Why Should You Offer an Employee Assistance Program?

In the ideal world, every worker would be healthy and happy enough to focus on the job at hand. In the real world, problems sometimes get in the way. When your employees are struggling with the stress of a heavy workload, navigating family issues, or dealing with substance abuse, productivity and morale can suffer as a result.

Your workers can contribute the most when they’re feeling their best, and an Employee Assistance Program may help them.

Workers and Stress

Job stress is on the rise, according to the American Institute of Stress. Stress can come from many sources, but the most common causes are workloads, people issues, work/life balance and job security.

All this stress can lead to serious consequences.

  • Health problems: High stress levels have been linked to cardiovascular disease. Poor health can lead to high health care costs and lost work.
  • Violence: One in four workers has felt like screaming because of job stress, and one in ten is worried that a coworker could become violent.
  • Absenteeism: 12 percent of workers have taken a sick day because of job stress.
  • Presenteeism: 34 percent of workers say they have trouble sleeping. Workers who are tired and preoccupied with their problems may have a hard time concentrating on work.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse might be more common than you think. Many Americans struggle with addiction to alcohol, prescription drugs, and street drugs.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health:

  • 2 million adults aged 26 or older report abuse of prescription drugs.
  • 6 million adults aged 26 or older report heavy alcohol use.
  • 6 million adults aged 26 or older report illicit drug use.

Substance abuse can be devastating for an individual and the people around them. It can lead to health problems, missed work, dangerous mistakes at work, behavior problems, and other serious issues.

Employee Assistance Programs

According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, an Employee Assistance Program is a voluntary, work-based program providing free and confidential services to employees with personal and work-related problems. These programs can help workers deal with stress, substance abuse, trauma, grief, family problems, and other issues that impact emotional well-being.

Services can include:

  • Assessments
  • Short-term counseling
  • Referrals
  • Follow-up services

But can these programs succeed in helping workers and their companies? Yes, according to research from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center. Employee Assistance Programs can reduce absenteeism linked to alcohol abuse by 60 percent, while also decreasing symptoms of depression and increasing the likelihood of appropriate treatment. Companies can establish programs through two different methods:

  1. Use internal counselors who work for the company, or
  2. Contract with an outside provider, such as a hospital or mental health facility, to provide services.

You see your employees every day, and care about their health and well-being. You also care about your company’s bottom line and how your employees’ problems can have a negative effect. With an Employee Assistance Program, you can help both your employees and your company prosper.