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  • Naaz Eshtehardi

Why Your Business Needs an EAP in 2020


EA….What?


As someone who specializes in EAP and is an adamant cheerleader for them I get this question all the time.


If you aren’t in the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) world or don’t work for a company that offers one, it is unlikely that you have ever heard of an EAP. Several years ago I became immersed into the EAP world. I learned that having this resource for employees makes the most significant difference and employers can support their employees to maximize potential.


What is an Employee Assistance Program?


The Employee Assistance Trade Association (EASNA) defines EAPs as “an employer-sponsored service designed for personal or family problems, including mental health, substance abuse, various addictions, marital problems, parenting problems, emotional problems, or financial or legal concerns.”


Major life decisions that might seem basic to some but create stress for most, especially the average working person—for example, writing a will or accessing a financial advisor—are simplified with access to a free and confidential service such as an EAP.

More comprehensive EAPs, the ones I have had the privilege to work with, hugely focus on mental health. You can imagine the hundreds of reasons that providing employees a resource to proactively deal with mental health issues might benefit a company.


Lets Talk Numbers


Major Depressive Disorder is the greatest source of disability in NYC. Productivity losses as a result of mental illness have reached up to $14 billion in previous years in New York State alone.


According to “The American Productivity Audit,” a year-long telephone survey of almost 29,000 working adults, the annual cost of health-related “lost productive time” in the U.S. is over $200 billion per year. This number includes both absences from work as well as “presenteeism” (“health-related reduced performance” while at work).


How are EAP’s Helpful


They allow employees to not only be at work but to focus on work. Instead of distracting thoughts about appropriate childcare, conflict resolution, or legal matters, an EAP is available to assist with all that jazz.


How frequently do employees leave mid day or not show up to work as a result of personal stress? This represents a financial loss to the company. How well is an employee going to do at their job if they are struggling with a substance abuse problem? If there is one thing we know about individuals struggling with addiction it is that they are consumed with when or how they will get their next fix and certainly not focused on a work deadline or client meeting.


EAP’s do not just benefit employees. They help managers manage more effectively. They provide trainings for managers to identify red flags and implement well being interventions. Red flags can look like high rates of absenteeism, inability to focus at work, irritability, isolation, and low morale. Other indicators include fatigue or rapid weight changes.


Organizations that offer manager trainings on how to identify/better understand stress and anxiety have management who are 84% more likely to be proactive with employees and have these conversations. The benefits lead to a decrease in disciplinary action, reduced adverse incidents, and increased work performance.


A comprehensive EAP is put in place to alleviate personal issues facing employees, even if that might be personal issues with others within the organization. They foster a safer work environment and enhance the informal culture of the workplace.


Last but Not Least


The ROI of a well-managed EAP is $3 to every $1


Such a high return on investment would indicate that most companies are providing employees this resource. While this is not the case and the majority of folks continue to be unfamiliar with EAPs I believe there has been a rise in them in the recent years as attention to mental health continues to increase. It was just this past year that the NBA adopted their new requirement for every team to have a mental health provider.


Companies that cannot afford paying a large third party EAP should consider some or all of these steps:


  • Working with smaller firms or internal models:

  • Bring in an individual therapist on staff one or two days a week.

  • Incorporate more employee wellness activities like a focus on healthy eating, a weekly nutritionist, exercise, and most importantly, team building activities.

  • Creating opportunities for employees to learn a new skill together, whether that might be knitting or a new sport.


We all have more than enough opportunities in todays world to be individualists, so continue to encourage team activities, socialization, compassion for one another, and lead by showing your employees that the company values their wellness.


Happier employees are more productive employees so if you haven’t jumped on the EAP bandwagon yet, 2020 is your year.