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What Makes an Employee Assistance Program Effective?

February 8th, 2016

by Sherrie Scott, Demand Media
Employee assistance programs help workers cope with the stresses of daily life.

Employee assistance programs help workers cope with the stresses of daily life.

Employees are often faced with difficulties that cause stress in their daily lives. Marital and family issues, financial troubles and workplace conflict can negatively affect employees, resulting in poor job performance and unscheduled absences. Circumstances, such as starting a family or supporting aging loved ones, are also situations that may consume a worker’s attention. Many companies have recognized the need for employee assistance programs to help workers effectively manage the stress in their lives while also maintaining a positive and productive work environment.

Employee Assistance Program Health And Wellness

Employee assistance programs promote healthier and more productive workers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees that have access to wellness and employee assistance programs have the opportunity to pursue a healthier lifestyle. This allows the employee to reduce stress, illness and time off work. Wellness programs educate employees on proper nutrition, physical fitness and how to improve overall quality of life.

Employees Variety

Wellness programs offer employees a variety of services to make balancing work and home life easier. Employers often choose services that best suit the needs of their employees, such as onsite fitness centers and clinical specialists. Program possibilities are quite abundant. For example, employers may choose services that help their employees identify health risks or quit smoking. Benefit packages may also include legal and financial counseling, child care assistance, and even adoption and elder care professionals.


Employee assistance programs drastically reduce the amount of time a worker spends on issues that affect other areas of their life. Employees have access to many resources, such as 24-hour physician helplines, to help with medical issues. This type of resource minimizes the need to schedule time-consuming consultations during work hours. Workers have pre-screened wellness professionals at their disposal, which takes the guesswork out of knowing whether they are working with competent experts.

Employee Retention

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy acknowledges the validity of employee assistance programs. The office indicates that wellness programs “enhance employee and workplace effectiveness and are a vital tool for maintaining and improving worker health and productivity, retaining valued employees, and returning employers to work after illness or injury.” Workers are more inclined to remain with a company that supports them and helps them resolve personal issues.

Saves Employers Money

Companies that invest in employee assistance programs see a return on their investment based on the overall health of their employees and the correlation between worker productivity. Employee assistance programs reduce the need for costly health care and disability claims. Less absences and lower employee turnover supports an employer’s bottom line. Further, a company that markets the employee assistance program is in a better position to recruit new and more qualified employees.


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