Archive for June, 2018

The importance of promoting EAP services

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

The importance of promoting EAP services

A US study published last week has revealed that the promotion of EAP services in the workplace has a significant and positive impact on overall EAP usage.

The study examined utilisation data from US EAP provider, KGA to explore the impact of different kinds of promotional activity on increasing and decreasing the use of EAP services. Analysts reviewed the utilisation records over a two-year period for 82 employers, with 150,000 total covered employees. Interviews were also conducted with HR managers which uncovered themes around the challenges to promotion and the potential tactics that could be most effective.

The analysis of 5,985 EAP cases found that promotional materials were the number one source of referral into the EAP, with one in three cases citing it.

“This latest study highlights the importance of an effective promotional strategy in driving user awareness and engagement with EAPs,” said Neil Mountford, Chair of UK EAPA. “We know from our members that employers who engage in regular EAP promotional activity, particularly online through webinars, email promotions and apps, can see a significant uplift in usage.”

“We urge employers to consult with their EAP provider and tap into their experience and expertise in creating promotional plans tailored to the needs of the organisation. EAP providers can also advise on which channels have been proven to work most effectively and can help develop the messaging around EAP promotion so that it addresses the specific priorities and concerns of their workforce,” he said.

“The more effort an organisation puts into promoting the EAP programme and driving engagement and utilisation, the better its data will be. This can provide valuable insights into how employees are feeling as well as point to early warning signs of recurring themes around physical or mental wellbeing and general workplace issues and ensures that the right areas are prioritised by the organisation. At a time when mental wellbeing is top of the HR agenda, there has never been a better time to look at EAPs and broaden perceptions around what it can do and how it can fit in with a wider wellbeing strategy.”

Collaborating to create healthier workplaces

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Collaborating to create healthier workplaces

Earlier this week, UK EAPA was pleased to welcome Nick Pahl, CEO of the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) as the guest speaker at the June 2018 Branch Meeting. SOM is the UK organisation for all doctors and health professionals working in or with an interest in occupational health. During his presentation, Nick highlighted the work of SOM and some key issues facing the occupational health sector, sparking an insightful discussion around the areas where UK EAPA and SOM might collaborate to further educate practitioners, purchasers and the Government on the value and respective roles of EAPs and OH in contributing to healthier workplaces. Attendees also explored the ways in which the two organisations can better interface with one another to improve overall effectiveness for the sector.

During the meeting, there was also discussion of a possible joint approach to the Government’s Work and Health Unit which has been jointly sponsored by the Department of Work and Pensions and the Department of Health. Other issues raised included the need for further research to improve the evidence base, how EAPs and occupational health can work more preventatively and tax incentives for employers.

“I would like to thank Nick for joining us and engaging our members and their occupational health colleagues in a really interesting discussion around how we can work better together. We will be meeting again to work through some ideas for collaborative projects and will report back in due course,” said Neil Mountford, chair of UK EAPA.

The slides from Nick Pahl’s presentation will be made available via the EAPA website.

Q&A with Nick Pahl, CEO, Society of Occupational Medicine

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Q&A with Nick Pahl, CEO, Society of Occupational Medicine

Nick Pahl, CEO of the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) will be our guest speaker at the branch meeting taking place next Tuesday 19 June. Here, Nick provides an insight into some of the key trends and developments in occupational health, particularly around mental health at work.

What are the key trends in the development of OH that are forecast over the next few years, particularly in the area of mental health?

Occupational health services cover around 50% of the UK’s population. I expect that coverage to increase, to cover more small and medium enterprises. This may be facilitated by new incentives that the Government will create following current policy activity in this area.

Considering the time it takes to train skilled professionals, I would expect this expansion to be facilitated via the use of lower skilled occupational health professionals, such as occupational health technicians. I also hope and expect that that there would be great emphasis on a multidisciplinary occupational health team using nurses, physiotherapists, psychologists and technicians, as well as doctors. This team will ideally link seamlessly with EAP providers and HR services.

Without doubt we will see greater use of IT, both in terms of hand held / smart phone records held by workers to assist with workplace health issues and, integration of occupational health IT activity with other employee support.

In terms of mental health, I unfortunately think that the rapid change in the “nature” of work will accelerate, with a response from workers in stress and anxiety as they perceive less control over their work and sense of purpose. There will also likely be a continued rise in the numbers of the “precariat” and people close to the poverty line who do not have access to workplace health. This is a challenge that I hope the Government responds to.

What are your views in response to the Thriving at Work report?

I welcome the focus on mental health at work. Along with musculoskeletal conditions, mental health is one of the two main issues UK workers face. Disclosure of mental health issues is important, as openness towards mental health issues is a key barrier to positive progress in this area. Of course, we all need to learn to be resilient to deal with life’s challenges and we need to be careful not to medicalise mental health issues if at all possible.

It is great to see the Government responding in full to the report’s recommendations. However, I am concerned that encouraging demand for mental health services is not matched by resources for supply. There also needs to be a focus on good jobs and job design so that problems don’t emerge from structural issues. The role of the manager is critical to ensure good mental health at work – to manage well, and give control to workers. But there is a limit to what managers can do. I’d like to see a greater evidence base for mental health first aid training, which is seeing considerable resource investment in this area.

How are EAPs viewed and what’s the general level of awareness?

EAPs have a key role to play in improving mental health at work. It is not a total panacea but it can really assist with issues that contribute to poor mental health through counselling and advice on debt, legal issues relating to divorce and other “outside-work” issues.

SOM members are aware that EAPs really make a difference providing proactive and direct support for the benefit of employees. I’m sure that EAP services are clear on what advice is given and how that matches company needs but that needs to be explicit, in particular for companies that have both an OH and EAP offer.  I know occupational health professionals would welcome greater collaboration between EAPs and OH – and for there to be a greater joined-up strategic approach to improving mental health.

What do you see as the key strengths of an EAP service?

A key strength of an EAP service versus an OH service is that EAPs can be available very swiftly (such as via phone). They also work hand-in-hand with OH to help create an environment where employees feel supported.  It’s worth reminding ourselves that each workplace is different and an exercise of health surveillance is a key first step to assess what services a workplace needs is important.

Finally, I would expect EAPs and OH to work together further in the future and I hope the discussions between EAP providers and SOM are fruitful, to facilitate this further.

You can hear more from Nick Pahl at the branch meeting next Tuesday 19 June at 11.00 at the Linnean Society on Piccadilly. Members are encouraged to bring OH colleagues as guests for this part of the meeting. To confirm your attendance, email info@eapa.org.uk.

40% of GP appointments now involve mental health

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

40% of GP appointments now involve mental health

A survey of more than 1,000 GPs conducted by mental health charity Mind has revealed that two in three GPs (66%) say the proportion of patients needing help with their mental health has increased in the last 12 months. In the light of these results, the charity is calling for better mental health training for GPs as four out of five doctors surveyed agreed there should be a wider range of options for mental health training.

“It will also be important to increase awareness among GPs about the services provided by EAPs so that they can encourage patients, where appropriate, to check if they have access to such provision and support services via their employer. This type of joined-up approach is crucial in helping us to better address and support mental health and ensure conversations start as early as possible,” said Neil Mountford, chair, EAPA UK.

“This latest survey again highlights the need for employers to recognise mental health in the same way they do physical health. Actively addressing mental health in this way will benefit businesses financially by reducing the costs associated with absenteeism and presenteeism and reputationally as they are recognised as a caring and ethical employer. EAPs have a significant preventative role to play and we urge employers to work with their providers to raise awareness about the services and support on offer,” he said.

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