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Why Every Employer Should have a Comprehensive Employee Assistance Program
Why Every Employer Should have a Comprehensive Employee Assistance Program

Ask any employer – big or small – what their greatest asset is – and most will tell you it’s their employees. Finding, growing and nurturing the right employees are critical elements to long-term success.
 
It’s an integral part of any organization that impacts not only productivity and the bottom line, but the lives of those employees, their families and their community. So what can employers do to make sure they have a strong, engaged workforce? An effective employee assistance program (EAP) is a great place to start.
 
What is an EAP? How does it help?
An EAP is a work-based intervention program designed to help identify and assist employees in resolving personal issues. These problems could include (but not are limited to) marital, financial, emotional, family or substance-abuse type issues that may affect their work performance. Confidential EAP services help employees address issues that are creating stress and occupying their time and attention and can interfere with concentrating on work.
 
At Aurora, our EAP focuses on two key aspects of health – physical and emotional. Onsite with an employer, our team helps refer employees into wellness programs, supports behavioral and emotional needs of employees, and looks for ways to help people find balance while increasing productivity.
 
EAPs continue to grow in popularity among employers. They originated in the 60s and 70s, primarily as drug and alcohol support programs. But today, they cover a much wider range of services that employees and employers might benefit from.
 
EAP resources: right-sized for any organization
Statistics show that small employers are less inclined to offer employee assistance programs, compared with larger employers. A study from a National Small Business Association (NSBA) shows that an overwhelming 93 percent of respondents consider their employees’ physical and mental health to be important to their financial results, but only one-third express confidence in their own ability to help employees manage their well-being.1
 
Aurora’s EAP works with companies large and small – ranging from a four-employee funeral home in northern Wisconsin to some of our state’s largest employers, such as Aurora’s EAP that covers more than 31,000 of its own employees.
 
Our EAP team works across a variety of industries – manufacturing and government organizations being two of the largest. Multiple municipalities and school districts contract with our EAP, and can offer their perspective on the effectiveness of a good EAP partner.
 
EAPs can also be a useful resource for human resource staff and leadership of an organization, helping guide them through difficult or sensitive workplace situations.
 
A solid return on investment
An effective EAP is a win-win for both employees and employers, by improving morale and health and cost savings through increased productivity and engagement. Imagine the time savings for a family struggling to find child care, if an expert can quickly find suitable openings in their community.
 
Teamed for success
Aurora’s EAP is one of the largest and oldest EAPs in the state – started in 1983 and currently serving more 300 clients of all sizes. While many of our clients are based within the Aurora footprint, we also contract with local partners around the state and nationwide, to support employees in times of distress, no matter where they are located.
 
Did you know?
HR professionals may not realize some of the lesser-known benefits of an EAP, such as:
• Consultation and support for co-workers when a fellow employee is diagnosed with a serious illness.
• Using FMLA paperwork as an opportunity to remind employees of EAP assistance, should they need additional support while on leave for family or medical reasons.
• Helping families search for secondary education scholarships for their children.
 
In today’s competitive environment, companies need the full engagement of their entire workforce. An EAP can be an important tool in helping employers and employees achieve overall workplace well-being and productivity.
 
 
Pauline Krutilla, director of EAP at Aurora Health Care, is available to talk about what makes an effective EAP program, and what every employer needs to know.
 
 
1“Workplace Wellness Programs in Small Business: Impacting the Bottom Line,”; National Small Business Association; 2012
 
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