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Like many of the public or even some in the Human Resources and Benefits world, I came to the Employee Assistance world not truly understanding what they actually did. After two years of leading this amazing organization, I have learned about the dedication, the hard work, and the specific skills that Employee Assistance Professionals possess and perform on a daily basis.

The most common misconception revolves around the belief that EAPs are clinical therapists in the workplace. While many EAPs hold clinical licenses such as MSWs or PhDs, EAP work is a profession that is centered around supporting employees to be productive. EAPs are frequently called to assess and refer a wide range of situations to help employees live their best lives while remaining productive in the workspace. Many EAPs regularly address areas such as:

  • Critical incidents: When something happens in the workplace that affects numerous employees the EAP is the leader in helping to prevent and/or facilitate treatment for PTSD. Situations such as gun violence, a suicide in the office, hostage-taking, or even a series of accidents that can take the life of a co-worker.
  • Addiction: Often EAPs are called to step in when an employee has been suffering from an addiction (usually drugs or alcohol). Many times, a manager or a coworker refers the employee to the EAP for assistance. EAPs assess and refer them for counseling or an in-patient treatment center if needed.
  • Life changing situations: EAPs can become involved in the mental health of an employee when things such as divorce, death in the family, depression, and eating disorders can impact the employee's professional life.

From a corporate perspective, EAPs are well worth the investment. Researcher, Dr. Mark Attridge found in his 2021 Workplace Outcome Suite study that EAPs significantly reduce issues such as:

  • Work Presenteeism
  • Work Absenteeism
  • Work Engagement
  • Work Distress
  • Life Satisfaction
  • Lost Productive Time

"Most of the financial return came from changes in the work presenteeism outcome (lost hours of work productivity) …. Results for the year 2019 had an ROI of $4.29:1. For the COVID-19 pandemic year 2020, the ROI was $5.04:1. This means there was a positive ROI for both years, but it was slightly higher for the pandemic year, largely because of greater use rates of the EAP. The business case is especially strong when considering the cost of the EAP benefit is about 1% of total benefit budget."

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