What the Heck are Employee Assistance Programs?

What the Heck are Employee Assistance Programs?

Many Canadians, especially members the younger generation who have just entered the workforce in the last decade, may not have ever heard of employee assistance programs. That’s because it’s actually quite an old program that just isn’t appreciated the way it used to be.

During the early 40s and World War II, Canada saw an alcohol shortage. This lead to an attitude of drink-it-while-you-can and binge drinking became common. As a result, alcoholism was also a rising issue. At the time, those with a drinking problem weren’t treated. Instead, they were arrested for fighting, loitering, or just public drunkenness and tossed in jail. Others were sent to mental institutions for “nervous breakdowns.” Employers took matters into their own hands, and the industrial alcoholism programs of 40s is what has now become employee assistance programs or EAPs.

Today, EAPs are short-term counseling programs offered by employers to help their employees work through any personal problems that are affecting their performance on the job. But don’t think that EAPs are just for employees suffering from substance abuse! Many of today’s programs help workers with relationship stress (such as a divorce or the stress of becoming a new parent), job stress, harassment, balancing work-life, and more. These programs were invented to help struggling employees become good, productive workers again. Which is important for both workers and employers. Many businesses recognize this, and offer these amazing programs. Unfortunately, word often doesn’t get out, and many employees may not realize that these services are available.

Here at Health Risk we definitely recommend employers offer EAPs. They are an affordable way to deal with an employee’s small problem before it becomes a big problem. Firing, hiring, and training new employees all takes time and money. That doesn’t count time and revenue lost to the months or years of subpar work before the underperforming employee is let go. EAPs can help stop your employee’s personal problems ever developing into a business problem.

At Health Risk, we offer a wide range of EAPs for Canadian employers. If you’d like to see how EAPs and other health plans could benefit your business, we invite you to discuss your options with one of our advisors today.