In today’s business environment, organizations look for competitive advantages in every aspect of their operations. An effective, well-communicated benefits program can make a significant contribution to a company’s competitive position by aiding recruiting efforts, increasing employee engagement, and improving employee retention. Employee assistance programs (EAPs), while not as visible as medical or retirement plans, are a key component of any competitive benefits package.
What is an EAP?
An employee assistance program (EAP) is a set of services designed to improve and/or maintain productivity and healthy functioning of the workforce through the application of specialized knowledge and expertise about human behavior and mental health. EAP’s “core technology” includes confidential and timely problem assessment and resolution (via brief therapy or referrals) for issues that may impact job performance; consultation with managers to assist in managing troubled employees and enhancing the work environment; evaluation of the impact of EAP services; active promotion of the services; provider contracting; and organizational training.
Here’s a quick look at seven ways your EAP can help your company achieve its strategic goals.
- Gauging the Well-Being of Your Workforce
Understanding what issues are affecting your workforce and their well-being is critical to developing the right action plan for addressing employee needs. An EAP can provide important information about what issues are most prevalent, as well as ongoing trends for program usage. These indicators, along with other metrics, like the Workplace Outcomes Suite that measures engagement, satisfaction, absenteeism, etc., can help you make informed decisions regarding employee benefits. It also helps you to engage more effectively and compassionately with your employees on the issues that are most important in their lives.
- Efficient Resolution of Critical Needs
At one point or another, every organization encounters critical challenges either with personnel or with traumatic situations. Having a pre-established relationship with an EAP provider skilled at handling these challenging situations enables you to efficiently and effectively resolve the problem, while also addressing any litigious concerns at the same time. It is particularly important to have the right providers and procedures in place prior to an event occurring. Ensuring that your provider has the credentials and track record to help you navigate the most trying of circumstances can prevent a multitude of problems later.
- Happier, More Productive Employees
If your employees are stressed about family issues or dealing with workplace problems, they’re probably not contributing to their full potential. An effective EAP can help reduce distractions and improve productivity by giving employees the tools and resources they need to cope with their problems.
- A Supportive Corporate Culture
When employees know they can count on their employer-provided benefits to help them navigate life’s difficult moments, they develop a deeper connection with the company and feel more engaged in their work. Employee assistance programs, which provide help for both personal and professional issues, are an effective tool for creating a culture of caring and support.
- More Effective Recruiting
Today’s workforce is more educated about benefit plans and the value they provide. When prospective employees are reviewing your company’s benefit program, they will likely evaluate your medical plan network and co-pays, your retirement plan investment options, your disability benefits, and other key benefits, including your EAP. Offering a comprehensive EAP will demonstrate your company’s commitment to employee well-being.
- Higher Retention, Lower Turnover
Losing an employee is problematic for many reasons. Not only does a departing employee deprive your business of their knowledge and skills (some of which may be impossible to replace), but they also leave you with the necessity of finding someone to take the vacated position. Recruiting new employees is time-consuming and expensive, especially when you are looking to hire someone for a management or executive role. An effective EAP helps you lower your turnover rate and hold on to your key employees by fostering a healthier workplace environment.
- Maintaining Your Advantage
As companies grow and evolve, their employee populations change as well. Be sure to evaluate your employee assistance program on a regular basis to ensure that it continues to meet your business needs and the needs of your employees.