Has your company implemented an employee assistance programme (EAP)? Evidence suggests that it has likely done so; in a survey carried out by Personnel Today, 84% of organisations reported having "comprehensive" EAPs in place, including telephone services and online services.
Unfortunately, though, research revealed that employers perceived their workers as deeming an EAP an "insurance policy" or "back-up" rather than instrumental to their ongoing health. This is a pity, as feedback suggests that EAPs, when used, can prove hugely valuable.
What EAP options are already in place?
While the research showed that telephone services, online services and face-to-face counselling were often standard inclusions of EAPs, some organisations admitted that they offered face-to-face counselling as an optional extra available for a charge.
In any case, the usage rates of EAPs appear to differ significantly between companies, with reported levels in the region of 2.5% to 16%. However, when HR managers were asked what issues their staff most often approach EAPs with, issues of a broad variety were cited.
Workplace stress was the most oft-reported "top issue", followed by other problems including depression, family events, workplace restructuring and bullying.
"You never know that you really need it until the time comes. It is probably one of the best wellbeing programmes that we have, but whether or not anybody else feels like that depends on if they have needed to use it," one respondent to the survey explained.
The importance of confidentiality
It is clear, then, that any business with an EAP needs to let employees know not only that this programme exists, but also that it is truly beneficial and usable at any time. It should also be possible for workers to use the EAP confidentially; in other words, without the employer being notified.
Workplace Insight has hailed EAPs as "extremely powerful in terms of support for employees in all areas of their work and personal life." Commonly cited reasons for these merits include that the programmes can be used in secret and offer assistance for both personal and professional issues.
It's clear, then, that what employees learn from EAPs can permeate into other aspects of their day-to-day life; the benefits don't have to stop every time the employees leave the office.
With what exact aspects of health can EAPs assist?
There might already be quite a few measures which your business uses to help keep employees healthy. Those could include offering free fruit. Anecdotal feedback from one survey respondent justifies the worthiness of this measure, explaining that they notice staff using the free fruit daily.
However, you shouldn't look beyond also implementing various software solutions - or, for your convenience, a wealth of software solutions in one easy-to-implement package. That's where a formal, digitally-delivered EAP, such as the Employee Assistance Programme from LifeWorks, can prove wonderfully useful.
With such a programme, professionals in counselling, social work and psychology can all be just a few taps of a smartphone away. Especially conveniently, the right scheme can encourage employees to proactively, rather than reactively, look after their health.

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