22 March 2012
Why an EAP can help in hard times
The recent State of HR Survey (2012) revealed a not entirely positive picture for the UK workforce, reporting that ‚ÄúLonger hours, stress and employment relations problems have been steadily increasing over two to four years‚ÄĚ. Yet despite these figures, most employers rank the well-being of their staff below business targets such as employer branding. One proven solution to workforce discontent and absence is an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) - yet despite the Employee Assistance Industry being seemingly well established in the UK, only one-third of the private sector have an employee well-being strategy in place, as opposed to two-thirds of the public sector (CIPD absence management report 2011). Whether this is due to economic factors or lack of understanding of the importance of employee well-being and its effects on productivity, given the state of HR isn‚Äôt it time that business started taking employee well-being more seriously?
Advice Extra, the social enterprise arm of Calderdale Citizens Advice think so, and is aiming to fill a gap in the market that makes Employee Assistance accessible to companies big and small (their largest customer employs nearly 10,000 people, and their smallest just 6). Unlike more traditional EAPs, Advice Extra focus on advice rather than counselling, harnessing the expertise of the CAB to help employees deal with the problems that they face in their everyday lives. Rory Deighton (Chief Executive, Advice Extra) points out:
‚ÄúWe look for solutions to problems - for us it‚Äôs about giving people the information they need to deal with a problem. By reducing stress through providing practical solutions to personal issues, we help to ensure your staff stay focused at work. Because people are more likely to ask for advice than counselling, our usage figures are often really good. As a social enterprise, all our profits go back into the local community, allowing those organisations using Advice Extra to offer support to others in the local area as well.‚ÄĚ
In a time of financial hardship, businesses quite naturally cut anything seen as a ‚Äėnon-essential‚Äô - but arguably in an uncertain economy it becomes increasingly important to keep people fit and in work to reduce the negative economic consequences of absenteeism (the cost of absenteeism was an average of ¬£659 per employee per year in 2011 - CIPD). Additionally, in the absence of financial motivators such as bonuses and pay rises, a strong sense of employee value and ownership can come out of providing services like this.
‚ÄúThe Advice Extra vision is to entrench within business the idea that supporting staff with problems they face in their home lives, will make your businesses will work better. And this becoming something that businesses just do, as part of their whole package of support for staff, like medical insurance, or a Christmas party. It becomes a great way to support staff, show them you care about them, and support your local community. And it becomes something that businesses do across the country, like an Investors in People stamp that says, we're a quality organisation that cares for its staff.‚ÄĚ
If you would like more information about Advice Extra, or to find out how the service would fit into your business, visit the website at www.adviceextra.co.uk or call 01422 399590, between 9am-5pm, from Monday to Friday.
For more information, please contact Kate Kershaw:
Tel: 07588 881121