Learn about the benefits an employee assistance program can offer

It is a growing trend for businesses to offer employee assistance programs for their employees.  These programs are usually prepaid by the employer for confidential use by all employees, and in many cases the plan includes employee family members.  In most cases, a program would be offered in addition to health care benefits provided to employees.  The employee assistance program addresses problems with health or concerns outside of work that can affect an employees work performance.

Although there is a cost to the employer for this type of plan, employee assistance programs can prove to be cost-effective.  If an employee is successfully treated through these supplemental programs, the employer can benefit from improved job performance and a decreased rate of absenteeism and job turnover.  A lower rate of turnover due to improved health conditions and emotional conditions of employees can save a company recruiting and hiring costs.  An employee assistance program can also be an attractive offering for potential employees.  Some studies have shown a savings of six to ten times the amount spent on an employee assistance program.

Generally, employers do not know which employees are using the employee assistance program.  The employer pays for the services to be available to employees, and the employee is able to be treated for his or her health concerns without feeling ramifications in the workplace. 

Assessment, counselling, and referrals as needed are the tasks of employee assistance programs.  A twenty-four hour phone line is available for employees with immediate needs.  Short term counselling is provided for employees, couples, and members of their households.  If a more severe condition is present, a referral to another professional can be provided.  Employers can find programs of different cost that offer only a phone line for employees and programs that offer a full spectrum of treatment and support. 

Some issues that an employee assistance program might address are drug use and addiction, alcohol use and addiction, workplace relationships or conflicts, emotional distress or depression, financial concerns, and a number of other stressors outside the work environment.  For example, an employee who had concerns about his aging parents could contact the phone help line to talk to someone about his concerns. If there were still concerns on the employee’s part, counselling sessions could take place to help him deal with his concerns and make plans for his parents’ future.  If, after a short term of counselling the problem proved to be more deeply troubling, the counsellor could refer the employee to another professional.  Alleviating these concerns for the employee could improve his productivity and focus at work, eliminate the need to miss days of work to deal with his concerns for his parents, and improve his quality of life and ability to relate to other employees.

By decreasing the effects of stressful medical and emotional conditions, employers are able to improve not only the work performance of employees, but their enjoyment and quality of life.

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in theEmployee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit http://www.pinnacleproactive.com

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