Many employees consider their employee assistance program (EAP) as a go-to resource for behavioral health, substance abuse or family and relationship issues. But an EAP can be so much more.
Offering employees a full scope of EAP benefits — including those that address work-life balance issues — can make good financial sense for business owners. A comprehensive EAP can help employees and family members manage a wider range of problems that otherwise could negatively impact work performance.
Promoting EAP benefits, including the lesser known ones, can boost employee retention and satisfaction, leading to a healthier and more productive workplace.
Exploring EAP’s softer side
Consider this: What family of a high school student exploring college options wouldn’t want some help searching for scholarships? Or, what new parent wouldn’t want some help narrowing down childcare options?
Something else to consider: Financial issues are a major cause of stress among employees and stress is the No.1 cause of declining health. 
Employee assistance programs are offered by a number of EAP providers, including Advocate Aurora Health, one of the 10 largest not-for-profit, integrated health systems in the United States, through its Employer Solutions product line.
Lesser-known benefits of EAP that are often underutilized include:
- Financial services: While many EAP programs include financial counseling, employees may have confidentiality concerns if they contact the EAP, fearing that their supervisor or manager will learn about their personal problems. Employees need to be reassured that EAP services are completely confidential. For example, Advocate Aurora’s EAP offers members an opportunity to have private 30-minute phone consultations with an experienced financial coach. They can discuss any financial matter in confidence, such as credit issues, debt and budgeting assistance, mortgage issues, tax planning, retirement savings or college planning.
- Elder care information and referrals: Many employees are not only raising their own children, but also caring for elderly parents or other family members. The demands of this sandwich generation can be overwhelming. Trained EAP specialists can connect employees with the right support services to help them and their loved ones.
- Childcare consultations and adoption referrals: EAP experts can guide parents through the array of childcare options and help them choose the most appropriate arrangement for their growing family. Many EAPs have resources to help employees find quality childcare, research the best schools or locate after-school care, activities and summer camps.
- Legal consultations: EAPs can offer legal consultations to help employees work through the confusion of legal issues. For example, Advocate Aurora’s EAP can arrange a phone consultation with an experienced attorney when employees need unbiased legal information or guidance.
Getting the word out
A frequent barrier to using EAP services is employees’ lack of awareness of the services offered and confidentiality concerns. Business owners and HR professionals should communicate frequently to employees about the wide range of EAP’s no-cost assistance to help manage work-life issues — and reinforce the message of complete confidentiality to overcome any stigma.
1. 2015 Stress in America™, American Psychological Association.
To look for a robust EAP for your organization, check out Advocate Aurora’s Employer Solutions. A solution customized to your company’s culture could also include employer clinics, wellness, occupational health, executive health programs and more.
Advocate Aurora Health is one of the 10 largest not-for-profit, integrated health systems in the United States and a leading Midwest employer with more than 70,000 employees and the region’s largest employed medical staff and home health organization. The system serves nearly 3 million patients annually in Illinois and Wisconsin.