Enlightened HR professionals know that when the business supports its employees’ practical needs, safeguards their health & wellbeing and invests in a positive company culture, the result is engaged workers that are present at work and happier in their jobs. Nurture your team and you’ll see the rewards in terms of increased corporate trust, confidence and resilience. Absenteeism declines, stress levels go down and productivity soars. It’s a win/win situation.
Having an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in place can make all the difference when it comes to supporting your team members whenever they need it. The remit can be broad, ranging from health & wellbeing programs and counseling services to child or elder care, medical or financial advice and more. There may be nurse advice helplines, basic legal assistance, adoption support or relocation assistance. Programs are delivered free to employees and are usually also available to spouses, children and non-marital cohabiting partners.
Whether your employee has a personal problem or a work-related issue, an EAP offers a safe and trusted space where help and advice can be received, which can be invaluable when life’s pressures take their toll. Here are some examples on what could be included in your company’s EAP.
Mental health counseling
Depression, stress, anxiety, bereavement, relationship break-up, eating disorders, substance abuse – the list of mental health issues that may affect your staff is long and complex.
An EAP can assist employees as they deal with emotional problems that can interfere with living a normal life. Short-term, goal oriented counseling is a good match for assistance within a professional setting and effective results can be achieved with therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
New or existing employees who are transferring to a different permanent office location may be under huge amounts of stress trying to sort out the logistics of moving home while continuing to work to the best of their ability. A relocation package can include invaluable practical help with anything from house hunting to private property sales, choosing the best estate agent and home survey, packing and removal services, temporary accommodation, expat advice and more.
To encourage staff to maintain an active lifestyle, some EAPs offer free or subsidized gym memberships. We know that exercise is a great tool we all have at our disposal when it comes to mood disorders and mental health, and that working out helps us to keep physically fit and maintain a healthy weight. Fitter staff mean a stronger immune system, which in turn leads to less sickness absence leave and more productivity. Employees who are mentally and physically fit are more likely to work firing on all cylinders.
In-house workshops are a great way to build confidence at work while learning new skills that can be useful for dealing with a host of issues. From breakfast yoga clubs to lunchtime learning, mental health first aid courses and anger management classes, arts & crafts meetings and running clubs, there’s so much every company can do to support their employees’ wellbeing. Workshops aimed at dealing with stress, keeping a healthy work/life balance and learning mindfulness practices have been credited as particularly popular.
The benefits of Employee Assistance Programs
The above examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits to be derived from an EAP. Here are four compelling business reasons that should be enough for any company to consider implementing an Employee Assistance Program:
1. Happy, productive employees
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that employees dealing with mental health issues, personal problems or financial difficulties may find it a real struggle to operate as normal in the workplace. In a work environment where there’s no support available, concentration declines and attention spans are low, motivation is lacking and team morale can be affected too.
Conversely, when your team has somewhere to turn to for help, problems can get addressed and dealt with before they have a chance to become a serious issue. In an open workplace culture with employee wellbeing at its core, the atmosphere is one of empathy and support, which leads to greater happiness and productivity all round.
2. Reduced costs for your business
According to the Centre for Mental Health, mental health related issues can cost employers as much as £35 billion per year in the UK. Meanwhile, in the US, depression leads to 200 million lost workdays every year, at a cost of between $17 billion and $44 billion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Poor employee mental health drives costs as a result of greater levels of staff absence and increased staff turnover. Compare these grim figures with the average return on investment of £7.27 for every £1 spent on an EAP in the UK, and the financial benefits are clear.
An EAP can be hugely helpful in substantially reducing the length of time an employee is off work with a mental health issue. With the help of counseling support provided via an EAP, staff feel encouraged to address their issues and overcome them, and prevent future problems from occurring.
3. Boosted staff recruitment and retention
In today’s job market, enhanced staff benefits are a great tool to help you both recruit and retain the best talent. Use your EAP to show that your company cares about staff welfare and has a program in place to look after them. Refer to the EAP as evidence that your business is a happy workplace with high staff morale.
Job candidates increasingly prioritize employee benefits and a supportive company culture as one of the key deciding factors for accepting the position. Having a successful EAP in place may well give your company the competitive advantage when it comes to attracting and keeping the best employees.
4. Human value recognition
Your company may well care about the happiness and wellbeing of employees, but how do you convey this message meaningfully to the team? An EAP is the perfect way to back your words up with action so that every team member can access the full support they need, either in or outside of work.
Promoting employee wellbeing with an Employee Assistance Program clearly demonstrates that you’re putting your money where your mouth is and that each member of staff is a valued part of the organization. When employees feel valued and respected in this way, the reward to your business will be noticeable positive benefits in the workplace.