Benefits of Having an Employee Assistance Program

‘Wellbeing” and the Benefits of Having an Employee Assistance Program

There is often a great emphasis placed on the physical wellbeing of an employee, but little is discussed when it comes to mental health.

Over the last two years, constant lockdowns coupled with feelings of isolation whilst working from home have taken a toll on the mental health of employees across Australian businesses. It is said that one in five employees are affected by poor mental health issues – all of which can be costly to a business. As such, many businesses are now recognising the negative impact poor mental wellbeing have on the overall productivity of their company.

Employee Assistance Programs enable organisations to fight this problem. This does not just benefit the employee but is also a way for businesses to manage their return on investment through reduced absenteeism, improved retention and creating a safer, more caring work environment for all.

What is an Employee Assistance Program?

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a service provided by employers to support their employees often through counselling sessions with licensed psychologists. Short-term assistance might also extend to family members of employees. These programs are designed to help employees deal with work-related stress or personal issues that could impact workplace attitudes, performance, and productivity.

EAP can assist with a wide variety of issues such as relationship/marital conflict, family problems, anxiety, depression, addiction, and sleep difficulties, to name a few.

Benefits of EAP

The benefits of introducing EAP workplace counselling are compelling. Here are five primary reasons why:

  1. Provides a safe environment where employees feel heard

EAP provides a safe and confidential environment that employees can access to discuss potential issues affecting their performance and productivity at work. Stress can build up over time, and if left untreated, can cause conflict, creating an unpleasant work environment. Employee Assistance Programs provide invaluable strategies and coping mechanisms that improve the overall morale of individuals and teams.

  1. Improves productivity

Studies show that approximately 6 million working days in a year are lost due to mental health related issues. People coping with mental health issues lack concentration, make errors, under-perform – all of which contributes to a loss in productivity. By providing access to EAP workplace counselling, employees receive professional help to navigate concerns that are holding them back from performing up to standard. Additionally, as assistance programs are a form of dispensation, WorkCover claims for matters such as work-related stress is significantly reduced. When matters are resolved quickly and outside the workplace, this results in less strain on management or HR having to address them during work hours, disrupting workflow.

  1. Reduces absenteeism (and ‘presentism’)

It’s common to see employees call in ‘sick’ when there is mounting pressure whether in the workplace or at home. Possibly even worse is the issue of ‘presentism’, where individuals come to work carrying the burden of their untreated mental health issues causing workflow disruptions, missed deadlines and poor efficiency. An EAP facilitates the treatment of these problems to improve motivation at work.

  1. Increases employee retention

Offering an EAP to employees and their families to overcome issues can benefit the company in the long run through loyalty. Employees who feel valued and ‘seen’ are less likely to complain, be unmotivated at work and quit.

  1. Enhances return on investment

Research conducted by PwC revealed that for every $1 that a business invests in mental health programs, it receives a return of $2.30 (higher in some industries). The impact that Employee Assistance Programs have on absenteeism, presentism, productivity, and employee retention all contributes to the improvement of the overall bottom line of a business.

Businesses should never assume that issues with mental health stem from an employee’s personal life. Stress at work can trigger a variety of wellbeing issues too which has the potential to affect both the employer and employee. EAP counselling services provide easy to access and effective resolutions to longstanding mental health concerns.