29 September 2022 posted by Recovery Partners

Mental illness is now the leading cause of sickness absence and long-term work incapacity in Australia, which makes looking after your employees with proactive alternatives to EAP more important than ever before.

What is EAP?

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a service you can offer your employees that provides them with free, confidential counselling conducted by a registered psychologist. While this can be a successful strategy for some businesses and their employees, EAP is, in fact, a secondary intervention and is considered a reactive measure when it comes to mitigating psychosocial hazards at work.

Primary interventions are aimed at the organisation and implemented before hazards or harm are present. Therefore, they are proactive measures.

The rise of psychosocial hazards

According to SafeWork NSW, there has been a 53% increase in claims for psychological injury across NSW since 2015 and the average cost of these is more than $85,000 per claim.

SafeWork NSW describes psychosocial hazards as hazards that can cause workers harm, disrupt workplaces, and cost businesses time and money. Common psychosocial hazards include fatigue, high workloads, workplace violence, bullying, and sexual harassment.

8 proactive alternatives to EAP

As the adage goes, prevention is better than cure.

1. Consistent communication

Communication is key to foster a positive culture.

Communication includes being precise with information, expectations and commitments as well as explaining any reasons for big changes within the business.

Even the best efforts to implement a wellbeing initiative will fall flat on its face without consistent communication.

Infrequent communications about initiatives, uneven implementation across workplaces, change in leadership and time limits often lead to non-beneficial interventions.

Clear communication is required to implement, adapt and sustain interventions.

Because, when you think about it, frequent communication keeps leaders accountable and engages employees.

2. Provide Professional Learning

Employees want to know they can grow with a company and continue to develop their skills.

Professional learning can also refer to wellbeing programs. These sessions need to be innovative and engaging for participants, while promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Providing regular training can be an effective strategy to promote employee safety, resilience and wellbeing.

3. Offer flexibility

These days, remote working and hybrid working arrangements are pretty much the bare minimum. These flexible working arrangements improve work/life balance and increase employee satisfaction.

Global corporations like Deloitte have recognised this and are now offering remote working from overseas.

Ensure you provide flexible working arrangements to accommodate for your staff needs and scheduling.

4. Wellbeing surveys and personal profiles

It’s important to provide multiple ways for employees to share their thoughts as some people may not be comfortable speaking up in a meeting yet have valuable insights to share.

Anonymous surveys of your staff to check your business’ strengths and areas for improvements is another way to stay abreast staff wellbeing. Some examples include People at Work and Great Place to Work.

Personality assessments, such as a DiSC profile, help people learn more about themselves, how they work and how they can work best with others. The aim is to help improve teamwork, communication, and productivity in the workplace.

5. Celebrate and encourage gratitude

Recognise and reward employee efforts and contributions. Better yet, have employees celebrate each other. Celebrations can come in many forms; company recognition, a team lunch or dinner, time in lieu or even financial bonuses.

6. Good leadership and company culture

Company culture doesn’t simply refer to beer and yoga on Fridays.

Empathy and emotional intelligence are becoming more and more valued in a leader, particularly as the world around us shifts and changes so frequently. Leaders need to lead by example.

Our founder, Kelly Brown, reviewed Culture Code by Daniel Cole

Below are her thoughts.

According to a Harvard study, companies aspire to have great cultures because they know they are more successful, 765% more over 10 years.

Culture Code by Daniel Cole unlocks the secrets of why some teams thrive and others do not. He spent time with successful companies, teams, and even a gang of jewellery thieves to uncover how great cultures work. He discovered that a thriving culture might look and feel like magic, but it is not. He discovered that 3 specific skills created them:-

Skill 1. Build Safety
Skill 2. Share vulnerability
Skill 3. Establish Purpose

You can read Kelly’s complete summary.

7. Establish a Mental Health Committee

You might want to consider establishing a Mental Health Committee. At Recovery Partners, each member of our committee is fully trained in Mental Health first Aid. They meet regularly and provide timely communication about external events relating to managing mental health.

Get some ideas for your own Mental Health Committee from the Recovery Partners Mind Hub Team video.

8. Pre-Employment Health Assessments

Before they’ve even started the job, you can see if someone is right for the role. Talk about being proactive!

Recovery Partners provides both physical and psychological pre-employment health assessments.

These are just some proactive alternatives to EAP. Recovery Partners can help your business establish a strong wellbeing culture.

Contact us to learn more.

As part of the processes, Recovery Partners reviews and audits policies and procedures. Download our free Psychosocial Document Checklist today. Please note, this checklist is a guide only. 

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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/