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Opinion Piece: As wellness comes to the fore, Employee Assistance Programs help businesses improve relationships and productivity

By Jeandie Leone, Commercial Executive at Workforce Staffing

While the importance of mental and physical wellbeing is widely acknowledged, recent events have driven the message home hard. The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the link between wellness and productivity due to Working From Home (WFH). As people struggled with illness, anxiety, increased stress, financial difficulties and more, it became abundantly clear that unwell employees cannot function to the best of their ability. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are an essential tool in helping staff to be their best. Temporary Employment Services (TES) providers that offer EAPs as part of their comprehensive offering can help businesses maximise productivity with an effective staff complement.

What is employee assistance?

EAPs can include many different types of support. In broad terms, they offer a holistic approach to employee wellness, which provides services and initiatives to look after physical and mental wellbeing. A comprehensive EAP should include counselling services, financial and legal advice, and a physical wellness aspect such as improving your diet, keeping fit, and living a healthy lifestyle. An EAP can also include wellness days to create awareness on health issues, such as blood pressure and cholesterol testing, talks on specific illnesses, or exercise initiatives that can double as team building. 

A mutually beneficial solution

Implementing an EAP can have significant benefits, not only for employees themselves but for their employers as well. An organisation that looks after its staff's mental and physical wellbeing and provides them with the proper support for personal issues and challenges will positively impact their employees' work performance. Providing help and support can often help address the underlying issues around performance challenges, helping to treat the issue's source rather than creating a disciplinary problem.

Supporting employees on a personal level creates a company culture that can foster loyalty and a sense of committed and inspired employees. In the current climate, this is increasingly important. EAP is also vital for the younger generation as the millennial workforce places importance on an employer's culture and softer benefits when selecting a place to work. Millennials look for employers who acknowledge the impact that personal issues have on productivity while seeking support to guide and assist through difficult times, including mental health issues.

Part of a TES service

With the employment situation as it stands, TES has become a popular option for organisations looking to create a more dynamic and flexible staffing solution. When it comes to employee wellness, TES can also be a saving grace. TES providers can include EAPs as part of their comprehensive staffing solution and tailor a package that meets the employer's needs and budget. The TES will manage the EAP for their staff on behalf of the business and extend the EAP to the rest of the organisation’s employees.

With a value-added service such as an EAP, TES providers can improve staffing by managing employees on a day-to-day basis, identifying specific concerns or areas that need to be addressed, and ensuring a happy, healthy workforce. For example, in sites where absenteeism is a problem, often a disciplinary process is the norm. However, an EAP may identify an underlying problem, where employees’ circumstances may be preventing them from coming to work. EAPs can help identify the root of the issue, increasing productivity and decreasing the need for disciplinary procedures.

Social responsibility should look inside too

While many businesses are involved in social responsibility initiatives in their external communities, this should extend internally as well. Covid-19 has created greater awareness of the need to be more mindful of employee wellness and how vital it is to support employees. It is no longer possible to focus solely on the bottom line to the exclusion of employees' health because when employees are struggling, the bottom line will be affected too. We need to become more people-focused, and TES providers that include EAPs as part of their offering are an innovative, simple way of achieving this.

Editorial Contacts

Wilhelm Nel

Workforce Staffing

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011 532 0000

 

Kyle Webster

Evolution PR

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