As the jobs market heats up, EAP can help make you an employer of choice.
As more Australians get back to work in 2021, an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) has never been more valuable. Competition for talented and committed staff is heating up. The right human resource strategies, especially an enlightened EAP provider, can make your company an employer of choice.
The seasonally adjusted national unemployment rate fell to 5.8% in February 2021, from a high of 7.5% in July 2020. Just over 13 million people were employed in February 2021, around the same number as 12 months earlier. About the same proportion of the labour force, 8.5%, was underemployed and looking for extra hours as pre-Covid (1). But the workforce doesn’t go back together with the same way after the Covid-19 layoffs.
Moving on after a tough 2020
The visceral jolt of lockdown, significant business distress, unemployment, stand-down, reassignment, and working from home all have the potential to cause significant distress. Unsurprisingly, Beyond Blue reported a 50% spike in contacts about anxiety and a doubling of contacts about depression in July 2020, as Melbourne re-entered Stage 3 Covid-19 restrictions (2). The second half of last year was challenging for Melburnians and many others around Australia.
Most of us know a family member or friend affected by the economic crisis related to the global pandemic. Salespeople, laborers, machinery operators and drivers, and community and personal service workers were hit hard in 2020 (3). Entertainment, including the arts, theatre, and events production, along with hospitality, accommodation, travel, and the higher education sector, among others, struggled as borders were closed and we huddled at home. Yet tens of thousands more managers and professionals were employed last year (4). Demand for digital and IT skills, carers and healthcare professionals, and legal expertise in commercial litigation, insolvency, and insurance is high (5). Many of us have reassessed career options, often by necessity.
Psychological flexibility, Mindfulness, and valued actions help staff to navigate uncertainty
My message to many people and community groups last year was that psychological flexibility, mindfulness and a commitment to acting on our values are all critical to making the most of change and navigating uncertainty (6). And on a wider scale, the Productivity Commission’s 2020 Inquiry Report into Mental Health recommended equipping workplaces to be mentally healthy (7). The most recent Wellbeing Lab Workplace Survey Report with the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) reaches the same conclusion: Human Resources (HR) teams should support EAP and encourage workplace initiatives to normalise employee wellbeing as a priority (8).
It is worth considering how EAP works.
Early intervention and proactive EAP strategies provide support and ensure the emotional, mental, and psychological wellbeing of your staff and their families. Such investments have payoffs in both positive health outcomes and financial returns (9). Productivity gains from a healthy, motivated, and engaged staff, as well as lowering the costs of work absences, staff turnover, and compensation claims can all improve the bottom line.
Stay one step ahead
Smart companies already know an EAP provider is the ready standby for managers needing ‘at call’ advice to best resolve worker mental health and psychological problems as they emerge. For small companies, an EAP provider is the extension of the executive leadership, in lieu of the HR team, they never had. Larger organisations know EAP providers are a force multiplier for their HR professionals. An enlightened EAP provider matches the worker with the right therapist from the start.
Take care of your most valuable asset – your team
Dual relationships exist between a company, its staff, and an EAP provider. Your EAP provider must develop a trusting relationship with your staff as well is with your organisational leadership and HR team. Experience counts. ACT Curious EAP provides supervision; a formal separation between company and staff, to afford individuals privacy and allow them to explore, clarify and grow in their professional development. Keep your best people and attract new staff as an employer of choice, by providing the opportunity to openly address the hard questions and difficult issues within a framework of psychological safety. Developing the skills to address the hard questions ‘in the room’ with the right EAP provider, will help your staff deal with the hard questions outside of the room, both at work and beyond.
Be Curious, Take ACTion
Sports psychologists were once often astute amateur coaches, ‘master motivators’ with a lifetime of experience and the right mix of fire and compassion. Today, the value and importance of sports psychologists has long been normalised. Sports psychologists work alongside sports coaches but in a professional and trusting relationship with the athlete which stands apart from the coach. There is no better evidence of the impact of sports psychology than the invaluable role played by the professionals working with world number one tennis player Ashleigh Barty and the Richmond Football Club in the past four years. An enlightened EAP provider plays that role with your team.
And here’s the kicker: your competitors are already using an EAP provider. Keep ahead of the pack. Be curious, take action, and contact ACT Curious EAP today. Michelle Trudgen and her experienced team of clinical social workers, psychologists and professional counsellors offer the right mix of behavioural expertise your workers need and the timely advice your managers want, to help your organisation thrive as an employer of choice in the Covid-recovery.
📞 03 9346 8414 (Australia Wide)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michelle Trudgen, Clinical Director, ACT Curious.
The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
-  Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Labour Force, Australia, February 2021 (Key Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted Estimates), https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia/feb-2021. Beyond Blue (2020, August 6). Victorians Turn to Beyond Blue During Pandemic, https://www.beyondblue.org.au/media/
 National Skills Commission, Australian Labour Market Update—January 2021 (Table 1: Seasonally Adjusted Employment Growth by Occupation—12 Months to November 2020), https://lmip.gov.au/PortalFile.axd?FieldID=3193804&.pdf.
 Ibid. 65,000 more managers and 122,800 more professionals were employed in November 2020 than 12 months earlier.
 Nick Deligiannis, The Most In-demand Skills for 2021, https://www.hays.com.au/blog/insights/skills-in-demand-2021#LEGAL; LinkedIn, Jobs on the Rise in 2021: Insights from LinkedIn, https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/resources/talent-acquisition/jobs-on-the-rise-au?
 See, e.g., Jessica Ball (2020, April 29). A Guide to Pandemic-proofing Your Mental Health, https://www.sheppnews.com.au/news/2020/04/29/1150093/a-guide-to-pandemic-proofing-your-mental-health; Rotary Club of Essendon (2020). Club luncheon meeting report – 15 September: Michelle Trudgen, Mental Health and Lift the Lid Contact, 86(6), 4, https://clubrunner.blob.core.windows.net/00000006172/en-au/files/sitepage/contact-club-bulletins/volume-8606—17-sep-2020/contact-v86-issue-6.pdf.
 Productivity Commission (2020). Mental Health, Report No. 95, Canberra, Chapter 7, https://www.pc.gov.au/
 The Wellbeing Lab & Australian Human Resources Institute (2020). The Wellbeing Lab Workplace Survey 2020: The State of Wellbeing in Australian Workplaces, https://www.ahri.com.au/media/4655/wellbeinglab_workplacesurvey2020.pdf.
 Mark Attridge (2019). A Comprehensive List of References on the Subject: “Do EAPs Work?”, https://hero-health.org/blog/a-comprehensive-list-of-references-on-the-subject-do-eaps-work/; Mark Attridge, Dave Sharar, Barb Veder & Ivan Steenstra (2020). How to calculate the ROI for EAP counseling from improvements in work outcomes: Part 2 of series with global data from the Workplace Outcome Suite© by Morneau Shepell. EASNA Research Notes, 9(2), https://archive.hshsl.umaryland.edu/handle/10713/12959.
© ACT Curious EAP Pty Ltd, 2021.