EAPs - more than just crisis lines
Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) have gone from being crisis lines to employee benefits and now face their most exciting stage of evolution as they move into full “Wellness” services. Below, we explore what this means in terms of real tangibles and how to get the most from an EAP.
What is an EAP?
An EAP has two main components: 24 hour/365 days telephone-based support for employees on a wide range of issues from harassment to financial advice, and face-to-face counseling sessions in case the telephone call indicates a need for a higher level of assistance. Critical incident support following an incident (e.g. a death in the workplace) is also available, and could be incorporated into the disaster contingency plans, helping to reduce incidence of problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder. The existence of an EAP is recommended to mitigate employer liability premiums - the likelihood of a successful work-related stress claim is reduced by the existence of an EAP.
What EAP services are being offered?
Employees can now drive their own healthcare agendas and increase employer usage rates with online services such as:
- secure online counselling and coaching/career development
- self assessments
- fact sheets
- online debt counselling, legal and information services, childcare searches
- specialist manager’s advice zones
- instant chat facilities
- online seminars
- online wellness, learning and relocation centres
- daily living tools (pets, cars, travel, legal, home improvement, etc.)
These services can be backed by telephone support, launch events where physical health screening can be undertaken (body mass index, cholesterol, lung function tests, audiometry, etc.), motivational sessions, attendance at events such as staff conferences, wellness campaigns, specials such as no-smoking days etc.
It’s important to note that, while employers cannot force employees to be healthy, you can provide the tools to educate and empower staff to take responsibility for their personal health.