During difficult economic times, many employers opt to eliminate their Employee Assistance Program benefits or to reduce their EAP services to cut costs.
It is important to understand that an EAP is not just about counseling or the number of “free sessions” an employee or family member can receive from the plan. A quality EAP is also an HR partner, assisting employers and employees when crises occur.
What if an employee suddenly dies? How are your employees impacted? For some, they may deeply mourn the passing of a close co-worker. For others, they may be reminded of previous losses or other unresolved issues. How will these people cope at work in the coming days and weeks?
What if there is a fatality or serious injury at your workplace? Will your employees be afraid to return to work? Will they be angry at their employer for “letting” the accident happen?
What happens if your best employee comes to work drunk? Do you have a drug and alcohol policy? How do you have him assessed and able to return to work?
Did one of your employees get assaulted by a domestic partner last night? In a situation like this her safety may be in jeopardy but your other employees could be at risk if the offender comes to work to find the victim. It’s a tough balance to assist with the employee’s safety, be sympathetic to the employee’s personal issues while ensuring the essential functions of the job are still being met.
Is someone at your company harrassing or threatening a co-worker? As an employer you must investigate and provide safety for your workers.
These above examples are all situations that happen to employers every day. Without a good, service oriented employee assistance program, you are left to your own devices. The cost of legal fees to deal with the aftermath of any of the above scenarios is far more expensive than the cost of the EAP. Not to mention, expenses related to reduced performance, absenteeism, morale, safety, Labor and Industry claims and medical insurance premiums.
Having an Employee Assistance Program in place is analogous to any insurance program. It is there if you need it – for a crisis, consultation, advice, support, training and counseling. So, EAP’s that just provide a session model without all the support to management are not always the best choice for companies. Having no EAP at all, does not make good business sense. You wouldn’t drive your car without insurance would you?
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