Guest blog post by FHRD Member, Psychology in Practice (PIP).
In today’s fast-paced corporate landscape, the well-being of employees has rightfully taken centre stage. Employers across the globe are increasingly recognising that a healthy, motivated workforce is essential for organisational success. To support their employees, many companies have turned to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and wellness initiatives. However, in the case of EAPs in Malta, it’s time to ask whether we’re getting it right.
The Limitations of Traditional EAPs for Mental Health
Traditionally, EAPs locally tend to offer employees health and life insurance and a set number of therapy sessions per year. On the surface, this seems like a valuable resource for addressing mental health concerns. But how effective are these programs in practice? One critical aspect that often goes overlooked is the uptake of these services.
Consider this: How many employees are actually utilising the therapy sessions offered to them? Are these services reaching those who need them most? These are questions that employers should be asking themselves. It’s not about knowing who is using the service – confidentiality is paramount. However, understanding the broader statistical landscape can shed light on the program’s effectiveness. Employers may gather anonymised metrics from their service provider, such as gender, age, regular users and emerging trends. How does uptake fluctuate? Are there months in which uptake is higher than others? These statistics, devoid of personal identifiers, offer valuable insights into how well the program is serving the diverse needs of the workforce.
Furthermore, there’s the issue of stigma. In some cases, employees may be hesitant to seek therapy due to perceived judgment or concerns about privacy. This can result in underutilisation, leaving employees without the support they may require.
Rethinking Employee Assistance Programs for Comprehensive Well-Being
While therapy sessions undoubtedly provide valuable support, offering therapy sessions should not be a standalone. Let’s consider how we view physical well-being at the workplace: If you had to ask an organisation how they ensure their employees’ safety when working at heights, would you find comfort in them merely having insurance for potential falls? Probably not. You’d expect to hear about harnesses, secure ladders, training, and a robust safety culture.
It is the same when fostering healthy mental wellness. What local employers require is a transformative approach to EAPs, one that seamlessly integrates into their culture and embraces the diverse needs of their workforce. These innovative programs should a wide array of resources, from mental health assistance to stress management workshops, self-care programs, and preventive measures. By acknowledging and proactively addressing the various facets of their employees’ lives, employers can truly champion their well-being.
Designing Holistic Mental Wellness Programs
To create holistic mental wellness programs, organisations must go beyond a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, they should tailor their offerings to meet the unique needs of their workforce. A well-rounded program would include proactive initiatives focusing on prevention and early intervention. For instance, providing employees with tools to manage stress before it becomes overwhelming can prevent more severe mental health issues.
Promoting a Culture that Supports Mental Health
Lastly, it’s essential to foster a culture of well-being within the organisation all year round. People managers play a crucial role in setting the tone. When people managers prioritise well-being, it sends a powerful message throughout the company, and employers can also equip them better to perform their roles.
Encourage open dialogue about mental health, provide training to recognise signs of distress by professionals, and offer resources that make it easy for employees to seek help. The goal is to create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their well-being and accessing the support they require.
In the pursuit of employee well-being, it’s time to rethink our approach to EAPs in Malta. While therapy remains a valuable tool, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Employers should analyse the effectiveness of their programs, consider the psychological impact of normal work changes, and address life changes beyond the workplace. By designing holistic mental wellness programs, supporting employees through transitions, and promoting a culture of well-being, organisations can create a more resilient and healthier workforce. It’s time for Malta’s employers to take this transformative step toward employee mental well-being!
Kim Spiteri is a registered Occupational Psychologist with over 13 years of senior Human Resources business partnering experience. Kim is the co-founder of ‘Psychology in Practice’ (PIP), a dynamic hub for psychology and talent development whose mission is to bring a fresh and innovative perspective to the realm of HR and other aspects of life, offering solutions that elevate well-being and address the unique challenges faced today. For more information email [email protected] or visit www.psychologyinpractice.com”