Employee assistance program is a program that is paid for by a company for the benefit and wellbeing of its employees. Under this kind of program, the employer hires a third party or EAP which assists the employees in their times of distress and personal crisis in life, in order that the crisis might not have an adverse effect on the employees’ productivity at work.
Concept of EAP
EAP came into existence during the 1960-1970s. In those years, it was looked upon more of as an intervention program to help employees with problems such as alcoholism and drug abuse. During the 1980s, such interventions progressed to including the worker’s family members and providing counselling support to them as well, leading to full assistance. The first modern EAP was developed by Tony Buon and Xiaoping Zhu in Shanghai. The practice has been in widespread use across China, UK, US and other countries since.
What services does this program provide?
It is agreed upon by all major economists and managers around the world that when looking out for employment, people give higher priority to job and life satisfaction rather than the pay. An employee who is facing troubles in his life, family, health and relationships is not too motivated to give his best at work if the employer is indifferent to his personal situation.
The Employee Assistance Program help the employees deal with these troubles which include-
1. Life-altering events such as deaths, accidents, divorce etc.
2. Drug abuse and alcoholism
3. Health issues such as disabilities, prolonged illness of a family member
4. Issues related to child care and aging elders in the family
5. Occupational stress
6. Emotional stresses, feelings of inadequacy etc.
The EAP offers consultation and counselling services to the employee and their family members for dealing with the life situations. It identifies the problems and provides for emotional and moral support in resolving them, and also refers the employees to other suitable professionals as required, such as to lawyers, child care specialist, old-age caretakers, financial advisors, marriage counsellors, etc. The privacy of the worker is closely guarded throughout the proceedings of the EAP.
Healthy Mind Works provides EAP to many companies in a similar fashion, providing for counselling, telephone consultations and referral services.
Benefits to employer
The first and foremost benefit of EAP to the employer is in terms of employee productivity. Through a third person point of view, the concerned employee is able to view his problems in a new light and receive solutions to relieve his anxieties. Talking it out with a neutral person also makes a lot of difference to the mental health of a person, when employees are satisfied and happy in their lives, they give in their best at work and are less prone to skip work. Besides reducing problems of employee retention and absenteeism, employee assistance programs reduce the medical costs of the company.
When the company takes an interest in the wellbeing of its workers, the employees feel valued. Such a company is also the employer of choice for the best talents in industry.