Employee Assistance Programs – Part 1

Employee Assistance Programs can improve your workplace and make happier, healthier employees
Some employers have employee assistance programs in place that work in conjunction to benefits packages or retirement plans. Many employers realize that sometimes life issues will come up with an employee, and while the issue may not be related to work, it can dramatically impact productivity and work performance. Even if an employee seeks help through an EAP, the assistance is provided by professionals and kept confidential.

What Issues Does an EAP cover?

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) were created to assist employees through major life struggles. Common problems that employees receive help for include:

  • Substance abuse (drugs & alcohol)
  • Family problems (divorce, death, family health crisis)
  • Emotional and mental health problems
  • Financial problems (bankruptcy)
  • Other major crisis in one’s life.

In the event an employee is struggling in one of these areas, often times short-term counseling (1-3 sessions) and assistance is offered. Some larger companies and corporations actually have their own licensed counselors on staff who can make conduct initial meetings and then refer their employees to trusted professionals whom they’ve established a contract if further treatment is needed.

Who Pays for the Employee Assistance Programs?

Employee Assistance Programs offer employees assistance free or charge. EAPs are usually part of a benefits package. Typically the employer picks up the bill for any of the short-term counseling services or fees, especially when an EAP has been included in a disciplinary action plan. The employer may also pay for the initial drug test or breath test to prove an employee is struggling with substance abuse if there is reasonable suspicion of use. Several companies offer contracts with businesses based on a per-employee or per-incident basis. The size and budget of the organization will determine the right arrangement for the EAP. In the event it’s a large organization, on-staff counselors will be paid salary to provide the short-term services for employees and refer to community organizations for further treatment.

The EAP will cover a handful of counseling visits. If further treatment is needed after those visits, it will be the financial responsibility of the employee. Many EAP counselors will work to find free community resources (like AA) or services covered under a health plan to help employees cover the costs. EAP counselors are trained professionals in mental health, substance abuse and workplace issues. They will offer the right guidance for each employee.

The EAP providers can also give assistance to managers or supervisors. Often times counselors will train supervisors on handling tough issues, debriefing touch situations or even and handling changes in the organization, whether it’s layoffs or downsizing. EAP counselors provide a range of services to improve the health of an organization.

Keep Reading Next Week … Part 2 … Benefits of an EAP and More.




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