An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is an important but often overlooked benefit that every small business should offer to their employees. When it comes to open enrollment time and renewing insurance, many employers get hung up on the health insurance side of things. It’s understandable, as health insurance can be a significant expense for an employer.
If you’re offering health insurance to employees, there may be an EAP offered as part of your health insurance plan if you ask about it. But even small employers who don’t offer health insurance as a benefit should contract with an EAP. The investment can be as low as $5 per employee per month, and the benefit to your employees can be significant.
EAPs provide support for the things that happen in life outside of work, and the coverage typically includes both the employee and their family. An EAP may include coverage for counseling, legal assistance, parenting resources, elder care resources, and other support depending on the plan.
I’ve talked to many business owners and managers who went to work one day and realized their star performer wasn’t a start performer anymore. Their work had noticeably changed and wasn’t up to their usual standard. The manager may have noticed it happening over time, or it may have been a rather sudden realization. Some managers start with a conversation to see if something’s wrong, while others jump straight to disciplinary action instead of trying to understand the issue.
The vast majority of the time, the issue isn’t at the office, but rather in the employee’s personal life. As managers and business owners, it’s important to remember that our employees have lives and families, and difficult things happen in life sometimes. It could be a separation or divorce, the death of a family member, an elderly parent with increasing health issues, or adjusting to a new child by birth or adoption.
Nobody can run at 100% all of the time. Life happens. We’re all going to be impacted by friends, family, or other things going on outside of work. At some point, we’re all going to feel like we’ve lost control of some aspect of our life.
While there are certainly some things an employer can do to make sure the employee knows they care, most managers aren’t licensed counselors. That’s where the EAP comes in. The manager can say, “I’m glad you let me know what was going on. I could tell something was up, and I’ve been worried about you. Here’s a free resource that we have available.”
When talking to your insurance broker about health insurance, asking if an EAP comes with the health insurance plan should be one of your top questions. Bodily health can take someone away from work for a couple of days, but mental health can cause an employee to check out for an extended period of time. An EAP can help support your employee’s mental health needs when life happens, which is why every small business should have one.
Need help finding an EAP that’s the right fit for your employees? Contact Why HR for a referral.