, EAPs can also provide employees and their families with short-term counseling and access to resources and treatment facilities. These services come at no cost to the employee or their family and are available 24/7.

    Related Reading: Offer Your Employees Wellness Benefits They’ll Love

    Improve Productivity

    Your employees are your greatest asset. An EAP can offer managers leadership tactics to assist in consulting with employees, helping to develop a drug-free workplace, planning and responding to a workplace crisis, and providing training and orientation to employees and managers regarding stress and management. According to the Center for Prevention and Health Services, when EAP services were provided, work loss was avoided in 39% of cases and work productivity improved in 36% of cases. Essentially, with an EAP program in place, a company’s workers compensation, drug, medical, and disability costs can be reduced.

    According to an Oxford University study, happy workers are 13% more productive than when they are unhappy. “We found that when workers are happier, they work faster by making more calls per hour worked and, importantly, convert more calls to sales,” said Professor De Neve.

    Consider the possibility of implementing an EAP for your business. Don’t be intimidated by the stigma of benefits packages being costly. You may be surprised to learn that a skilled employee benefits consultant can build a benefits package that not only meets your employee needs, but also doesn’t break the bank! There is an often overlooked opportunity cost that correlates to lost revenue when employees are unhappy or ill, which can ultimately impact your bottom line.

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    Employee Health & Wellness

    Roxanne Leal

    Roxanne Leal is the Director of Wellness for SWBC Employee Benefits Group. She specializes in developing strategic wellness programs based on high-cost claims, survey data, and aggregate reports.

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