March 7, 2009

What Are Employee Assistance Programs?

It happens! work related problems and stress can cause major health issues for workers who then land up with severe health problems! The UK Health and Safety Executive issued a statement which said that Work-related stress, depression or anxiety was the main cause of staff absenteeism causing a loss of about 12.5 million days a year in the year 2003/4. And that means that office related worker problems required intervention from companies to ensure the well being of their staff!

How it started!

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations presented a legislation in 1992 which presented a company obligation towards the health of its staff. According to the ruling office related stress was to be considered to be an occupational hazard which companies had to deal with to ensure optimum productivity of their staff. This also meant that employers were responsible for dealing and helping with the mental anxiety and physical risk to the workers when they were at the workplace.

Advantages to the organisation!

Although the primary fear was about dealing with the rising cost of setting up a Employee assistance program which the company had to pay for, in the long term the benefits became obvious! Organisations and their staff began to accrue several benefits like:

1. Employee assistance programs were able to recognize and help workers who were suffering from office and work related problems of drug abuse, deaths in the family and office related chronic stress problems. One great effect of these intervention programs is that companies were able to assist workers before situations got out of hand. It also definitely helped to reduce staff absenteeism

2. Many employees have relationship problems which can hamper their office work and attendance. But they are embarrassed to get in touch with counselors or lawyers for legal issues related to personal problems. Quite a few of these personal problems could be settled with timely intervention from a good employee assistance program.

3. About 5.6% of a companys outgoing cash is spent on absenteeism and coping with absenteeism in the form of replacement staff. With the help of a good employee assistance program, absenteeism is significantly reduced. And the cost to the company is about less than 1% for a single employee! This turns out to be a huge cost saving for the company.

4. Employee retention increased. Several studies indicated that in about 65 to 80% of termination cases, the main reason provided was personal or work related issues. An employee assistance program was able to catch these problems early on and provide a solution to the problem before termination became necessary. As a result, employee morale increased and turnover rates decreased.

5. A good Employee Assistance program can also catch stress related issues early on by diagnosing symptoms like office aggressiveness, lack of creativity, concentration and motivation.

Getting an Employee Assistance Program in place is a vocal commitment from the company for employee health. And it does work.

Source: Best Management Articles by Richard Reid

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