Should I offer my employees an Employee Assistance Programme?
In our hectic modern world, employees face a multitude of work-related and non-work pressures, including managing families, finances, and relationships, all whilst trying to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
As a result, employee assistance programmes (EAPs) are increasingly in demand because they’re proven to help employees navigate difficult times in their lives.
Firstly, what is an employee assistance programme (EAP)?
Many employers in the UK offer well-being and psychological support to their employees through an EAP or independent confidential counselling service. EAP support normally includes a 24/7 telephone helpline for those struggling with personal matters that may impact their well-being, health and performance at work.
What do employee assistance programmes provide?
Some EAP schemes are now providing a range of new and innovative services to support the emotional needs of employees. At Primed, we partner with Smart Clinic to provide a diverse range of EAP services, including:
- Stress coaching
- Access to a ‘virtual GP’
- Eye care
- Flu jabs and anxiety management
All the services are as easy as possible to access through a mobile phone app. This effectively removes the barrier to using EAP services because the ‘app’ is available 24/7 and provides quick access to help where and when it is needed.
Why do people use EAPs?
According to research by the EAP Association, EAPs are most commonly used by employees to help with depression (57%) and coping with family events (56%).
Interestingly, EAPs tend to be less used for workplace matters such as difficulties with line managers (20%), workplace restructuring (15%), and bullying (6%).
Their research also shows that company managers rely on EAPs to help them in their work roles, for example, when managing workplace issues (68%) and during management consultations (49%).
What are the benefits of EAPs?
EAPs have considerable benefits for both employers and employees, including:
- Reduced sickness absence and presenteeism
- Higher workplace productivity
- Improved mental health
- Cost-effective solution
- Greater staff engagement and motivation
It’s a well established fact that lower mental health and higher sickness absence go hand in hand, but less is known about ‘presenteeism’, where employees feel as though they must go to work even if they are not mentally fit.
Presenteeism of this type, if not kept under control, can have a negative impact on workplace morale, productivity, and performance.
EAP schemes, in conjunction with other measures, are proven to reduce both absence and presenteeism problems. Academic research published in the Journal of Business and Psychology found that “users of EAP services tend to reduce their absenteeism at a faster pace than non-EAP users experiencing similar challenges to maintaining productivity”.
Reaching employees who may not otherwise seek help
EAPs with well-designed, easily accessible online services have the added advantage that they reach those who might otherwise avoid seeking help due to their reluctance to use the phone to discuss their concerns.
This is an important consideration because, within many organisations, the uptake of EPA services is lower than might be expected. Sometimes this is because employees aren’t aware of the EPA services offered by their employer or a lack of understanding of what the EPA provider can do for them, along with concerns that access to the EPA might not be confidential.
This leads to another key benefit of EPAs – confidentiality. Employees need to be fully reassured that EAPs are confidential, professional and independent. As such, any information shared between the staff member and the EAP remains confidential and is never provided to the employer.
Implementing a successful Employee Assistance Programme offering
In the region of 71% employers across the UK already use the services of EPA providers. Whilst this is positive, the real question is whether these services are being used and, if so, are they proving effective?
- Choose a provider that offers easy to access services
- Ensure all your employees are aware of the services on offer and how to access them
- Cover it in your induction & onboarding process
- Ensure line managers are aware of the EAP offering and promote the benefits of using one to the people they manager and provide training to help them indentify when an employee may be struggling with their mental health and wellbeing
- Normalise the use of an EAP to increase the overall well-being of your team members
Want to implement an employee assistance programme or looking for a new EAP partner?
We can offer you an award winning EAP solution, from as little as £2 per employee, per year – that’s less than the price of a take-away coffee. For more information, give us a call today or book a free consultation for your business.