How can employers support employees during periods of difficulty?
An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) offers 24-hour access to free, confidential advice and support from mental health and wellbeing professionals in order to help employees manage any personal and work-related problems they may be experiencing.
It is paid for by the employer and is one of the most effective ways in which organisations can help their people. A good EAP can boost employee motivation and engagement, improving morale as workers feel they are valued and their mental health and wellbeing is a priority for their employer.
As many as nine in 10 organisations offer some form of EAP while research from HR Expert found that counselling services have had the largest take-up of EAP offerings provided by employers over the last three years within UK organisations.
So, what tangible help does an EAP offer employees?
- Confidential and free advice
From short-term counselling services, advice on finances and legal issues or childcare support, everything discussed is kept private and will not be reported to employers. Data privacy is key to the success of an EAP, and organisations are duty bound to honour the confidentiality code.
- Quick access to therapy
Recent research from The Royal College of Psychiatrists found that almost a quarter (23%) of those suffering with mental health problems have to wait more than 12 weeks to start treatment. Whether it is telephone counselling, career coaching, or advice on managing anxiety, an Employee Assistance Programme offers access to professional support from accredited counsellors and specialists – without the NHS waiting lists or high costs associated with private treatment.
- Bereavement and trauma support
With mental health experts and those trained in advising on subjects like bereavement and trauma support, employees can receive professional advice in order to help them process whatever issues they are dealing with. This can involve specialist psychological support where applicable.
- Debt management advice and assistance
As people’s finances continue to be squeezed, an EAP is a lifeline for employees struggling financially. Debt specialists can facilitate repayment programmes, consolidate existing debt or advise on plans to help your people better manage their money as well as provide advice on any mental health issues associated with financial worries.
5. Legal advice and support
The free, legal support and advice that can be accessed through an EAP can be particularly beneficial for people who might be dealing with consumer issues, settling refunds, legal concerns including divorce, child maintenance or custody cases.
6. Triage for employee wellbeing
From hospital treatment to emotional wellbeing issues, being able to discuss worries and receive professional and practical support in a safe, confidential and non-judgemental space can be invaluable to employees. An EAP will signpost the individual to the relevant services so they can start exploring the issues and access any support they need.
7. Childcare and eldercare support
Workers can find advice and information on all aspects of childcare and eldercare as well as emotional support if needed. This extends to family members and can include help for older relatives or offer advice for children and young adults on topics like anxiety, exam stress and behavioural issues.