An employee assistance program is a work-oriented intervention program put in place to help employees in settling personal problems that might adversely affect their work productivity; the program is prepaid by employers and is free to employees (Sonnenstuhl, 2018). EPLs provide employees with counseling on-demand assessment, specialist referrals, and follow-ups activities to help them address job associated and personal problems affecting their job productivity (Trice, 2018). These problems mostly result in increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, and concertation at work. Employee assistance programs can address these problems and help employees tend to their individual needs.
EAPs differ from one employer to another, but majority have similar elements. Some programs are restricted to alcohol and substance abuse services only. However, most of the programs provide extensive services addressing different problems. Some of the typical problems addressed include smoking cessation, marital issues, depression, substance abuse, crisis intervention, eating disorders, psychological issues, stress management, gambling addiction, family problems, child or elder care, relationship issues, traumatic instances such as workplace violence, wellness, and nutrition matters, financial and legal concerns to help workers maintain high productivity at work. The employee's children, spouse, and non-marital people living with the employee are also part of the program.
With an employee assistance program, businesses are able to increase their level of productivity, create a positive working environment, increase employee retention, ease manager's burdens, and minimizing insurance costs.
Elements of a Well-Designed EAP
24/7 phone feedback. Well-designed EAPs should not prompt users to go through an elaborate phone tree before getting in contact with the counselor
Services are confidential. The counselors should be professional and licensed and should deliver face-to-face counseling sessions in an office that is private, safe, and confidential. There should also be enough counselors to handle any urgent cases and ensure timely delivery of the services
Employee support and follow up. A well-designed program should help employees by offering them long-term referrals or specialized care depending on the assessed requirement, recommended treatment, and the workers' financial status. It should also provide ongoing support for employees and follow-ups.
Crisis intervention. In addition to EAP counselors coming to your organization in case of an emergency, for example, workplace violence. Well-designed EAPs should offer counseling services to employees who are traumatized more also; they should assist the management in planning for emergency responses
Expertise in substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol abuse issues occupy the largest EAP cases. Hence, the counselors must be experts in dealing with substance abuse problems to ensure maximum help delivery.
The financial and psychological expense of stress and mental health problems are taking a toll on business. Therefore, employers should take it as their obligation to support their workers and contribute to their wellbeing. They should always include an EAP in their employee's benefit offerings because the cost of implementing an EAP is minimal, and in the end, it generates significant gains to the employer by creating a strong, happy, and productive workforce.
Sonnenstuhl, W. J., & Trice, H. M. (2018). Strategies for employee assistance programs: The crucial balance. Cornell University Press.
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