Job stress is a top source of worry for many and one of the reasons workers seek help through their Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This said, little is known about the prevalence of job stress in EAP users and the relationship between these work-related stressors and the reasons individuals access these programs.
In this study—conducted using Arete EAP data and published in the Journal of Workplace Behavioural Health—slightly over one third (34.5%) of a sample of at-work employees who accessed assistance through their Arete EAP reported experiencing job stress. The top-reported stressors were those related to job demands (too heavy of a workload, long hours, work interfering during personal time, etc.) and relationships (problems with supervisors or coworkers), followed by job features (lack of opportunity for participation in decision making, lack of opportunity for advancement, job insecurity, salary, inflexible hours, etc.). Arete EAP users experiencing job stress reported lower work engagement, health and quality of life, as well as increased work distress relative to other users. Notably, only Arete EAP users who sought support for job stress reported a negative health change in the past year (compared to those who accessed the Arete EAP for other reasons).
This research suggests that greater promotion of the use of EAPs to address work-related issues may consequently work to improve both employee health and performance on the job. In addition, the study proposes that assessments of working conditions by EAP providers like Arete may also help inform the delivery of organizational-level assistance aimed at enhancing the workplace environment.