Is Your Lifeline Ready?
- By Jerry Laws
- May 01, 2009
An unappreciated, underused
resource for employers was thrust
into the limelight recently when
the National Business Group on
Health released "An Employer's Guide to
Employee Assistance Programs"
at a Washington, D.C., news
conference. Two years of studying
best practices and evidencebased
approaches to the design
and delivery of effective employee
assistance programs (EAPs)
contributed to the guide. The
Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration
funded the research, which was
conducted by NBGH's Employee Assistance
Workgroup, a 27-member committee
of EAP, behavioral, and mental health
We typically think EAPs refer an
employee for drug or
alcohol treatment or
counseling, but the
their value is far greater.
They improve work
manage stress, reduce
accidents and absenteeism,
lower turnover and
health costs, lessen violence, support emergency
preparedness, and smooth workers'
adjustment to layoffs, plant closures, and
other workplace changes. With these in
mind, the workgroup wrote this Value
Proposition for EAP:
An EAP that is aligned with organizational
values and vision will measurably enhance
business operations, the overall employee
experience, and the community perceptions of
the company. A well-run EAP will provide a
positive return on investment.
"I think most large employers
have EAPs. They know their
value, but they haven't dealt
with them as rigorously as they
should. They don't promote
them as well as they should.
What you always want to make
sure of is that people know
about the resources," NBGH
President Helen Darling told me.
Particularly now, when workers' stress is
very high and layoffs are rising, EAPs are a
lifeline in the storm. The guide, available at
www.businessgrouphealth.org, tells employers
how to use them to their full potential.
(The guide cites studies that found providing
EAP services avoided work loss in 60
percent of cases, with an average savings of
17 hours per case. The average productivity
gain was 43 percent.)
Darling agreed employee assistance is
"really underappreciated. All of the employee
assistance professionals talk about
how the demand for their services has
soared," she said.
This article originally appeared in the May 2009 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.
Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.