An employee assistance programme is an arrangement for employee benefit provide counselling, referrals, advice and suggestion to solve the stressful issues and cost is borne by the organisation.
The services are provided free of costs or partly. These may include the problems of personal, health, family, marital relationship, and substance abuse.
The employee assistance programme (EAP) is both an educational and presentational programme. It is also a confidential counselling and referral service available as a benefit to employees and their dependents.
EAPs are plans that help in identifying and resolving issues faced by employees through short-term counselling, referrals to specialized experts outsider or internal experts of the organisations, and follow-up services.
1. Meaning of Employee Assistance Programme 2. Definitions of Employee Assistance Programme 3. Substance Abuse in the Workplace 4. Mental Health Problems 5. Guidelines for EAPs Approach 6. Advantages of EAPs.
Employee Assistance Programme (EAP): Meaning, Definitions, Substance Abuse, Problems, Solution and Advantages
Employee Assistance Programme – Meaning and Definitions
Employee is considered the most important resource in an organisation because it is the live resource and it utilizes the other resources to generate them further. So the need for talented and motivated human resource is strongly felt. For that purpose, the interventions are used for human resource development. One of these is employee counselling.
Under employee counselling the assistance is provided to the employees to resolve their problems through employees assistance programme. The employees are provided confidential individual assistance and support service to employees to help them in solution of their problems of personal and performance areas. These problems affect the health, life, behaviour, relationship and performance.
Through EAP programme these problems are taken care of and employees are assisted, this programme is helpful in drinking, smoking, drug addictions, financial and legal difficulties, substance abuse and marital problems.
Employee assistance programme has been defined by the experts as follows:
“Services offered by employers to their employees to help them overcome problems that may negatively affect job satisfaction or productivity. Services may be provided on-site or contracted through outside providers. They include counselling for alcohol dependence and drug dependence, marital therapy or family therapy, career counselling, and referrals for dependent care services. See also industrial social work.” Barker.
“An employment-based health service programme designed to assist in the identification and resolution of a broad range of employee personal concerns that may affect job performance. These programmes deal with situations such as – substance abuse, marital problems, family troubles, stress and domestic violence, as well as health education and disease prevention. The assistance may be provided within the organisation or by referral to outside resources.” (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, 2005).
“A confidential personal counselling service funded by an employer. EAPs provide professional counsellors with whom individuals can discuss their work and non-work-related problems, which may be emotional, financial, or legal or related to alcohol or drug misuse.” (Dictionary of Human Resource Management).
“While the EAP started out as a way to help employees with alcohol and drug addiction, EAP professionals today say they need to be well rounded to address an array of problems. Issues that may affect job performance that are brought up by employees as often as any traditional addiction include personal relationships, depression, and anxiety, experts say.”
“Strategic analysis, recommendations and consultation throughout an organisation to enhance its performance, culture and business success. These enhancements are accomplished by professionally trained behavioural and/or psychological experts who apply the principles of human behaviour with management, employees and their families, as well as workplace situations to optimize the organisation’s human capital.” (Rothermel)
“An employment-based health service programme designed to assist in the identification and resolution of a broad range of employee personal concerns that may affect job performance. These programmes deal with situations such as – substance abuse, marital problems, family troubles, stress and domestic violence, as well as health education and disease prevention. The assistance may be provided within the organisation or by referral to outside resources.”
An employee assistance programme is an arrangement for employee benefit provide counselling, referrals, advice and suggestion to solve the stressful issues and cost is borne by the organisation. The services are provided free of costs or partly. These may include the problems of personal, health, family, marital relationship, and substance abuse.
The services are usually provided by a third party if experts are not available from employees of the organisation. When it is conducted by third party, the company receives only information regarding the services offered by the experts and personal details and services given kept confidential.
An employee assistance programme (EAP) is voluntary efforts made by the organisation for assistance of employees with the help of expert agencies that provides a variety of support programmes for the employees. EAPs are aimed mainly at work-related, personal and problems originated those affect the morale and job performance in an organisation.
In present time the leading organisations are taking interest in EAPs due to high level of competition under globalization. At workplace the employees were facing problems of drinking, drugs, smoking and such others. So to solve these problems the concept of the EAP originated in later first half of twentieth century and it picked up momentum in second half of twentieth century mainly in seventies.
Since then, EAPs have evolved and many organisations adopted this to deal with a variety of problems such as – hypertension, drugs, alcoholic, poor health, marital problems, works stress, financial and legal difficulties, and family disputes.
The employee assistance programme (EAP) is both an educational and presentational programme. It is also a confidential counselling and referral service available as a benefit to employees and their dependents. EAPs are plans that help in identifying and resolving issues faced by employees through short-term counselling, referrals to specialized experts outsider or internal experts of the organisations, and follow-up services.
In an ideal situation, the employees are expected come to workplace with unoccupied mind, and work at the best their capacity to meet the performance standards. But it is the fact that they are facing a lot of problems at their home in their families relating different issues. Their minds are preoccupied with those problems and they are bound to bring them at workplace.
This situation affects the workers, performance, organisation and reputation in the long run. It is impossible to prevent the employees’ problems to zero level but with the help of EAP the employees are provided help or assistance so that these can be controlled or prevented to a good extent.
With this intention, many organisations started with this programme and many are interested in future to start for their employees. They have trained their managers and supervisors so that the behavioural problems can be taken care of properly to avoid adverse effects on health, performance and productivity.
With the changing scenario the modern EAP systems are designed to provide services not only for personal and health problems but for other problems such as – marriage counselling, crisis planning, extra marital relationship, depression, stress, financial difficulties, illness among family or coworkers, children education and their career and pre-retirement planning.
Some of them have gone one step ahead and include the problems of elder care issues, AIDS and HIV, natural disasters, and workers education, and workplace violence. In future the scope of EAP is definitely going to expand with the increasing complexity of life.
The main feature of an EAP is that it is a fee-free service to employees and their immediate dependents, either offered through experts of the company or a third party, that helps employees maintain a balance between work and life. The focus for employees is on their physical, mental, emotional health and well-being. EAPs focus on helping employees when they experience problems in their lives and interested to avail service of counsellors.
The major problems for which the assistance is being provided in India and abroad by leading organisation in public and private sectors are many. EAPs offer services to employees through face-to-face interaction between employees and counsellors individually at the appointed time, telephonically if the meeting is not possible due to distant locations, online, supply of study materials, etc.
Any of the methods can be selected by the employees for assistance. EAPs are required to maintain confidential data as per the policy in accordance with privacy laws and professional ethics. A manager finds that there is need to refer to the experts for assistance then he may refer an employee to the EAP counselor. Availing EAP assistance service may be used by employees to maintain the proper balance of work and personal life.
Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse or alcohol abuse, refers to a maladaptive pattern of use of a substance that is not considered dependent and useful for health in non-medical contexts. Some of the drugs most often associated with this term include alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, or nicotine.
Addiction is the same irrespective of the drugs used. Alcohol or drugs abusers are those who use these regularly despite of recurrent social, inter-personal, and legal problems as a result of alcohol/drug use. Harmful use causes either physical or mental damage. The user becomes addict of alcohol or drugs. They find comfortable with the drugs and become dependent on them. Dependence is at such a point that stopping is very difficult and causes severe physical and mental reactions from withdrawal.
The employees come from different backgrounds from various parts of the country and even now from different countries also. The environment where they live affects a lot on the habits of people. Some of the people get these habits in early age and become habitual to use intoxicant substances which are not useful for health.
They learn from their family members, friends and relatives to use these items. The uses of such items vary from area-to-area. Mainly alcohol is used by the worker because it is cheaper than other drugs and easily available in locality. In Western countries the use of alcohol and drugs is more comparatively.
The occasional use of drugs is not going to affect much but here concern is for regular use and in more quantity. The use of such items in present complex situation is increasing day-by-day and it affects all concerned badly.
The problems created due to drugs abuses may include many diseases such as:
Abdominal pain, amnesia, anesthetic, anxiety, blood pressure, botulism, breathing, cancer, cannabis, chest pain, coma, cough, delirium, depression diarrhea, discharge, dizziness, heart disease, heart rate, hepatitis, weight loss, jaundice, trauma, etc. The disease affects the mind and body of the workers. They, come under depression or stress. When they come to workplace then all stresses are brought at the workplace also.
The workers under stress are not in a position to perform due to their physical and mental positions. They are not in a position to give attention to the work due to sickness and like to commit mistakes. It may lead to accidents and even fatal accidents. The quality of performance and total output go down. Unnecessary the production or operation costs increase drastically.
At workplace the workers behaviour becomes intolerable. They get involved in quarrels, disputes, arguments, indiscipline as these are undesirable things at workplace. Finally the work, environment, and relationship all are adversely affected.
Due to loss of work, health and life everybody is worried to get rid of abuses of drugs. Individual, family members, relatives, employers and government are interested to check the uses of drugs so that people can work in healthy environment. Efforts are being put in this direction but nothing could be achieved substantially.
The leading organisations are conducting EPA programmes through which they want to provide assistance to the employees, educate those regarding abuses and helping them to leave the habits of drug consumption. The uses drugs at workplace has been banned and disciplinary actions are started taking against the defaulters.
In most of the countries such acts have been enacted to check the abuses. If implemented properly and proper assistance are provided then the workers would be saved from abuses of drugs definitely.
Employee Assistance Programme – Mental Health Problems
The employees are facing different types of problems such as – personal, family, health and performance and substance abuse. These problems are having impact on the body and mind of the employees. Over and above they are under pressure due to responsibility, accountability, meeting targets. Due to all these things the workers get disturbed mentally and physically.
They are under depression and stress. It causes the mental illness. Mental health problems can range from relatively minor worry relating to different issues to serious mental breakdowns in which the individual concerned appears to lose total control on thinking and action. The different types of mental illness are there faced by workers in medical terms. It is a very disturbing situation to the workers and employers.
It does not mean the employee is suffering due to illness but social stigma is also added to that in the society. It cannot be tolerated in the long run because the impact is very heavy on all concerned. The mental illness affects the body and mind and due to that he is not in a position to do the work properly.
It leads to lack of interest in jobs, lack of control over body and decision making, poor performance, absenteeism, accidents, death, loss of work, increasing operation costs, and overall lower profitability. Personally the employees get early retirement, financial and social difficulties, family relationships, etc., are badly affected.
Mental health problems have become one of the leading problems for all concerned including individual, family, society, employers and the nation. Everybody is concerned for solution of this problem. It has become necessary to maintaining good mental health at the workplace so that the adverse effects to business, society and employees can be controlled or avoided further.
The poor mental health should be tackled at workplace with sincere efforts. With the present complex situation at workplace the number of persons suffering from mental health problems is increasing day-by-day across the world. It is a source of anxiety and panic at workplace.
There is no exception that the number is increasing in only one country. It is adding to the burden of our society and national economy. It is to be taken care of properly and timely. All these are adding up to a need for incorporating a well-informed programme for providing assistance to the employee so that they can get rid of such problems to a good extent.
Through employee assistance programme the employees have been referred to counsellors and experts for help or treatment.
They have noticed that the mentally ill employees faced the following problems:
(a) Lack of control over mind and body.
(b) Involved in indecent acts such as – crime, rape and incest.
(c) Lack of sexual fitness and poor marital relationship and divorce.
(d) Depression, quarreling and suicide.
(e) Harassment of family members or children.
(f) Sexual harassment at workplace.
(g) Poor relationship at work, in family and society.
(h) Difficulty in adjustment with otters.
(i) Financial and legal problems.
In India a high percentage of employees are coming from rural areas with agriculture background. The financial condition of their family is not good so they face a lot of difficulties in life. It may become one of the major factors for depression and stress.
When they face mental illness then they often turn to temples and shrines, tantriks and not to doctors. Some social workers are trying to change this by focusing their efforts on the society relating to such problems. Government is also interested to check this problem but so far nothing concrete has been done.
Treatment and support for mentally ill employees is being provided in psychiatric hospitals, clinics or other community mental health services. In many countries services it is being provided on the basis of individual problems, independence and choice to regain his meaningful life. The problems of mental health are treated through psychotherapy, medication, counselling.
Here the concerned topic is related to employees’ assistance and to tackle this situation the efforts have been put by the leading organisation though employee assistance programme through which the employees are facing mental health problems are refereed by their managers to the counsellors or medical experts for treatment. They are also authorized to approach personally, so that time and efforts are saved.
The experts provide their services to deal with the problems of the employees through discussion, tests and treatments. Over and above the governments in different countries also have taken initiatives to deal with the situations promptly.
American with Disabilities Act of 1990, and Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 have been passed by USA government in this line to deal with the situation. In developed and developing countries the governments are interested to bring such laws which can deal with the problems of mental health at workplace in future.
Employee Assistance Programme – Guidelines for EAPs Approach
The problems of employees are accepted as unnecessary and unavoidable thing and these affects the personal mind, body, thinking, performance, relationship, personal life, etc. It is to be dealt very carefully because the problems are giving very harmful effects to the employees, their family and organisation. The proper approach towards problem solution can handle the situation and can prevent or control and bad effects of employees problems.
For problem solution the EAPs approach should keep the following guidelines in mind:
(a) Human Resource as a Very Valuable Resource:
The employees are very valuable for the organisation. Without happy and motivated manpower nothing can be done as desired. It cannot be overlooked. The interest of employees should be considered on top priority and it should be considered that any favour in this direction for employees’ problem solution is done would have positive impact on the overall performance of the organisation.
(b) Personal Problems are Defined as Performance Problems:
No doubt, the personal problems affect the performance of the employees and organisation. When it is to be defined it should be defined as operational problems and not as personal problem specifically. It is going to affect the employee psychologically. The supervisor should monitor the performance of employees and where it is required to assist them in performance. The employee would accept it willingly and work would not be affected.
(c) Proper Referral of Employees:
When the problems are identified with the specific employee, then he should be referred to the experts for counselling, treatment, etc. The case can be referred by the managers, supervisors, union representatives and self.
There should not be restriction that only the manager can refer the case. The trade union representatives also should be motivated to come forward for help in finding out the problems for early solution. The main objective is solution of the problems and not procedure to follow.
(d) Providing Mental Health Insurance:
The employees and their family should be provided mental health benefits so that the problem is dealt properly. It should be provided with the employee benefit packages where the facilities for treatment and referral are not available with the small and medium size of companies. The financial burden on employee is taken care of through this help.
(e) Avoid Hiring Problematic Employees:
The management should take proper care in recruitment and selection that the employees should be selected without any chronic disease or problem. Proper psychological and medical tests are to be conducted to avoid the problematic employees. It would help to prevent the problems of employees and save time of the management.
(f) Proactive Approach of the Management:
The employees facing the problems may be due to personal or job-related reasons. The management should not consider it a burden on the organisation. They should not take action only when the problems have taken place. But the approach should be there proactive and efforts should be there to prevent such problems for future.
These are some of the points the management should follow in EAP programme. There may be more point also. If these are taken care of the approach would be proper. EAP would be more effective to deliver the goods for which it has been launched.
Employee assistance programme was launched by some of the organisation with the interest to solve the problems of employees related to work and personal. The management was interested to manage the workforce more effectively so that the overall effectiveness of the organisation can improve in the stiff competitive situation in the market.
A lot of efforts are put by the management in this direction for arranging counsellors, counselling sessions and other related facilities. In the beginning it was started with the work-related and personal problems. But with the demanding time, the scope of employee counselling programme extended beyond these problems. From this programme there are many benefits to the employees, family members, society, organisation, etc.
The main advantages of EAP are explained below:
The main advantages from EAP to employees are the following:
(a) Employees get relived from the problems through this.
(b) All depression, distress and psychological problems are solved.
(c) Employees feel relaxed and get satisfaction at workplace and in life.
(d) The employees get trigger for motivation towards work, organisation and life.
(e) Level of commitment and performance of employees improve.
(f) Quality of performance and productivity of employees go high.
(g) Ultimately these may contribute in incentives, development, increments and promotion of employees.
The main advantages of EPA to organisation are the following:
(a) Lower medical costs on employees for their wellness.
(b) Easily maintain satisfied manpower in the organisation.
(c) Helps managers to concentrate on their main activities and not on counselling alone.
(d) High level of commitment of employees towards their jobs and organisation.
(e) Reduced absenteeism, labour turnover and other related problems in organisation.
(f) Healthy working environment is created.
(g) High quality of performance and productivity of employees.
(h) Profitability of the organisation goes high.
(i) It is a cost management tool.
(j) Helps to attract better employees and retain them easily.
(k) Overall effectiveness of the organisation improves in the business and markets.
(l) Finally the reputation goes high in the industry.