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Why you need an Employee Assistance Programme EAP

6 min read  |   24 June, 2019   By Rachael Down

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Why you need an employee assistance programme:

If you're responsible for the HR or team management of an SME - you're in luck - this one's for you. We're dishing the dirt on what EAPs typically involve and more importantly, why they're so influential for businesses today. 

Stripping it back to basics, if you're looking for ways to consistently manage and develop long-term business success, start with your people. Come up with a plan to safeguard your employee's health and wellbeing and invest in culture. You can then use your health, wellbeing and culture plan to nurture your team and business - a sure-fire way to promote corporate trust, confidence and resilience.

What is an employee assistance programme?

  • Assesses employee health and wellbeing.
  • Helps employees with personal problems.
  • Improves trust between teams and individuals.
  • EAPs help employers to provide:
    • Short-term counselling,
    • Referral services,
    • Health and wellbeing programmes, plus
    • Incentives and other corporate benefits.

It's encouraging to see more employers offering an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) during our current work climate.

As the title suggests, EAPs help employees deal with personal problems that might negatively impact their work performance, health and wellbeing. An EAP will most-likely involve assessment and short-term counselling; as well as referral services for employees and any of their immediate family.

In days gone by, employee health and wellbeing programmes were often only implemented by larger companies who had the cash to splash on looking after their people.

Fortunately, employee health and wellbeing strategies that encourage good physical and mental health at work are now well and truly part of HR and SME managers' goals. And with good reason.

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What are the benefits of an EAP?

It goes without saying that employee health and wellbeing is an intrinsic cog in the running of any successful company. Staff that feel happy and secure are naturally going to inspire productive and smart work.

Moreover, including your people in the process for managing or overcoming health and wellbeing concerns reinforces both trust and respect. Two players that are vital for a successful business. According to our Espresso Report, employee welfare is one of the principal areas that needs addressing at work. The best place to start building up your business is from the inside, with the people who work there.

EAP examples:

1. Counselling Service

Balancing the pressures of work with the needs of home and personal life can seem like a mammoth struggle if you're working without enough - or the right - support. It's times like these that we could really benefit from an extra pair of caring hands. Counselling is one way to help employees and managers alike learn how to swim above water, even during the storm.

Employee counselling services play a vital role in helping to resolve workplace issues and understanding how to manage mental health issues.

Short-term, goal-oriented counselling is an ideal match for assistance within a professional setting. Some counsellors deliver trauma-specific interventions, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR).

2. Gym memberships

Staying active is important for living a healthy, happy life. To encourage staff to move more, some EAPs offer free or subsidised gym memberships.

Exercise is one of the main tools we have at our disposal to deal with mood disorders and mental health.

For the most part, staff who are fitter will have stronger immune systems. The knock-on-effect is that they’re less likely to need time off for illness and more likely to work firing on all cylinders. 

3. Workshops

We've found workshops that tackle stress, work-life balance and mindfulness are really popular for staff. From academic study to learning the benefits of laughing, breathing and dealing with anger to arts and crafts, workshops are a great way to build confidence at work.

  • Evaluate weaknesses
  • Source expert advice
  • Hold a lunch and learn
  • Encourage employees to attend  - a good spread is great at getting people through the door
  • Note down key takeaways and try to implement learnings

For example, we're passionate about scrapping the stigma of mental ill health in the workplace and knew there was more we could do as a company to support our employees's wellbeing. That's why, just over a year ago, we signed up to Time to Change and created our Space to Breathe, mental health team. We meet every month to plan our breakfast workshops. Through this, we've learnt how to deal with anger at work, touched upon the physical and psychological benefits of laughter, started a yoga group, created a Headspace team, break-out area and supplied activities to help staff unwind on lunch. 

Holding professional workshops is great for building individual confidence. In fact, all of our line managers and Space to Breathe members recently completed a Mental Health First Aid for Work course. Courses like this can help staff spot and manage signs of workplace depression.

1 in 6 of us struggle with our mental health. Here are 10 practical steps you can take to support your people.

It’s nice to know you’ve got the tools to safeguard your people. And even better to see that the EAP movement is growing.

Help it keep momentum and look after your team. 

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