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Are Employer Benefits really Benefitting You?

When searching for a job, what are the perks we usually check for when applying? Tuition reimbursement? Work from home capability? An on-site gym? Health insurance? An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for employee access to therapy and if times get hard? For those unaware, EAP programs are an employer paid benefit which allows an employee to see a Therapist of an approved number of sessions at no cost to the employee. Besides pay, these are some of the benefits employers might offer which sometimes helps one determine whether or not it is worth it to take a job. What happens when these so called benefits don't benefit the employees?

As a mental health provider, I have taken on EAP clients for individual therapy, sometimes with a number of clients coming from one organization. Sadly, when this phenomenon occurs, the challenges are generally the same. The theme regarding the work environment are seemingly the same; poor management with lack of support, excruciating production demands increase an employees anxiety and fear of loss along with description of a 'toxic' work environment and not feeling safe. While this particular employer may offer EAP, how helpful is it for the employee to complete their 4-10 therapy sessions to return to the same toxic environment which contributed to them needing to see a Therapist in the first place?

While an employer may offer health insurance, with some plans are considered high deductible health plans in which the deductible is so expensive, the employee ends up not going to the doctor as needed to avoid racking up medical debt. An employer may also offer a work from home benefit, but does this employee function better when they have human contact working in the office? Is it possible the employee can choose their work location to identify which work location is best for them? If there is a night shift on board within an organization, does those employees get the same quality food as the day shift team?

One might consider, if large corporations analyze the use of benefits such as EAP for corporate culture reflection. Do corporations actually consider on an annual basis, "If X amount of employees are using EAP, taking STD or FMLA, is possible the workplace climate is contributing?" Does the executive leadership team within corporations evaluate if there are tactics in place harmful to its employees which may be contributing to high turnover, low employee morale, and low productivity and revenue loss? It appears, unless there is a significant loss of revenue, it is the employer belief new, unknowing and unsuspecting individuals will replace the burned out, scorned, and most likely depressed or anxious employees which exist. Natural selection it is sometimes called. "Survival" of the fittest. I challenge this way of operating a corporation to ask; what if a corporation actually took care of their employees on a daily basis, rather than offering a benefit that may or may not be used? How might the climate improve to have happier, healthier employees who are high producers who do not desire to leave? It sounds like a win-win. Why don't corporations do more than some of the minimal fringe benefits being offered.

If you are a leader within an organization, be encouraged to ask yourself and fellow colleagues, "Are we doing enough or just the minimum to support our employees?" While it is nice to offer benefits to employees, how is your organization measuring programs effectiveness? Is your organization not asking the questions due to a lack of desire to know the answers? Asking your most valuable assets--the employees about their employee experience may allow your organization to begin addressing the real issues that may be contributing to a toxic work environment.

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