Do you need help with a financial, legal, domestic or mental
Concerned about drug addiction, your career, alcoholism,
adoption, AIDS, day care, dependent care, hyperactive children,
stress, gambling, grief due to a death, marital relations and the
Until recently, these concerns were considered personal problems
that belonged outside the workplace. Now, however, more than
one-third of the nation's workers can dial a number for
employer-paid, confidential counseling and referral services, says
Richard Bickerton of the Employee Assistance Professionals
Association of Arlington, Va.
Early on, when employee assistance programs came on the scene,
they dealt only with alcoholism problems. Now employee assistance
programs provide help on virtually anything that affects your
performance on the job. Employers use these services because it's
good business; they want their employees to overcome their problems
and remain productive.
``A comprehensive service that costs employers only $2 to $3 per
month per employee lowers insurance costs and reduces absenteeism,
accidents and turnover,'' says Jesse Bernstein, president of
Employee Assistance Associates Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich.
``Traditional employee benefits programs cover physical illness
and disabilities, but few offer comprehensive mental health or help
with other contemporary life-management concerns,'' says Ronald
Moreland of Managed Health Network of Los Angeles.
Moreland believes the onset of recession in the U.S. economy
``will impose an increasing feeling of uncertainty on employees,''
making a confidential source of help even more essential.
Employers are promoting use of their employee assistance
programs to their employees because they want to have small problems
dealt with before they become big problems. ``It's far better for a
parent to ask for help with a difficult 2-year-old than to have to
call years later when the child is a teen-ager who has been
arrested,'' Bernstein says.
Companies find that when employees use an employee assistance
program early, while the problem is still manageable, there are
fewer referrals that require use of benefits. At Employee
Assistance Associates, whose programs promote calling its counselors
early, only about half of the calls to counselors requires the use
of benefits; the other half requires only talking with the
counselor or getting a referral that doesn't require benefits.
Bernstein says that the seriousness and range of a company
president's personal problems often determine whether or not an
employee assistance program is established and what range of
services is offered. …