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Check out our weekly blog posts and see the latest news and discussions happening in the HR world of business.

Do You Have a Place for Employees in Crisis?

When we see a coworker upset, our first port of call is to check in with them, find out what’s going on, and see how we can help. But, realistically, as an employer, our ability to “fix” things is often limited. Enter Abel HR’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which can provide access to short-term, confidential counseling and mental health services.  

Now, here’s the thing with mental health services. Despite all the recent efforts to destigmatize the act of seeking help for mental health concerns, the reality is that seeking help is angst-inducing, and especially so when your employer is involved. However, EAPs are fast becoming a hot perk for companies to offer as part of their benefits package because they benefit both parties.  

Employers themselves stand to benefit from a work-based intervention program because they have been found to lower costs in the form of reduced absenteeism, fewer workers comp claims, and lower overall health care costs. Further, research suggests that EAPs boost morale, engagement, and even productivity, which in turn decreases employee turnover. Workers, meanwhile, find that the addition of an EAP suggests that their employer is committed to both their mental well-being and overall health.

While all EAPs aren’t created equal, we wanted to go ahead and share some details about the EAP that Abel HR offers to help you better understand the nature of the program, how it can be used, and how such an offering should best be described to your workers.

Who’s eligible and under what circumstances?
While the name would suggest that it’s just for your workers, the access to the services extends to both the employee and anyone else living in their household. In terms of when they can access them, the EAP brochure notes that reasons for seeking care can be personal or job-related and might include stress, anxiety, or depression, substance misuse (alcoholism or drug dependence), family issues (such as separation or divorce), relationship concerns, bereavement, child or elder care-associated stress, or any other personal and family issues.

What can they do?
When you – or a trusted manager or coworker – make a call, you will be scheduled for an appointment with a trained counselor working at one of the three designated EAP centers or staffing a 24-hour crisis hotline. The counselor can help you identify personal problems, provide short-term counseling and, where necessary, set up referrals to local providers who can provide ongoing services.

Will my employer get mad?
As we noted above, mental health issues remain a bit of a sticky issue for both employers and employees. However, your employer will not be made aware if you or a member of your household require EAP services. Now, even if a manager or trusted coworker makes the call on your behalf, they cannot use the fact that you accessed the EAP service against you, either to threaten your job security, holding you back for potential promotion, or in any other way.

Further, as with any health-related issue, your counselor will not share information regarding your meeting or even provide records of your visit to your employer; instead, they are kept at the EAP office and will only be released to your employer should you make a written request.

How much does accessing the EAP cost?
The EAP is offered at no cost to employees and their families because your employer has already paid for your potential participation in the service.

Do I have to use the EAP?
As we noted above, some issues may be beyond the scope of the EAP. However, they serve as a wonderful jumping off point for recommendations to local providers that may be better positioned to tackle the nature of your concern. Still, if you do not want to use the EAP – even if a referral is made on your behalf – you are in no way obligated to do so and again, will not face retaliation for declining services.

Ok, who do I call?
There are three offices associated with Abel’s EAP, as well as a 24-hour crisis hotline. Counselors can be reached Monday through Friday, 9am until 5pm, at the following locations and phone numbers

  • Newark: 973-972-5429
  • Piscataway: 732-235-5930
  • Voorhees: 856-770-5750
  • 24-hour crisis hotline: 1-866-327-8242

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