Employee Assistance Programs

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Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) programs began in the 1940s to assist employees with alcohol problems that were hired by companies with a shortage of skilled workers during WWII. EAPs evolved in the 1970s to be a comprehensive program to address mental health, family problems, child care, elder care, stress management, legal and financial services.

Over the years, EAPs have been widely adopted by companies across the US to help their employees deal with personal problems, which can have adverse effects on their job performance, health and general well-being. EAPs provide services such as short-term counseling and referral services for employees and their household members. EAP services are funded by the employers and 80% are delivered by outside vendors who operate as for-profit companies.

EAPs help with improving employees’ behavioral health, comprising of mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. The programs provide therapy to help employees learn the coping skills to deal with depression, workplace stress and other mental health issues. These programs will help improve employee performance and employers need to show that they have their employees’ best interests in mind. According to experts, when employees are feeling their best they will have better productivity and engagement.

An estimated 43.6 million (18.1%) Americans ages 18 and up experienced some form of mental illness according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. New York-based Towers Watson & Co. found that 85% of employers of all sizes offer stress management services as a part of their EAP, but only 5% of employees choose to utilize the aid.

To help promote EAPs, companies should communicate the benefits of the programs to increase employee utilization. Due to the stigma around mental health and sickness, many people may not want to reach out for help. Employees may also be hesitant to reach out to use the program with worries about employers finding out about illness or their stresses, but they must be educated that all information is private and any transfer of information would be a HIPPA violation. As mental health issues have become more prevalent in recent years (or at least more widely publicized), companies are more likely to encourage their employees to take advantage of these great programs.

Sources:

www.easna.org

www.socialwelfarehistory.com

 

Using Benefits to Close the Deal and Retain Employees

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As a business it’s important to be at the top of the list of top recruits when looking to hire new employees. It’s also important to keep those with years of tenure, experience and knowledge in the industry. Both new hires and those with years within the company have a lot to offer when they collaborate leading to growing your company’s success.

When looking to hire highly qualified and skilled employees, offering more than a competitive salary is the golden ticket. Though the younger generation may not be so concerned with healthcare and retirement, they may be looking for flexible work hours and a great work-life balance. More mature recruits may be looking to make sure their family is covered with health insurance, accident insurance and they’re looking to what retirement benefits a company will offer them. Therefore, companies need to offer a flexible package that can be modified and flexible to the needs of those being recruited.

The discussion of benefits shouldn’t end after the acceptance letter is signed and returned. Prior to the annual open enrollment period, you should educate your employees and clearly define the highlights of the programs offered. You need to have information posted on a website, company intranet or emailed out to make sure that employees have access to the most up-to-date information of offerings. You must communicate the value that each program can offer and be available for questions and answers to help them choose the best fit for themselves and their family.

Keep a pulse on what employees are choosing for your plans so you can adjust year-to-year to have what your employees want and need for their health, wellness and peace of mind. Can you save your employees money but also offer them the best benefits? Show your employees you care about the health and well being. The more you show you care more about who they are as a person and the lives they live outside of the office the more they will appreciate your efforts and look forward to coming to work each day. Showing your employees you’re more interested in who they are will help with retention.