Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) – Are they beneficial?
An employee assistance programme is an employer-funded scheme to enable employees to access independent, professional support confidentially to address any personal or work-related problems that may be impacting their performance at work.
The professional support available varies between providers, but can include a 24/7 telephone helpline, together with an assessment, plus short-term counselling and referral services for employees and their immediate family.
There are several benefits for employees when it comes to employee assistance programmes. The provision of independent and professional support on a confidential basis to address any personal or work-related problems, including counselling or other treatment referrals, can make a real difference to how an individual is feeling. The employee is also likely to feel far more valued by their employer if offered this support, where the service can help to demonstrate the importance that an employer places on health and wellbeing.
There are also benefits for the employer, not only because the provision of an EAP is likely to help discharge their duty of care in ensuring the health and welfare of its workforce but, by supporting individual employees in this way may lead to increased performance and productivity from healthy, happy, and well-supported staff.
An effective EAP is likely to result in reduced absences from work due to work-related stress, not to mention reducing the risk of losing valuable members of staff who may otherwise feel forced to resign because they can no longer cope.
An EAP a sole means of supporting staff, may not suffice in many cases. Employers must be prepared to take a more holistic approach to mental health, where an employee suffering from work-related stress may also need additional or alternative forms of support. Every case is unique and will very much depend on the needs of the individual employee in question.
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