It is often assumed that employee assistance programs (EAPs) are only for people seeking counseling and mental health support.
Of course, an EAP provides those services, but that’s not the extent of what an EAP can do – not by far. In fact, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to EAP benefits.
What are EAPs used for?
With any EAP, the goal is to lift weight from employees’ shoulders and give them peace of mind so they can focus their attention on work and achieve better work-life balance. When employees are less stressed or distracted, they’re more productive and engaged at work. It’s a win for everybody – your employees, your business and your customers.
Practically anything – positive or negative – that consumes an employee’s time or headspace and distracts them from their work can be addressed by an EAP. It’s more accurate to think of an EAP as a personal assistant or a lifestyle concierge, covering a vast array of services that touch nearly every aspect of employees’ lives and make all sorts of everyday tasks more convenient and less burdensome.
Common benefits of EAPs
In addition to helping employees with emotional problems, personal challenges and crises, EAPs can assist with the procurement of information, resources and professional referrals for diverse needs. Before we jump into the surprises, here are some common benefits of EAPs:
- Legal issues
- Personal finances
- Physical health and wellness
- Education and academics
- Home and family needs
- Fun and entertainment
- Management of life milestones
Little-known benefits of EAPs
Ready to be surprised? Here are eight little-known benefits of EAPs and how they positively impact employees:
1. Identifying a care provider
According to Harvard Business School report, approximately 73% of employees are caregivers in some form. For example, they could be caring for a child with special needs, an elderly parent or maybe another family member who is chronically ill. Whatever the reason, being a caregiver is something that many working processionals experience at some point.
To help lighten the load for employees, an EAP can help find reputable:
- Nannies and babysitters
- Home health aids
- Health care providers
- Care facilities
- Pet sitters
These resources could be local or out of state.
However, many employees who act as caregivers report not having access to any support, such as paid caregiver leave, at their workplace. With caregiving being a long-term commitment and often as time consuming as a full-time job, it’s easy to see why caregiver employees can feel overwhelmed and distracted by the demands placed upon them. That’s where an EAP comes in.
2. Selecting a contractor or other service provider
All homeowners need work done at their house eventually, right?
Your employees may not immediately think of calling the EAP when their toilet breaks and they need to hire a plumber, but they should! Instead of employees undergoing a stressful experience in which they conduct lengthy research on various websites, call several companies and then maybe half of them show up to provide a quote, they can let the EAP do the legwork for them.
Many EAPs offer the option for the employee to fill out a form online regarding their needs, have a representative from the EAP do the research for them and then send a short list of reputable, pre-screened referrals.
3. Finding fun activities outside of work
Another surprising benefit of EAPs is that they can help employees plan activities outside of work based on location, interests and needs. A representative from the EAP will perform the research and send them suggestions. Examples of what this could look like include:
- Scheduling sightseeing activities for your next vacation
- Help finding an event venue
- Planning extracurricular activities, lessons or camps for children
- Choosing something fun to do around town on a quiet weekend
4. Creating important legal documents
The standard EAP legal offering is usually a much more affordable and efficient route versus employees trying to go it alone. Finding a reputable attorney means lots of time spent doing research and making calls. Plus, attorneys can be expensive – all those visits and phone calls can add up.
Many EAPs offer free legal consultations with a pre-approved roster of attorneys, with continued legal services offered at a discount. Additionally, it’s common for EAPs to offer legal form and contract templates that employees can easily and independently access online, free of charge, to complete with their specific details.
Specifically, EAPs can help with legal preparations, such as:
- Power of attorney
- Do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders and other healthcare directives
- Advanced directives
5. Facilitating mediation
If an employee has a legal dispute that can be resolved through mediation, such as relatively uncomplicated divorce proceedings, an EAP can connect them with pre-approved mediation services. Often, employees will get a free initial consultation with a discount on continued services. This option can be quicker and more affordable than involving an attorney.
6. Obtaining financial and tax advice
Taxes are an annual drudgery we all have to deal with. Instead of employees stressing about doing their own taxes and potentially getting confused and making costly mistakes, they can call the EAP and find a tax professional to handle this task for them at a discounted rate – or use free sessions with a financial coach to get their complicated tax questions answered.
EAP financial coaches can help with a wide variety of other everyday money management issues, such as:
- Mortgage questions
- Student loans
- Debt consolidation
- Divorce preparation
- Retirement saving
7. Recovering from identity theft
Having your identity stolen, and dealing with the aftermath, is a time-consuming nightmare. It can be scary and daunting. What do you do first and who do you contact to start reclaiming your life with minimal damage to your credit?
EAP specialists can walk employees through the steps needed to recover, including directing them to credit-monitoring resources and explaining how to file an identity theft report. Many EAPs also offer guidance to employees on how to protect their family’s online security going forward.
8. Seeking emergency shelter and relocation services
Let’s say one of your employees experiences a house fire and needs to find alternative lodging at short notice. Or, an employee is a victim of domestic abuse and it’s critical that they be placed at a shelter that can accommodate their specific needs as soon as possible. An EAP can help connect employees to these resources in their time of need, when stress levels and emotions are often high.
EAPs address general relocation needs as well, from moving company and real estate agent procurement to apartment finder services.
Summing it all up
Contrary to their reputation as a mental health support resource, EAPs actually offer many other little-known benefits that help to ease the burdens and stressors of everyday life and make employees more focused, productive and engaged in the workplace. With diverse concierge services available from a single source, an EAP is truly a one-stop shop for seeking assistance with almost anything. Informing employees of these EAP benefits can help them better understand the value this incredible program can provide.
Now more than ever, an outstanding employee benefits package that includes an EAP is key to attracting and retaining top talent. To find out more, download our free magazine: The Insperity guide to employee benefits.