EAP: The Many Benefits of an Employee Assistance Program

By Jeanette Coleman, SPHR & SHRM-SCP on Sep 07, 2021
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EAP Employee Assistance Program

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) provide employees with free, confidential help to help them work through personal issues. When the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) conducted a survey on EAPs in 2019, 79% of respondents indicated they offered some type of EAP to their employees. 

Employers that offer EAPs also report that assisting employees in dealing with personal issues provides them with just as much benefit as the employees who use the service. Workers who receive confidential help without having to worry about the cost are more likely to remain productive at work. That is because they no longer have the distraction of their personal problem weighing so heavily on them. Some specific issues counselors from an EAP can help people with include: 

  • Abuse and/or trauma 
  • Family services, such as locating child or elder care 
  • Financial issues 
  • Grief and loss 
  • Health and/or caregiving issues 
  • Legal problems 
  • Marriage, parenting, and relationship issues 
  • Mental health disorders 
  • Stress management techniques 
  • Substance abuse 

While this list covers some of the top reasons people use an EAP, any personal issue has the ability to weigh so heavily on employees that it affects their work performance. Axcet HR Solutions is pleased to offer EAPs as a free service to all clients. We believe the program offers exceptional benefits for both employers and employees that make it well worth our investment. 

Related: Words of Comfort; How to Support a Grieving Employee

What's In This Article?

  1. EAP Services You May Not Know Are Available >> 
    1. Relocation assistance >>
    2. Identity theft resolution >>
    3. Smoking cessation >>
    4. Weight control >>
  2. Other Benefits of EAPs for Employees >>
  3. How Employers Benefit >>
  4. EAP Services That May Not Be Confidential >>
  5. Reasons Employees Never Use an EAP >>

EAP Services You May Not Know Are Available 

We are all about providing value for our clients here at Axcet. Offering a free EAP is just one of the many ways we go about achieving this. Unfortunately, clients do not take advantage of this service nearly as much as they should. They often do not realize that we offer several unique benefits in our EAP that they may not be able to find anywhere else. Here are several examples of services our EAPs offer that fall outside the guidelines of traditional or expected services: 

  • Relocation assistance: Although we do not provide physical moving services, we offer several forms of support for busy employees. One example is that we research the new area to provide clients with information about resources and vendors. 
  • Identity theft resolution: Identity theft is an all-too-common crime. By contacting our free and confidential EAP, employees can receive help with filing an identity theft report, monitoring their credit, and safeguarding information they choose to share online. 
  • Smoking cessation: People who smoke know it is a bad habit that can have serious health consequences, yet the pull of nicotine addiction can be difficult to break without support. Axcet 's EAP offers customized smoking cessation programs for people who want to quit. 
  • Weight control: Employees who are overweight or obese can receive resources for leading a healthier lifestyle, including referrals to formal weight loss programs. 

Related: Employees Who Smoke Cost Employers Big; Cessation Assistance Can Help

What Are the Other Benefits of EAPs for Employees? 

Since EAPs operate on the principle of self-referral, employees simply need to place a phone call or complete an online form to start the process of receiving services. They do not need to go to another provider first or ask their employer for resources. EAP providers maintain offices in an offsite location if employees need to speak to someone in person. This helps them feel more confident that their use of the EAP will remain confidential. 

Employers never receive information that could identify who uses the company’s self-service EAP. The only information EAPs typically provide to employers is a monthly or quarterly report indicating how many people used the service. The utilization report does not break down the demographics of users or list their names at any time. 

EAP self-service options are typically available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Unlike scheduling an appointment with a doctor or therapist and potentially waiting months for an opening, people who use an EAP can access services right away in most cases. 

addressing mental health as employees return to the workplace

Employers Also Benefit from EAPs in Multiple Ways 

Happy, healthy employees are more productive and engaged, which has a direct impact on the employer’s success. They are also free to participate in their own professional development without the distraction of heavy personal burdens. Other benefits employers can expect when they take advantage of Axcet’s free EAP include: 

  • Fewer on-the-job injuries due to improved ability to concentrate at work 
  • Increased loyalty from employees because they have tangible proof the employer cares about them 
  • Lower health insurance costs 
  • Reduced absenteeism 
  • Reduced turnover 
  • Reduced workers’ compensation claims 

Since Axcet HR Solutions offers a free EAP to each client, employers do not have to budget for the cost or spend time researching various programs themselves. Our team has observed the benefits of offering an EAP firsthand and are happy to include this no-cost program as a service to all clients.

Related: What Employers Should Know About Working Caregivers During COVID 

When Might EAP Services Not Be Confidential? 

Not all employees who use an EAP contact the service voluntarily. Employers can also refer employees to the service due to confirmed reports of drug use or behavioral concerns. In these situations, a representative from the EAP will provide limited information to the employer regarding whether the referred employee participated in and completed the program. 

By law, counselors and therapists from an EAP must break client confidentiality if the employee threatens to harm themselves or others. However, the employer does not necessarily find out about this unless the employee has verbalized a threat directed at the company or any of its employees. 

Reasons Most Employees Never Use an EAP 

The International Employee Assistance Professionals Association (IEAPA) reports that 97 percent of large employers offer an EAP benefit to their workers. That figure drops to 75 to 80% among small and mid-sized employers. Regardless of the size of the company, the fact remains that few people use an EAP to help cope with and find resources for a personal challenge. The biggest reason for the lack of utilization is that employees are unaware that the benefit exists in the first place. 

Smaller companies often do not have the time or resources to promote EAP use among employees. By working with Axcet, businesses with fewer than 250 employees gain from our years of experience working with EAP providers. We interview clients to learn more about their criteria for an EAP and then present several options for them to select the program that best meets employee needs. 

The way that employers present information about EAPs to employees makes a difference. When they offer the service as part of a bundle with other benefits, employees may have to work their way through pages of irrelevant information to find information about the company’s EAP. If utilization remains year after year, Axcet can assist employers with defining a plan to present the information to employees in an effective way. 

Fears surrounding confidentiality are another big reason for the hesitancy some employees feel about using an EAP. If management has proven themselves untrustworthy in other areas, employees are less likely to feel secure about the confidentiality of an EAP. Employers may need to do a better job of stressing that EAPs do not divulge any personal information to employers other than whether a referred person met the participation requirements. 

Employees can also hesitate to use an EAP when they feel their issue is not that important, such as writing a will or learning how to eat a healthier diet. However, all EAPs offer a variety of services. If legal consulting or health coaching are part of an EAP, employers would be wise to let employees know they can receive assistance for these types of things. 

Contact Axcet HR Solutions to Learn More About Our Free EAP 

We are happy to sit down with current or prospective clients to explain how EAPs work in more detail. We invite small and mid-sized business owners to schedule a free initial consultation with Axcet today.  Resource Library: HR Expertise You Can Use

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