Do You Know These Details about Employee Assistance Programs?

Employee Assistance ProgramAn Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is one possible component of an employee benefits promise. EAPs are primarily known for providing access to confidential counselling (by phone and in person) and consultations on financial or legal questions.

An EAP can be an important piece of your benefits solution. With 53% of unscheduled days off due to family issues, personal needs, or stress and burnout, a service like EAP can be hugely beneficial for employees and businesses alike. It can reduce absenteeism by helping employees effectively deal with personal and family issues, as well as taking steps to improve their health.

However, there are additional aspects of EAPs that many people aren’t aware of. In order to take full advantage of an EAP – whether you are an employer or employee – you should know these four key things an EAP may offer (our EAP partner, Ceridian, offers all four):

1.     Community Referral Services

Many EAPs offer community referral services, such as:

  • Assistance finding childcare in your community
  • Services for seniors (for example, if your aging parents live far away)
  • Referrals to specialists or practitioners in your area (for example, if you just moved and need to find a physiotherapist)
  • Help with navigating the adoption process
  • Many more services, even sourcing a wedding cake!

Community referral services can be very helpful for employees who have relocated recently, who have close family living in another area, or who are experiencing a life event and are unsure where to turn for services.

2.     Dependents Can Access EAP Services

Both employees and their dependents can access EAP services. This is an important fact for employers to communicate to employees, and for employees to communicate to their dependents. All services for dependents are confidential, giving them a place to discuss sensitive issues.

For example, a teenaged dependent could contact EAP services directly to speak with a counselor confidentially if they aren’t comfortable talking to their parents or their teachers.

3.     Resources for Managers

EAPs also offer resources for managers to help them strengthen their skills and achieve their goals. Topics like handling performance issues, mentoring, and managing overload are addressed through a range of multimedia resources including webinars, print materials, and podcasts.

4.     Resources and Online Toolkits for All Members

Employees and managers alike can access resources on a variety of topics at their convenience. EAPs often have resources on subjects including:

  • Life (e.g. retirement, legal, disabilities, etc.)
  • Health (e.g. mental health, fitness, nutrition, etc.)
  • Family (e.g. parenting, divorce, death/loss, etc.)
  • Work (e.g. time management, career development, managing stress, etc.)
  • Money (e.g. saving, budgeting, home buying, etc.)

These resources are available in a variety of formats, including podcasts, printed resources (can be ordered for home delivery free of charge), and online toolkits.

A few examples of online toolkits are: financial planning, preparing a will, stop smoking programs, finding your path in your 20s and 30s, and many others.

Exceptions to Confidentiality

As mentioned, accessing all EAP services is completely confidential.

The only exception to this is if a member contacts the EAP and exhibits signs of being a direct threat either to themselves or others, in which case the appropriate emergency services would be contacted. For example, the EAP would contact emergency services to prevent suicidal actions.

However, employees and their dependents can rest assured that even in cases where emergency services are contacted, the EAP does not report anything to the employer that would identify which employees have accessed which services.

Know Your Benefits

Don’t miss out on these valuable EAP offerings simply because you don’t know you have access to them! Take the time to learn about all of the benefits available to you through your EAP, and take advantage of those services which apply to you.

>> The Benefits Trust provides a wide range of custom benefit plan options to suit any organization’s needs. Contact us today!

Learn all about what we do in our short video, “The Benefits Trust: Your Third Party Administrator for Employee Benefits”.

More ‘Do You Know’ from The Benefits Trust:

About Karen Taylor Smith

Karen Taylor Smith is the Senior Manager, Group Benefits at The Benefits Trust. She has worked with The Benefits Trust since 1997, using her deep knowledge of employee benefit plans to customize the right solutions for businesses. Karen speaks, blogs, and contributes regularly to various media outlets on group benefits and compensation topics.

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