Enhance Organizational Success by Partnering with an Employee Assistance Program
How do you support employees while asking them to increase productivity and efficiency? If an employee is underperforming, how can you motivate her? If you notice an employee’s work suffering because he seems preoccupied with a family problem, how can you help?
These are challenging, sensitive, but very human problems that managers often face. Here’s a more specific example.
You notice that productivity has suddenly dropped off in one of your organization’s work groups. When you investigate, you learn that two team members are not speaking to one another and everyone else on the team has taken sides.
How well equipped are you, or your managers, to tackle this problem? It might require mediation, communication training, and activities designed to restore team trust. If you’re unsure what that means, or how to do it, you might seek expert advice.
An Employee Assistance Program, or an EAP as they are called, employs behavioral health professionals such as psychologists, clinical social workers, and counselors who have specific training in solving employee problems like this. You may know EAPs as a resource to work directly with employees to overcome personal problems that might be affecting their job performance. However, EAPs also help employers solve challenging organizational problems. The Employee Assistance Professionals Association has a code of ethics to guide those who provide employee assistance services. It also provides a wealth of information for employers who want to understand more about how EAPs can benefit them. This website is: www.eapassn.org.
For ongoing services, Employee Assistance Program fees are typically assessed per-month, based on the number of employees an organization has on staff. Alternatively, you can pay for specific use of actual services when you need them.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, organizations that team up with an Employee Assistance Program show a return of up to 13 dollars for every dollar spent. These savings are due to reduced absenteeism; increased productivity; lower disability, workers’ comp, and health care costs; and less employee turnover. For example, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study found that companies with an EAP had a 21 percent lower absenteeism rate and a 14 percent higher productivity rate.
Here are some other ways an EAP can help at the management level:
- EAPs can be called on to provide timely consultation when specific challenging employee issues arise. Quick use of this service can diffuse problems early, preventing more serious problems from developing. This might be a conflict between employees on a team like the one we described above. It might involve workers who have poor anger management or decision-making skills or who are excessively absent.
- EAPs offer a process by which supervisors can refer employees who are in the midst of disciplinary, performance, or substance-abuse problems and then they can work cooperatively with the EAP professional on supporting the employee in resolving the problem.
- EAPs also can provide more general training for your supervisors so they don’t need to call in experts as often. Classes help them improve their coaching, communication, conflict resolution, and leadership skills. EAPs also can help them learn to better recognize and address employee problems such as anger management or substance abuse.
- EAP classes also provide executive coaching services to help leaders learn how to identify and achieve goals, improve leadership skills, enhance interpersonal relationships, and achieve work/life balance.
- An EAP can send a trained counselor to a worksite after a traumatic event to provide caring and compassionate education and support for employees and managers.
- EAPs can do general team building, conflict resolution, and other training for organizations and work groups.
- They can assist in drafting personnel policies, including drug-free workplace, sexual harassment, workplace violence, and more.
Employee Assistance Programs also work directly with employees who want help improving their wellbeing and productivity. We’ll talk more about that in the next article.