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Easy as EAP
Formal support makes a big difference when employees face personal challenges

There are some challenges that would baffle any manager. Maybe a star salesperson suddenly fails to meet a few quotas. An otherwise diligent worker begins to show up late, and then misses a few meetings altogether. Traditionally engaged employees become quiet and withdrawn.

The causes are often hard to detect because they have no roots in the workplace at all.

As much as we try to separate work and home life, there is no escaping the fact that "personal issues" influence workplace performance. Every week, more than a half million employed Canadians miss work because of mental health challenges such as depression or addiction alone, according to Ceridian, a company that helps recruit, pay and engage employees. Many of the people who make it to work despite these challenges are often less productive than they could be. That's known as presenteeism. Even worse, issues such as substance abuse lead to decisions that cause workplace accidents and injuries.

The tools available through a formal and relatively inexpensive Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offer solutions. Consider how the available information, counselling and other forms of support are there for workers facing a broad array of issues.

  • Life – Admittedly, this is a broad topic. But an EAP can offer counselling and information on issues as diverse as retirement planning, preparing for life as an empty nester, buying a new home, and managing personal relationships.
  • Health – Physical health dramatically influences everything from absenteeism to the financial strain on workplace benefits such as drug plans. An EAP can offer counselling and information about addiction, fitness, stress, and proper sleep habits.
  • Family – Few stresses match those associated with family life. In today's workplace, an increasing number of people in the so-called sandwich generation are struggling to care for young children and aging parents alike. But support through an EAP can offer guidance on parenting, adoption services, divorce proceedings, and more. Low-cost legal support can even be available on family and criminal matters.
  • Work – Some personal challenges might still be traced to workplace interactions. An EAP can offer insight to help manage time, deal with changing shifts, and address problematic workplace relationships like bullying.
  • Money – Managing a household budget can seem even more daunting than managing the budgets at work. An EAP provider will often provide guidance around savings, investing, managing debt, buying a home, or completing a will. It can guide those who struggle with challenges such as gambling additions or personal bankruptcy, too.

The extra support can even be required by those who are already receiving a doctor's care. The Alberta Gap Analysis of Public Mental Health and Addictions Programs, for example, found that one-third of the people receiving care for depression believed that their needs were only partially met.

Of course, offering the available support is only part of the equation. Employees need to be reminded of the support that exists, and be confident that any related discussions are confidential. Those who are seeking help need to know that they are not putting their careers at risk – especially when they are trying to solve an issue.

Some programs even help to identify those who could use the support. Ceridian, for example, offers anonymous Health Risk Assessments that are used to measure stress, and then applies the results to steer people toward available wellness solutions and programs.

It makes a difference. Ceridian reports that 62% of employees who sought help through an EAP were more productive, 65% missed less work, and 72% reported less stress. Perhaps most important of all, 68% stay with their employers longer. The EAP offerings may present some of the most powerful recruiting and retention programs available.

Top Tips:

  • Remember to continually promote the support available through formal Employee Assistance Programs. Invite suppliers to explain the programs to employees, and include related information in areas such as break rooms.
  • Ensure employees can access the EAP offerings confidentially, to ensure they won't be penalized for seeking help.
  • Ask your EAP provider to share guidance using tools such as employee newsletters and social media feeds.

Copyright Notice

All rights reserved. All of the content herein is the sole property of the Callery Group, and may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system - in whole or in part - without the written permission of the Callery Group. Links to the originating article at www.callerygroup.com are permitted.

The Buzz Bits
Miscellaneous links to interesting benefits information

Response to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board's proposed preliminary rate framework: Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Integrating financial education into wellness programs: smallbizadvisor

Recent changes to Ontario Employment Standards Act: Ministry of Labour

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