How an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) Improves Mental Health
By: Benefits by Design | Tuesday November 28, 2017Updated : Wednesday June 9, 2021
Your employee’s mental health is arguably one of the most — if not the most — important thing for your business’ success. Poor employee mental health affects everything from their productivity and engagement to their job satisfaction and work ethic, not to mention your bottom line.
And that’s only from the business perspective. Poor mental health also has negative effects on their home life, relationships, and overall happiness, all of which they’ll bring into work.
It’s clear that employers who are serious about looking after their employees and building a successful business need to prioritize mental health — but how?
Introducing the Employee Assistance Plan (EAP)
An Employee Assistance Plan (EAP), also known as an Employee Assistance Program, provides employees and their families with access to accredited professionals to deal with life’s challenges. EAPs offer counselling services for employees and family members for mental health problems, financial issues, stress related to eldercare or marital issues, and more!
What is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?
EAPs provide a safe space for employees and can connect them with practical support and guidance.
Expert Series — Employee Assistance Plans (EAP)s
Mike McClenahan, Managing Partner at Benefits by Design (BBD) Inc., answers three key questions relating to EAPs, including:
- What is an EAP?
- Why would an employer want to provide an EAP?
- Why would an employee want access to an EAP as part of their benefits?
Immediate, Confidential Help
Here’s how it works!
Employees call the number (24/7, 365 days a year in most cases) to be immediately connected with the service. After a brief intake, they will assess your needs and direct you to the best service to help. An EAP can provide help in more than one area, and the person on the other end is trained to make such recommendations.
For example, employees seeking legal advice over child custody in the midst of a separation or divorce can be referred to a lawyer. However, they might also wish to seek additional counselling to deal with the stress, talk through some issues, or adjust to their new circumstances.
[Report] COVID-19 and the Growth of Employee Assistance Programs (PDF 435 KB)
Improving Employee Mental Health with an Employee Assistance Plan
Here are some (only some) of the real, tangible ways an EAP can assist employees and improve their mental health:
Problem #1: Social Isolation, Loneliness, Depression
Even before the social and physical distancing brought on by COVID-19, Canada had a mental health crisis. Now, it’s only getting worse for Canadians. Employers will need to prioritize employee mental health and rise to meet the challenge.
EAP Solution #1: Professional Counselling Services
For example, an EAP can provide counselling services and recommendations to cope with the increased strain of social and physical distancing measures. Additionally, counselling can be helpful in a number of other areas.
Problem #2: Financial Stress and/or Difficulties
43% of Canadians say financial stress is hurting their work productivity, which shouldn’t be surprising, as Canadians report money worries as their greatest source of stress. This has only gotten worse as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 3 in 4 Canadians experiencing financial stress.
EAP Solution #2: Professional Financial Advice and Referrals
To deal with some of the practical problems Canadians are facing — such as budgeting or consolidating debt — an EAP can connect employees with the right professionals to help them sort through their problem.
In addition, an EAP will also be able to help them manage the stress associated with financial problems, addressing both the root cause and the symptom at the same time!
Problem #3: Marital Issues and/or Stress
Spouses are among the most important relationships your employees will have, so if things are rocky, your employees will feel the strain and it may affect their work, not to mention their happiness.
EAP Solution #3: Professional Counselling (for Both)
In most cases, an EAP is available not only to your employees, but also their dependents. Through professional counselling and advice, an EAP can help employees manage their stress, deal with the problems, and provide solutions for both parties.
Problem #4: Legal Questions and Troubles
From anything as simple as, “My neighbour’s tree is overhanging onto my yard — can I cut it down?” to more serious concerns, legal troubles have a way of becoming all-encompassing and looming over employees at work.
EAP Solution #4: Professional Legal Advice and Referrals
An EAP can provide a listening ear and then make the appropriate referrals. Through their dedicated networks, they can put you in touch with trusted professionals who can address legal concerns and begin to provide employees with options and next steps, getting them on the stress-free path.