By Dr. Kimberly Gray, chief clinical officer, Solutions EAP

I have the SOLUTION.

For years, I’ve made this comment jokingly to my co-workers. The fact of the matter is, when I’m at work and distracted by the day-to-day happenings of my personal life, I’m less productive. You may identify with some of them: a sick child, finances or my car that’s about to die and needs a tune-up. Before you know it, all of these worries add up and can become overwhelming!

As a “boss,” I see it from time to time with my employees. Being distracted by your personal life can show up as a “bad” day at work. Then, the one or two bad days end up leading to more “bad” days than “good” days.  Those bad days lead to sloppy if not just poor work, a decrease in productivity and eventually not being timely, calling in sick – the list goes on and on. Not to mention the complaints that can come from co-workers because their colleague isn’t the most cheerful person to be around. All of this can make one’s head spin, much less put one’s job in jeopardy.

This spring I had the privilege of hearing Colin Powell speak at the National Council for Behavioral Health. He talked about getting to know his troops as he first began his military career. What struck me was that he knew they not only had to be physically strong, but mentally strong as well. Not that most of us could truly compare our work to a battlefield, but the truth of the matter is we have to be more mentally healthy than not to be able to optimally perform at work. Our employees have to have the capacity to handle the mental stress at home and the mental stress at work. And sometimes in life, that’s a lot to ask of someone!

A proven opportunity for employers to address these issues is by offering an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An EAP is no longer a program focused solely on behavioral health sessions, or conversely offered only to those who are “in trouble at work” and being mandated to participate or lose their job. They are so much more! Did you know that EAP services can assist employees with the following?

  • Wellness and health coaching
  • Relationship issues
  • Parenting
  • Child/adolescent issues
  • Grief and loss
  • Achieving a goal
  • Work/life balance

In addition, counselors can be on-site at the workplace or even at the employee health clinic as part of the health care team. New technologies have allowed us to provide counseling via televideo in the privacy of an employee’s own home.

Offering EAP services is a way to provide the mental health and wellness every employee needs and deserves so they can spend more time not worrying about their personal life and truly be the person/employee you hired them to be. The most recent study completed by Morneau Shepell demonstrated that for each dollar spent, the ROI was eight dollars. Where else can you receive that type of return on an investment? EAPs offer an inexpensive investment with a HUGE return.

Now back to that car issue. Oh, I can call my EAP – they can help with my decision-making and prioritizing!