Why to focus on employee wellness

By Sarah Brown | October 30, 2015 | Last updated on October 30, 2015
2 min read

If you’re a business owner, you must recognize the importance of employee benefits and pension programs. This is especially true today, where you’re likely managing a multigenerational workforce.Whether your employee is a father who needs to cover healthcare costs for his wife and four children, or a 22-year-old new employee who can’t afford to go to the dentist, coverage can help.

But pensions and physical healthcare aren’t the only types of aid that employees need. It’s also important to offer programs that benefit mental health and wellness. One such program is the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

An EAP is intended to help employees and their dependents deal with personal problems that may hinder job performance. The program provides counseling sessions by phone or face to face, and representatives can provide referrals for personal needs, online resources and education.

Let’s say you find out an employee has to move her elderly mother into a supportive care home. As a result, the employee is stressed out and takes several sick days. If there’s an EAP in place, you could share the details of the program. The employee can then contact the EAP, outline her circumstances and the EAP representative would search to find an available care home that meets the needs of the mother. The goal is to reduce the employee’s stress level so she can increase her productivity.

Another example: an employee’s youngest child has moved from Ontario to B.C. to attend university. The employee finds the transition difficult, so he can call the EAP for support and counselling.

The focus on mental health and wellness in the media has caused prices for EAPs to decrease. Today’s rates are almost half of what they were 10 years ago, and depend on an assumed utilization of the plan.

There are options when it comes to pricing. For instance, you could add the plan through your employee benefits vendor, or use a third party. If you add the EAP through a third party, it could cost $3.50 to $5 per employee, per month. If you want to reduce costs, you can look at a three-session capped model, which means an employee can have a maximum of three counseling sessions. This reduces the price by 15% to 20%.

As an employer, how does an EAP benefit you? The EAP can help keep your employees happier and healthier at work. It may help reduce absenteeism and increase employees’ productivity. Since it’s an added benefit, the EAP can also help you recruit and keep good employees.

Sarah Brown