A key to a happy, healthy, more engaged and productive workforce

By Daniel Henry

Regional Vice-President
Central Region & National Corporate Accounts Segment Lead
Group Benefits, Sun Life Financial Canada

Often, the support an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides can be the difference between an employee staying productive at work or becoming absent. Of course this is extremely important for every company but can be especially critical in a smaller business where one person’s absence is often felt more profoundly.

EAPs are an important part of a plan sponsor’s whole health and disability management strategy – not just a preventive tool. It is designed to offer assistance at every stage of the health continuum with the goal of helping employees back to good health and back to work sooner.

An EAP program helps to provide plan sponsors and their employees with unique benefits such as:

  • A low-cost method to improve productivity and reduce absenteeism;
  • Part of an overall competitive benefits package;
  • Confidential and free access for plan members and their family members; and
  • A valuable part of an overall disability management suite.

It is important to have a flexible model to avoid a “one size fits all” approach because businesses come in all shapes and sizes with varying needs. It therefore makes sense to have a uniquely designed plan to offer sponsors a first class, effective employee assistance program with a flexible, tiered approach.

A flexible, tiered approach can open EAPs up to smaller companies who may not have previously been able to offer one to their employees. Offering one can play a very big part in achieving a happy, healthy workforce that is more productive and engaged.

Help when employees need it

EAPs are designed to offer professional assistance to employees and their families. This can include counseling and prompt access to resources needed to resolve problems affecting employee health, performance and presence at work.

An EAP can help with a number of issues facing an employee, including:

  • Family and social relationships – separation or divorce, marital conflict, childcare, elderly care, etc.
  • Personal problems – general anxiety, depression, bereavement, sleep disturbances, loss of self-esteem, etc.
  • Dependency issues – alcohol, drug, medication abuse, gambling, internet dependency, etc.
  • Workplace related issues – stress, burnout, loss of interest in work, interpersonal problems with supervisors or co-workers, etc.
  • Legal and financial advice – help finding professionals for general advice on a wide range of issues (does not include will preparation, employment or workplace issues, criminal or tax law, asset management, retirement planning or accounting services)
  • Wellness issues – nutrition, weight management, healthy eating habits, etc.
  • Crisis – immediate support for urgent situations such as contemplation of suicide, shock of sudden bereavement, etc.

Certainly, improving the health and well-being of employees can decrease absences. When employees have the tools and help they need to prevent and overcome personal issues, the workplace benefits. EAP can play an important role in creating and preserving well-being, and is a clear message to employees that their health matters.