An Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, helps employees find ways to deal with personal or work-related problems.
Mental wellbeing is equally important as physical health and employers are required to build psychologically healthy and safe workplaces under the WHS Act.
The provision of EAP services by employers originates from the idea (which is well supported by evidence) that a workforce with positive wellbeing has positive productivity, creativity, and engagement in their workplace. This is because trauma or personal issues like anxiety and depression can impact job performance, health, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Research has shown that every dollar invested in mental health in the workplace brings a multi-fold return.
Access to EAP is voluntary, and employees can expect a confidential psychological service where they can explore issues that are causing stress that may be impacting on their workplace performance.
- workplace relationships
- careers counselling
- personal stress
- issues of addiction
An EAP counselling service tend to be short-term (usually three to four sessions), and may involve follow-up of employees in the future to ensure relapse prevention, or referrals to longer term counselling services (through Medicare funded programs) or specialist services where required.
An EAP service is helpful to those in managerial positions who may experience workplace issues related to management, where a consultation with a psychologist may be beneficial, including:
- consulting on how to appropriately manage difficult staff
- strategies to increase motivation of staff
- assistance with conflict resolution
- assistance with performance management of staff
Employee Assistance Program services can be offered following a critical incident, where there is a risk of distress and trauma for a group of employees. For example, following the death or injury of a workmate, the retrenchment of staff, or a significant restructuring in the workplace.