All hail the EAP!

Hear ye, hear ye, I am on the almighty soapbox declaring, “All hail the EAP”!

The Employee Assistance Program has to be one of the best benefits any employer can provide for their employees.  I don’t mean to lessen the value of other benefits such as extended health, dental and disability but when it comes to being an unsung hero, the EAP wins hands down.

Let me extol the features of the modern EAP:

  • website with up-to-date information on how to deal with what’s going in the world today (e.g. H1N1 tips)
  • links to articles on topics from coping with parenthood to quitting smoking (not related)
  • round-the-clock emergency counselling
  • career counselling
  • financial counselling
  • legal counselling

The EAP provides employees with whatever support they need to remove anxiety, get healthy (physically and mentally) and therefore be productive at your workplace every day.  It seems pretty obvious but an investment in your employees’ productivity is pretty smart!

What’s not so cool about the EAP?  The stigma that comes with using it, in particular seeking help from a pro.  I have referred employees, coworkers, and friends to their EAP because everyone needs help at some point in their lives and I’m really not so hot at giving personal advice  (consider me the real-life version of Chandler Bing).  Unfortunately, some people have opted not to get help because they think there is no way they need talk to a therapist, which of course is just crazy talk because everybody needs somebody sometimes.

Then there was the case of the friend who hadn’t even heard of the EAP.  Turns out their organization had a good one but they were never told about it, shown how it works, or given the phone number.  In time when organizations are looking to maximize every dollar spent and improve productivity, why is such an obvious and relatively cheap solution being overlooked?  Show your execs this isn’t just a nice thing to do; show them how much money then can save by bringing down your Absenteeism Rate by even half a day a year.

Here is my call to all HR pros:  1) Build a case to get your employees an EAP already if you don’t have a provider yet, 2) Advertise it constantly and consistently so your employees know it’s there and what they can get out of it, and 3) Start removing the stigma about seeking support.

When I think of all the fancy ways we try to improve employee wellness… Heelllooooo!  You’re missing the obvious solution and it’s right in front of you.


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