Reduce Holiday Hangover

How Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and Work-Life Services Can Minimize Financial Stress and Increase Productivity

February 1, 2016
By Marie Abate

The holidays are behind us, the presents are unwrapped and now reality is setting in. If your employees are like many Americans, they may have spent a substantial amount of money over the holidays and have decided to charge some or all of their holiday purchases to pay for them at a later date. In fact, according to the American Research Group, the average American spends around $900 for holiday gifts.1 Also, nearly 1 in 3 Americans say they have used a credit card in the past to buy a gift for their significant other or a family member that they could not pay off immediately.2 Unless your employees have a plan in place to break this cycle, January may be a scary month for employees as they open their credit card bills, and your employees may begin to feel some anxiety about their finances.

How does this affect your business? Research has shown that employees are typically 37% less productive when distracted by a personal issue—and finances are usually high on that list.3  The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that money and finances remain the most common source of stress in our country.4 Common side effects of financial stress include unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, weight gain and an increased usage of alcohol. Financial stress can also be linked to depression, anxiety and sleep problems.5 While this may seem like a personal issue, when financial stress affects your employees, it can also affect both productivity and your bottom line.

Luckily, there are some helpful programs that employers can use to help get their employees back on track.

EAPs and Work-Life Services: What Are They and How Do They Work?

EAPs are confidential services that are designed to help employees resolve any personal or professional issues they might have that may be affecting them at the workplace. Issues commonly addressed within the EAP include work-life balance, relationship or family issues, supervisory or work-related conflicts, alcohol or addiction counseling and anger management issues. An EAP provides employees and their household members with free, confidential assistance to help with personal or professional challenges that may interfere with work or family responsibilities. Employees usually receive unlimited telephonic access to a variety of EAP services. When a participant calls into the EAP, an EAP specialist will work with the participant to create an action plan and identify resources to help the participant resolve his or her issues in a timely, confidential and effective manner.

Additional work-life services are also available to help your employees. Work-life services can include financial, legal, childcare, eldercare services and more. These services offer an additional benefit to the employee so he or she can easily receive free consulting services and/or referrals. For example, to use financial services, your employee may receive free unlimited access to financial experts who provide telephonic financial consulting and education. If further financial advice is needed, participants will usually be connected to a local community resource to help them with their issues

Financial consultation services can also help employees with issues such as holiday spending, debt management and consolidation, tax planning and preparation, credit counseling, college funding, retirement planning and budgeting.

How EAP and Work-Life Services Are Valuable

Many American workers struggle with financial issues every day, especially after the holidays, and they carry those stresses into their workplace. When your employees are juggling a variety of personal issues such as financial challenges, it can be tough for them to focus completely while at work, leaving “less” mind for other work-related tasks. Over time, financial challenges can interfere with your employees’ performance at work, lower their productivity and increase costs for your organization.

By using an EAP and work-life services, employees can receive assistance before financial stress becomes a major issue. One study showed that when EAP services were provided, work loss was avoided in 60% of cases, with an average savings of 17 hours per case. Also, 72% of the persons represented by these cases also showed improved work productivity, with an average gain of 43%. When legal/financial work-life services were included as part of the EAP, work loss was avoided in 39% of cases and work productivity improved in 36% of cases.6

An EAP can also save your organization valuable money and resources. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an EAP can generally be expected to generate an ROI of $5 to $16 annually per $1 invested.

Key Takeaways

Offering EAPs and financial work-life services can help your employees get back on track financially after a busy holiday season. EAP specialists can also work with your employees to reduce stress and start a plan of action to help resolve any outside issue that may be affecting them in the workplace. By offering EAPs and financial work-life services, your employees can speak to both financial experts in the field and trained EAP specialists who can start helping them resolve their issue safely, confidentially and effectively, leaving them happy, productive and successful in the workplace.

BHS is in the business of bettering lives, so employees can bring their best selves to work. To learn more about how our EAP solutions can help your organization, contact BHS at 877-524-0555 or email us at betteringlives@bhsonline.com.

Sources:

  1. http://americanresearchgroup.com/holiday/
  2. http://www.forbes.com/sites/moneybuilder/2011/02/17/three-ways-to-keep-those-secret-purchases-secret/
  3. http://www.financialfinesse.com/blog/2011/12/the-impact-of-financial-stress-on-job-productivity/
  4. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2014/stress-report.pdf
  5. http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/how-avoid-health-risks-come-with-financial-stress/
  6. Attridge M. (2010). Personal and work outcomes of employee assistance services. Paper presented at: American Psychological Association Annual Conference; San Francisco.

By Marie Abate,