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Is absence prevention better than cure?

Paul Avis asks if absence prevention is better than cure and assesses how Employee Assistance Programmes can assist with personal and workplace productivity

Most employers want to protect the health and wellbeing of their employees all of the time and not only when they are unable to work. Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) provide a range of services that can help employers address potential issues before they become a problem by helping their employees deal with the stresses encountered in everyday living.  EAPs are designed to help maintain stability within the workplace and they offer information and support on a wide range of topics, with the goal of helping employees lead and maintain a healthy lifestyle. These services are confidential and easily accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

As maintaining the wellbeing of employees is a fundamental aim of EAPs, a telephone service is available to managers to offer guidance on areas such as workplace conflict, work-related stress and managing a healthy work/life balance. And for employees, the service provides immediate access to trained counsellors, a telephone advisory service and an online health and wellbeing portal. Counsellors can help with any personal or work-related problems.  Topics like stress, relationship difficulties, alcohol and drug abuse, workplace issues and budget control can be discussed with a trained counsellor in the knowledge that it will remain confidential. 

Further support can be provided for employees via an interactive health and wellbeing management facility which encourages individuals to focus on their health and lifestyle now, rather than wait until they have a problem.  A simple questionnaire assigns a health rating and this rating encourages employees to think about the lifestyle choices they make, providing tailored information and support on how best to manage their health.

Employee Assistance Programmes support people whenever they need it and provide a service that can be used to manage day-to-day and serious issues. Printed and electronic materials are provided to help employers communicate to their employees. Raising awareness about the versatility of the services helps employees get the support they need to manage life's challenges and to find a healthy work-life balance. In doing this employers are provided with a powerful employee engagement tool. In 2014 Canada Life’s service supplier found that 56%[1] of employees who used the service would have missed work otherwise, so it is clear that this tool provides tangible benefit to both employers and employees.

Canada Life sees the link between absence management and workplace health and wellbeing initiatives as complementary. That is why, when an employer is looking at Group Income Protection for their workforce, the inclusion of an actively promoted EAP backed by reliable resources, has to be seriously considered. For more information on the Canada Life Group Income Protection product and EmployeeCare, please visit Canada Life’s website.

[1] Capita Health & Wellbeing service user research 2014