While there are people who will commit fraud to enrich themselves, many employees who engage in fraudulent actions are doing so because they’re facing intense personal pressures. For instance, employees facing bankruptcy may see financial fraud as their only way out. Employees that have personal issues that are keeping them out of work may attempt to record work hours when they weren’t really working. Substance abuse problems can lead to either of these actions.
Unfortunately, employers aren’t in a position to solve every personal problem an employee may encounter. One way that government agencies can help their employees with these problems, however, is by offering an employee assistance program (EAP). In fact, EAPs are mandatory in federal agencies. These programs are most often administered by third parties, and provide confidential counseling to employees with personal or work problems.
In addition to benefiting your employees’ lives, an employee assistance program can improve the productivity of employees by helping them address the problems in their lives that prevent them from dedicating time and focus to their work. Most importantly from a fraud perspective, these services can help employees find safe and legal solutions to their personal problems – ones that don’t involve defrauding their employer. They can also reduce abuse and harassment of co-workers by preventing outbursts that are caused by high stress due to personal issues.
While EAPs are becoming a more common offering at organizations of all types, utilization by employees remains quite low. According to the American Psychiatric Association, up to 40 percent of employees have no clue whether their employer has an EAP, which makes it hard to decide to use. Many employees worry about whether their usage will really be confidential.
Educating employees on how these programs work, and providing periodic reminders about them, can increase usage by employees who need the services. The quick mention of the EAP during the annual benefits update meeting won’t be enough. If you want your employee assistance program to truly serve your employees well, you should consider a quarterly reminder or maybe even monthly. Like many things in the current HR environment, a sales and marketing approach – consistency and repetition – could work best. Ultimately, the EAP services may be the difference between having to conduct a fraud investigation and having an honest and productive employee at the office who feels like their employer cares about their welfare.
To learn more about how CMTS:HR can help you streamline your HR investigation process and reduce your risk, call us at 855-636-5361 or email us at Team_CMTS-HR@cmtshr.com.