Employee wellbeing is a huge topic and it’s increasingly becoming a key pillar of corporate HR. The most forward looking companies know that when you put your team first, the payback in terms of staff recruitment and retention, productivity and business performance is irrefutable.
Invest in your employees’ mental, physical and emotional wellness and support their practical needs to build a positive company culture and reap the benefits of better employee engagement. A happy workforce where every member feels valued will go the extra mile for their employer.
Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are an excellent way to formalise your commitment to your staff. The remit can be as narrow or as broad as you want to make it, and can range from fitness programmes to counselling services, medical or financial advice and more. For families, there may be help with adoption support or childcare provision, or legal advice to ease the stress of a family break-up. Programmes are delivered free to employees and are normally also available to spouses or cohabiting partners and children.
Why do you need an Employee Assistance Programme?
The business reasons for putting an EAP in place are compelling. Let’s recap on some of the main benefits for your company:
- · Nurturing a happy, productive team
Employees who are dealing with personal difficulties, financial issues or mental health problems are unlikely to be able to work to the best of their abilities. Without any support, their work performance and morale is bound to suffer. But with help available via an EAP, problems can be shared and dealt with before they become a serious issue. In a company that puts employee wellbeing at the core of its workplace culture, team members are not only happier to be there, they’re more productive too.
- · Recruiting and retaining top talent
It’s a job seekers’ market out there, and candidates are increasingly valuing company benefits and culture as key decision making criteria for accepting a position. Having an attractive EAP in place can be a valuable tool to help you recruit and retain the best talent. Not only is it solid evidence that your business is a great place to work with high staff morale, it shows the world that you genuinely care about staff welfare, with a successful programme in place to back up your claims.
- · Reducing business costs
According to a recent report by Deloitte, poor mental health costs UK businesses up to £45 billion per year. Contrast these eye-watering costs with these US findings on the financial benefits of an EAP: a 10% increase in productivity, $6 ROI on every dollar spent, and a total cost saving of $4,800 per employee per year. An EAP can be instrumental in reducing staff absence on account of a personal problem, enabling the issue to be shared, addressed and overcome, for everyone’s benefit.
What should your Employee Assistance Programme cover?
An EAP should provide a safe and trusted space for any team member who is experiencing problems at work or at home and would benefit from professional help and advice to take the pressure off. Below are some valuable suggestions to inspire your company’s EAP.
- Physical and mental health
A healthy, active lifestyle should be encouraged. The health dangers of sedentary jobs have been well publicised, and regular exercise helps to combat obesity, diabetes, heart disease and much more. Free or subsidised gym memberships can be a good way to help everyone in your team maintain good physical health and boost their mental health too. With a workforce that’s physically and mentally firing on all cylinders, the sky’s the limit.
Ensure that you actively remove any stigma still persisting around mental health issues and promote a culture of openness and visibility. Depression, anxiety, stress, bereavement, divorce, eating disorders, substance abuse… there’s a long list of issues that may affect any team member at any one time and prevent them from living a normal life. Why not provide access to a 24/7 confidential helpline? Meditation and mindfulness resources to help alleviate stress? Flexible work schedules? Access to a professional counsellor to help work through the issue at hand?
- Financial wellbeing
Not everyone is on top of their finances, and money worries can seriously affect a person’s psychological wellbeing, leading to greater stress and anxiety. This, in turn affects concentration levels and productivity at work and can result in poor decision making, poor performance and poor attendance.
A corporate EAP scheme can help in lots of practical ways, from providing access to independent financial advisers and mortgage brokers to offering relocation packages, enhanced pensions contributions and salary sacrifice schemes. You could also offer your employees discounts and freebies for life’s essentials such as groceries and travel costs. If you have an existing employee benefit scheme, ensure that all benefits contained therein are fully communicated, so everyone knows what they are already entitled to receive.
- Emotional wellbeing at work
Employees look for recognition and appreciation for their efforts at work, both from their managers and their peers – it’s what makes us all feel valued and drives a positive culture. From the power of saying ‘thank you’ for a job well done to offering tangible rewards to incentivise and recognise hard work, there’s a wealth of opportunity to make your employees feel appreciated.
Training opportunities and workshops are a good way to embed confidence at work while learning new skills, and these don’t have to be job related. How about mental first aid courses or meditation mornings? Running clubs or arts & crafts sessions, language classes or regular lunchtime learning on any topics of interest? Workshops designed to deal with stress and encourage a healthy work/life balance are likely to be particularly popular.
Last but by no means least, do you have a one-to-one mentoring scheme in place? Pairing up a leadership team member with a less experienced employee is one of the best ways to provide constructive feedback, insight and support to help them grow in a safe and supported environment.