5 ways a third party can help your workforce

By Andrew Hobbs on November 8th, 2017
  1. Workplace Policies
  2. Health & Safety Policies


EMPLOYEE Assistance Programs (EAPs) – a confidential program designed to enhance the physical and psychological wellbeing of workers – may hold the key to helping your workforce abandon conflict and lift productivity.

Angela Godfrey and Associates Director Angela Godfrey looks at what an EAP can offer you:

From time to time, all employees will experience personal problems that affect their mental and physical health and wellbeing. This can spill over into the workplace, affecting an employee’s performance. The flow-on effect can cost businesses in many ways, including through:

  • increased sick leave;
  • presenteeism, i.e. affected employees come to work but are not focused on the job;
  • conflict between team members when affected employees don’t pull their weight; and
  • resignation by affected employees when they cannot cope at work.

Consequently, employers must understand the importance and benefit of implementing EAPs.

What are EAPs?

EAPs provide workers with confidential access to professional assistance and counselling, and are usually offered at no cost. EAP services deal with a variety of problems, both work-related and personal, that affect employees. Depending on the business’s arrangements, EAP services can also extend to immediate family members.

EAPs are confidential and voluntary. Any outcomes are kept in confidence.

Types of EAP services include:

  • supporting the mental wellbeing of employees when dealing with life issues, e.g. stress, grief, personal relationship problems and alcohol and substance abuse;
  • supporting health and physical conditions as a consequence of mental wellbeing issues, including preventative health measures such as quitting smoking or alcohol addiction programs;
  • providing information and guidance on life issues such as dealing with elderly relatives and financial worries; and
  • managing conflict and mediation services between colleagues within the workplace.

EAPs aim to address issues before they adversely affect an employee’s work performance.

6 ways EAP services can benefit your business

1. Productivity

An employee suffering from personal issues is often less productive and inattentive, which can lead to mistakes. Helping the employee to manage their personal issues minimises the effects on their work performance.

2. Financial cost

When an employee is suffering from personal issues, they may be prone to absenteeism or presenteeism, both of which are significant costs to your business. Presenteeism, for instance, where the employee is not focused on their work, can increase health and safety risks, accidents, and lead to higher workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

Furthermore, if the employee is feeling extremely stressed or overwhelmed, they may even resign. The cost of replacement should never be underestimated.

3. Conflict

Dealing with personal issues may result in increased conflict or tension in the workplace. Team members may be resentful if they feel that a colleague is not pulling their weight. This is when managers need to intervene and encourage the employee to seek professional help to assist with their personal issues.

4. Professional services

EAPs connect employees to professional services. For example, providing a financial planner for employees with financial issues or providing guidance to parents on dealing with a troubled teenager.

5. Work performance

Troubled employees don’t leave their personal problems at home. If these problems are not dealt with promptly, they can have an effect on morale and culture, and they cost the business due to lack of productivity, sick leave or turnover.

Work performance is greatly affected by stress and personal problems. Issues of work performance escalate as the employee is not focused on their work, causing lack of quality and missed deadlines. An EAP manages these problems and ensures employee issues are quickly resolved. This means fewer mistakes at work, higher quality output and an overall increase in workplace performance.

One more thing…

The Employment Law Practical Handbook suggests that businesses may wish to direct a worker to access an EAP as part of a performance management plan.

However, the recently updated chapter P1 Performance Management also notes that not all workers will want assistance, and some will deny they have issues.

In this instance, the Handbook advises that you continue to monitor the worker and offer support when required.

The chapter also looks at ways performance management can help you improve your safety performance and provides templates for a formal performance appraisal and a performance management plan.

The chapter is one of more than 70 in the Employment Law Practical Handbook, which covers all aspects of employment law and help you to simplify your business.

Order a copy on an obligation-free trial today and see how this information can help you to better manage your business.


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