Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) were initially designed to help those workers who had alcohol-related problems. However, over time they evolved to cover all those issues which would affect the performance of employees in their professional duties (Weiss, 2010). According to Weiss (2010), a DuPont worker in the company’s medical department advocated for the recognition of alcohol abuse as a disease to which workers are entitled to treatment. Currently, the United States Disability Act has categorized addiction to alcohol as a disability. These are some of legal issues which organizations should consider when coming up with EAPs depending on the country or state under consideration. In addition, cultural leanings and needs of the region under consideration matter as well (Roberts, 2008).
The same way that companies periodically monitor their financial statements, the safety situation as pertains to the workers of all organizations should be of paramount concern as well. Data relating to employee safety hazards should be recorded and compared over years, and any deviations recorded should be used to assist the management in monitoring safety efforts (Robert and Jackson, 2010, P.486).
These safety efforts can be achieved by analyzing departmental injuries and accidents, work shifts and job categories. It is also possible to measure safety efforts which have been put in place by firms through comparison of the incident rates with those prevailing across the industry as well as the benchmark targets. Without any regard to the measures which are used, it is essential that one is able to evaluate and track safety management efforts by use of the relevant HR metrics (Robert and Jackson, 2010, P.486). Employers across several industries have realized that putting emphasis on safety and health can pay off in several ways. It lowers employees benefit expenses for health care, reduces the cost of compensating the employees, and results in a highly productive manpower as a result of employer’s efforts in reduction of safety hazards and consequently stress levels. In multinationals, employee health problems are varied and inevitable (Robert and Jackson, 2010, P.486).
These variations can emerge due to regional differences in company operations, the job groups of employees, what their jobs entail and the general working environment which the job offers (Robert and Jackson, 2010, P.486). For instance, health problems may be minor, from common colds for companies’ guards to drug and alcohol problems for the field staff. The other employees may have emotional health problems which can negatively affect their work (Robert and Jackson, 2010, P.488). Some of these problems may be chronic although others are just transitory. The multinationals are especially challenged when they try to put in place the same EAPs for their employees across the globe.
Therefore, it is pertinent that the companies should consider their employees’ diversity when designing EAPs. There have been calls for a fundamental change in the quality of healthcare through redesigning to better cater for employee needs and hence ensure increased productivity (Daniels, Teems, & Carroll, 2005, P.46). Due to the complexity of the health care system, the current practices where one policy is taken as capable of covering all categories of employees should be looked at from a new perspective. This can help an organization effectively cover employees from different racial and cultural backgrounds. The high frustration levels among both clinicians and patients mean that the problems associated with health care remain.
According to a landmark healthcare report called Crossing the Quality Chasm by the Institute of Medicine, all stakeholders such as the health professionals, policymakers, purchasers of care and consumer advocates have been called upon to ensure that the United States’ workforce gets the best care possible (Daniels, Teems, & Carroll, 20005, P.36) . Therefore, there is a need for multinationals to reduce the burden of disability, injury and illness upon all cadres of their employees. There should be the emphasis on customized services based on the values and needs of patients.
Due to geographical, cultural, social and economic diversity of locations where multinationals have operations, it is essential that they provide EAPs which are appropriate for the intended beneficiaries (Roberts, 2008). This calls for understanding of the needs and cultural leanings of areas where they are put in place. Those implementing the EAPs ought to have correct wording for the benefits they offer. For instance, instead of providing divorce or debt related assistance and calling it as such, it can be rephrased as for instance “Better home and work environment program”. Research has found out that those employees who have drug abuse problems tend to have higher incidents of lapses in workplace safety than the rest of the company population. Elliott and Shelley, (2005), argue that effects of alcohol and drugs lead to reduction of cognitive as well as behavioral performance and hence compromised safety in the workplace (Elliott and Shelley, 2005, p.130).
Therefore, these are some of the considerations which have to be put in place by multinationals when implementing EAPs. Employers spend billions of dollars annually due to millions of workers who abuse alcohol and other illicit substances. Therefore, companies should have policies which prohibit employees from reporting for work while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (Robert and Jackson, 2010.p. 486).According to Bhagat, Steverson, and Segovis (2007), “EAPs are important institutional mechanisms for promoting health and emotional well-being, retaining valued employees, reducing absenteeism, and improving performance effectiveness”
It is important for organizations to take stock of those employee categories that have the highest possibility of engaging in substance abuse so as to put in place the necessary measures. For instance, white collar employees are less likely to engage in drug abuse when compared to their blue collar job colleagues (Robert and Jackson, 2010, P.486). Currently, there is an emerging trend where big companies such as Toyota, Walt Disney Park and Resorts and Harrah’s entertainment among others have doctors based on their premises. This has helped them cut down health-related costs while ensuring that the needs of their employees are well catered for. However, when implementing such programs, companies and doctors should strive to ensure that employees appreciate the services offered lest they look at them as cost cutting measures (Robert and Jackson, 2010, P.486).
By having health care provisions within the premises, productivity is increased because it goes hand in hand with good health and employees’ satisfaction. Emotional/ mental health of employees is also of paramount importance. Events such as divorce, medical problems or death of a spouse can affect an employee negatively leading to poor job performance (Robert and Jackson, 2010, P.489). In such cases, the supervisors or managers in charge of these employees should contact the HR staff who can refer to the specific employees for further treatment by professionals.
For instance, needs of an African American worker are much different from those of a Hispanic employee (Esquillin, 2008). There also exist differences among employees of the same race depending on how long one has stayed in the United States or whether one was born in the USA. Further, due to cultural, economic, and political changes across the globe, new generation of managers have focused more on the importance of taking a proactive, preventive approach to employees’ wellbeing and health (Malhomme, 2007). This plays a big role in the reduction of workplace problems like absenteeism and high labor turnover.