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Category: Business and Industry

Date Submitted: 09/16/2012 11:10 AM

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A majority of employees today find themselves under significant pressure to perform at a high level with maximum productivity by employers who expect their organizations to “do more with less.” This tension between the limited organizational resources given to employees and the increasing productivity demands of employers contributes to a variety of problems experienced by employees. These problems are further affected by efforts to balance work with also trying to have a healthy and fulfilling personal and family life. EAPs can play an important role in helping employees, as well as their family members, to balance the demands of work and personal life, while also supporting the employer’s goals for improved and sustained levels of high workplace productivity.

When first established during the 1940s, EAPs focused on providing outreach to, identification of problems, and early intervention for employees struggling with alcohol-related problems. Over the past few decades, the employee assistance (EA) field has grown significantly and is addressing more complex employee health and behavioral health, as well as work-life employee challenges. Today, most EAPs are considered “broad-brush” programs, designed to support multiple kinds of employee, family, and workforce performance issues. Employers provide EAPs for a variety of reasons ranging from wanting to support employees and their family members, accepting the evidence that healthy employees make for a more productive workplace, and protecting themselves from liability and legal issues, in addition to simply believing that offering employee assistance is “just the right thing to do.”

EAPs have clearly made their mark with U.S. business. The majority of large U.S. employers now provide EA benefits to employees and their family members (Mercer, 2008). More than 75% of employees in state and local government have access to EA services, and 40% of employees working in the private sector have access to an EAP...