In today’s fast-paced, competitive world; all of us are spent in meeting deadlines, achieving goals and targets. In this scenario, stress and anxiety is being accepted as normal and part of our existence. However, when people fail to manage this stress, it upsets their emotional balance and affects their health and productivity! This is where the Employee Assistance Program, also referred to as EAP, comes in!
EAP is a confidential service, offered by the employer, often at the workplace, to assist employees in addressing their emotional problems and remaining productive at work and in their lives. EAP helps employees deal with a range of issues like work-related stress, relationship problems, financial concerns, and even substance abuse. The goal is to achieve mental balance, thus making for happier employees and better work environments.
Why is there a need for EAP in organisations?
There is an increasing need for professional counselling and advice, particularly for the employees of corporate India because of the lifestyle that they lead today. Companies are faced with diverse problems and issues which need to be addressed. Some of these concerns are:
Increased stress and depression
One of the headlines in the Economic Times, in 2016, shouted out that 46% of the workforce in India suffered from some form of stress. This is truly a terrifying statistic because the effects of stress are manifold. Though the direct effects are mood swings, irritability and decreased concentration, the long term effect could also be depression!
Increased suicide rates
Archana Bisht, director at 1to1help.net , who was also a speaker at the Corporate Health Summit 2017, said “Not only are there large numbers contemplating suicide, but huge numbers even among those working in corporate India.” It has been established that people with depression are 1.52 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
The nature of the job demands that employees often times stay in places, away from their families and friends. Loneliness and the emotional struggles associated with it are also concerns which need to be addressed.
Technology has ensured that the employee is always connected and available for the job at hand. On the flip side, personal commitments often take a back seat, creating issues in personal relationships. For most people, professional and personal lives are so entwined that it can be difficult to separate the two and find that elusive work-life balance.
A Times Jobs survey indicated that around 50% of the employees of corporate India have a high level of stress associated with their finances. Around 60% felt that they don’t have enough money saved for retirement!
Stigma attached to mental illness
Most people want to appear tough and self- reliant, even if they are facing emotional struggles. They may fear prejudice and discrimination. This denial and failure to seek help at the right time can prove costly in the long run. Celebrities like Deepika Padukone, Karan Johar, Ileana D’Cruz and others have spoken about their own struggles in an attempt to break the social stigma around mental and emotional illnesses.
Increasing medical and insurance costs
Poor mental health is expensive! Mental health expenses are rising twice as fast as other medical expenses. According to a recent survey of 687 companies, conducted by Willis Towers Watson, majority of employers (57%) said they would focus on mental health for the next three years! Treatment of mental issues would be given the same importance as combating cancer, diabetes and other such diseases, they said. As per the Irdai’s directive following the Mental Healthcare Act, with effect from May 29th, 2018, “As per Sec 21(4) of the said Act, every insurer shall make provision for medical insurance for treatment of mental illness on the same basis as is available for treatment of physical illness,” said Irdai.
Absenteeism and Presenteeism
An indirect cost of mental illness is loss of productivity due to absenteeism from work. An even more worrying aspect is presenteeism i.e. being less productive while physically present. Studies have indicated that 20% of lost productivity costs stem from absenteeism while 80% are from presenteeism.
What do Emotional Assistance Programs cover?
Emotional Assistance Programs typically offer support for a variety of problems that the employees face. They could be:
- Work-related stress
- Work-life balance
- Financial woes
- Retirement or lay-off assistance
- Counselling for leaders to deal with difficult situations
- Divorce or Separation
- Relationship problems
- Personal issues
Critical factors for success of these programs
As with any program, there are certain key points which will determine the success of the EAP. They are:
- Firstly, recognition of the fact that EAP is vital, by the top management and all employees
- Establishment of a sound process for implementation of the program
- Hiring competent consultants to manage the program
- Educating all employees on how to avail the services
- Encouraging employees to adopt the services offered
- Extending the services to family members, if possible
- Maintaining confidentiality at all times
- Periodically assessing the program to measure efficacy and make necessary changes
Companies across industries like IT, FMCG, Retail, Banking etc. are realising the need for such programs. Our clients like HPE, HPI, IQVIA, Microsoft etc. have EAP plans in place to focus on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being of employees.
Promoting adoption of EAPs at the workplace
Implementing an Emotional Assistance Program is the first step but ensuring adoption is even more important. Start off by breaking the stigma which surrounds mental health issues. Encourage the top management to actively promote the programs. Increase awareness by appropriate communication on the different kinds of services.
By incorporating EAPs in your wellness calendar, you can increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, increase retention, morale and have healthier and happier employees. EAP also ensures that HR gets a fair idea of the wellbeing of their employees. This can help them structure their wellness calendar & frame policies better.
It is crucial not to underestimate the hidden costs of employee well-being. Prioritize the emotional wellness of employees. Let’s increase profits and build company brand value while transforming mind-sets and improving overall well-being of the employees.
Reach out to us to organise EAPs at your workplace. We can personalize it for your company and your employee’s family as well.
Call us on +91 80500 58002/3 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to know more.