March 5, 2019

Bring HR benefits of an EAP to your business

In 2019 every business needs to offer an employee assistance program (EAP), no matter whether they’re a global conglomerate or an SME. It’s best HR practice. Here’s why, and how you can develop one for your business.

What is an employee assistance program?

An employee assistance program, or EAP, helps employees of that business deal with personal or work-related problems. This includes a range of things that may have an impact on their job performance, health, mental and emotional well-being. That could be anything from dealing with workplace bullying to a work-related trauma, or personal issues like depression.

Usually, an EAP itself is a series of short term counselling for employees on personal or professional issues. But it can take many forms.

The benefits of an EAP

From an HR perspective, EAPs are designed to help your employees stay healthy and happy. They also help employees manage personal and professional shifts and changes. This can obviously have a social impact. But it can have a massive economic one too.

Satisfied workers are more productive and less likely to be absent from work. They’re also far less likely to leave, meaning you’ll save money in staff turnover costs too.

Finally, a good EAP can be a cost-effective exercise in risk management. Studies show that they can help reduce workers compensation, unfair dismissal and ‘undesirable organisational outcomes’.

So, with benefits flowing both to your employees and to your business, what could possibly be holding you back?

How to choose the right EAP provider for your business

Most companies who set up an EAP use a specialised, external EAP provider. But, in our opinion, not all EAP providers were created equal. So if you’re considering going down this path, we suggest you choose your EAP provider by looking first at the services they provide. These should include services for individual employees and management training, as well as a critical response service for when advice or intervention is needed quickly.

  • Individual services. Look here not just at the types of services they offer – which at a minimum should include psychological counselling for work and personal issues – but also at how these services are provided. Many of the best EAP providers offer a range of face-to-face, over-the-phone and online services.
  • Management training. EAP providers now usually offer onsite and online training for managers to help them identify issues such as bullying and harassment, deal with work-related pressure and build high performing teams.
  • Critical response. When a workplace or personal trauma strikes, you need to know that your EAP provider is available, no matter whether that’s late at night, on the weekend or on during a holiday period.

That said, when you’re choosing an EAP, it’s easy to get too caught up on the services you’re potentially accessing without considering what they mean for your business. An EAP provider should be in the business of workplace productivity, not just counselling.

With this in mind, one expert recommends asking potential providers about outcomes – get them to show you any data they’ve gathered and ask for proof, as far as possible, on how an EAP will impact on your bottom line.

Using your EAP to full effect

It’s one thing to have an EAP, it’s a whole other thing to get value from it. The means making sure you’re using it properly and your employees are using it properly too. Achieving this requires:

  • Communicating with your employees. Unless your employees know about your EAP they’re not going to take advantage of it. Provide everyone with a written explanation of what the plan is, what you’re trying to achieve and what services employees can access. You should also be sure to let them know any use of the EAP will be treated confidentially and their privacy will stay protected.
  • Put someone in charge. Depending on the size of your business, you should either choose an internal person to coordinate the EAP or employ a dedicated coordinator.
  • Keep up the talk. If you communicate your EAP just once and then let people forget about it, it will never be utilised to its full potential. So remind people about it on your intranet, raise it at your monthly meetings, circulate flyers or stick them on the staff noticeboard. Make sure people know the EAP is always available as well as how to access it.

A good EAP can be a great tool for raising workplace productivity, increasing efficiency and making your business generally a better place to work. But without following the right HR processes to select a provider and implement your program, it can also be a waste of time and money. Make sure you engage a professional human resources specialist.

If you’d like more information on how to build and implement an EAP program for your workplace, speak to one of the Catalina Consultants team today.

say hi to our author

Merilyn founded Catalina Consultants in 2012 on the belief that all organisations, regardless of size, should have access to top quality bespoke HR services. She enjoys working closely with her clients and believes that the best results are built on relationships of rapport, trust and authenticity. Growing up, Merilyn had her sight set on stardom and dreamed of becoming an actor. She also sang and played the piano, but ended up studying accounting and HR. Whilst she hasn’t won her Grammy just yet, she still loves a good karaoke night. Merilyn loves to travel with her family, with South Africa being one of her most memorable destinations.

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