Jobsinghana.com
 

Articles in Career

Articles in Entrepreneurship

Articles in Networking/Social Media

Articles in Resumes & Cover Letters

Articles in Salary / Benefits

Employers See Value In Helping Those Laid Off

A growing number of employers give laid-off staffers something extra to ease the pain of their job loss: continued access to employee-assistance programs.So-called EAPs help people cope with stress, depression, marital discord and money problems.

Most plans in the U.S. provide unlimited phone advice via 24-7 hotlines, plus face-to-face sessions with mental-health experts or financial counselors. In the U.S. alone, about 76% of employers with 500 or more employees offer the benefit to current workers, concludes a 2006 survey by Mercer, a human-resources consultancy. Large employers are more likely to offer the programs than smaller ones. 

Proponents claim employee-assistance programs boost productivity because they help workers deal with disruptive personal issues, usually during their off-hours. At big companies, roughly 15% of the work force typically calls the EAP each year, estimates Ceridian Corp., a major provider. 

Individuals who are laid off usually lose access to the service within weeks. But more than 100 employers with EAPs run by ComPsych Corp. have maintained the program for three to 12 months following layoffs, says Richard Chaifetz, chief executive of the big Chicago provider. Extended coverage "is starting to pick up," he adds. "We’re seeing more of it over the last six months" as the economy has slowed. 

Employers offering the continued benefit range from small businesses and local governments to major corporations. They hope to reduce resentment and litigation among those let go. Laid-off workers who quickly overcome their anger "are more likely to be able to find a job," Mr. Chaifetz says. 

Aiding former staffers also earns management goodwill and bolsters a workplace’s reputation, says Leonard Sanicola, benefits-practice leader at WorldatWork, a human-resources trade association. "That could improve survivors’ productivity and morale." 

Other providers of employee-assistance programs question these purported gains and say they see few clients offering to cover laid-off workers for extended periods. "The payoff isn’t there for them [employers], because the employee is gone," says Zachary Meyer, head of the EAP business at Ceridian in Minneapolis. 

When Mobility Electronics Inc. laid off 15 of its 93 U.S. workers in July, the Scottsdale, Ariz., maker of power adapters for electronic gadgets decided to continue health insurance and the employee-assistance program through September. 

About 30% of Mobility Electronics’ staffers used the counseling service during the first half of 2007, says human-resources director Joan E. Dawson. She hasn’t yet tracked use among recently laid-off associates. Even if the prolonged benefit only "helps some folk, we have gotten our reward," she says. "It’s not a financial burden" for the company, she adds. 

Florida’s Sarasota County extended access to its employee-assistance program for two months after laying off 64 of its 2,281 workers in May and August. The county spends $1.58 a month for each former and present staffer covered by the EAP, according to Sue Marcinko, executive director for talent and performance management. At that rate, "why would you not want to [continue] it?" she asks. An extended employee-assistance program represents a way "to remain an employer of choice," Ms. Marcinko suggests. 

Gigi Bates shares that view. She was laid off as a county building-permit coordinator in the spring. Nearly two months later, the county’s clerk of the courts offered her a deputy clerk’s position. She decided to rejoin the Sarasota County government partly because officials treated her respectfully during her layoff. 

Though Ms. Bates didn’t turn to the employee-assistance program while jobless, its availability was "like having a safety net," she says. She had taken advantage of the service three times before, once when her son had problems at school. 

Teresa Mast, a Sarasota County administrative assistant untouched by the cuts, says her morale improved after some laid-off colleagues praised EAP counselors for helping them overcome worries about self-worth and money. "I have even more respect than I did before for the organization I work for," Ms. Mast says. 

Maureen Harkins’s case shows how both employee and employer can gain from the prolonged benefit. Ms. Harkins felt "very unjustly treated" when a Long Island, N.Y., health-care agency dismissed her in April for alleged poor performance as an orders-department assistant. The Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y., resident considered suing for wrongful dismissal. 

The agency promised Ms. Harkins six sessions with a clinical social worker at National Employee Assistance Providers Inc. and six months of unlimited phone consultations. Her sessions ended in late July. Ms. Harkins remains jobless and says she is "still angry." Nevertheless, she adds, "I was able to let go a lot of the resentment I had." 

 By Joann S. Lublin, From The Wall Street Journal Online

Email your comments to cjeditor@dowjones.com

 

Source :
To Top