Guest Post: Aunt Bertha knows that working families sometimes need extra help. This guest post by Kieron Casey will help you understand and navigate this process with your employer. Spelling is based on British English.
An employee assistance program (EAP) is intended to provide workers who are coping with a significant work-related or personal problem with the counselling services they need. Businesses are aware that any employee can experience such a problem at some point—a problem that can affect their ability to function both at work and at home.
By offering these programs to their workers, employers realize the following benefits:
● Professional counselling can help eliminate those distractions that prevent their employees from doing their very best on the job.
● When employees have to be replaced because of these problems, the employer inevitably bears the expense of hiring someone new, along with losing what they have already invested in someone who leaves the company.
● Providing workers with a good program shows them that their employer is sincerely interested in their well-being.
EAPs vary in scope
Not surprisingly, a large company is able to offer their workers a more extensive list of programs, and in some cases, the services they provide are even extended to the employees’ family members.
As a rule, businesses allow counselling and other assistance to take place during the work day and/or after hours. The counsellors are skilled in helping employees find a solution to their problems, and when they feel it is necessary, they also refer workers to volunteers or trained professionals in the local community for additional help.
Getting workers to participate in a program
As an incentive to those who need help to participate in a program, employers usually offer these counselling services without cost to their full-time employees. However, they often restrict the number of counselling sessions that can be conducted prior to charging a fee. Generally speaking, the cost of any referrals the counsellors make is usually covered as a benefit of a more traditional health care program. Please check with your Human Resource Department.
Assistant programmes are thankfully available all over the world and are accessible for most workers. Examples of prominent not for profit EAPs include Long Island’s Open Arms program which aims in assisting the region’s labour unions as well as small businesses and major corporations. The program helps individuals and their relatives who may be struggling with alcohol and drugs issues and provides interventions, referrals and follow up schemes too. WorkLife Hawaii is another local EAP service provider which helps companies assist with risk management so as to not allow an individual’s personal problems put themselves or others at risk. In Canada FSEAP are specialists who provide confidential counselling via professionals who all hold Masters or Doctorates in Social Work or Psychology and all boast a minimum of five years counselling experience each. Other prominent EAPs include Buffalo’s Child & Family Services and Ontario’s Family Services. Each of these programs aims to help individuals in both their personal and professional lives overcome any potential problems.
Confidentiality is a concern
When a worker agrees to meet with a counsellor, the employer has him or her contact the program administrator, who is usually an employee in their Human Resources Department. While this step is necessary from the employer’s viewpoint in order to maintain control over the program, participating workers sometimes raise the question of confidentiality when they have to do this.
In order for an EAP to reach its goal, the participants must be convinced that any information they share in conjunction with the program will be regarded as confidential. In other words, any personal and private information revealed to counsellors must not be shared with those who are outside of the program.
If a referral to the program is issued by the employee’s manager or supervisor and also includes disciplining the employee because of poor on-the-job performance, that information should not be revealed to the counsellors.
Kieron Casey is a BA (Hons) Journalism graduate who blogs regularly on a number of topics including employment, careers and assistance programs