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Time to Remember Your Employee Assistance Program

EAPs Provide Significant Benefits to Employees and Managers
This new normal is a tough time for all of us, and none of us knows exactly when it will end. In a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, 77% of Americans reported that their lives have been disrupted a lot or some, 70% said the outbreak is a source of stress, and 69% feel very or somewhat worried.

In a recent poll from the American Psychiatric Association, Americans reported that:

  • 48% are anxious about the possibility of getting COVID-19
  • 40% are anxious about becoming seriously ill or dying from the virus
  • 62% are anxious about the possibility of family and loved ones getting the virus
  • 36% say the virus is having a serious impact on their mental health
  • 59% feel the virus is having a serious impact on their day-to-day lives
  • 57% are concerned that the virus will have a serious negative impact on their finances
  • 50% are worried about running out of food, medicine, or supplies
  • 68% fear that the virus will have a long-lasting impact on the economy

EAPs Can Help Employees Effectively Balance Work-life Demands
How are your employees feeling? How are they dealing with this uncertainty and stress? Wondering what can you do to help support your employees during this difficult time? Many employers already offer a benefit – an Employee Assistance Program (or EAP) – that can help employees more effectively balance personal and work-life demands but often it is unknown to the workforce and underutilized. Individuals can even access it free, and commonly it is provided at no cost to the company.

Services Commonly Offered in Employee Assistance Programs
An International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans survey reported these services were offered by their Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs):

Services Offered in Employee Assistance Programs
Referral Support 89.1%
Mental Health Assistance/Counseling 88.0%
Substance Abuse Assistance/Counseling 85.9%
Financial Assistance/Counseling 83.7%
Crisis Hotline 82.6%
Legal Assistance 79.3%
Family/Dependent Assistance/Counseling 77.2%
Access Available for Family Members 76.1%
Caregiving Assistance (for child/senior) 68.5%
Trauma Response (workplace crisis) 65.2%
Violence Prevention Services/Support 57.6%
Disaster Recovery Services/support 55.4%
Onsite Speakers 47.8%
Job/Career Counseling 38.0%
Veterans Assistance 35.9%
Training Programs/Professional Development 32.6%

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) provide a wide range of services and support for employees as well as their families. During these unusual times, this can become a much more valuable benefit. Employees can get help in dealing with specific issues, such as depression, anxiety, grief, stress, insomnia, isolation, childcare and virtual schooling, elder care issues, financial challenges, legal matters, housing concerns, and workplace strategies. The impact of stress at this time may directly affect more of your employees than the health risks of COVID-19.

Typically, EAPs provide a few free sessions with counselors who provide guidance on the issue of concern and usually have online resources available 24/7. You should actively promote this benefit and encourage your employees to seek out these resources, which can be just as valuable as their health plan.

Not only can the EAP directly help employees and their families, but it can also provide additional support to management, such as guidance on handling personnel issues, virtual training opportunities, and other articles, tips or resources which should be promoted to their workforce during these trying times.

Your EAP probably offers ideas for ways to communicate it. Now, most employees are working remotely. So, remember to include promotions in company-wide emails, discussions during virtual meetings, and information and links on the organization’s intranet. And managers should be well versed in your EAP benefits so that they can recommend it to their teams, as needed.

Stephanie KatzAbout Author: Stephanie Katz is the founder of CETA Benefit Consulting Group who  provides strategic HR consultation and employee benefit programs to businesses.

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