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  • Writer's pictureJulia Gallegos

Creating an empathetic workplace: Key benefits of employee assistance programs

People spend over 13 years of their lives on-the-clock. No matter what office you work in, this is a shocking amount of time. By helping employees lift the stress load off their shoulders with a strong employee assistance program, organizations can increase employee retention and attract top talent. Companies can get creative and make space in their organizations to take care of their employees.

An employee assistance program (EAP) is an essential service for both the organization and its employees. EAPs are designed to support employees beyond medical plans and make a greater impact on employees’ personal lives. A successful EAP not only allows employees to thrive but can also contribute to organizations’ recruiting and retention efforts as well as supporting a positive company culture.

Denise Bouillerce, director of marketing and public relations at Stanford Health Care Valleycare, spoke on even more resources that organizations can provide for their employees that are small but successful. In addition to an EAP that provides personal or marital counseling, she highlighted that an organization that supports overall employee wellness is one that succeeds in employee happiness. Providing financial literacy mentors and even free gym memberships are great examples.

Helps recruiting

The upcoming generation workforce expects mental health resources as much as medical benefits. In many ways, mental health directly impacts physical health. An organization that offers innovative EAPs can gain more potential employee interest than other organizations without one. When a prospective employee reviews a company’s benefits, they are likely to focus on an EAP as much as they are focusing on other benefits such as medical plans, retirement plans, and other important benefits. When a company has an impressive and extensive EAP program, it demonstrates its commitment to employee well-being.

Increases retention

Employee retention can be improved with a strong EAP. Losing employees deprives companies of irreplaceable skills and knowledge, and will leave a time-consuming burden of replacing the position. But an effective EAP can help lower a company’s turnover rate and retain its employees by promoting a healthy work environment. Employees stay at the company when they are happy and engaged. This happens when they are offered assistance in ways that demonstrate that their wellbeing is essential to the company.

Creates happy and productive employees

Companies should be strategic about what message the company culture is sending. For instance, a culture that rewards overworking is not healthy or attractive to

employees. But, a company with a strong EAP can limit workplace stress and allow employees to have a voice in the problems they face both at home and work. This encourages a healthy work-life balance that is essential to job satisfaction. Companies can make it obvious to their employees that they understand they have a personal life outside of work, ultimately creating a positive company culture.

Supports women

Danika Meredith, managing partner and founder of Constellations Consulting Company, spoke about a benefit all companies should offer: child care. A Clutch study found that only 6% of companies offer employees child care benefits and more than 1 in 10 women are dissatisfied with the child care benefits their company offers. Meredith expressed that women often lose all gains they made in the workplace once they become mothers and are expected to be the caregiver to the child. She highlighted that this concern is resolved by providing child care and uplifting women in the workplace. Child care benefits can greatly improve women’s morale. When offered, women feel stronger about the possibility to advance. Child care benefits address employee satisfaction, stress levels, financial burden, and boost employee productivity.

When companies listen to the real needs of the employees and get creative, the results are seen in employee loyalty and productivity. Some companies have extended a helping hand in the transition to working from home, offering their employees a one thousand dollar stipend to set up a home office.

Overall, a strong EAP, with mental health care and other abstract services, results in a strong company culture where there are more empathetic employees and stronger relationships.

By Julia Gallegos

Julia is a senior at San Diego State University studying Public Relations. Currently, she is a social media intern for Meals on Wheels nonprofit. After graduation, she hopes to continue traveling and step into a career that will help her community.

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