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70% of employers say EAPs are most valuable health and wellbeing benefit

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

70% of employers say EAPs are most valuable health and wellbeing benefit

New research by Hargreaves Lansdown reveals that 70% of employers believe that an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is the most valuable health and wellbeing benefit.

“This finding is certainly welcomed by the EAP industry and is supported by our own research, undertaken by the Work Foundation (2016), that more and more organisations (67%) are using EAPs as part of their health and wellbeing plans. Among HR professionals, EAPs are perceived as important in delivering a personal and professional source of support that, crucially, is independent from the workplace.

“However, although EAPs have become established as a reassuring support service that is operating in the background of an organisation, it’s important that, looking forward, EAP providers focus on the development of their role as a strategic partner for health and wellbeing that can deliver return on investment and contribute valuable intelligence to cultural and structural workplace issues that can reduce engagement, stress, sickness absence and promote wellbeing.

“The UK EAPA’s investment in additional research in partnership with the Institute for Employment Studies will further help the industry to understand more about the return on investment in EAPs which, we believe, will enable even more employers to regard EAPs as the most valuable health and wellbeing benefit,” commented Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

More information on the Hargreaves Lansdown study, which surveyed 349 UK employers, can be seen here.

 

Pressure at work is key cause of employee stress

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

Pressure at work is a key cause of employee stress

Given that pressure at work and a poor work / life balance are key causes of stress and mental health issues, new research that indicates employees are feeling pressure from their supervisors, colleagues and technology to work during their free time should be of major concern for employers, said Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

The research from the University of Surrey calls for employers to do more to ensure employees are not subjected to pressure to work outside of their contracted hours and reminds us that an individual’s failure to disconnect from work can negatively impact on an employee’s wellbeing.

“Whilst employees do need to take personal responsibility for how they plan their working day and how they balance demands from their employer and clients which may naturally fall outside their standard working hours, there will be occasions where these circumstances impact on an employee’s mental health and wellbeing. Where this does happen, employee assistance programmes (EAPs) can demonstrate their value as an accessible and confidential channel that provides professional support for employees whose mental health is being impacted by pressure at work.

“Of course, EAPs can only become truly effective here where employees are aware of the scope of support that is available to them to help reduce the impact of poor mental health on their wellbeing and their work. Here it’s important that EAPs are regularly promoted to employees and that, within the organisation, they continue to be positioned as part of a wider wellbeing and engagement strategy that reviews the extent and impact of work / life balance on the culture and productivity of an organisation,” says Neil Mountford.

Unspoken workplace expectations creating stressed employees

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

Unspoken workplace expectations creating stressed employees

With new research indicating that unspoken workplace expectations are putting pressure on employees to adopt less balanced lifestyles and leading to higher levels of stress at work, there is a clear need for employers to promote a more positive work / life balance among their employees and offer accessible and professional solutions to minimise the causes and impact of stress in the workplace.

“Employee assistance programmes present a practical solution for organisations to address many of the issues arising from this research. Having an independent, confidential and accessible service for employees that gives them the opportunity to discuss situations, experiences and issues that are causing them stress and impacting on their work / life balance and productivity can help to reduce feelings of pressure and reassure individuals that there is a solution to the feelings they have,” commented Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

This research, from Bridge by Infrastructure, surveyed 1,000 office workers: 78% thought that working more hours was at least a moderately important factor in getting promoted, as was ‘engaging in workplace politics’. To read more about the research and its findings, click here.

Nearly half of employers put mental health at top of employee health agenda

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

Nearly half of employers put mental health at top of employee health agenda

Nearly half of employers have mental health at the top of their employee health agenda, according to research by Aon Employee Benefits, with the vast majority (95%) of employers expressing concern about current and future mental health issues.

In its ‘UK health survey: September 2017′ the study found that most employers (96%) see a direct correlation between employee health and performance and the same number agree that they are responsible for improving employee health behaviours.

The survey of 200 employers also found that more than three-quarters (77%) of organisations are looking to improve on their existing health and wellbeing programmes in the next 12 months.

“It’s refreshing to see that nearly half of employers (41%) have a clear view of the impact, including the cost impact, of health issues in their organisation. Employers are focusing closely on the physical and mental health of their people and are critically analysing how they are communicating their health and wellbeing benefits, services and support to their employees.

“With mental health at the top of employers’ health agenda, EAPs are, more than ever, well placed to support employees who are struggling with their mental health. EAPs are one of the quickest ways for people who are struggling with a wide range of issues to access counselling and related support services and the EAP industry has established stringent standards of professional practice and delivery that will help get employees back to work quickly, minimising their psychological distress and the impact of their mental health conditions on the workplace,” said Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

Click here to read more about Aon Employee Benefits’ ‘UK health survey: September 2017’.

 

 

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Employees struggling to concentrate when wellbeing poor

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

Employees struggling to concentrate when wellbeing poor

With news that one-third of senior HR professionals do not think their organisation considers employee wellbeing to be an essential part of good business strategy, the spotlight is once again on the importance of promoting and enhancing wellbeing in the workplace.

A study by charity, CABA, found that more than half of HR professionals (51%) see employees struggling to concentrate when wellbeing is poor, with a similar number (49%) noticing more sick days and taken and an increase in mental health issues (47%).

“For many years, EAPs have recognised the impact that non-work and personal issues can have on an individual’s general wellbeing, particularly their mental health in the workplace. By working in partnership with employers, EAPs can proactively help to promote positive mental health and wellbeing, providing an accessible and confidential channel of support for employees who are struggling with work related or personal issues that are affecting their performance or attendance.

“The CABA’s finding that HR professionals do not believe their company considers wellbeing to be a core part of good business strategy is concerning and should be a call to action for organisations to reflect on the benefits of a healthy, engaged, present and focused workforce. Clearly a number of organisations continue to believe that wellbeing is not their responsibility yet it is not a service that can be discharged to third party providers and instead is something that needs investment, focus and recognition for the benefit of employees as well as the wider business,” said Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

For more information on the CABA report, click here.

 

Report estimates the cost of poor mental health to UK organisations

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

Report estimates the cost of poor mental health to UK organisations

An independent government commissioned review into mental health at work, ‘Thriving at work: a review of mental health and employers’, has found that 300,000 people with a long-term mental health problem lose their jobs each year, and that 15% of people at work have symptoms of a mental health condition.

The report estimates the cost of poor mental health to UK organisations to be as high as £42 billion, with half of this cost attributed to presenteeism and the rest a result of sickness absence and employee turnover.

“The UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association supports the ‘mental health core standards’ that the report puts forward. This framework, which emphasises the importance of developing mental health awareness among employees and promoting effective people management through line managers, has the potential to be an important tool through which employers and EAP providers can work better together to support employee mental health.

“EAPs are one of the quickest ways for people who are struggling with a wide range of issues to access counselling and related support services and as such they are an effective tool in combating the mental health crisis that we’re facing in the UK. With more than half the UK working population having access to an EAP, according to UK EAPA estimates, we have a tremendous opportunity to support and promote employee health and wellbeing and reducing levels of psychological distress in the workplace,” said Neil Mountford, chair of the UK EAPA.

The ‘mental health core standards’ recommended by the government commissioned review into mental health at work are:

  • Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan;
  • Develop mental health awareness among employees;
  • Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling;
  • Provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work/life balance and opportunities for development;
  • Promote effective people management through line managers and supervisors;
  • Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.

You can find out more about the review here.

UK EAPA seeks freelance PR and marketing consultant

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

UK EAPA seeks freelance PR and marketing consultant

An opportunity has arisen for a freelance PR and marketing consultant to work with the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association from January 2018. The successful consultant will support and advise the Association on their external reputation, as well as its internal communications with members.

The primary communications channels and tactics currently utilised by the UK EAPA include print and online media relations and Twitter, as well as the Association’s website which is under review at the moment. The assignment will also require attendance at HR focused industry events, preparation of member newsletters and the development and publication of industry guides, factsheets and research based reports.

A more detailed outline for this assignment can be seen here. Applications for this opportunity should be emailed to Liz Guilford (liz@melbournecommunications.com) before 5pm on Friday 10 November.

Employers failing to realise potentially serious consequences of presenteeism

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

Employers failing to realise potentially serious consequences of presenteeism

Nearly one quarter (23%) of employees would only take time off work if they were hospitalised, according to new research from Canada Life Group Insurance. The study of more than 1,000 employees found that nearly nine out of ten people (89%) said that had gone into work when feeling ill.

When the researchers asked people why they went to work sick, more than two-thirds (69%) said they didn’t think their problem was big enough to warrant a sick day and one quarter (22%) said their decision was due to financial concerns. Alongside this, the culture of their workplace influenced their decision; 34% of those polled said their workload was too high for a day off and 12% said that they would have been made to feel guilty by their colleagues and senior staff if they took time off.

The study also highlights how a culture of presenteeism may affect the health of employees, with nearly half (48%) of respondents reporting they thought they had become unwell because of a colleague’s illness on more than one occasion.

Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association noted that many employers have failed to realise the potentially serious consequences of presenteeism for an organisation and its people. “An employee who is in work but is poorly, distracted, anxious, depressed and less productive that they would ordinarily be can have a significant impact on safety, productivity and wellbeing,” he said.

Alongside the use of services such as employee assistance programmes to minimise the impact of presenteeism on employees and an organisation, Neil identifies some other practical steps that employers can adopt:

  • Implement line manager training to understand and manage ‘difficult’ employee issues. Many employees suffering from personal or professional problems will feel valued and supported by a line manager who asks how things are or acknowledges that they are in work despite difficult home or work situations.

 

  • Provide employees with clear guidance in relation to compassionate leave, flexibility in working hours and the organisation’s willingness to offer staff ‘time out’ during the working day to make necessary telephone calls. This may mean the difference between employees coming into work or taking time off from their duties.

 

  • Communicate the availability of Employee Assistance Programmes. Ensure employees are aware of the service and the type of assistance it can provide with regular promotion; if you’re not in need of such services it’s easy to forget about the range of support services available and how to access them.

 

  • Cultivate a healthy working environment. Offer staff training in, for example, managing stress in and out of the workplace. Consider launching lunchtime activity clubs or walks, for example, to encourage exercise as well as supportive working relationships across all levels of the organisation.

 

  • Position line managers as the first line of available support within the business. Develop a confidential feedback forum, for example, for employees to express their ideas and views in relation to policies, procedures and health and wellbeing in the workplace.

To read more about Canada Life’s research click here.

World Mental Health Day – what positive change will you make?

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

World Mental Health Day – what positive change will you make?

This week marked World Mental Health Day 2017, an event that encourages us to think about mental health, how we can improve it and how we can best support those who are struggling with their mental health. The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is mental health in the workplace, something that is an important issue for the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association (UK EAPA) and our members.

According to research by the Mental Health Foundation, Oxford Economics and Unum, one in six of the UK workforce experienced mental health issues in 2015 and there is a consensus that there is a growing awareness of the importance of good mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

But in light of World Mental Health Day, it is important to ask ourselves what positive steps are we taking now and what strategies do we have planned to ensure that our workplaces are environments that support, nurture and encourage good mental health and wellbeing, says Neil Mountford, chair of the UK EAPA.

Work is good for our mental health and a core role of an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is to help employees who are affected by mental health issues to remain in work, whilst at the same time helping them to address and resolve their issues.

Nearly nine out of ten (86%) respondents to the Mental Health Foundation’s recent survey confirmed that they believe their job and being at work was important to protect and maintain their mental health. In fact, people who had been diagnosed with a mental health problem in the last five years were more likely than those who had not to regard their job as very important to their mental health (49% compared with 43%).

So what steps can you take as an employer and a line manager to create a culture of positive mental health in your workplace? Here are a few suggestions.

  • Learn to recognise the signs and symptoms of potential mental health issues

These might be an increase in unexplained absences or an employee calling in sick more frequently, a change in their personality – maybe they’re withdrawn or particularly snappy – or there may be a change in their performance or typical work-rate. You as a manager are best placed to know what is ‘usual behaviour’ for your employees so use this as a benchmark to assess whether you think there is an issue you may be able to help with.

  • Accept that disclosing mental health problems isn’t an option for everyone

Not everyone will want to disclose that they are struggling with their mental health, either because it’s not something they’re ready to address yet or they might be concerned about how they will be treated within the company in the future if they say that they are struggling. This is where a service such as the EAP can really help; openly communicating that this confidential, accessible and professional service is available to employees and that there is no link back to the workplace, is important to positively influence employees’ mental health and their desire to seek help.

  • Appreciate the factors that you can control

As an employer you’re not in a position to control all elements of an employee’s life, influencing what happens out of the workplace, for example. But there are a number of things you can change or introduce to have a positive influence on employees’ mental health. These include an individual’s workload, the type of work they’re being asked to do, the culture of the organisation and also ensuring that open and two-way communications take place wherever possible. Sometimes a temporary adjustment of work-load can make a big difference, so if you know or suspect that an employee is struggling and that the issues they’re experiencing are affecting their mental health, take a moment to see what positive changes you can make.

  • Actively promote health and wellbeing in your workplace

This might mean that you as a manager are proactive and set a good example of achieving a positive work / life balance or encourage employees to take regular breaks from their work throughout the day. Alongside this, you might raise employees’ awareness of services, such as the EAP, that are on hand to provide support and information, as well as counselling in some cases, for individuals who are struggling with any issue that is affecting their performance at work.

To find out more about the Mental Health Foundation’s research and their guide to how you can support mental health at work, click here.

EAPs can help to reduce the cost of mental health absence

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

EAPs can help to reduce the cost of mental health absence

According to an article recently published in HR magazine, EAPs are one of a number of ways for employers to reduce the cost of mental health absence and help their employees.

Among the steps that employers can take to reduce the effect of mental health issues on their employees, the article reports line manager training to identify mental health issues among employees, initiatives to tackle stigma such as wellbeing champions and making reasonable adjustments to enable an employee to remain in work, as options for employers to consider.

“Employee assistance programmes (EAPs), as the article explains, can offer a number of counselling sessions as well as support for specific issues such as debt and money worries, as well as personal issues that may be contributing to stress in the workplace.  Communication is one of the key factors to ensuring that EAPs, as well as the other steps outlined in the article, are effective in reducing the impact of mental health in the workplace and when introduced as part of a wider wellbeing and engagement strategy can have a positive impact on organisations and employees,” said Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

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