The Value of EAPs Podcast

The Value of EAPs

This episode of Workplace Matters  is the first of two addressing Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs); this episode being focused on the value of EAPs.

We talked with an EAP vendor and a multi-national company who has a strong relationship with their EAP provider to ask about its benefits, the return on investment, what programs can be provided, and more.

Michael Guhin: You’re listening to Workplace Matters. Employee Assistance Programs or EAPs are one of the best benefits a company can provide to its employees, but typically underutilized. This episode is part one of two discussing the value and utilization of EAP.

Alyssa Divjak: So, you know when people say EAP, they think of short-term counseling, which it definitely is, we definitely emphasize the counseling piece. However, it’s so much more than that.

Michael Guhin: Alyssa Divjak is a benefits analyst at World Wide Technology based out of St. Louis. World Wide Technology has 7000 global employees and has been named on Fortune’s list of the top 100 best companies to work for 9 times. Their EAP offers a wide array of services, more so than many other EAPs, and World Wide utilizes many of these. She talked to us about the EAP services they are able to offer to employees.

Alyssa Divjak: There’s so much more that people can get in depth with. We have the wayForward mental health mobile app. We do onsite counseling twice a month in a couple of our locations. We have the monthly presentations with events. They have child care specialists, resources. So if you needed to find child care for like you’re new to an area or searching for a new child care, someone can kind of help you through that. Same with elder care. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re dealing with a parent that’s coming to live with you, they have career coaches, retirement coaches, tobacco cessation programs. They have dietitians you can work with, health coaches, life coaches, financial tools, financial planning type benefits and then legal forms, such as if you were ready to start the process of creating a will, they actually have a kit that they can mail you. That is kind of a template of somewhere to start that you could fill in the gaps and then bring that to a lawyer or something like that. Tons of resources, and that’s why I always tell people, you know, no matter what you’re struggling with or what you’re doing, they’re just the best place to call first, because, again, it’s free and it’s and it’s confidential.

Michael Guhin: On top of the many programs provided by World Wide’s EAP, anyone in an employee’s immediate family also receives EAP benefits.

Alyssa Divjak: The other benefit about all of those services is that it’s for anyone in your household. So, it’s not just limited to our health plan, it’s completely separate from our health plan. It is good for you or anyone in your household. Huge benefit for tons of people. And we pay per employee per month. So, our fee is based on a PEPM. I t’s not however many people are in your household. People think of it as primarily just for employees. But it’s nice to know that they could expand that to their family members that they needed to.

Michael Guhin: Part of the reason that World Wide Technology and their EAP are able to provide all of these benefits is because of the long relationship between the two. That familiarity allows the EAP to better understand the company’s needs, and for the employer to understand what they do and don’t want to utilize.

Alyssa Divjak: We’ve been working with Personal Assistance Services, which is our employee assistance program, since at least 2008. So we work so closely with them, it’s been a long relationship, I believe we’ve had the same account manager for like the last six years, which I think is really valuable. I’ve gotten to know her really well on a personal level. We’re very communicative. We tell them what we like, what we don’t like. We’re the ones that suggested on site counseling. We thought it would be a good idea to see if one of their Masters level counselors would be available to our staff and they were super receptive.

Michael Guhin: EAPs are typically only thought of as short-term counseling services, but World Wide Technology and their vendor have worked together to make it an employee wellbeing service dedicated to more than just mental health.

Now, it needs to be mentioned that World Wide Technology is far from a small business. They are a multi-million-dollar company who can afford to implement these resources. Something small employers are not always able to do, but even if it is a small program there can still be a huge return on investment from putting money into an EAP program.

Gail Sutter: Well, you know, there’s all kinds of information out there about return on investment.

Michael Guhin: Gail Sutter is the executive director of Continuum Employee Assistance Program. Continuum serves roughly 50,000 employees across 115 different companies throughout the Midwest.

Gail Sutter: We know there’s lots of different kinds of ways of doing return on investment, and what we see in all of those different studies is it’s between about three and ten dollars that an employer can see is returned for every dollar that’s invested in EAP. These have been really looked at related to health care costs for insurance, those kinds of things related to issues with productivity changes that we have seen, absenteeism, presenteeism, amount of time supervisors are dealing with workplace conflicts or addressing employee issues. So, all of those things can be calculated and a lot of different ways.

Michael Guhin: The return on investment can be anywhere from 3 to 10 dollars for every dollar invested. It is a massive resource for companies that utilize them. While EAPs can provide many services beyond just counseling, even if it is just counseling, it displays company support to employees and keeps them healthier.

Gail Sutter: We know that there’s definitely a connection between mental health and physical health. And that when people have mental health issues, we know that it impacts high blood pressure, it impacts heart disease, it impacts their immune system, all of those different things are going to be impacted by that. We also know that using an EAP can be a very healthy guide to help people be proactive in taking care of themselves and getting to the correct resources.

Gail Sutter: Well, I think the value of EAP certainly is helping people function at their highest levels. I think EAPs really are important, certainly in our mental health and helping people take care of themselves. But we also know that there’s a variety of life stressors that impact employees. And so having resources to help them be proactive in addressing those and being comfortable using the resource is very important to people being able to take care of things before they become problematic for them personally as well as in their job or their families or their community.

Michael Guhin: An EAP, like other employee benefits, creates trust between the workplace and the worker. It is the company investing in their workforce’s well-being, and for a company like World Wide Technology it creates a sense among employees that they are supported and their employer cares about them. That’s the value of EAP.

Alyssa Divjak: If there is a way that we can make something happen and provide employees with a resource, we are going to figure it out. I would love to think that all employees feel like World Wide cares about their health and safety because I mean, I know I feel that way and I know what kind of work goes into making people feel that way.

Michael Guhin: Workplace Matters is supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. To listen to more podcasts, view our ongoing video series, or for more information about us, visit Healthier Workforce Center (dot) org. Thank you.

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