This top health benefit is key to boosting workers' performance

Despite the pressures of modern work, employees who receive support have a greater likelihood of bouncing back

This top health benefit is key to boosting workers' performance

Focus. Engagement. Productivity. Well-being.

These factors of work suffer when employees are highly stressed or going through a period of rapid change – yet some choose to march ahead.

Presenteeism is a persistent sign that an employee is struggling to stay productive amid increasing pressure in the workplace – even more so than absenteeism. It’s also creating a negative impact on the workforce, said analysts from Morneau Shepell, which specializes in workplace wellness.

Read more: Online therapists are helping workers cope with COVID-19 anxiety

Despite these setbacks, employees with access to support programs at work have a greater likelihood of bouncing back, according to a newly released study by the firm, which involved more than 35,600 respondents and spanned more than a decade.

With a diverse range of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) in place, companies are reportedly able to scale back cases of burnout among their staff.

Counselling, in particular, is yielding positive results long after employees take part in the program, the findings suggest.

“At a time when employees need convenient and effective support for work and life issues, employers looking for a cost-effective way to both provide this benefit while countering presenteeism and absenteeism should strongly consider an EAP,” said Barbara Veder, chief clinician at Morneau Shepell.

How exactly does EAP counselling impact employee health and productivity?

More than half of employees (56%) who took part in the study reported difficulty focusing on work. But after receiving counselling, the employees showed improvement: the incidence was down to only a little over a quarter of all cases (28%).

Other findings also indicate a positive turn:

  • 37% reported dissatisfaction with life (the number was down to 16% after counselling)
  • 32% reported feeling disengaged at work (down to 23%)
  • 29% reported missing at least half a day of work (down to 13%)
  • 22% reported feeling ‘workplace distress’ (down to 13%)

Read more: The virtual couch: employees approve video counselling

It’s also a win-win situation for both the employer and employees. EAP counselling has been shown to generate a greater return on investment as well as greater cost savings for employers.

Morneau Shepell said the estimated ROI ranged from 3:1 for small-size employers, 5:1 for midsize employers and 9:1 for large-size employers.

“The results also found cost savings ranging from about US$2,000 to $3,500 per employee from reductions in work presenteeism (87% of total return) and absenteeism (13%),” the firm said.

“A break-even 1:1 ROI was possible even at a very low utilization level of just one EAP counselling case per every 100 covered employees.”

Results were consistent across employee categories such as age, sex, region, industry, clinical issue, number of counselling sessions, and length of treatment, and regardless of whether the program was led by an external vendor or internal staff, or operated as a hybrid model, the firm said.

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