Employee assistance is an employee benefit plan (EAP), sometimes called an employee assistance program (EAP), that provides workers with on-the-job assistance for specific purposes related to work. Such assistance can take the form of counseling or advice, direct supervision, technical support, emergency assistance, training, and related benefits. EAP programs are usually supported by an employer who pays for the costs of these services. However, there are several instances where workers provide the assistance themselves.
An employer-supported employee assistance program (EAP) is basically a coordinated work-life activity that is designed to intervene in situations when employees are experiencing issues that can be impacting their performance in the workplace, most often, related to interpersonal relationship, family, or financial issues. These activities allow employees to deal with personal problems without interfering with their productivity. There are many types of assistance provided by employers, such as: career counseling, conflict resolution training, information sharing, and skill training. However, the following are some of the most common ways in which workers provide assistance to their employers.
The most common form of employee assistance plan is career counseling. Career counseling is usually conducted by a career counselor, and is usually provided by an external agency. This type of counseling usually assists employees in deciding what skills or abilities they may need to enhance their employment opportunities in order to increase their chances for career advancement. In addition, career counseling may also include alcohol or drug education and/or rehabilitation.
Another type of assistance is provided through a work-life balance assistance plan. Work-life balance assistance plans focus on improving work-related health and wellness, as well as improving productivity. Workplace wellness programs are also offered by employers. These programs help employees reduce their dependence on tobacco and alcohol, and increase their fitness levels. Most companies that offer work-life balance assistance require employees to participate in a short program of training and workshops. Some companies also require employees to participate in physician supervised physical activity.
The third most common form of employee assistance programs is through military one source. Military one source programs are usually provided through the U.S. Department of Defense. Benefits provided by military one source plans include medical appointments, dental care, and transportation. This option is usually preferred for employees who have difficulty affording or participating in other assistance programs, as well as employees transitioning from other federal government agencies to the Department of Defense.
A unique method of employee assistance comes in the form of vendor partners. Vendor partners can provide education, career development, and on-the-job training to employees interested in health and wellness programs, as well as medical assistance. Some vendors offer healthcare cost management services, such as claims appraisal, in addition to medical assistance. The cost of vendor partner programs varies by location and the type of assistance provided. However, healthcare vendors partner with hospitals and vendors to provide affordable access to employee assistance programs.
A final group of individuals who often receive assistance from a workplace wellness plan are military personnel. Although all members of the military have access to the same benefits, there are differences in benefits provided between different branches. Benefits for active duty, Guard and Reserve members, and retired soldiers, are typically higher priced than those for civilian employees. However, many of the benefits received by military personnel help to support their lifestyles while away from the workplace. Some companies also give members of the military access to a corporate fitness club, community health center, and swimming facility.
Every organization has a unique mix of employees. It is up to employee assistance plan managers to identify which employees might need additional support. When seeking out assistance, businesses should first identify its needs and how those needs can be met with the assistance of vendors, co-workers, or other employee resources.