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The Human Side of Business: Making the Case for an EAP

The employer-employee relationship is just that — a relationship. And relationships come with certain expectations, even in the business world. Employees want to feel they’re being taken care of. After all, they’ve committed themselves and proven their worth to you. That’s why you hired them. In exchange for their commitment, they expect to be paid on time. They want good benefits at a decent rate. They seek safety and security.

Employee needs like these seem obvious. But many employees have personal concerns that are anything but. In many cases, these concerns can be too embarrassing to admit or discuss openly. For example, maybe they’re struggling with depression or other mental health issues.

Cause for concern

Whatever the issue, mental distractions can have a major impact on employee performance and, thus, your business. According to a recent study by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 41 million Americans experience some type of mental illness. More days of work have been lost or disrupted by mental illness than by many chronic conditions.

Depression alone affects more than 16 million Americans and is the leading cause of disability worldwide. When it goes unacknowledged, depression costs employers an estimated $44 billion each year in lost productivity. It affects decision-making, time management, interpersonal communications as well as absenteeism.

Answering the call for help

Having an employee assistance program (EAP) provides a valuable, confidential, and no-cost outlet for employees working through private challenges. Investing in an EAP as a part of your company’s mental health policy is a small investment in your employees that pays a large return. According to the Center for Workplace Mental Health, a $1 investment in treatment for depression and anxiety leads to a return of $4 in better health and work performance.

One study showed that employees who received high-quality depression care management over two years realized a 28% improvement in absenteeism and a 91% improvement in “presenteeism” (when employees are present at work but not productive). That translates to an annual savings of $3,476 per employee.

Going the extra mile

Remember, mental health issues don’t always mean mental illness. The professional counselors and other specialists accessible through an EAP can help employees tackle a variety of mental distractions including stress, substance abuse, financial concerns and family issues.

The thing all these issues have in common is the stigma associated with them. Many employees are hesitant or unwilling to share such problems for fear of exposing themselves as weak. So when an employee is too afraid to share, and lacks a confidential outlet, their problems can go unaddressed. And when problems are ignored, employees’ mental health, as well as your company’s bottom line, are at great risk of prolonged damage.

When a company embraces the human side of business, the rewards they reap are considerable. An investment in your employees’ peace of mind is one of the greatest ways to show them you care and how committed you are to the employer-employee relationship. Remember: Happy employees are productive employees. Productive employees are profitable employees. When you take care of them, they’ll take care of you.

Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal problems.