August was quite a month for me. So much so, I haven’t written or posted a blog since July. Why? Many stressful reasons.
My heart jumped into my throat as I read the news of the shootings in El Paso. I immediately texted friends to confirm if they and their loved ones were safe. The news cycles were full of the details and reactions.
The second week of August, a client called about a long-term employee who lay comatose in the hospital after a major car accident, wanting guidance on what he could do for the man and his family as well as how to deal with the shock and grief he and the other employees were feeling.
18 years ago yesterday, we first grappled with the images and tragedies of the September 11th attacks.
Let’s be clear, all of us are dealing with stresses large and small on a daily basis. The American Psychiatric Association reported two out of three Americans are experiencing anxiety around being safe, health concerns and paying the bills.
The reflections of yesterday prompted me to highlight the importance of an EAP – Employee Assistance Program. Well known to those of us in the HR field, EAPs are staffed with mental health professionals who provide assistance to employees with personal and workplace issues including support for employee and management interpersonal issues, work-related crisis counseling, as well as financial and legal consulting for employees and their household members.
An EAP can seem like a luxury benefit…until you need it, then you really need it! From specific personal issues of a death in the immediate family, to company-wide crises including workplace violence, EAPs help employees and managers with the difficult personal and emotional issues that can affect us, sapping energy and focus.
The benefit is considered an ancillary one and can be purchased as a stand-alone service, but it’s also available as a bundled product together with short term, long term disability and life insurance. Service options range from free 24/7/365 phone access to a counselor, to free visits with a therapist in person and even discounted rates with an attorney.
So, what’s the investment? Small, less than the cost of a latte per employee per month. Value? High. It is an effective and proven tool to help leaders, employees and their families. When you think about it, it’s an easy decision to add a benefit that is clearly a better value than a free coffee.
When reviewing benefit plan design, consider an EAP. We can help.