Employee Assistance Programs

An Introduction

Employee assistance programs are offered by employers with an intention to help employees and their household members deal with personal problems that might affect their work performance, health and well-being. The programs are designed in such a manner that employees can seek help on their own without other employers knowing about their participation. EAPs offer short-term counseling and referrals for various issues affecting, employee emotional and mental wellness, such as substance abuse, stress, grief and psychological disorders. Counseling helps to solve employees’ problems. Therefore, they concentrate in their roles leading to increased productivity and decreased absenteeism as problems are solved.

EAPs play a consultative role as managers and supervisors help employees overcome organizational issues. A manager will consult a counselor, in a case, where he notices a problem with an employee on how he/she should approach it without raising an alarm that might scare off the employee. A comprehensive evaluation of an employee’s situation would help the counselor in communicating the general obstacles to the management. EAPs offer training services on stress management, crisis intervention, prevention of sexual harassment and organizational downsizing in addition to its effects.

Training provides a guide on how to identify and handle problems even before they occur. The employees are educated and they feel good about themselves thus boosting their morale. Due to the fact that these sessions are private and confidential, consequently, it gives the employees the courage to approach a counselor in their time of need without the worry of facing criticism from their workmates.

Confidentiality is also important as it prevents discrimination among employees, which might arise from the segregation of those who visit counselors with similar or different problems. The one-on-one interaction between concerned parties helps employees to open up. This is due to the instructiveness and the fact that the employee gets close attention from a counselor. Services are more personalized and proactive support is offered. Solutions are, therefore, custom-made in order to suite a problem.

The most beneficial feature is the cost of the services. EAP services are free of charge for employees. Thus, they are accessible and affordable to all. This allows all employees access the services on whatever level they are in within an organization. EAPs provide measurable outcomes and results such as increased productivity from employees and lower medical costs that may arise from depression or pressure. Moreover, employees become more motivated as their self-esteem is raised during such sessions leading to reduced turnover, as the working environment is supportive. Finally, this in turn helps an organization to achieve its goals as per the given targets.

Employee Assistance Programs and Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders occur when employees are in constant worry and/or fear of an occurrence or event. In an attempt to ensure that such disorders do not affect performance and productivity at the workplace, employers have provided assistance programs for their workers.

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There are various categories of anxiety disorders in the workplace, including generalized anxiety disorder, in which an employee is overly concerned about issues that any other employee would deem normal matters (Craske, 2003). Employee has a constant fear and worry that even he/she is not able to explain. In this case, the stimulus is not focused on one situation. There are also panic disorders, which are caused by persistent and brief attacks over a period of time. In order to identify employees with this disorder, one notices the symptoms of shaking, trembling, confusion and/or nausea. Phobias occur when employee has a fear to a specific stimulus, which is usually known by individual. For example, the fear of heights may cause worker to avoid elevators. Another disorder is the post-traumatic stress disorder. Such a disorder occurs when employee undergoes a traumatic time/experience like sexual harassment. He/she may find it difficult to let go of what happened. This disorder is characterized by depression (Craske, 2003).

The anxiety disorder considered in the study is generalized anxiety disorder. In order to identify this kind of anxiety in employees, the major characteristics would include long lasting anxiety, fear and worry about their work performance (Craske, 2003). Employees may create a problem in the decision-making process as their concentration at the workplace is low. Thus, they tend to be absent-minded. Individuals will sweat profusely on their palms because of nervousness. This will also be accompanied by a lack of confidence.

In the case of generalized anxiety disorder, prevention is something more or less that cannot be achieved. On the other hand, the employee, who is able to identify it early, may prevent it from worsening or getting into the state of depression (Craske, 2003). The treatment of this disorder can be offered in two ways. Individuals suffering from generalized disorder can be treated by taking a drug prescription from a professional counselor or by undergoing psychotherapy (Schutz, 2006). In most cases, a combination of both is advised to achieve the best results. Psychotherapy entails counseling of a patient. Patients also help identify the source and cause of the disorder. The root of the problem facilitates to come up with the right solution. In both cases, treatment takes some time to take effect. Psychotherapy includes a series of visits to a therapist depending on the state of patient. It takes more time/visits for those, who have already reached the depression stage.

When prescriptions are followed to the latter, employees suffering from generalized anxiety disorders have a high chance of regaining their health and mental state for a certain period of time (Schutz, 2006). It is a step by step healing process, and every step counts. It is advisable that patient does not skip medication or stop going to counseling just because he/she has started to feel better. An improved feeling can make patient think that it is acceptable to cut medication short. In the case of psychotherapy, counselors should help ensure that their patients adhere to the requirements. For checking the effectiveness of treatment, counselors must control their patients even after their conclusion on treatment in order to monitor which method and process of treatment works better than the other.

Employee suffering from generalized anxiety disorder affects performance at the workplace negatively. The reason is that he/she has the low level of concentration, which results in poor productivity. Employees suffering from this disorder are so worried that they are afraid of taking initiatives to do something. As a result, creativity at the workplace is reduced. Employees fear doing what can land them in problems with management. Employee may take longer than usual to make a decision at the workplace due to being absent-minded. Consequently, work is under threat that can undermine the attainment of organizational goals and targets.

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Paper work and soft copy records are unkempt as employees undergoing anxiety disorders have sweaty palms as well as being shaky constantly. This affects the record processing and keeping. In turn, this leads to unsatisfied customers and management, which results in poor communication within the organization.

In conclusion, anxiety disorders may not be preventable in certain situations, but they should be controllable in the day-to-day events at the workplace. In implementing employee assistance programs, workers should take charge and help themselves by relying on the provided services in order to minimize a negative effect on work performance in the office. 

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