Workplace Alcohol Programs Save Employers Money

In the fight against rising health care costs, employers have a simple and highly effective tool in their arsenal:  workplace alcohol screening and treatment programs, administered through employee assistance programs (EAP’s).  In fact, research by Ensuring Solutions to Alcohol Problems at the George Washington University Medical Center shows that investing in alcohol screening and treatment could save employers as much as $2 for every dollar they invest in health care.

Alcohol problems cost the nation more than $185 billion annually, mostly in lost workplace productivity, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.  Studies have shown that employees with alcohol problems miss more days of work, have lower productivity and have higher medical costs than employees who don’t.  According to the federal government, more than 11 percent of full-time workers between the ages of 18 and 49 have an alcohol problem in a given year, and 20 percent of workers say they have been injured, had to cover for a coworker, or needed to work harder because of other employees’ drinking.

Employers can select different types of EAP’s, but most providers charge for their services on a per capita basis.  Annual fees of $12 to $30 per employee are common.  It is possible to contract with an EAP provider for services used, generally at an hourly rate.  Regardless, be sure to include performance standards in the contract.  The two most important performance measures are:

  • The number of employees receiving counseling (benchmark:  2 to 4 percent of eligible employees);
  • The percentage of counseling cases referred by a supervisor (benchmark:  15 percent of eligible employees).

Contact us at Preferred Health Group if you have an interest in exploring EAPs as a way to save healthcare dollars and improve employee productivity.