Leveraging Your Employee Assistance Program During the Pandemic

In March of 2020, when the pandemic took its hold across the United States, we all anticipated a challenging year ahead. Not many of us, however, could foresee the specific challenges the pandemic would bring to our workers and families. Articles and news reports have profiled the effects of the pandemic on mental health and employers have wondered how they could help support their workforce.

Many employers offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and promoting the EAP is one the easiest ways for workers to receive the help they need. An EAP is a workplace service that helps employees – and often their families – manage difficult life events or other stress-related situations. The services EAPs provide can vary, but some of the most common benefits include:

  • Addiction assessments and treatment
  • Emotional distress and stress reduction
  • Depression and anxiety treatment
  • Financial counseling
  • Work concerns
  • Child and elder care concerns
  • Traumatic event counseling
  • Health management issues

Work with managers to keep employees informed

When managers get involved in communicating company benefits, it helps promote the company and serves as a tool for managers when responding to employee concerns. I recently spoke with Candice Bowman, Workers’ Comp Underwriting Service Center of Excellence Manager at ICW Group, to discuss a Team Member’s concern. Candice shared the following.

We promote our EAP every chance we get! I frequently promote the EAP during our team meetings and have our supervisors do the same. I think it helps diminish the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health-related issues. It is also a great way to show that we care about our Team Members and their well-being.

Having managers partner with HR is critical. HR can help managers promote the EAP by creating a script for managers to use. The script should focus on the program’s benefits – most EAPs are confidential, free, and available to the employee’s entire household. Managers should also share HR’s contact information with workers to inquire about additional company benefits available to them, including leaves of absence or requesting an accommodation.

In my discussion with Candice, she also identified how managers can show empathy when promoting the EAP.

We are all faced with challenges in life, and the pandemic has affected us all. Our EAP helps us provide Team Members with the help they need. It is all about working together with HR in helping find the best way to support our people.

I couldn’t agree more.

Fernando Maldonado
Fernando Maldonado
Fernando is an HR Business Partner at ICW Group with a focus on Employee Relations and Leadership Development. Fernando has built a strong foundation in human resources with a proven track record of success in property management, retail, hospitality, and financial services and has served in key leadership roles as a trusted advisor, advocate, change champion, and problem solver. Fernando’s source of professional fulfillment comes from helping leaders overcome mental barriers that hinder them from finding solutions to "complex" problems.

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