Archive for January, 2017

UK EAPA’s latest research to quantify the ‘return on investment’ of EAPs

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News, ROI

UK EAPA’s latest research to quantify the ‘return on investment’ of EAPs

Following the recent publication of UK EAPA’s research in partnership with the Work Foundation into the use, impact and reach of EAPs in today’s organisation, the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association’s next research project will quantify the ‘return on investment’ of employers’ investment in these programmes.

“The UK EAPA has asked The Work Foundation, alongside Professor Stephen Bevan from the Institute of Employment Studies, to assess the economic returns that employers can expect to accrue from their investment in an EAP. Based on data collected from EAP providers, we will build an ROI calculator that will enable those who are assessing the cost-effectiveness of their current workplace health interventions to better understand the value that an EAP can deliver,” said Andrew Kinder, UK EAPA’s Chair.

“Work has already begun to collect data from EAP providers to help build the ROI calculator and we are looking forward to working with the Work Foundation once again to develop an independent and objective appraisal of the economic returns of investment in an EAP,” said Paul Roberts, UK EAPA Executive Board Member and research lead.

EAPs are among the most commonly used well-being interventions in the UK with the EAPA’s Market Watch report (2013) identifying that almost 12 million employees in the UK are covered by EAP provision. Other data, for example from Employee Benefits (2013), suggests that 71 per cent of employers in the UK are making use of EAPs.

“These figures highlight that EAPs have the ‘reach’ to make a significant impact on the well-being of a large number of UK employees, saving UK businesses a considerable sum in reduced sickness absence and improved productivity.  We are looking forward to working in partnership with UK EAPA, as well as the Institute of Employment Studies, to better understand return on investment and make recommendations about how the design, implementation and targeting of EAPs can be adapted to maximise their reach and effectiveness,” said Dr. Zofia Bajorek, researcher at the Work Foundation who will lead this project.

The research is expected to be published in early May 2017. If you would like to receive the new research report on publication, please email info@eapa.org.uk to request a copy.

Latest ‘EAP Matters’ column: the magic art of mediation

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Latest ‘EAP Matters’ column: the magic art of mediation

In the latest issue of ‘Counselling at Work’, the ‘EAP Matters’ column is written by Timmy Kurtuldum, Training and Mediation Manager at CiC, a Registered Provider member of UK EAPA.

If you’re an affiliate counsellor and have every wondered if mediation is for you, this article is a great starting point as it talks about the skills required to play a part in a successful mediation.

“It’s too easy to think that mediation in a workplace context is the same as say, for example, family mediation or mediating parties going through a divorce. In these types of mediation, there is much more of a focus on the past and factors contributing to the issues being discussed. I can’t emphasise enough that this is a marked contrast to workplace mediation; where we’re purely focused on the ‘now’. There’s no need to know the details of what happened leading up to the mediation. We can work our magic with minimal information and an acceptance from all parties involved that we can move forward,” says Timmy.

You can read the full article here and find out more about BACP Workplace and the ‘Counselling at Work’ journal by going to http://bacpworkplace.org.uk/journal.

This article first appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of Counselling at Work, published by the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy.©

UK EAPA welcomes PM’s plans to do more to assist people with mental health conditions

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in mental health, News

UK EAPA welcomes PM’s plans to do more to assist people with mental health conditions

The Prime Minister’s announcement this week of plans to do more to help those with mental health conditions is a move welcomed by the employee assistance industry, says Andrew Kinder, Chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association. This is a bold move that underlines the importance of employers and providers working together to promote and protect the mental health of the UK’s workforce.

Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) are a vital element of the solution for the mental health challenges that one in four of us will have to deal with us during our lifetime, and the Government’s announcement this week emphasises the importance of a joined-up solution to deliver mental health services and support.

The role of employers in promoting and supporting good mental health has been discussed widely already by many commentators and is generally accepted as ‘a good thing’ by business. A report from the UK EAPA (2013) estimates that more than half of the UK working population has access to an EAP, signalling employers’ active interest to invest in the tools to support employees when they need support with mental health issues.

HR managers surveyed by UK EAPA also highlight the role EAPs are already playing when it comes to supporting mental health. Respondents to UK EAPA research undertaken in partnership with Lancaster University’s The Work Foundation (2016) reported that the most common use of an EAP is for depression (57%).

In the same study, around half of HR managers said an EAP had been introduced in their organisation as a way to reduce organisational sickness absence with 48% saying its role is to provide staff with support for particular issues such as debt or relationship issues which can be a catalyst to mental health issues such as stress and anxiety.

The PM’s ‘call to action’ this week is a stark reminder that we need to do even more to raise employees’ awareness and take-up of these vital services.

For employers, sickness absence and declining productivity relating to the impact of mental health issues means that organisations need to reply on tried and trusted systems, such as EAPs, that can work in conjunction with HR, OH and other wellbeing specialists.

EAPs have been repeatedly proven to help people identify and cope with the personal or work-related issues that are at the root of their mental health distress and as such can help to reduce sickness absence, improve mental wellbeing and ultimately contribute to the bottom line in terms of organisational productivity.

Yet low-level promotion of EAPs and the scope of services available is thought to be restricting their use for anything other than crises and situations that have already reached a serious stage, which ultimately limits their full value and the effectiveness of the service to the individual and the organisation.

To address this, communication and raising awareness of EAP availability are key, and it seems that organisations agree action needs to be taken. Managers questioned by UK EAPA (2016) say there should be more regular and proactive promotion of the EAP and more prominence in team meetings, not solely through one-off staff inductions, reactively in return-to-work letters or via posters.

EAPs can also help alleviate some of the mental health burden from the NHS, particularly whilst steps are being taken to improve funding for public mental health services.

EAPs are quicker at delivering support for mild to moderate mental health problems and are able to provide the full treatment for many mental health issues, offering a high quality provision that matches and sometimes exceeds that which would be offered via NHS channels. Research undertaken by UK EAPA (2012) in partnership with CORE-IMS indicated the success of EAPs when it comes to engaging with clients and offering speedy interventions – 9 out of 10 EAP clients were accepted for treatment in just nine days of referral which minimises the time employees are required to wait for professional counselling support.

EAPs are also seeing and supporting clinical patients and as such taking some of the pressure off the NHS.  88% of clients presenting to their EAP scored above the clinical cut-off level, highlighting their similarities to NHS outpatients.

A joined-up approach from the HR, employee assistance, occupational health and wellbeing industries to help promote and protect the mental health of the UK’s workforce is something that we need to work towards. It’s only by working together that we can tackle the stigma of mental health, both in society and in the workplace.

Support employees to avoid the temptation to ‘catastrophise’ Brexit

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Support employees to avoid the temptation to ‘catastrophise’ Brexit

In the latest issue of theHRDIRECTOR, UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association Chair, Andrew Kinder, discusses the importance of supporting employees as we embark on the challenging and unfamiliar road to Brexit.

He says: “Without support there is the potential for employees to ‘catastrophise’ Brexit, where they start to think negatively about the impact and future, almost before the full picture has been revealed. Here, they will respond emotionally and negatively until their outlook only see catastrophe, rather than opportunity. To prevent this ‘awfulisatin’ of events, Brexit should instead be positioned as an opportunity to build resilience among employees and within organisations.”

Andrew Kinder goes on to emphasise: “What matters is that the organisation’s leaders and its employees don’t fall into negative cycles of thinking, expecting the worst, making rash decisions, causing or exacerbating problems which act a as justification of the negativity. We should be mindful that the workplace is uniquely placed to provide some of the support and reassurance that people need at this time, through the provision of employee support and counselling, to give a space for employees to express what can’t be expressed elsewhere.”

The January 2017 issue of theHRDIRECTOR is out now. Read more at www.thehrdirector.com.

New blog: Virtual therapists and predictive mental health apps – the future of the EAP?

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Virtual therapists and predictive mental health apps – the future of the EAP?

All the forces of modern work appear to be pushing for a freewheeling workforce: more mobile and individuals working remotely; the rise of the gig economy; the dominance of digital technology, says Andrew Kinder, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

Despite the headlines, The Work Foundation is clear in its new campaign for ‘Good Work’ that, in this context, employers in future will increasingly be reliant on motivating a core group of employees, offering them security and wellbeing in return for loyalty and a willingness to develop and adapt. Productivity and competitiveness will be dependent on it.

In its new report into the role of the Employee Assistance Programme in workplaces, The Work Foundation has highlighted the missed opportunity for employers to integrate the EAP into a platform for ‘good work’, a wider culture of wellbeing, coaching and performance improvement.

With the future potential of the service in mind, we asked our members what they saw as being the future of the EAP as it evolves, and what’s needed to both meet the challenges presented by different groups of employees and their experiences.

Technology, inevitably, is expected to be the key to tailoring and provide more access for employees as part of busy lives.

“People are now less tied to the office, and the standard 9-5 working day is becoming less common. We expect technology will continue to play a bigger role which is why we’ve invested heavily in this area,” says Patrick Watt, Corporate Director at Bupa UK. “Staying close to the changing way employees behave and engage with work is vital to ensuring EAP provision remains effective.”

“Balancing the demands of different groups of users will also present challenges to providers, with younger employees preferring ready access on the move through smartphones and older ones preferring more traditional telephone and face to face services,” says Eugene Farrell, head of trauma support services, AXA PPP healthcare. “The emergence of apps that identify or predict changing mental health states could lead to automated outreach to people with the earliest signs of difficulty or flare-ups, taking preventive service provision to another level. Virtual reality environments may also have significant impact in how users interact with services both in a traditional sense as well as in the development of virtual therapists and mental health coaches.”

For Gillian Morris, Director of Professional Services, Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health (Niamh), employers will be looking for more professional support, in whatever form it needs to take, in dealing with the increasing complexity of modern life in itself.

“If EAPs are to survive and thrive they must adapt to and understand the changing demographics and challenges of a modern and dynamic workforce. Young people working zero hour contracts and multiple jobs, the so-called sandwich generation working to support the generation below and care for the generation above and the older generation working longer and past retirement, with financial worries and debt increasingly becoming the common factor across all the generations.

“In any one year 1 in 4 people will experience anxiety or depression and by 2020 the World Health Organisation predicts depression will have reached epidemic proportions. Bad work, working environments are related to poor mental wellbeing and good work, working environments promote good mental health. Mental health and wellbeing therefore, is everyone’s business and EAP’s have a tremendous opportunity and increasingly central role to play, providing pragmatic workplace solutions to the pressures and challenges of modern life.”

Most importantly, according to EAP providers, is the essential future positioning of the EAP as part of a wider and holistic wellbeing culture and strategy for employers to see the benefits.

Jonathan Brown, RetailTRUST, Director of People and Wellbeing Services, points to how embracing digital technology to deliver services will require a different set of relationships: “It’s only possible when organisations move wellbeing from being a tick in the box exercise.”

Patrick Watt agrees: “The new Work Foundation report should serve as a challenge to the EAP market to develop products that address stigma, increase awareness and engagement and are integrated as part of an organisation’s health and wellbeing programme.”

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