4. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
EAPs are highly recommended because they are one of the most effective “hidden” benefits available today. According to the Department of Labor, up to 12 million people nationwide—8 percent of all employees—use illicit drugs while working; an additional 13 million full-time workers, or 8 percent of the U.S. workforce, are heavy drinkers. The costs to you are obvious: Absenteeism, increased accidents resulting from compromised safety, theft, lower productivity, and lower morale contribute to losses estimated in excess of $30 billion annually. How can an EAP help? EAPs provide confidential professional support for employees and their families to help them solve problems that affect their work performance and personal lives. Through an EAP, your employees can voluntarily get help before their personal problems become job performance problems. Your company will benefit directly by reducing your insurance claims, minimizing unauthorized absenteeism, and allowing your managers to focus on productivity and performance—not personal counseling.
The premium cost of an EAP typically ranges from $1 to $2 per employee per month for a core program. (It can cost more, however, depending on the benefit level that you choose, and the addition of work-life and wellness programs typically adds $0.25 to $1.00 per employee per month on top of the EAP cost.) So if your company has 200 employees, the EAP could cost you between $200 and $400 a month. If you’ve got 20,000 employees, you’d have to negotiate a volume discount!
In addition, you’ll have the option of making formal referrals (as opposed to voluntary referrals) when an employee’s performance or behavior disrupts the workplace. For example, if you’ve got an employee who keeps blowing up at coworkers or verbally harassing subordinates, then you can firmly request that the employee attend an EAP assessment session that you set up. You would inform the intake counselor of the nature of the problem, and the EAP practitioner would then specifically address those issues in the evaluation. Neither form of referral—voluntary or formal—should be mandatory.
Here’s the language Paul would use for his write-up to Frank:
Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider, Prime Behavioral Health Group, can be confidentially reached to assist you at (800) 555-5555. This is strictly voluntary. A booklet regarding the EAP’s services is available from Human Resources.
The employee always has the choice of attending. The only difference is that with a formal referral, you become involved in the process. You discuss your perception of the work performance problem on the front end and receive limited feedback about the employee’s attendance, compliance, and prognosis via the employee’s signed release.