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Why Should You Establish an Employee Assistance Program?

An employee assistance program can only be beneficial to your employees and organization. This article lets on in on all secrets!

Employee Experience
Work environment
Human capital

Christine Chartrand

VP Consulting Services

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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I’m sure you’ve heard this time and time again: “Employees are your most valuable asset!”. And they’re rightly so! They are the ones behind tons of ideas and strategies, behind the closed sales and business relationships; they are the decision-makers and passion behind every role and responsibility.

But the statement should really be: “HEALTHY and HAPPY employees are your most valuable asset!”, because those suffering, stressed or going through a difficult moment may not be at their best.

This is why an Employee Assistance Program can be so beneficial. It is literally a program aimed at supporting and maintaining the well-being of your employees…your most valuable asset. Let’s look a little deeper at why you should establish an employee assistance program!

Investing in your workforce

Although offering an employee assistance program to your human capital has its costs, the return of investment can be quite promising given the increased healthcare prices and turnover costs.

Sometimes a personal problem is too difficult, too delicate, or too private for managers to handle, or they are simply not qualified to deal with them. Therefore using an employee assistance program’s mental health professionals can internally relieve those who are not equipped to deal with certain issues, or are of added value elsewhere in the organization.

It’s also a question of time and energy. If you do not think you have the right internal resources to provide support, routine follow-ups, solutions and guidance to your employees, you may want to consider outsourcing.

Remember what you are dealing with

Employees, even the best performing, are vulnerable to the stressors life may throw at them. Whether it be personal or professional, they may encounter the following, as well as other concerns that can weigh heavy on their well-being:

  • anxiety
  • trauma
  • relationship issues
  • abuse and/or harassment
  • work-life unbalance
  • loss

As a manager, it is important that you reflect on your (or your organization’s) capacity to offer troubled employees what they need to overcome these obstacles. Although it’s important to detect work-related stressors, sometimes problems are not work-related or come from a deeper, darker place.

So remember potential issues you may be dealing with, and really assess if you have the right people to support your human capital, but also, if you can afford to take these people away from other tasks and responsibilities to focus on an employee in need.

Happy employees are productive employees

When an employee is going through a problem, it may reflect poorly on his/her performance. There could be a lack of concentration, high nervous tension, inability to detach, to stay motivated, and more chances of making errors and even causing accidents due to lack of mental focus. Their happiness is on the line.

An employee assistance program gives these employees the opportunity to evacuate their stress and concerns in a safe and confidential environment, which can help them get back to business, literally.

There is also something to be said about employers that want to take care of their employees. Establishing an employee assistance program suggests that they not only want to preserve the well-being of their human capital, but that they are AWARE of the many hurdles and stressors that people are vulnerable to.

Sometimes the “toughest” employees still show up to work while suffering from physical and/or psychological issues, which, with time, can do more bad than good. These employees would probably be happy to know that a health professional is only a dial away should they need it.

Employee assistance program = objectivity

Let’s bring a little objectivity to the table. Knowing that we vary in personality and resistance to stress, there is potential that co-workers and/or managers may bring a certain subjectivity when dealing with a troubled employee. Not to say that this happens in every case, or that you fall under this category of subjective thinkers, but sometimes people can’t understand, empathize or even overestimate someone’s capacity to get through a problem.

For example, someone who has a personality that is very endurant, self-assured and not easily stressed may view someone who is going through a hurdle in their life as weak or too vulnerable.

The employee assistance program offers qualified professionals that can bring an objective intervention, without having preconceived notions about the person or situation. This can reassure employees that they are not being judged and can evacuate their concerns in a safe place.

Resolving vs counselling

Employee assistance programs are also essential when the problem is stemming from someone or something within the organization, such as a conflict between two co-workers. Even though as a manager, you might be skilled in conflict resolution, this does not mean you can provide an employee with the short-term counselling they need to overcome this obstacle.

You may be able to go as far mentoring and implementing a solution, but may not be the ideal resource that offers support and an outlet for that person to evacuate stressors that were caused by this incident.

Letting it all out to move on

Establishing an employee assistance program will not only support your workforce, but can also help make the recovery process smoother and even faster at times. You know the expression “getting things off my chest”? Well, employee assistance programs allow employees to do just that!

Sometimes, all we need is to evacuate some stress in order to recharge our batteries and get back to doing our best. Although not always a quick fix, these programs can help someone let off some steam without displacing it onto others. This will make returning to work a safer and more pleasant experience

 
Establishing an employee assistance program means investing in your workforce, understanding that people may be vulnerable to stressors and life events and that you may not have the proper resources available to support them on their journey to recovery. It is important to remember that happy employees are more productive and you want to sustain their happiness in order for the business to grow. The qualified professionals in employee assistance programs remain objective and a safe outlet for your workforce to let it all out on the table without being judged.

Isn’t your human capital worth it?

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