If you’re an employer, you’ve likely considered implementing an employee assistance program (EAP) in your business at some point. EAP services allow employers to provide their employees with free and confidential mental health services to help alleviate stressors like family problems, legal issues, addiction like drug and alcohol abuse, and more. Although many employers understand the EAP benefits, they often don’t realize what makes up a good EAP. So here are things that make up a good employee assistance program to help you choose from the best employee assistance programs out there.
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How to Choose A Good Employee Assistance Program
1. Open Employee Communication
Employee communication is the backbone of any healthy organization. If you want your EAP services to be successful, you need to foster an environment of open lines of communication between your employees and the services they’re using. Employees should feel comfortable speaking with their supervisors if they face any challenges in their lives that make it difficult for them to work. They should not feel like they have to hide this information just because they’re reaching out for help with counseling services. Employers must also be clear about who pays for these mental health services, though typically it is the employer as it benefits employee relations.
2. 24-Hour/7-Day Hotline Counseling Services
Employee assistance programs should be accessible at any time of the day or night. If employees find themselves in a crisis and need help, they shouldn’t have to wait until the next business day for someone to answer their call. The hotline counselors should be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. EAPs should also provide counselors with the training and experience to assist in various mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Being able to access EAP services any time can help with stress management, sudden life challenges, and improve an employee’s well being enough to improve job performance.
3. Tailor-Made Treatment Plans
When it comes to mental health services, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that works for everyone. The EAP needs to be able to tailor the best resources for each individual. For example, some people may need more treatment than others, such as staying temporarily at treatment facilities, while others look for short term counseling. Some people might need help with specific personal problems and others may have a toxic and stressful family life. So an employee assistance program can be a valuable resource for all types of situations as long as they have tailored options.
4. Confidential Services
The most crucial aspect of any mental health service is the confidentiality of its participants. All information provided to such counseling services is confidential. Employees should feel safe when they’re dealing talking to counselors at employee assistance programs. Your staff should know that you take workplace violence very seriously and will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. They should be confident that no one will share information about their conversations with anyone else, not their family members or employers. All personal problems discussed should be confidential.
5. Referral Support and Follow-up
There’s a reason why professionals like to use the EAP method. It provides the best way to help people with mental health issues. However, it isn’t always the most effective way for an employer to help employees overcome their problems. By providing employees with access to referral counselors, employee assistance programs can keep employees from falling through the cracks. The counselors will remain reachable for as long as necessary. The EAP will also ensure that the employee’s issues are handled correctly and that the referral counselors follow up.
6. Crisis Intervention
In some cases, individuals can experience a crisis that is linked to their mental health issues. In these instances, the EAP needs to be able to intervene as quickly as possible without wasting time or getting bogged down in administrative paperwork. It’s also essential for the EAP counselor to have as much information available about the client as possible so they can identify what type of crisis has occurred and make sure you provide the best services for your employees. Whether it’s a business case, elder abuse, or a person with a long history of mental illness, counsellors need to be able to jump in fast to help an employee in crisis.
7. Substance Abuse Expertise
If employees need help with drug or alcohol addiction issues, they should be able to turn to the EAP for guidance and professional intervention. If there is any substance abuse that needs to be addressed, the EAP should work closely with a medical professional to develop a more effective treatment plan. The EAP should also be able to provide short-term and long-term support for employees who are struggling with addiction. And they should have multiple potential treatment plans as it’s not a one size fits all problem to solve. Some may only need short term counselling, while others need education and training to help rehabilitate them. Employers who pay for these services will greatly help those who struggle with financial issues due to their addictions.
8. Peer Assistance Programs
Employees often seek help when they’re having a tough time at work, such as struggling with work life balance. Through an employee assistance program, employees can receive support from their peers, which is a highly effective way to overcome any mental health issues they might face. The peer counselors will be there for you and will help you by listening whenever you’re ready to open up about your difficulties and work towards overcoming them.
9. Employee Assistance Plans
To get the full benefits of an EAP, you’ll have to ensure that your entire staff knows its existence and that most of your employees are utilizing it. You should also ensure that your employees know who pays for the services. For most companies, that’s going to be the employer. From allowing a stress management consultation for employees to short term counseling, there are many ways you can choose an employee assistance program that’s best optimized to help your employees well being.
10. Mixed-Model Programs
What’s the best way to get the support tailored to the individual? If your employee assistance program EAP is the most effective, you’ll want to provide individualized therapy sessions or a stress management consultation. When you offer services provided by counseling professionals they need to be individually tailored based on each employee’s needs so they can develop an effective treatment plan catered to them to assist them in their personal hardships. You might also offer some education, counseling, or simply help them by giving resources for balancing work and their personal life.
You’re going to want your EAP to be as effective as possible. To do that, you may need to partner with other employers in your area. This way, you can share resources and provide a more comprehensive approach to your employee assistance program. The best part about consortia is that they can save you time and money while providing employees with the most effective treatment options.
12. Fixed-fee contracts
Your employees need to be able to count on the EAP for help. That’s not going to happen if you change the conditions of their access whenever you want, or on an annual basis to save money. Instead, you should agree upon a fixed fee that will apply to all your employees and remain unchanged.
13. Member assistance programs
Sometimes the best way to provide emotional support is to put your employees in touch with other people who are experiencing similar problems. For example, services like “One-on-one” and “Small Group” EAPs provide a better approach to emotional support than most other options. Through these services, friends or co-workers can receive emotional support from their colleagues and share advice. When employees find people who are experiencing similar problems, they feel like their concerns are heard.
14. Employees’ Variety
The EAP can be an excellent resource for your employees if all of them are using it. However, some people will inevitably use the program more than others. This means you’ll need a way to ensure everyone benefits from an EAP. For example, you could create separate services for those meeting with their personal counselors and those using self-help groups and the toll free number or hotline.
Employees are busy people. Sometimes they just don’t have the time to meet with their counselors, especially if they live at home with their families. In that case, providing a “Walk-In” service may be more effective so that employees can go directly to the EAP during office hours and gain immediate access to the services they need when they need them. An open office or a workplace that allows employees to connect with counsellors in the program as they need it will be crucial to the program’s success. Management should be more laid back in terms of offering flexibility to those with families, busy schedules, or challenges that prevent easy access to services.
16. Saves Employers Money
The best way for an employer to benefit from the EAP is to ensure one is in place. This will save your company money in the long run due to lower employee turnover and employee absences. It will also ensure that you give your staff all the support they need, which can help them continue functioning at work so they don’t have to miss work or find new jobs because they can’t cope with their problems. While these programs cost money, you’ll save money overall in the workplace from retaining employees and making them more productive once their personal issues are resolved efficiently.
17. Use of Licensed Professionals
When your employees are your workers and customers, you must ensure they receive the best mental health services available. An employee assistance program EAP should always be reserved for employees only. Any outside members of your organization who the employee could negatively impact may also get access to mental health services. Still, they must go through a different method to get those services.
18. Good Use of Technology
The key to a successful mental health program is effectively using technology to help its users. Your employee assistance program EAP needs access to the latest technology so that users can access their information when available and then schedule therapy sessions when they’re not. Many people have smartphones, which means they have access to the internet 24/7, making it easy for them to take advantage of this program. If a program isn’t technologically advanced, it may not be able to help its users get the treatment they need. Having private rooms in your office for people to take personal calls can allow your team to get support in real time at the office when conflict arises.
19. Insurance Coverage
The most successful EAPs are the ones that offer insurance coverage for their users. This coverage is relatively simple as long as your employer has a small business health insurance plan. If you have full-time employees, you should consider covering their mental health services under your company’s health insurance plan. This will ensure they get the treatment they need. Some employees may need prescription medication to help them cope, ensuring that your insurance policy covers the bulk of their medication will be greatly appreciated.
20. Work-Related Issues
For an EAP to be successful, it must focus on the employees’ work-related issues. You need to make sure that the people who are using the program have time to meet with their counselors and will be able to get help. This means they can’t have any problems that could cost them their jobs. So if you have employees who are facing issues with their work, then you don’t want your EAP to be the one to address those problems.
These are just some things that make up an excellent employee assistance program to consider implementing in your business. If you want more information on how to set one up, feel free to reach out to Declutter The Mind at Work to offer meditation services to your employees. For EAPs to be successful, it’s essential for employers and employees alike that everyone is aware of what makes up a good EAP so you can choose one that benefits all of your employees when they need it most.