Some, but obviously not all, of these employees have substance abuse problems, persistent interpersonal conflicts and emotional disorders.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General 20% of the adult population experiences a diagnosable psychiatric problem over the course of a year, but only 5% receives professional help. Government research also finds that 15% of employed adults currently abuse drugs or alcohol, but a miniscule .3% receives treatment.
The problem is that mental illness, alcoholism and drug addiction remain highly stigmatized in American society, so merely providing the treatment benefits in no way ensures utilization.
Meanwhile, depression costs American businesses about $44 billion per year in lost productivity and substance abuse around $100 billion. An employee with an active substance abuse problem is not only performing poorly on the job, but is also using medical services at twice the rate of the average employee.
An employee who is both stressed and depressed uses medical support at two and one half times the average rate. The simplistic solution to employees with substance abuse problems is to fire them, assuming that you can find them.
But simplistic solutions can be very expensive, considering the legal exposure connected with violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws. It is far less expensive to provide treatment and conscientious follow-up through the EAP, given the fact that replacing skilled workers can cost up to twice the dollar value of annual salary and benefits with today's record low levels of unemployment.