Whether you’re a small business owner or simply the person handling the benefits packages you offer to employees of your small business, it’s a good idea to understand the basic differences between employee wellness programs and employee assistance programs. This will help you make important decisions about the type of benefits packages you offer your employees now and in the future. With so many businesses today facing painful cost-cutting measures, it’s good to get the facts before cutting out a program that provides more benefits to the business than you really see in the price tag.
Employee Assistance Programs
These programs essentially provide assessments, support, and referrals that are relevant to your employees’ mental and emotional health. The issues that are primarily dealt with in an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) include: substance abuse, family changes (birth, death, empty nest, and divorce), emotional distress, work relationship issues, and concerns over aging parents. It can also extend to help with financial or legal issues (unrelated to work) employees are struggling with.
The main thing to remember about EAPs is that they are often designed to help your employee find some sort of relief from outside problems that impact his or her ability to function properly on the job. Providing this service helps your employees work through these rough periods and recover from them much more quickly so they can turn their minds back to the job at hand.
Employee Wellness Programs
The other end of the spectrum is the Employee Wellness Program. Much like the name implies, this is a program designed to keep your employees hale and hardy. They provide important things like health screenings, education about health conditions (prevention and treatment), and actually do help improve employee morale and job performance when used appropriately.
There are other benefits business owners stand to receive when offering this to employees, however. These benefits include lower health insurance costs for the company with high participation, lower absenteeism among employees due to illnesses (healthy employees take fewer sick days), and higher engagement among employees. Wellness programs make employees feel appreciated which, in turn, makes them more productive for the greater good of the business.
It’s important to know though that neither of these programs are insurance and neither offer protection for employees or the business in the event of an onsite accident or injury. For those things you’ll need to invest in worker’s compensation insurance — the sooner the better.