Employers understand that their organisation can only benefit – both from a productivity perspective and in a way that will ultimately affect the bottom line – when its employees are not struggling with overwhelming personal issues. Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are an employee benefit provided by an organisation to assist employees resolve issues that could negatively impact their work and home lives. The idea of installing an EAP is to address personal issues before they interfere with work performance. Today’s EAPs go beyond just helping employees cope with workplace stress. They are rapidly evolving into holistic well-being programmes – particularly in light of modern employers caring for the wellbeing of their employees beyond the workplace, in all facets of their lives.
Implementing an Employee Assistance Programme
Employee Assistance Programmes can seem quite complicated at first glance and may be considered difficult to effectively embed in an organisation without a systematic approach. Here are a few pointers on how to systematically install an EAP.
“Employee Assistance Programmes can seem quite complicated at first glance…”
Assess your needs and preplan the structure
It is vital to create a blueprint, upfront, according to your employees’ needs. Before setting out to choose an EAP service provider and then implement an EAP, evaluate your employees’ needs and set the targets and goals you want to achieve through implementing an EAP in your particular organisation. After this, you can easily select the elements of an ideal programme. At installation stage, you will find it far easier to on-board the EAP with your employees and the organisation will be able to maximise the programme’s effectiveness. Any future changes can be more easily implemented within this planned structure.
Set the budget
Employee Assistance Programmes are available for any size of organisation – from large SOEs and corporations down to small businesses. Big corporations might go for EAPs with all the bells and whistles, but this may not be an option for smaller businesses. You will very likely want to provide necessary assistance to your employees without trashing an annual budget.
Select the right service provider
One of the most important factors in implementing an EAP is selecting the right service provider – one that suits your organisation. There are many EAP vendors in the marketplace, but the fit best for your organisation will depend on your requirements. Create a shortlist of all the necessities to ensure that the EAP vendor covers all your areas of interest.
Important service provider attributes will include:
- Cost of the vendor within your budget
- Scope of services covered by the EAP
- Geographical accessibility
- Availability of services 24×7
- Genuine testimonials showing a track record of client satisfaction
Another important EAP service provider attribute is flexibility. It is short-sighted to expect an EAP to run in perpetuity without updates and modifications. The flexibility of a service provider and their programme offering will ensure that your EAP is more sustainable in the long term. The effects of COVID-19 on the workplace and workforce has brought this lesson home like none other. Updates and changes will be inevitable in maintaining your EAP programme’s effectiveness. With flexibility, you can make periodic changes and include services in keeping with changing trends and workplace influences.
“The flexibility of a service provider and their programme offering will ensure that your EAP is more sustainable in the long term.”
Introduction and promotion of EAP
The implementation of an EAP will be of zero value to an organisation if one skips introducing it, providing any necessary education on the tools required to access the EAP and promoting the benefits to your employees. Once employees are engaged and understand the EAP programme framework, promote the EAP continuously and help employees to understand the full range benefits it can bring to their lives. One way is to have an expert panel ready to answer any questions so that employees can understand the benefits, its confidentiality and feel as ease in making full use of the EAP services on offer.
Here are some of the common problems an EAP can support employees through
- Stress and anxiety management: Global stress and anxiety levels are higher than ever before, since COVID-19 landed. Stress management counselling can provide employees with resources and techniques to cope with their stress and minimise any fallout.
- Mental health disorders: There are some health disorders that, while they introduce challenges to a person’s life, are not disabling. Many of these can be managed and EAP can help to identify problems and refer employees to the right experts to get the specialised help they may need.
- Grief counselling: So many employees are suffering from grief and loss in the wake of the pandemic – some of them having experienced multiple losses. Having to work productively in the midst of grief can be very difficult. Grief counselling is one of the most dependable ways to support employees through this tough time.
- Alcoholism and substance abuse: Alcoholism and substance abuse issues have to be treated carefully and effectively. EAP practitioners are often better equipped for guiding employees to proper help rather than managers or HR rendering their help directly. EAP resources can help refer the affected person to a qualified professional or into a programme that has a good chance of providing long-term help.
- Domestic and gender-based violence: EAPs provide confidential support services that support, counselling and education on domestic violence and gender-based violence. They are also equipped to help organisations formulate policies specific to domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking and will liaise with local service providers to refer victims/ survivors.
- Counselling referrals: EAPs are programmes primarily based on short-term counselling. Ultimately, they best serve the people they assist by providing long-term solutions. For many issues under the umbrella of an EAP, counselling referrals are the long-term solution with the best prospect for providing meaningful support.
Most people will at the least have at some issues, some of the time. Organisations depend on engaged and productive employees – and typically consider them to be their most important asset. It makes sense to have an employee assistance programme in place to support valuable employees in resolving any personal or family issues that will impact on their work.
“Organisations depend on engaged and productive employees – and typically consider them to be their most important asset.”