Making a business case for an Employee Assistance Programme
Why every company should have a good Employee Assistance Programme
Organisations can’t thrive without dedicated and happy employees at the helm. However, often, the modern workplace can aggravate pre-existing conditions, or be the cause of the problem. With reports such as the UK Government’s mental health review, ‘Thriving at Work’, concluding that the cost of poor mental health among employees is costing employers between £33 and £42 billion each year, it is hardly surprising that organisations are trying to find ways to offer their workforce, support; this is where a comprehensive Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) can be effective.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, “developing mentally healthy workplaces requires employers to protect and improve mental health at the individual, collective and organisational levels”. Therefore, it’s not just about organisations making sure the work environment itself is conducive to optimum health and productivity, but helping employees manage their problems.
One long-established workplace intervention tool aimed at doing just this is the Employee Assistance Programme. Designed to enable organisations to help their employees with personal or work-related problems, EAPs have come a long way since they first took off in the USA in the 1940s as a response to employers’ concerns about the impact of alcohol on job performance and productivity.
Since then, the EAP concept has been expanded by organisations worldwide, to include an even wider remit of counselling and services around work-life issues – as these are of greater commercial importance. When the UK Health and Safety Executive established the Stress Management Standards in 2005 – six key areas associated with poor health, lower productivity and increased accident and sickness absence rates – were recommended as a practical solution for organisations to be able to provide the necessary duty of care.
Not surprisingly, EAPs have become the most commonly used workforce health intervention in the UK, with the Employee Assistance Professionals Association concluding that close to half of the UK workforce (some 14 million people) now have access to one from their employer. However, while this kind of support for employee mental health and wellbeing has become the norm, at present there is still a lack of hard data in the UK for providers or employers to estimate the long-term value of having an EAP. That’s why it’s so important that organisations go beyond just ticking the statutory box for having one and prioritise the EAP as much as other areas of their business. They must choose an EAP that offers a whole workplace approach and through using the latest approaches, technology, and wellness initiatives, makes for a cost-effective and valuable investment.
Accessible & Pre-emptive
Simply put, a good EAP removes the stigma around using one. It seamlessly integrates into the existing company culture, to make it easy for employees to self-manage their day-to-day mental wellbeing. In being able to use the programme as part of their regular routine, employees can then pre-empt potential stress in their social, emotional and physical environment.
Variety & Inspiration
For organisations to experience the benefits, the EAP need have a comprehensive offering of support designed to address the pertinent issues facing employees today. Whether it’s providing access to mental health professionals, life coaching, finance and career guidance, consumer advice, carefully curated content, the EAP must offer a range of services. Engaging and energising employees to become active participants in managing their own lifestyle, not only helps them to make short-term behavioural changes, but motivates them to stick to them long-term. This not only bodes well for employee retention, but improved revenue through increased productivity.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, anxiety and depression are still the most common mental health problems in the UK and Ireland. That’s why in the event a problem must be treated in isolation, a good EAP should provide unlimited, 24/7 mental health support to employees, partners and their dependents – either through a freephone number, or a live chat through a mobile app. In addition to the option of being able to speak to qualified and accredited mental health professionals, if necessary, employees should be offered a series of counselling sessions near the home or workplace, with dedicated case managers that can help them stay on track with their mental wellbeing. In an age where technology, work and leisure have become somewhat amalgamated, adopting different ways to offer support has never been so important.
The Mental Health Organisation says that it is ‘good work’, rather than simply a job, that is associated with good mental health. By investing in a good Employee Assistance Programme, organisations can help their employees do this work.
To learn more about Employee Assistance Programmes, visit our product page which explains, in detail, what you can expect from Spectrum.Life EAP.