Supporting mental health in the workplace, even if that is now a virtual office, should be paramount to every employer. Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) have long been a great way to give employees who need it access to face-to-face support. 

Here is a quick guide we put together with everything you need to know about EAPs and how they can fit into your employee wellbeing strategy.

What are Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)?

An EAP scheme is a confidential counselling service, with a third-party organisation, offered by an employer to its employees. EAPs can offer employees help with a range of work-related or personal issues that may be impacting their life or work performance. 

EAPs often have experts in stress management counselling, crisis, conflict resolution and substance abuse. The areas of support include mental health support, work-related stress or burnout, relationship problems, financial concerns and sometimes legal issues. 

How do EAP schemes work?

The employer will offer the EAP typically as part of its employee wellbeing services, however, it is usually up to the employee to contact the EAP provider directly to seek out support. 

Typically an EAP includes a 24-hour helpline and 6 face-face sessions with a counsellor per employee, however, this may vary depending on the service provider.

As the service is confidential, employers will not have access to any of the information or issues discussed by the employees with the EAP provider or counselors. 

What are the benefits of EAP schemes?

Being proactive in offering an EAP for employees has clear benefits for both the employer and employees. 

By offering a confidential support service employers can reduce the risk of employee absence related to mental health issues and improve employee performance by addressing stress-related issues. 

Employees will benefit from confidential services, both from the ability to access help and by feeling supported and valued by their employer, which in turn, may improve employee retention. 

How to promote an EAP in the workplace

Many employers struggle to sufficiently communicate the benefits and availability of EAP schemes to their workforces, as most rely on self-reporting.

Building an organisational culture that values mental health and promotes discussion of mental health is crucial when trying to raise the profile of your EAP. 

Alternatively, mental health apps can signpost employees to your EAP! This can be instrumental in ensuring those that need help can be informed and access it when they need.

How to evaluate and measure the success of your EAP

Measuring and evaluating the success of a confidential service again can be problematic. Simple anonymous feedback surveys can be useful tools in evaluating uptake and opinions of the EAP scheme throughout your workforce. 

However, surveys may only get part of the picture. Using a centralised HR solution, that gives you data on employee wellbeing to measure the impact of your EAP in addition to any other wellbeing initiatives in place.

Is an EAP alone enough to support staff mental health?

An EAP can be a good addition to your employee benefits packages, but an EAP alone as a mental health solution is generally not enough. 

The services provided by EAPs may be adequate to ‘tick-a-box’ but the problems with uptake and internal promotion mean they are often not very accessible. Employers and employees will get the most from EAP schemes when they are offered alongside other mental health solutions.

For example, preventative digital health interventions can support employees daily, then if an employees behaviour indicates they need additional face-to-face support, can triage them to the EAP.

If you are interested in learning more about BioBeats and how we can help you get the most out of your EAP scheme get in touch.