What are EAPs and How Can They Help Workforces in 2021?
After a year of unprecedented change and stress due to a global pandemic, workforces need more support than ever in the new year. Implementing an employee assistance program is one way employers can help provide wellness and mental health support to employees. Read on for ways that employers can help educate their teams on existing EAPs.
What is an EAP?
An employee assistance program (EAP) is an employee benefit that assists workers with personal or work-related problems that may impact their job performance, health, mental and emotional wellbeing.
EAPs generally offer free and confidential mental health assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services for employees. Additionally, EAP counselors may also consult with managers and supervisors to address employee and organizational challenges and needs. Even though EAPs are mainly aimed at work-related issues, there are a variety of programs that can assist with problems outside of the workplace.
According to SHRM, “EAPs have become a core benefit: 91 percent of Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) members polled in 2019 said their organizations offered an EAP, up from 79 percent in 2015.”
How Can Employers Help with EAPs?
While managing a workforce during a pandemic has surely been far from easy, it’s important to be mindful of your employees’ mental health more than ever in the new year. Here are steps that employers can take in implementing an EAP so that they can be proactive in ensuring a healthy and happy workforce.
- Check to see if your policy includes an EAP. If you’re just now tuning into employee assistance programs and are not sure if your plan currently offers them, check your insurance carrier policy to see if one is included. Some insurance policies come with this included in your disability policy, so be sure to check there as well.
- Educate your employees on the company’s program. If your company does offer an EAP, do your employees know about it? And do they know where to find more information about the program? Communicate to your employees through email or 1-on-1 meetings that they have an EAP available to them and how to access their EAP. Making benefits elections can be a daunting task and since employees are usually focused on their primary insurance selection, EAPs can be an afterthought. Be sure to follow up with employees to make sure they received whatever support they needed.
- Communicate privacy laws and how to access care. Employees will be more likely to take advantage of these benefits knowing that their privacy is protected. There are many online EAP services that employees can access which they may be more comfortable using given the extra layer of privacy they provide. Some providers even offer apps you can access on your phone. Additionally, The American Psychological Association has called on states and insurers to move quickly to allow people to connect with their mental health providers remotely using tele-health as the need for mental health services rises during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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