The rapid uptick in remote work has seemingly merged our personal and professional lives, causing a crisis on what has historically been referred to as work-life balance. Over the past two years, to keep up with employee needs and improve retention amid the Great Resignation, many organizations have taken the opportunity to reevaluate the benefits they offer in an attempt to better serve employees’ overall well-being.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, these offerings often come in the form of an employee assistance program (EAP), intended to service and benefit employees by “resolving personal problems that may be adversely affecting the employee’s performance.” In practice, EAPs connect employees with counselors and other healthcare providers to address clinical mental health concerns. However, data from The National Business Group on Health in 2018 found that the median utilization rate of EAPs was only 5.5 percent.
Why is the adoption rate so low?
One reason is it only addresses mental health concerns from the reactive approach when challenges have already come to a head. With the shifting needs and priorities of the modern workforce, employees need more preventative and holistic approaches that encompass well-being inside and outside of the workplace, which often cannot be limited to a one-size-fits-all package. It’s no longer about work-life balance — the key is work-life integration.
In this piece, we will explore the pitfalls of today’s EAPs, and offer five tips on how organizations can combat them with a more comprehensive and integrated strategy to employee well-being that drives work-life integration.
Integrate and Implement
One of the most fundamental challenges with EAPs is the lack of awareness across the organization.
Overall, many EAPs are not strategically set up to educate or engage employees. To ensure smooth integration and full employee participation, organizations must implement a solution that ensures a successful rollout and provides ongoing, custom engagement for employee coaching and well-being. This includes consistent communication with exciting incentives, team-building programs, and regular reporting on program utilization.
In the age of instant connection and expectations for real-time results, nothing is more disappointing than getting transferred around and being read a script by an agent when looking to improve your well-being. Employers should supply their workforce with powerful and modern resources to transform their lives and goals. This can be accomplished with live human specialists through 1:1 video calls, global support for employees no matter where they’re located, and support that covers all aspects of an employee’s well-being, both personal and professional.
Eliminate the One-Size-Fits-All Method
Most EAPs offer support for various issues that impact job performance but do not address the personal and professional challenges that engulf our life outside of work, including rocky relationships, parenting, career changes, and more. An employee coaching and well-being program should not just be a resource for acute mental health distress or crisis, but offer proactive solutions through all stages of well-being, throughout all areas of life, both personal and professional.
Employee well-being can come in many forms, from traditional wellness—like fitness, mindfulness, and nutrition—to soft skills and day-to-day personal and professional needs like emotional intelligence and leadership coaching. In the end, a happier and healthier employee leads to decreased stress, burnout, and turnover.
Address Confidentiality Concerns
In a world of data breaches and identity theft, employers must reiterate their commitment to privacy and confidentiality surrounding personal and health information — something that isn’t always done in regard to EAPs and similar programs. Transparent and frequent communication regarding privacy policies of all health resources is critical to ensure employees feel safe to engage without fear of retribution and address any concern regarding confidential information being shared with the employer.
A pitfall of most EAPs is that they often go unnoticed or untouched, and employers can still successfully claim wellness as part of their employee benefits. So, what accountability does the employer have to ensure resources are being utilized to benefit all and lead to positive change?
By partnering with a company that offers a holistic employee well-being platform and a service that works in conjunction with an employer’s HR or benefits coordinator, organizations are more likely to see the resulting benefits of employees who care for their well-being.
Employees want their professional careers to fit their personal goals and lifestyle seamlessly and effortlessly. Becoming a company that values individual well-being from all angles (physical, mental, spiritual) and empowers its employees to better themselves creates a workforce that views your company as an invaluable resource that supports their lifestyle.
Taking the next step in your company’s well-being journey by incorporating a forward-thinking and holistic employee well-being platform will be your next best investment for 2022.
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