Employee Benefits

5 Key Benefits of Employee Assistance Programs

By Kandy Cantwell on April, 23 2024
5 minute read

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Ensuring employees are happy at work is one of the most important jobs for any employer.

Happy employees create positive and productive work environments, allowing everyone to thrive while working together toward a common goal. Unfortunately, there are times when personal problems prevent employees from doing their best work. This may lead to a sharp reduction in productivity and focus and can negatively impact the rest of the team.

To address this, many employers have recognized the benefits of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) in helping keep their teams healthy and happy.


The 5 main EAP benefits are: 

  1. They lead to increased productivity.
  2. The cost of EAP is relatively low.
  3. EAP helps businesses save money.
  4. They foster a positive work environment.
  5. Utilizing EAP leads to increased employee retention.


Happy employee benefits of employee assistance programs


What is an Employee Assistance Program?

An Employee Assistance Program is a workplace wellness initiative that enhances employee performance by providing confidential and short-term support to help them resolve personal issues. The program assists with various financial, legal, physical, and mental health issues.

Although EAPs are often used for mental health counselling, they can also support your employees in many other ways, such as helping them with childcare, elder care, pet sitting, or buying a home for the first time.

These benefits and services are also often available for each employee's dependents, spouse, and extended family.


The Importance of Employee Assistance Programs for Today’s Workplaces

Studies on workplaces have shown that job stress is increasing at an alarming rate. According to a recent survey by Robert Walters, a global recruitment firm, 60% of Canadian employees reported suffering from workplace-related stress, with 34% stating they felt stressed "very often."

Ongoing stress leads to exhaustion and apathy, often resulting in a lack of productivity and psychological burnout. EAPs can help prevent this by providing critical support before employees' stress snowballs into a crisis.

Let’s look at some key benefits of the employee assistance program.



5 Essential Benefits of Workplace EAPs

1. Lead to Increased Productivity

Employees become less motivated and creative when they are distracted by personal problems. They may also start to use more sick days in an effort to cope. Needless to say, these absences can have serious consequences.

According to a new report by Manulife, employee absences and presenteeism cost Canadian employers nearly $645 million annually. When direct (wages) and indirect costs (lost productivity, replacement worker costs, etc.) are combined, the total cost rises to $16 billion annually.

Statistics indicate that employees who can take advantage of EAPs take 4.8-6.5% fewer sick leave hours than employees whose companies don't offer EAPs.

2. The Cost of EAP is Relatively Low

One of the major benefits of EAP is that it is surprisingly affordable. The cost of employee assistance programs for employers ranges from $42 to $60 per employee per year. This number is less than 1% of the average employer pays annually for employee health insurance!

It is crucial to regularly remind employees of the program's availability so that it remains at the top of their minds. Failure to do so will greatly decrease the likelihood of usage. But if you have an effective employee benefits communications plan, it shouldn’t be a problem. 

3. Help Businesses Save Money

Did you know that mental health problems and illnesses cost the Canadian economy $50 billion annually in absenteeism and disability? It's crucial for employers to address mental health in the workplace to avoid such costs. Employee assistance programs can significantly improve mental health among employees and bring high returns on investment for businesses. 

According to a report by the Canadian HRReporter, investing in an EAP can yield a high return on investment, ranging from 

  • 3:1 for small-size employers
  • 5:1 for medium-size employers
  • up to 9:1 for large-size employers

This is because having an EAP leads to reduced healthcare costs, lower medical insurance usage, fewer disability claims, and fewer absences.

4. Foster a Positive Work Environment

Stress-caused issues such as absenteeism decreased performance, and health problems affect not only one person but the entire workforce.

Additionally, if someone is experiencing a high level of stress, they may become more defensive, argumentative, and less communicative at work.

An EAP can help troubled employees by providing support and an outlet to discuss their issues. As a result, the employee's stress levels improve, which will positively affect co-workers.

5. Lead to Increased Employee Retention

A positive work environment is a key factor in retaining talented employees.

Did you know that a survey by the American Health Association found that 51% of employees stay at their jobs because of good relationships with coworkers? An EAP helps keep employees productive, present, and happier while on the job.

Furthermore, this program is especially useful in attracting and retaining younger employees such as Gen Z and millennials. Gen Z places a high value on mental health resources, with 73% of Gen Z considering mental health support when choosing a job.

They are less hesitant to reach out for help regarding mental health issues and are, therefore, more likely to appreciate and make use of an employee assistance program.


Final Thoughts

The psychological and financial costs of stress and mental health issues are taking a toll on Canadian businesses. Now, more than ever, employers are responsible for supporting employees and contributing to their well-being.  

Don’t hesitate to include an EAP in your employee benefits offering.

It costs little to implement and provides significant gains for your employees while helping to boost your bottom line. This vital program can go a long way in creating a happy, strong, and productive team.

An EAP can be an integral part of a complete employee wellness program. Ready to learn more about how employee wellness benefits businesses?

Employee Wellness 101: How Healthy Employees Lead to Healthy Returns

Discover how you can improve the well-being of your employees and improve your company's bottom line with a wellness program.