As we transition from an Industrial Age to a Digital Age, families are experiencing more stresses due to the changes in skill sets. Some are prepared for the changes and will embrace them, while others are not prepared for the changes and will not willingly make them. Some are reluctant to pursue an education to prepare themselves for new responsibilities.
Unfortunately, these changes are causing stress within the families and among workers in the workplace. Many workers lost jobs as companies made changes in their goals and plans for the future, resulting in restructuring of the job force. Losing these jobs intensified the stresses within the families, causing marriages to fall apart and put added pressure on the working spouse to support the family on one salary instead of two.
Because we are individuals, we have different ways of coping with these changes. Some employees resort to alcohol or drugs to cope with the changes or may develop mental illnesses. As a result, some employees may need help in adapting to these changes and others may not. Because the employees who are struggling with change do not ask for help, the employer or business owner has to be observant of and attentive to the indicators of stress within the workers. It is estimated the seventy-six percent of substance abusers are working. Additionally, there should be a plan in place to address these issues.
In the past, health insurance companies introduced Employee Assistance Programs to the companies to help employees adjust to changes. However, thirty-eight percent of employers chose to make these plans available only to their executives up until a few years ago. In recent years, however, Employee Assistance Programs are becoming very popular, as seventy-four percent of employers are making these programs available to all workers who are in need of the services.
Employers have found that it would cost them anywhere from twenty-five percent to as much as two hundred percent of the employees’ salary to replace him/her, because of problems with substance abuse or mental illness. These losses total $197 billion per year nationwide. The employees have a tendency to be tardy, take excessive days off, suffer industrial accidents, experience limited production, conflicts with co-workers, and high turnover. These employees were very valuable to the company because of their knowledge and skill pertaining to their jobs.
Workers between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five are more apt to struggle with mental illness as well as substance abuse, and experience high turnover, while Baby Boomers who need to remain in the job force during retirement age, will have problems with masking their pain with alcohol. This may exacerbate any other underlying health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, increasing health care costs.
Once the employees are able to enroll in the programs, the employers see results which save them time and money in recruiting new employees to replace the troubled employees. The Employee Assistance Programs consist of wellness programs which encourage the employees to make lifestyle changes. The employees also need adequate medical coverage to cover the costs of doctors’ visits and counselling. Available through health insurance programs and voluntary insurance programs from life and health insurance carriers, these programs are gaining in popularity as a way for employers to address employee substance abuse and mental illness issues on the job.
In conclusion, companies which incorporate Employee Assistance Programs into their benefits packages will retain their valuable employees rather than spend time and money in recruiting new employees.
Gail Cavanaugh is an Independent Life and Health Insurance Agent representing Colonial Life.