Employee Assistance Program provides range of free services

Today’s employees are faced with managing much more than their jobs, whether it’s caring for an elderly relative or deciding on the best financial plan for their family. BGSU offers a variety of helpful, free and confidential services through Impact Solutions’ Employee Assistance Program (EAP) — a valuable but often overlooked resource, said Lisa Dubose, manager of employee relations and training and development in the Office of Human Resources.

The Employee Assistance Program is one part of BGSU’s total rewards package and is no longer “the best-kept secret in benefits,” said Sandy Heck, associate director of human resources and benefits. An unusual aspect of BGSU’s program is that it’s available not only to employees but also to their spouses, children, parents and even in-laws.

Heck and Dubose encourage the University community to become familiar with all that’s offered through the EAP and start the new year off by using its services and discounts to put their affairs in order and take better care of themselves. <br><br>

The program provides free of charge such services as financial consultations, legal assistance, identity theft protection and recovery, and eldercare resources. Also, the EAP work/life website is a rich site for everything from downloadable financial and daily living calculators to legal and medical encyclopedias to searchable databases for services and opportunities.

The extensive eldercare resources include confidential caregiver support services around the clock, by phone or online. “It’s important that we provide the support for employees to take care of themselves while they are taking care of someone else, whether students or family members,” Dubose said.

EAP also helps with work-related issues, such as when an employee is having performance difficulties on the job. Counseling is available to provide constructive support and services, and can help identify life situations that may be affecting work performance.

“We’re invested in our human capital,” Dubose said. “We want to make sure additional support is available when it’s needed to help people develop into more effective employees. EAP supplements what the Office of Human Resources provides, and can help support employees and supervisors.”

Like all of EAP’s services, work-related counseling is totally confidential, Heck said. “We never know who used the website or who called in. We only get statistics on how many people utilized the service and what topics and information were most requested, so we can offer better employee service on our end.”

“People tend to think of it just for issues like dealing with grief, which it does, but it’s also there for proactive steps you can take,” Dubose said. For example, free consultations with a financial counselor for employees and their family members are offered for everything from planning for retirement to purchasing a home.

Another helpful service, she said, is, with the major hacks of retailers’ and other institutions’ data that have been happening, employees can contact Impact Solutions and find out exactly what steps they need to take to safeguard themselves and handle their credit accounts.

“It really can alleviate concern,” Dubose said, “by giving you one place to call to get the answers.”

When psychological counseling is needed, Impact Solution will arrange for five free visits to an in-network local provider, completely separate from what is covered in the employee benefit package, Heck said. “That way, if more visits are needed, you’re already in a good place and you don’t have to start over with someone new.”

Savings are also offered to EAP participants. They range from discounted services if more help is needed after the initial free legal consultation to discounts on merchandise and other services.

Employees can use the program either online or by telephone. “A master’s level individual answers the phone 24/7,” Heck said. “A person is there to listen and direct you to the right person.”

To learn more, visit the Employee Assistance Program online or call 800-227-6007.