Many employers have assumed that the easing of lockdown will result in an improvement in mental health, but recent research has revealed employees are now in greater need of support than ever.
A distinct increase
Figures from leading employee assistance programme (EAP) providers show a pronounced increase in utilisation as lockdown eases – compared with figures from the March 2020 lockdown. During March 2021, when compared to March 2020, counselling calls to the EAP increased by a huge 145%.
Anxiety around returning to work
It would be understandable to assume that the peak time for stress would have been in the midst of the initial 2020 lockdown. However, the data shows that the utilisation of the counselling provision has increased significantly as things have begun to open up again. There could be many reasons for this, including the anxiety of returning to work, and the stresses of resuming a ‘normal’ every day life. The data shows the majority of the calls have been regarding anxiety.
During these uncertain times, EAP support for employees can be invaluable. EAPs can offer a great range of employee support, and can be integral in an employee benefits programme, such as income protection and life assurance, or as a standalone employee benefit.
EAP’s typically include assessment, short-term counselling and referral services for employees and in some cases, their immediate family. The provision is intended to help employees navigate life’s personal problems that may adversely affect wellbeing or performance at work.
Helping employees to cope
The need for employee support is huge, and as the data demonstrates – growing. The EAP provider received over 33,000 calls, delivered 23,000 structured therapy sessions, and had 11,000 hits on its online portal in April 2021 alone. Waiting times and pressure on the NHS is increasing, and if employees are struggling to the point of needing to take time off work – the burden begins to fall on employers.
In the last 13 months the population has been conditioned to become ‘socially distant’. The return to busy offices, commuting and the gear change in life in general as restrictions ease are all likely to bring stress and anxiety with them.
The good news is, there’s a lot that employers can do to make sure these problems do not escalate. Support is available – and employers should make use of it to ensure the wellbeing of their workforce.
Contact us today to discuss employee assistance programmes, or other employee benefits with our expert advisers.