In the last twenty years, few industries have grown as fast (and as quietly) as employee assistance. This service is now commonplace, serving 75% of all businesses in the US. You may be aware of its existence, though few are taking advantage of it. It is fast becoming a standard offering among employees. It is akin to health insurance in that sense and it forms the backbone of many job positions.
You’ll be forgiven if you have not come across the term just yet. Despite its prevalence, it remains unused by most employees. Yet, it offers a vital service that many would find incredibly useful. Essentially, the employee assistance programme (EAP) offers services to those employees in need. It covers all manner of personal difficulties. Its remit stretches from stress related problems to substance abuse to mental disorders. The service offers advice and counseling in order to overcome these difficulties.
Most businesses employ this service for two reasons. First of all it is a very powerful employee incentive. It helps show workers that their employers care about them and their well-being. A good business knows that their employees ought to be supported. Support should not simply be offered for workplace problems, but personal issues too. It helps workers understand that their company is there to help them.
Secondly, it is in the interests of the business to support employees through difficult times. When workers are distracted by difficult personal problems, it has a serious effect on the business. For example, the buildup of stress can have a very negative effect on productivity. It can lead to resentment in the workplace. It can inspire anger and it can hinder productivity. It is in the interests of the business to help alleviate this problem in its employees. The company should help the worker gain some perspective and address the issue. It can also learn what the business itself can do better.
The issue becomes even more pertinent when you look at substance abuse or mental health problems. These issues can lead to a severe hindrance to productivity. Employees with these health issues are more likely to be regularly absent from work. They are more likely to fall victim to a lack of motivation. Businesses should be there to act as a support system for these employees.
Many companies see a huge return on investment when implementing an EAP. Helping employees with their personal difficulties can nurture them back to full strength. It helps keep the business strong and functional. It also builds respect and trust between employee and employer.
Thanks to this huge rise in the industry, we are beginning to see it extend further. Many companies now offer employee assistance in the form of marriage counselling. A happy marriage is a strong support system that many companies covert in their workers. In some cases employees are taking advantage of retirement planning. Some EAPs are now building this service into their offering.
The employee assistance industry looks set to grow further. Awareness is growing of this powerful service and more employees are taking advantage. It could soon be as essential as health insurance when it comes to career contracts.