First of all, why use EAPs in an organisation’s management toolkit? As one of the main aims of an EAP is to reduce the time employees are absent from work and to ensure that when they are at work they are present and working at their best, it results in their optimal performance and productivity.
Employee Assistance Professionals offer an in-house resource or third party service that serves to
• provide counselling support to employees during difficult situations;
• address seemingly small issues before they become larger problems;
• show compassion and caring for your employees;
• develop a plan to deal with employee performance issues;
• save valuable time by providing solutions to a wide array of employee issues;
• intervene on personal issues that interfere with workplace functioning and productivity;
• generate a more satisfied and productive workforce.1
Essential principles behind developing a successful EAP toolkit.2
There are key characteristics which are typically common to EAPs which have been identified as markers of a successful and sustainable programme.
The principles below should be reflected throughout each step of an EAP toolkit. Consider and embed these principles into your programme, regardless of its size, as you strive towards creating a healthy workplace:
1. Tailoring a program, that
• includes a needs assessment to identify priority issues in the workplace;
• is matched to specific industry, workplace and employee needs;
• is flexible in design and delivery.
2. An approach centred around people, that
• actively involves managers and workers in programme planning and problem solving, particularly in decisions affecting the health and safety of employees, while acknowledging the efforts of workplace champions;
• provides equal access regardless of employee’s health status or role in the workplace;
• recognises that an individual’s health is determined by a number of factors, both work and non-work related.
3. Where management plays a lead role, through
• promotion and participation at all levels of authority;
• participating through the endorsement of the programme action plan;
• building accountability measures into programme structure;
• mitigating potential pitfalls that may prevent participation.
4. Building in a mix of strategies that address
• individual, environmental and organisational issues, and thus fulfils a people, place and workplace vision.
5. Allocating sufficient resources to
• appropriately service employee needs to properly fulfil the proposed programme outcomes;
• using qualified and credible external service providers;
• including incentives and rewards that are aligned to participation and effort.
6. Reflecting core organisational values around worker health, safety and welfare related efforts
• that are evident within business plans, day to day business practice and operations;
• that are attached to Work Health and Safety systems and approaches, and disability management practices;
• where programme governance is provided through the organisation’s leaders, and communicated widely across the organisation
7. Providing regular communication with employees to ensure
• relevant messages and their appropriate delivery;
• programme values and direction are also communicated to the organisation;
• high visibility of progress and outcomes.
8. Guiding a long-term commitment to promote sustainability, that
• recognises that program design should be comprehensive, but starts with modest targets and initiatives that allow for scaling up of effective small initiatives.
9. Providing evaluation, that
• measures progress against objectives, and analyses data against agreed criteria;
• attaches program tracking and monitoring to other business monitoring;
• focuses on continual program improvement and feedback to staff.
Build a tailored approach: Take a planned approach to deepening your EAP toolkit
When developing a programme toolkit it is useful to consider the goals, objectives and strategies to meet each identified programme priority.
• Goals are an overarching statement of what you are trying to achieve to meet an identified priority.
• Objectives outline the specific measurable objectives required to meet that goal. Once you have identified and prioritised your objectives, they can be put together into a plan.
• Strategies are the details behind each objective, outlining the planned activities required to support meeting that objective.
• Action planning lays out a blow-by-blow map and incorporates sourcing of resources, planning of promotions, coordinating people (services, champions and others) and allocating time to consider and perform evaluations.
Measure your success
To keep building momentum, it is important to measure success and to refine your approach to make it even more effective.
• Regularly share progress and activities with employees.
• If you involve your employees in your programme, it will better stimulate a collective sense of responsibility and a collective momentum to achieve the ambitions
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