EAP's a Commodity? I Don't Think So.

An article recently published in the Wall Street Journal titled Watershed for punitive awards discusses the case that could test the limits of punitive damages as the Supreme Court hears arguments related to the $2.5 billion award against what now is Exxon Mobil Corp. for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

In the article it is stated that the Employee Assistance Professional Association argues that Exxon should be punished because it did too little to correct ship captin Joseph Hazelwood's drinking habit. The opinion of the EAPA, experts on alcohol in the workplace, may impact the Court's ruling.

For years, there has been much debate in the employee benefit world that EAP's are becoming a commodity. Sometimes it is hard to disagree with this statement when you see some insurance plans including an EAP benefit at no additional cost to the employer just to get the health insurance business.

But this Exxon court case should remind every employer that EAPs are not a commodity - and that you get what you pay for because not all EAPs are equal - seriously, what kind of an EAP benefit do you think you will get for no cost?

How valuable are EAPs? This is discussed in an excellent new white that Talent Management magazine recently wrote about. The white paper is called EAPs: Commodity or Workforce Investment?” and can be downloaded here.

For EAPs, many of which use HRmarketer.com, this is an important white paper to read because it gives some insights as to how you need to be positioning your services to avoid being labeled as a commodity in the eyes of your buyers.