An Employee Assistance Program, often referred to as an EAP, is a program offered by many employers to employees to assist them in dealing with personal/delicate issues that may hinder their performance in work related activities or negatively affect their overall wellbeing.
EAPs support employees and their family members by providing services such as counselling or guidance in finding a service that will help the employee through a challenging stage or sensitive issue.
EAP professionals provide assistance to people with a broad range of problems – some examples of these are:
- Overwhelming relationship/family issues
- Mental illness
- Alcohol or drug addictions
- Emotional distress relating to illness, financial and legal concerns etc.
It is important for employers to make employees aware that the EAP is a voluntary service and that the EAP maintains the confidentiality of the individual availing of the service.
Typically the employer absorbs the costs associated with providing an EAP so it is available free of charge for the employee and his/her family members. Some companies have their own EAP and a dedicated team to deliver the relevant support to employees, however, many companies use a third party EAP provider. There is no obligation on employers to deliver such a program to employees, however, there are many benefits linked with the accessibility of an EAP to employees.
The reasons an employer should provide access to an EAP are as follows:
- Reduced turnover
- Improved rates of absenteeism
- Increased levels of productivity
Having support services like this in place gives employees a sense that their happiness and wellbeing is important to the employer – they feel valued in the workplace and morale and loyalty are likely to improve. Employees are more likely to address their issues/problems if doing so is made easy and does not create an additional expense for them.
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