Thanks to stresses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, employee assistance programs have become more popular and crucial than ever before.

EAP managers report a surge in call volume from workers that need mental health help as they face the stresses of potentially becoming infected by the virus, losing a loved one or a friend to COVID-19 or financial problems due to reduced hours or a partner being laid off.

If you have an EAP, now is the right time to promote the program among your employees so those who really need it can get the help they need. Also, since you are likely paying for the EAP, there’s more incentive for you now to get your workers to take advantage of its offerings.

EAPs are obviously beneficial to workers when they are in trying times or dealing with a life emergency. When employees access EAPs during hard times, that also benefits the employer in the form of fewer days away from work and reduced presentism, which is defined as being at work but not being productive due to issues that may be weighing on the employee.

The “2020 Annual Report for the Workplace Outcome Suite” found that workers who access their EAPs significantly increase their productivity once they have had accessed their program and received counseling.

The study found that return on investment for employers depended on their size:

Small employers’ ROI — 3:1. Average cost savings per employee: $2,000.

Medium-size employers’ ROI — 5:1. Average cost savings per employee: $2,500.

Large employers’ ROI — 9:1. Average cost savings per employee: $3,000.

For workers the results are also strong. Another study, this one conducted on 56 EAP vendors by the National Behavioral Consortium, found that after EAP use:

  • 86% of EAP-using workers had clinical improvements from the help they received.
  • 86% improved their work productivity.
  • 64% had fewer days off from work.
  • 94% reported that they were satisfied with the service.

What an EAP offers

EAPs are a work-based intervention program designed to identify and assist employees in resolving personal problems that may be adversely affecting their performance at work.

Services offered vary, but some of the more common ones include:

Resolving workplace personality conflicts — Advice and suggestions on how to work with a difficult manager or co-worker.

Drug addiction prevention — Advice on how to deal with the employee’s addiction, or how to deal with a family member’s addiction.

Counseling — This can cover any mental health issue an employee or family member is dealing with, including depression, anxiety, anger management, or other needs an employee or their family members may be dealing with, as well as grief counseling.

Health and caregiving assistance — How best to manage return-to-work issues after a workers’ comp claim, manage a disability or medical issue at work or obtain help for an ill or elderly loved one.

Legal and family assistance — Marriage counseling, divorce, or child custody advice.

Financial counseling — How to avoid bankruptcy, pay down credit card debt or create a budget.

A note about confidentiality: Employers do not get to know who is utilizing the service, what the reasons are or how often employees call, due to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations.

Get the word out

EAPs are only worthwhile for the employer and employee if they are utilized. Often your workers suffer in silence and you are unlikely aware of the stresses and troubles they may be facing in their personal lives that can spill over into their work lives.

That’s why it’s important that you get the word out among your employees about your EAP. Let them know that accessing the program is done in full confidentiality and nothing is shared with the employer. They should be urged to take advantage of the services if they are under pressure in their lives.

That will help both you the employer and your staff. If you do not have an EAP in place, call us and we can help you.

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