An article in our local paper, The Seattle Times, last Sunday caught my attention because it isn’t often that I see articles about Employee Assistance. The author, Michelle Goodman wrote: “Calls Rise to Employee Assistance Programs”. She quotes Harris Rothenberg International (HRI) a national recruiting and EAP consulting firm’s study that reported calls to the EAP rose 14% from 2008 to 2009 and they continue to rise. In 2009, the number of emergency calls to EAP hotlines rose a whopping 75%. According to HRI, this means that despite workers’ through the roof stress levels, “they are delaying calling for help until they reach a crisis stage.”
The number of workers who took advantage of the legal or financial services offered by their employers skyrocketed from 2008-2009. Requests for foreclosure support rose by 137 percent, help with mortgage issues by 95 percent and assistance with bankruptcy issues by 75 percent.
At Fully Effective Employees, we continually remind employers to refer employees who are stressed and troubled to the EAP for confidential assistance. Early intervention is the key- employees should contact the EAP sooner, before waiting until a crisis point, when problems are more manageable. In the past, employees would call us with one issue, such as a marital problem, now we are seeing employees calling with three or four significant issues.
Program promotion by employers is very important because sometimes employees don’t even know our program exists or they don’t think to call us. In addition to providing assistance with personal, relationship, family, emotional, work and addiction issues, we also have comprehensive worklife and legal and financial assistance programs. Our financial and legal program has been expanded to include assistance with bankruptcy, foreclosure, debt consolidation and credit counseling, identity theft and more. It also includes a comprehensive website with hundreds of articles and “do it yourself forms”. Speaking of program promotion, we can also assist employers with setting up a benefits fair. If it is too difficult to have employees participate in on-site trainings, we can help invite vendors to a benefits fair where employees can learn about all the benefits and services you offer them and to help them learn more about our employee assistance program.
Now that the economy is showing signs of improving, employers are beginning to increase the range of benefits offered to employees. Super-stressed, unhappy employees are also unproductive employees. Offering the EAP makes good business sense.