Employee Assistance Programs, or EAPs, have become a vital resource for small business owners. Unfortunately, many aren’t aware of their existence or the services they provide. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of EAPs from both an employee and business perspective to help entrepreneurs understand the advantages they present.
Small businesses play a vital role in local economies. As of 2022, there are over 32.6 million small businesses in the U.S., typically operating with 200 to 500 employees. However, these businesses cannot always provide their employees with much-needed support. Benefits packages, which employees are often forced to rely on due to high healthcare costs in the U.S., amount to thousands of dollars on average. For a small business with a tight budget, it can be particularly challenging to cater to their employee’s needs. Thankfully, a far cheaper and more effective alternative exists.
What is an EAP (Employee Assistance Program)?
An employee assistance program (EAP) is a support service providing employee assistance and businesses solutions. Their services cover areas such as workplace violence, wellness matters, healthcare, traumatic events, relationship challenges, professional harassment, HR problems, legal matters, adoption assistance, nurse advice, eldercare and child care. Coverage is often extended to employee spouses, partners and children as well. Apart from set annual charges, all the support within the program is provided without any costs to the employees or the plan providers.
Benefits of an EAP
Employees’ performance and productivity can be affected if they face a problem they cannot handle themselves. Small business owners should see EAPs, not just as a way to provide aid to their employees, but as a way to protect their bottom dollar and maintain productivity. Let’s discuss the benefits from an employer’s standpoint in more detail.
- Stress Management – Stress is at an all-time high, as millions of people are dealing with increased financial pressure from high inflation and rising costs of living. Furthermore, the recent pandemic and the resulting work-from-home approach has taken a toll on the mental health capacities of employees. Many professionals claim that employee burnout is taking a serious toll on their company’s productivity. With an EAP, companies can support employees with their stress levels during this time of heightened difficulty, ensuring their needs are met. This will, in turn, improve engagement in the workplace.
- Decreased Absenteeism – Stress and absenteeism are more related than you may think. Stress, especially if coupled with a pre-existing condition, makes it nearly impossible for professionals and caregivers to keep up attendance. Moreover, if an employee in a leadership position is absent from work because of a poor work-life balance, it can become a serious issue that impacts their entire organization. Fortunately, an EAP puts employees in touch with resources to help them ease the demands of their personal lives. Employers can prevent prevent absenteeism by ensuring their employees are taken care of.
- Fewer Accidents – With an improved work-life balance as the result of an EAP’s assistance, professionals can stay more alert in the workplace. This is crucial for those involved in physical labor or heavy machinery. In 2020 alone, there were 4,764 fatal work cases recorded. With an EAP investment, business owners can reduce accidents and save lives.
- Greater Employee Retention – Hiring employees is a tiring and costly process. Companies who can’t retain their workers waste valuable time and money rehiring and training replacements. Incentives are essential for employee engagement, and EAPs allow small business owners to offer budget-friendly benefits. The EAP, along with its resource networks, functions, and more, helps employees better address their problems, situations, and feelings, making them more likely to remain with their employer.
- Cheaper Benefits – Every business must meet its goals without surpassing its budget. It’s true that current and prospective employees expect their companies to provide benefits, and that happy employees are more engaged and productive. However, health packages and other compensation can be expensive, and companies that can’t afford them are doomed to have an unmotivated, disillusioned workforce. However, EAPs often cost as little as $12 to $40 a year per employee, whereas insurance premiums can cost employers anywhere from $7,000 to $20,000. This makes EAPs a perfect solution for this dilemma.
- Other EAP Benefits to Employers – Employee assistance programs can occasionally provide unique benefits. For instance, certain EAPs can resolve work conflicts, such as harassment, with HR support. Business owners can consult with their providers on organizational communication and practices. Studying the policies and services of an EAP will help employers choose the right one for their needs.
A small business thrives most when it has the right employees with the right attitude. However, quality professionals expect their employers to cater to their needs and provide them with the best solutions for their overall development. An employee assistance program is a brilliant move for small business owners as they can meet employee expectations and provide them with the needed solutions.