Employers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to implementing mental wellness strategies in the workplace and offering a preventative approach to employees’ mental health. Coping with everyday stressors of life, work and interacting with people can have a huge impact on the day-to-day damage to mental health. But benefit leaders have recognized the need for heightened mental health awareness and are offering employees sustainable, mentally healthy workplaces.
What is an EAP?
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are work-based intervention programs to assist employees in dealing with personal problems that may adversely affect work performance. In earlier years, EAPs were the go-to support for services like alcohol and substance abuse. Today’s EAPs are diverse programs that can help with financial counseling, offer grief support, help manage the stress of sending kids to college or caring for aging parents. Many plans offer will and estate planning, legal counseling, and support services for employee family members as well.
It is important to note that in most circumstances, assistance comes at no charge to the employee. Typically, this is not a company-directed program, so whatever the circumstance, employers do not know who or what services are being conducted on behalf of the employee.
Contact your organization’s insurance representative or broker to determine availability of an EAP program through existing benefits. Discuss options for implementing an EAP program with your insurance company if one isn’t currently established.
EAP education is a key benefit and should be included in the onboarding process for new hires with resources posted in easily accessible spaces such as the employee handbook, and break rooms, or employee lounges.
What can employers do?
First, it’s important to acknowledge that managing mental health in the workplace is a necessity. Supportive, inclusive environments, flexible schedules and hybrid work environments can instill confidence in your workforce that you are invested in them as individuals.
Train existing managers and supervisors to recognize warning signs of stress and provide a process for employees to seek assistance. Communicate to your organization that help is available and how to access those resources. Educate employees on managing stress, not just in the workplace, but in all aspects of life. Promote work-life balance and mean what you say. Elect an employee wellness committee that represents your employees and considers what they want and need to remain healthy in the workplace. Above all, ensure privacy and confidentiality for anyone seeking assistance.
What are the advantages of creating a mental-health-friendly work culture?
Mental wellness is everyone’s responsibility. Now, more than ever before, mental wellness is a broad topic in the workplace and has become a top priority as a consideration for the health benefits of employees. Mental well-being leads to greater productivity, reduced absenteeism, improved retention and morale, reduced insurance cost and greater consistency and quality of work.
For more information on workplace wellness and how Rea can help, contact us.
by Renee West, SHRM-SCP, PHR (New Philadelphia office)