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What is an employee assistance program? A guide to EAPs

While companies may blame the COVID-19 pandemic for their workforces’ unhappiness, research shows that over half of the workforce (55%) were lacking motivation before it started. Even though employees aren’t sick, they’re not feeling their best either. Unmotivated and tired employees are less effective and more likely to make mistakes, thereby impacting business success.

Employers can help support employee wellbeing through employee assistance programs (EAPs), which can improve employee productivity and wellness. This Pacific Prime Dubai covers everything you need to know about EAPs for your company.

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What’s an employee assistance program?

An employee assistance program, or EAP for short, is an employee benefits program that companies provide to help their workforce deal with issues in their lives. The goal of these programs is to address personal issues before they affect work performance. An EAP is typically offered along with a health insurance plan.

Companies that offer EAPs can support their workforce through significant professional and personal issues. This allows employees to deal with stressors without negatively impacting work. Some situations that EAPs can provide support include:

  • Professional relationships – Conflict resolution and networking
  • Family situations – Childcare, marriage counseling, divorce, etc.
  • Professional development – Education programs and coaching
  • Financial counseling – Paying off debt, budgeting, etc.
  • Career transitions – Promotions, lateral career moves, etc.
  • Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and anger management
  • Recovery from traumatic events like the loss of a loved one and accidents
  • Recovery from substance abuse

There are many topics that a counselor can cover. It’s the counselor’s job to offer guidance and to help find solutions. Enhancing wellness can result in happier and more fulfilled employees both in and out of the workplace.

How do EAPs work?

EAPs give employees access to counselors that can help them (and sometimes their families) resolve issues they’re dealing with. Even though employers pay for the service, these confidential programs do not provide employers with any insight into how an employee is using the EAP. EAPs aim to help employees understand, clarify, address, and solve issues that are affecting them.

Employee assistance programs typically offer a set amount of counseling referral sessions for employees to use for free. During these sessions, employees are able to gain more insight into the issues they’re facing and receive recommendations for additional resources, services, or therapists. It’s worth noting that EAPs are not long-term counseling solutions, but can help guide employees in the right direction.

Employee assistance program benefits

It’s no secret that stress negatively impacts one’s life – both personally and professionally. Job stress is estimated to cost over USD $300 billion annually in the US alone in healthcare costs, poor performance, and absenteeism. Employers who add EAPs to their employee benefits package hope to improve employee wellbeing and the company as a whole. Some of the main employee assistance program benefits include:

Employees feel protected and safe

If an employee is experiencing a professional or personal issue, an EAP gives them a safe space to talk about their problems. Talking to a counselor about the issues they’re dealing with can help them feel more secure at work. Additionally, confidentiality helps employees feel like they are being heard without worrying about others in the office hearing about their problems. EAPs show your employees that you prioritize their safety by offering counseling resources that help them feel more balanced.

Employee turnover rate will drop

Employees who feel heard and know that their employer is helping them overcome difficulties will be more committed to the company. Many employees want to stay at a company that makes their employees feel valued and cared for. Consequently, employees will be more engaged and motivated to continue working at the company long term, which reduces employee turnover rate. Providing EAPs can be much more cost-effective than hiring and onboarding new employees.

Employee productivity may increase

If an employee feels heard by a counselor and is finding resolutions to their problems, they’re likely to feel more comfortable working as a result. Their mood may improve, as well as their productivity. Employees who are happier and less stressed are more motivated too, which can result in overall improved work performance. Higher engagement at work can also result in a stronger workplace culture.

How do you implement an employee assistance program?

There are several steps involved when it comes to implementing an effective employee assistance program at work.

    1. Identify what your employees need – Come up with a list of what your workforce might need to enhance their performance. You can also ask your employees for suggestions through an anonymous survey and take these suggestions into account.
    2. Find out what EAPs plans are available – Discuss your EAP options with your company’s healthcare provider or broker.
    3. Research EAP plans – Now that you understand your goals and options, you can start researching different plans. Keep your workforces’ demographic and desired services in mind when doing so.
    4. Educate your employees on the plan you’ve chosen – After selecting a plan, hold a meeting to educate employees on what you’ve chosen. It’s imperative for your employees to know what is on offer so they can participate in it.

Be sure to send out reminders about EAP programs and make information accessible should employees have any questions. Doing so will help employees feel empowered to participate in the programs. Plus, they will feel like you truly care about their overall health and wellbeing.

Choosing the right employee assistance program

The right EAP can be a cost-effective way to improve employee wellbeing, increase retention, and provide value. When provided in conjunction with a health insurance plan, they provide more comprehensive health and wellness support – making it a win-win long-term strategy. But with so many factors to consider, deciding on the right EAP can be overwhelming.

Looking for assistance with employee benefits or group health insurance in Dubai? As a leading employee benefits and health insurance broker, Pacific Prime Dubai can help you find the most suitable solutions for your needs and budget. Contact us to get started today!

For further reading, download our latest State of Health Insurance Report 2021 to discover key regional and global health insurance trends. 

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime Dubai
​​Jantra Jacobs is a content writer at Pacific Prime. On a typical workday, she writes and edits articles, guides, and anything else word-related. She loves creating content that is both easy to understand and enjoyable to read.

In her free time, she’s likely to be writing poetry and prose, geeking out on her latest interests, reading, or practicing yoga.