Apr 14, 2017

Employee Assistance Programs: A Key Part of a Strong Employee Benefits Package

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More than ever, employers are searching for ways to help employees stay well both physically and mentally. An annual survey from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) found that 84% of companies polled now include employee financial security in their wellness programs, up from 76% in 2016.

Financial wellness benefits can include debt management tools; budgeting; student loan counseling and repayment plans; and assistance with mortgage, wills and income protection decision-making. Such programs are third in popularity among employees behind physical well-being (94%) and emotional well-being (87%).

The growth of employee wellness programs is an all-around good thing: healthy workers are happier and more productive, and higher productivity means greater revenue returns for employers. Wellness programs help employees with exercise, diet, routine medical exams, stress management, and much more.

When it comes to physical exercise, an employee can leave the gym, return to the office and continue working with a sense of heightened energy and focus. But physical exercise is sometimes not enough to raise the productivity of a worker suffering from depression, drug or alcohol addiction, or anxiety.

EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs) are the only employee benefit specifically designed to address an employee’s mental health, emotional wellbeing, and financial stress, among other things. Other treatment interventions range from improving mood, decreasing stress, and managing other situations inside and outside of the workplace.

Many studies show that EAPs have an advantage over other treatment interventions.

  • Over 79% of workers had higher productivity.
  • Missed work time due to employees’ behavioral health concerns fell by 7.17 hours.
  • The number of employees diagnosed with severe or moderate depression decreased by 31.1%.

Mental Health Support Has a Long History in the Workplace

Employers are recognizing that employee wellness includes emotional well-being. But clinicians agree that mental health issues like depression and anxiety have always affected the workplace.

The U.S. National Comorbidity Survey, mandated by Congress almost 20 years ago, found that 18% of American workers between 15 and 54 experienced some form of mental disorder in the month before they were polled.

Concerns with emotional well-being in the workplace go as far back as the turn of the 20th century, For example, automotive innovator Henry Ford developed one of the earliest EAP-type programs to make his workers feel good so they would be more productive, and eventually buy his cars!

Where We Are Today

Most employers today are more interested than ever in providing resources that keep employees happy, healthy and productive, especially services that deliver positive outcomes and have a measurable impact on their bottom line.

We still see stories in the news about workplace violence and other unfortunate occurrences, but employers today are taking a more proactive approach, and many are becoming better at educating employees about their benefits and discussing EAPs and wellness. In the past, it often took a crisis, such as an employee suicide or an episode of workplace violence, to draw attention to the importance of mental health in the workplace.

While employers cannot diagnose a worker’s problems or openly point out a problem to a worker, a supervisor can look for patterns of behavior, such as chronic absenteeism or lateness, and then meet with workers to talk about behaviors and their effect on performance. Alcohol or drug addictions are two causes of mental distress in the workplace, but workers might be distressed over a difficult family situation, financial stress, or suffering from depression.

We believe that education, a strong safety and wellness culture, and offering the right benefits for your employees are critical for success and avoiding many claims and situations that could be costly for a business. The AWANE Team strongly believes that one size does NOT fit all when it comes to employee benefits, and we continue to evolve and grow our custom programs designed for our member businesses. We keep an eye on trends in the marketplace to build a strategy for our member businesses as AWANE exists for the health of our member businesses and to be a true partner.

Contact us to learn more about our comprehensive employee benefit programs and to find out why 99% of our members stay with us year after year. Since 1929 AWANE has continued to provide strength and stability to hundreds of members in the automotive, roads, fuel, and related industries. Join our power in numbers today.