This open enrollment season, to help employees navigate the significant increase in burnout and workplace stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers should consider offering or revamping an existing employee assistance program (EAP) to help employees tend to their personal needs, leaving you with healthier, happier and more productive employees.
How Employee Health Impacts the Workplace
Many Americans consider their jobs to be stressful. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), job-related stress is the largest work-related health problem in the United States—and even has a tangible impact on organizations. In light of the recent pandemic, workplace stress has heightened with more than 70% of American workers reporting that the COVID-19 pandemic has been the most stressful time of their career. Unfortunately, it’s not just workplace stress that impacts employees but also stress from personal problems, which can often be intertwined with workplace issues. In addition, problems in one’s personal life can cause significant stress on the job. Financial trouble, marital trouble, grief, and other family or personal issues can cause distraction and stress throughout the day, impacting a person’s job performance and health, leading to increased absenteeism. Absenteeism can be a considerable cost to employers, as the CDC reports that absenteeism-related productivity losses total $225.8 billion, or $1,685 per employee per year.
In addition to the high costs of increased absenteeism, research indicates that many medical problems stem from stress. These medical problems are costly in the form of lost wages, increased medical costs and decreased productivity. In addition, on-the-job accidents occur more frequently to stressed employees. Stress can cause shorter attention spans and fatigue, both of which heighten the risk for workplace injuries. Also, when workers are feeling pressured to complete more work in less time, they are more likely to take risky shortcuts.
There are various ways that employee struggles can impact their ability to work productively. EAPs can help employees address many of the problems they face both inside and outside the workplace.
Why Offer an EAP?
When employees are distracted by stressful personal or life situations, they are unfocused at work and tend to be absent more often. Their health may suffer. As a result, poor health often leads to higher medical costs, reduced productivity, increased absenteeism and additional challenges that directly impact an organization. Obviously, these circumstances are undesirable for an employer. In many cases, an employee who struggles has the potential to once again be a valuable asset to the organization.
Rather than assuming that their employees will take steps to navigate finding the help they need, a better solution for many employers is to offer their employees assistance in handling their personal issues to improve their situations and regain their former productivity levels and value to the company. EAPs can provide assistance in a cost-effective way. Once an EAP is implemented, it can help the employer attract and retain employees, lower health care and disability claims costs, increase productivity and morale, and lower absenteeism.
There isn’t an easy fix to address the problems that employees face today, but EAPs offer various benefits that are often cost-effective. Employers do have a vested interest in how their employees are doing, and the following sections illustrate benefits that EAPs can offer to both employers and employees.
Impact on Employees
Generally, EAPs can offer a variety of benefits for employees compared to alternative options, which may be costly. EAPs can also offer immense benefits for employees’ eligible dependents. While many employees struggle with mental illness, substance abuse and other personal problems, they can benefit from getting the care they need. Outside of an employee’s ability to make tangible impacts for their employers, employees seek to thrive, both inside and outside of the workplace.
From an employee perspective, studies show that:
- Eighty percent of employees who receive treatment for mental illnesses reported improved levels of work efficacy and satisfaction.
- Employee engagement was found to grow by 8% from EAP participants.
- Life satisfaction was found to increase by 22% for EAP participants.
Sources: American Psychiatric Association, Center for Workplace Mental Health, SHRM
Benefits for Employers
EAPs can impact the bottom line of an organization—positively, in many cases. But where do these benefits come from? There are a variety of direct and indirect ways that EAPs can benefit employers, which include:
- Lower health care costs
- Fewer disability claims
- Less absenteeism
- Higher productivity and focus
- Improved employee morale
- Fewer workplace accidents
- Higher retention
While benefits such as absenteeism, disability claims and retention rates are easy to track, others—such as employee morale—are more challenging. However, many of these benefits are interconnected and can be the result of having a healthier workplace.
Tilson offers a comprehensive EAP to its clients and employees. The confidential services, administered by Centerstone Solutions, are centered on identifying any problems our workforce may be facing and providing assistance with effective resolution. Posters highlighting the program are provided to our customers to hang in conspicuous areas and contact cards are also provided to clients; these can be distributed to employees or placed in common areas.
Tilson clients can contact their Account Managers to elect EAP services for their employees. Clients enrolled in Tilson’s EAP program can contact Centerstone Solutions through their toll free number (800.766.0068) or log onto their website (www.centerstonesolutions.org) for more information.
See here for further resources on EAPs.