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Is Your EAP A-OK?

Stress impacts both the employee and the employer.

Stress impacts both the employee and the employer.

If a business owner or senior executive were to be awakened at 3am and asked, “what is the most important asset in your company?”  Or, if they were forced to respond to what differentiates their company from their competition, many times the answer would be, “our people.”  And yet, if asked, “what are you doing to nurture and protect that asset or competitive differentiation,” the answer would likely be a shrug, a stammer, and a sheepish grin admitting that very little is being done.

People Being People

Most executives understand the value of purchasing new resources, tools, equipment to improve business performance.  If computer hardware, software applications, new machinery, etc. could reduce costs, increase efficiencies, upgrade effectiveness, lower error rates, or in any way improve the results of the business through a return on investment (ROI) calculation; most entrepreneurs would consider it a “no-brainer” to move forward.

However, the most important asset in the company – the people – are not as easily measured in the conventional ways of business.  Nearly every business owner understands the importance of maintaining a well-functioning and healthy workforce.  However, the ways to accomplish this are often less clear.  How does the business calculate:

  1. The cost of having a manager under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
  2. The lost productivity due to a boss bullying subordinates?
  3. The balancing of work/family issues?
  4. The impact of stress on the employee and the result to the business?

While most companies offer insurance coverage to their employees after they have fallen physically ill, the need for proactive interventions that address the emotional, social, and mental issues that often arise within employee populations remains less a focus.

What is an EAP?

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) helps support the wellness, safety/security, and personal efficacy of corporate employees or associates.  Ordinarily, it includes access to community resources, training classes, one on one coaching, or short-term counseling or consultative interventions to allow the employee(s) to address their individual concerns, improve upon their corporate performance, or upgrade their contribution as part of work groups or teams.  Some interesting facts posted on the include:

  • Employees facing legal problems spend an average of 26 hours per year while on the job and seven days off from work to resolve these issues. In addition, employees spend 29 and 22 hours on the job resolving financial and property-related events respectively.

    70% of the population do not seek legal counsel due to fear of the cost.


    The American Bar Association states that during a 12-month period, more than half the employees in a typical workforce will experience a legal or financial issue involving “life events” such as marriage, birth, adoption, illness, renting an apartment, buying or refinancing a home, using credit cards or purchasing a car., a leading EAP provider prefers to view their offerings as protecting Human Capital Risk Management (HCRM).  By viewing their services as ways for companies to mitigate risk and the impact employee issues have on the organization’s output, they recognize that many companies can be helped to implement effective practices that result in more engaged, satisfied employees, better informed leaders, and a more positive and productive culture. As an executive, you set strategic goals and expectations for the performance of your company. By implementing an EAP program, the company can reduce the risk of counterproductive behavior and aligning workforce behavior with business strategy.

David Zahn