Employee Assistance Programmes can bring equal benefit for employers

Sep 28, 2021 1:43:40 PM

If you’re a small business owner, you already know how important it is to give your team the tools they need to do their jobs. One resource you may wish to consider is an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). This is a service that offers professional counselling or support to your team to support their wellbeing. This blog explains EAP services and what to think about when finding a provider for your business.

Objectivity and confidentiality are a powerful combination

An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) gives you and your team access to confidential services from trained professionals. Any kind of life problem can affect a person’s performance at work. EAP services supply counselling, guidance, or advice to help. Topics may include financial stress, depression, anxiety, grief, bullying, substance abuse, difficult relationships and more. The idea is to empower people to tackle such issues before they spiral out of control.

While a company arranges the EAP provider, the actual services are delivered with independence. This is critical. It means troubled staff can openly address their worries without involving their managers or colleagues.

Expertise and training are vital when dealing with mental wellbeing. Although it may be tempting to help stressed staff yourself, unqualified advice risks doing more harm than good.

A professional EAP service allows you to set clear boundaries in the way you support your team. At Business Mentors New Zealand, we see the power of creating the right balance in our mentoring model. There’s immeasurable value in having the confidential sounding board of a Business Mentor. Business owners get the best from this because each Mentor sets a clear scope for the support they give.

Business Mentors will freely share their experience, generously give their time, and encourage you to succeed. However, they won’t offer financial or legal advice, nor will they act as your counsellor. In the same way, an EAP service means someone else can handle counselling and advice for your team so that you can focus on leading them and the business. This is just one of the benefits of having an EAP service.

Employers benefit when their staff are supported

Employers with EAPs lose fewer workdays to staff illness. Staff that take advantage of EAPs are less likely to be late or to have alcohol-related issues at work. Even if these aren’t normally a concern, we’re in unprecedented times. The pandemic is escalating almost every statistic on stress and poor mental health.

Many business owners are feeling overwhelmed and isolated right now. Our recent survey highlighted the extent of this crisis. And fortunately, EAP services are equally available to the senior managers in the business. For you as an employer, an EAP may be a way to access game-changing support.

The best solution is the one that is the best fit for your business

There are a wide range of Employee Assistance Programmes available, but not all of them are created equal. Before signing up with one, make sure you do your research and understand their fee structure. They may offer a price per employee or per claim.

EAP services have varying levels of support and different packages. Some deliver only self-help tools via email, webchat, or phone. Others offer virtual sessions. Some EAP providers will even come to your workplace for in-person appointments. Add-ons can include whistle-blower systems, critical incident response and training opportunities. Varying reporting options are available too.

To get the most from an EAP service, it’s important staff understand how they can use it. Most providers will take you through an ‘on-boarding’ process when you sign up with them. The process is one you can ask about before you make a commitment.

In New Zealand, some EAP providers work mostly with government and large organisations. Many are set up as not-for-profits. Health insurers sometimes partner with a particular EAP provider, so it’s worth checking with your own insurer or broker. A few software suppliers and accounting platforms have EAP partnerships that you can access with your subscription. Small business owners may consider connecting with a fellow small business delivering Employee Assistance Programmes.

A Business Mentor can help you with decisions like choosing an EAP provider

Finding an EAP provider that suits your business requires a bit of research. You’ll want to compare pricing and packages against the needs and budget of your business. Still unsure? A Business Mentor can help you find ways to sort through the business decisions you face. If you’d like to know more, visit www.businessmentors.org.nz.