Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are employee benefit programs created to help employees handle issues that may be negatively affecting their health and well-being and in turn, impacting their productivity at work. EAPs commonly include counseling sessions and referral services for employees and their immediate family members living in the same household.
Employees and their immediate family members may choose to use EAPs for many different reasons. There may be personal issues or work issues that over a period of time, have been difficult to resolve. Counselors contacted through EAPs typically provide evaluations and support for a limited number of program-paid counseling sessions. If further counseling is required, referrals may be covered through the employees’ health insurance. Some of the reasons employees may choose to seek out an EAP are as follows:
- Family and personal relationship issues
- Job stress and/or conflict
- Eldercare, childcare, or parenting issues
- Harassment or violence
- Health concerns
- Financial or legal stress
- Major life events, e.g. birth and death
- Tragic accidents
- Assistant with balancing work and home life
Typically, the EAPs services are free to the employee and to their immediate family members, having been pre-paid by the employer. The sessions are also completely confidential, being considered the same as any other health care appointment. Companies often adopt Employee Assistance Programs to help maintain a healthy workforce. Studies have shown that companies with EAPs have:
- Improved morale and work place harmony
- Reduced turnover and absenteeism
- Increased productivity
- Resolution of work-related issue(s)
- Reduced company costs
In some cases, managers, supervisors and/or HR professionals may make mandatory company referrals for an employee to the EAP. Employees may be required to attend a specified number of sessions with the EAP counselor for a formal evaluation. In addition, the employee may be asked to sign a consent form allowing the EAP counselor to discuss the evaluation results with the representative from the company. In all circumstances both the company and the EAP are required to follow all regulations in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
For additional information on EAPs, please contact us at www.newfocushr.com.
Written By: Kristen Shingleton Deutsch, M.B.A., CCP
President, New Focus HR LLC