Changing the paradigm of Employee Assistance Program (commonly known as EAP) in India to Everyone’s Acceleration Project (EAP).
We request everyone to ponder on,
- Did you feel any one of these at work in last 12 months – anxiety, sweating or rapid heartbeat?
- Did you experience sadness and loss of interest or exhaustion at work in the last 12 months?
If you said yes, to at least one of the above 2 questions, did you speak to someone at work about your feelings?
More frequently than not, people lack the courage to talk about their mental health and or get professional help (irrespective of positions they hold in life/at work). Symptoms of negative mental health are a norm rather than an exception, regardless of seniority. Yet, employees are afraid to talk about mental health at work and this prevents them from seeking help.
The real challenge with mental health at work is that, people don’t take sick leaves. They are actually present at work with symptoms like difficulty in concentration and inability to reason leading to delayed decision eventually impacting productivity by up to 61%.
Mental health challenges at workplace have been present much before COVID-19 made us go int workplace lockdowns and made us work from home.
In the period between Oct 2018 & Mar 2020, Mind Celebrations conducted a research spread over 4000 employees working in various organizations in India. Some of the key findings of our research are –
- 44% of employees come to work feeling guilty which drops productivity
- 42% of employees find it difficult to express themselves freely, impacting business results
- 52% of people wake up tired in the morning hindering their full potential
- 50 % of people are disengaged as they don’t do things that make him happy
- 65% people loose focus and concentration because of digital dependence
- 54% spend more time on digital devices than having conversations.
These alarming numbers were prevalent in spite of some of the organizations running Employee Assistance Programs or popularly known as EAP.
Employee Assistance Program Mental Health
As defined by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) on their website, an employee assistance program (EAP) is a work-based intervention program, designed to assist employees in resolving personal problems that may be adversely affecting the employee’s performance. Internationally EAPs have assisted workers with issues like alcohol or substance abuse; however, in India, they cover a broad range of issues such as child or elder care, relationship challenges, financial or legal problems, wellness matters and traumatic events like workplace violence. Programs are delivered at no cost to employees by stand-alone EAP vendors or providers who are part of comprehensive health insurance plans. Services are often delivered via phone, video-based counseling, online chatting, e-mail interactions or face-to-face.
As per Business Group on Health, 217 million days are lost every year due to absenteeism and presenteeism (coming to work but unable to focus & deliver). This translates into $16.8 billion lost in productivity every year. It is a huge cost organization pay, but don’t factor this arising due to mental health conditions. While the growing popularity of stress and wellness programs at companies shows promise, they don’t address core issues around stigma and company culture. In fact, utilization rates of common resources like employee assistance programs (EAPs) are as low as 4.5% (as quoted by Centre for Workplace Mental Health).
The question then is, do employees not feel safe enough to share their real feelings with strangers or did they not have the energy levels to do so. Even though well intended, utilization and effectiveness of these programs has been questioned many a times.
At Mind Celebrations we realized following reasons for low (under) utilization of EAP –
- Globally, EAP looks at Mental health with a reactive approach versus a proactive & preventive approach.
- In the organizational ecosystem, functional competencies are focused and developed, but focusing on Mental Health is still a blind spot. High functional competency in absence of Mental fitness can be counterproductive. EAP’s were rolled out as an employee engagement activity rather than a proactive attempt to build Mental Fitness or Mental Health.
- The organizational culture piece missed out the elements of emotional safety at workplace. Highlighting this in culture would reemphasize use of EAP.
- The leadership was not coached, trained or mentored on being emotionally safe leaders who were vulnerable enough to share their mental health journey or experience of using EAP
Mind Celebrations has a vision to create an emotionally safe world /organizations. We recommend to change the paradigm of EAP’s from reactive to proactive, we encourage employees to get help preventively and build daily emotional fitness. At Mind Celebrations, our communication is based on very simple principle of enjoying rituals of Mental Health on daily basis. Celebrations and Fun ways to build your organizations collective Mental Health. We changed the paradigm of mindfulness to mindfulness.
We design EAP’s to enable organizations build Mental health as a competency needed for Human Capital to deliver full potential and hence for us it is called Everyone’s Acceleration Program.
Mind celebration has introduced Employee Assistance Programs in India with clear objective to, inspire & engage employees to participate and facilitate the Human Resource Teams for tracking the individual’s journey of building mental health preventively. The two pillars for higher engagement for our EAP are – Collaboration & Competition within.
The emotionally safe leaders, act as kingpins in the system, by setting an example to teams. As they share their stories and vulnerabilities, it allows the employees to model this behavioral change and building an emotionally safe organization and wisely using EAP as a catalyst. Employee Assistance Programme also provides counseling support as well for employees and their families.
Benefits of Employee Assistance Program (EAP) :
- For employees
- Develop sharper focus & productivity
- Higher energy & performance
- Belongingness at work place
- For organizations
- Culture of Trust & Empathy
- Business Objectives & Goals achievement
- Higher Retention (lower hiring & training costs)
So, we invite you to co-curate your personal & organizational acceleration program with us.
We invite all to take an assessment on Mental Health on our website www.mindcelebrations.com.