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Employees expect a tradeoff when they come into work. In exchange for dedicating their time and hard work to the company's overall goals, they know that they'll be compensated with salary, benefits and other incentives. But there's more to keeping employees happy and effective than just money.

Managers recognized long ago that their staff members sometimes require additional assistance in areas over and above salary, which is why so many businesses have plans in place for employee assistance programs. But despite the fact that these benefits are available in many companies, it turns out that many employees aren't taking advantage of the assistance being offered to them.

Understanding employee assistance programs
You may be wondering what exactly an employee assistance program consists of. After all, you provide your staff members with a salary, in many cases with benefits and often with the tools and knowledge they need to develop professionally.

EAPs are slightly different in how they work. Rather than material benefits, these programs often offer workers the emotional and mental resources they may need to perform their jobs effectively. Depending on the needs of your company and your staff, EAP resources may include things like childcare facilities, personal, emotional, and professional counseling, tuition assistance and more. Some states have specific laws governing what services must be provided, usually at no cost to the employee.

Bringing EAPs up to speed
The suite of services offered by a company's EAP is robust and often has the potential to help employees tremendously in a variety of situations. Unfortunately, it seems as though not nearly as many employees across the country are taking advantage of these services as could be, and employers and HR professionals are beginning to wonder why. In fact, according to Human Resource Executive Online, only about 5 percent of employees surveyed are taking advantage of these services for stress-related issues.

According to the source, one main factor keeping employees away from their HR offices and their companies' EAP services is the stigma, perceived or otherwise, surrounding these resources. In fact, when employees were surveyed to find out where they go to deal with stress in life, their employers' EAP resources didn't even break the top 5 on the list.

This is largely an issue of communication and policymaking. Fortunately, small businesses can work with PEO companies to make sure that employees are well aware of the suite of wellness-related options they have available to them.