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GSU PROFESSOR'S BOOK ADVISES COMPANIES: RUN EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS AS STRATEGIC INVESTMENT

 ATLANTA, April 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Georgia State University management professor Stanley J. Smits has co-authored a new book that recommends companies help themselves by helping employees cope with substance abuse and workplace stress.
 Smits, a 30-year veteran of the substance-abuse field, teamed with Larry A. Pace, associate professor of management at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, to write "The Investment Approach to Employee Assistance Programs" (Quorum Books, Westport, Conn.). The book is unusual because it details why, and how, companies' employee assistance programs should be run like a business -- not a social service agency -- and integrated as fully as possible into the company's regular systems and operations.
 Smits and Pace say an EAP that takes a proactive, investment approach, rather than a reactive, laissez-faire tack, will save a company money in several areas. Running the EAP as a component of a firm's strategic human resources program provides accountability, solid data on results, and information for setting sensible goals.
 A reactive approach, in which a company tries to control substance abuse by identifying and firing employee offenders, incurs numerous costs -- including recruiting, screening and training replacement workers -- strains management-labor relations, and fails to substantively improve the problem.
 "If the reason for an EAP is to be kind to your employees, then it's a cost," Smits said. "If the EAP's reason is to keep your production high, your quality high and your workforce stable, then it's a strategic program for the company. Then, it's an investment."
 Smits and Pace write that as global competition squeezes profit margins, companies cannot afford the costs associated with deterioration of performance, lost quality and increased use of health-care benefits. And, the authors point out, the costs cannot be passed on to customers and shareholders because they have too many other options for buying and investing.
 "This topic usually receives a paragraph or a footnote in a personnel psychology book or a management book, or comes out of industrial social work," said Walter Reichman, chair of the psychology department at Baruch College of the City University of New York. "But it's typically not really placed within a business context as it is here."
 Robert A. Williams, General Motors Corp.'s medical director for its Atlanta-area plants, said "The Investment Approach to Employee Assistance Programs" provided sound practical ideas about selecting an EAP, the importance of tracking the program's results, and maintaining contact with employees who have to use the service. "I want my EAP counselors to read it," Williams said.
 Substance abuse annually costs $99 billion in lost U.S. productivity. Yet, according to Smits, only large corporations typically have an EAP. Consequently, 80 to 85 percent of the American workforce has no EAP.
 -0- 4/27/93
 /CONTACT: Dr. Stan Smits, 404-651-3400 or, home, 404-394-0451, or Beth Day, CBA Public Affairs, 404-651-3783 or, home, 404-971-6364, both of Georgia State University/


CO: Georgia State University ST: Georgia IN: SU:

BN-CF -- AT005 -- 1209 04/27/93 09:59 EDT
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Date:Apr 27, 1993
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