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As it turns out, employees are also human. While intuitively, work and personal life should be kept separate, that is never the case.

Work and personal life affect one another in a cycle. A fulfilling and balanced work life builds more than just a livelihood. It builds confidence along with a sense of self and accomplishment. As we succeed and build a sense on balance in work life, our personal lives become better. A better personal life creates better employees and so on. But a damaged, unstable personal life creates chaos for the employee, thus affecting their work performance and personal life, continuing a damaged cycle.

Employee mental health and well-being contributes to organizational well-being and success.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are designed to help employees identify and resolve personal problems. This can include family and marriage counseling, depression, stress management, financial counseling, and drug addiction treatment – anything that can adversely affect an employee’s performance.

Services can include:

  • Mental health-related services and referrals
  • Drug and alcohol-related services and referrals
  • Trauma and crisis intervention
  • Addressing workplace violence
  • Divorce and parenting issue referrals
  • Information on work/life supports, such as care giving for elderly parents and financial planning
  • Wellness and health promotion services
  • Career counseling
  • Guidance through difficult workplace situations (mergers, layoffs, or when employees die on the job)

(Office of Disability Employment Policy)

These programs can reduce absenteeism from work 52% among those who access services, and increase employee well-being. When employees are present and productive, employers also save money as a result (LA Times).

Employee Assistance Programs Substance Abuse

EAPs have been shown to also contribute to:

  • Reduced accidents and fewer workers’ compensation claims
  • Greater employee retention
  • Fewer labor disputes
  • Significantly reduced medical costs arising from early identification and treatment of individual mental health and substance use issues

(Office of Disability Employment Policy)

Amongst the most common afflictions in the workplace is substance abuse and addiction. One in twelve Americans struggle with addiction, the individual and the organization is effected (SAMHSA).

Addiction spills over into workplace performance, and can include:

  • Tardiness and absence
  • Hangovers, withdrawals
  • Theft
  • Increased tempers and conflicts
  • Loss of productivity and efficiency
  • Conflicted attention
  • Poor decision making
  • Disciplinary action
  • Increased likelihood of injury

EAP programs are dynamic and that can help in confronting addiction. Comorbidity and co-occurring disorders are extraordinarily common in addiction.

Addiction is recognized as a mental illness, but often other mental illnesses are present – this is known as comorbidity. Persons diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders are about twice as likely to suffer also from a drug use disorder compared to those without mood or anxiety disorders (National Institue of Drug Abuse).

EAPs can help address the whole person, improving the whole employee, and further improving their whole life.

These services are truly amazing, but they aren’t being used. EAPs are available at almost all large companies and many smaller organizations, but they are rarely accessed by employees. Just 4% – 6% of people with access to the programs use them (LA Times).

It’s not enough to make these programs available, they must be advertised and normalized. Regular awareness and celebration of usage must be implemented.