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Guide to Employee Assistance Programmes

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What Are Employee Assistance Programmes?

When employers purchase a Group Insurance policy for their employees – be it Group Life, Group Health, or Group Income Protection Insurance – employees are often given access to a range of support services through their insurance providers.

These are employee assistance programmes, designed to support employees’ physical, mental and financial health, in some instances even extending access to employees’ family.

Some truly shocking stress statistics have come out of the woodwork regarding stress and mental health. Fortunately, employers are increasingly realising the toll this takes on their employees and mental health has become the number one concern for many companies.

Yet many employers are unsure how to tackle these problems, especially with a limited budget. However, for some employers, the solution may be sitting right under their nose in the form of an Employee Assistance Program without them even realising it.

The benefits that you find within Employee Assistance Programmes can be an effective means of addressing stress and mental health in the workplace.

Some of the more popular types of services offered with group insurance policies are:

  • Legal, medical and financial advice
  • Counselling / cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) face-to-face or over the phone
  • Bereavement counselling;
  • Online and over the phone information and guides.

These services benefit everyone and can be highly appealing employee benefits by themselves, regardless of the insurance product attached to them. However, not many people are aware that these services come with their group protection.

How Do Employee Assistance Programmes Work?

Most of the services in an Employee Assistance Programme don’t require the employee to make a claim on the attached policy in order to use them.

In fact, many of them are aimed at preventing a claim before one starts.

While these services are often used as an employee attempts to return to work from a period of illness, which would potentially be after a claim has been made, many programs are aimed at preventing these absences from occurring in the first place.

Many of these services can be used at any time, particularly the provided helplines and information services. Some providers even extend availability of these services to employees’ families.

Most of these services can be used an unlimited number of times, although some types of services, like face-to-face counselling or physiotherapy, will be limited to a certain number of sessions per employee. These limits will be outlined in the documents provided.

Aside from these particular limits, employees can continue using these services until they leave the group insurance scheme.

Nadeem Farid Head of Employee Benefits at Drewberry

Some employees don’t use these services because they worry that any information they share might be passed onto their employer. However, these services are usually provided by companies separate to the insurance provider and operate with guaranteed confidentiality.

Nadeem Farid
Head of Employee Benefits at Drewberry

Why Aren’t Employee Assistance Programmes More Popular?

Employee Assistance Programmes are often parcelled in with Group Risk and Group Health policies, but many people covered by such insurances simply aren’t aware that these extra support services are available to them.

There tends to be a lack of communication about these additional benefits, with the focus being on the main risk the policy is addressing rather than on what else it can do for workers.

Many employees don’t find out until it is too late that they are able to access these services. Others that are aware of these services don’t know how to access them or don’t know that they are not required to make a formal claim with the insurer in order to use them.

Overlooking these support services can be a big mistake for employers considering the positive impact they can have. When employees are aware of the services available to them and know how to access them, some instances of long-term absence may be avoided.

Before Employee Assistance Programmes are able to tackle the problem of workplace stress, employers need to look closer at the group insurance products they apply for and learn how to properly promote the services available.

The Best Employee Assistance Programme UK

The employee assistance services provided by the following insurers come free of charge when you purchase a Group Income Protection Insurance or Group Life Insurance policy.

aviva

Aviva

  • 24-hour telephone support service provided by Care First, offering counselling and practical advice on a range of personal issues
  • Face-to-face counselling where needed (up to 8 sessions per employee)
  • Stress Free Island: A mobile tool that helps employees manage condition such as stress, anxiety and depression
  • Care First Lifestyle: An information resource provided by Care First, containing articles, webinars and general advice on a range of topics
canada life

Canada Life

  • EmployeeCare: providing telephone and face-to-face counselling as well as support for additional matters such as childcare and eldercare advice, legal issues, and debt management
  • Second Medical opinion from a UK specialist
  • Treatment Sourcing Service: Advice and help to find the most suitable healthcare options, including access to treatment at private facilities at competitive prices
legal & general

Legal & General

  • Telephone based bereavement counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, immediate crisis intervention, legal advice, medical advice, and more
  • Online information and resources, including guides, fact sheets, web links and podcasts
  • Face-to-face structured counselling (up to 5 sessions per employee where appropriate)
  • Face-to-face bereavement counselling (up to 5 sessions per employee for the immediate family of a deceased employee)
unum

Unum

  • Rehabilitation services, including advice and support and expert recommendations of absence management practices to make health conditions easier to work around.
  • Unum LifeWorks: A 24 hour helpline for everyday advice and face-to-face counselling for more serious issues.
  • Mental Health Pathway: An intervention service that gives employees and employers access to specialist support to help with any mental health concerns.
  • Free workshops on issues like cancer and mental health to improve awareness amongst employers and help employees manage their diagnosis.
zurich

Zurich

  • Bupa Positive Health: An online, interactive health & wellbeing programme that gives employees access to health assessments, advice, and tips on how to manage health problems at home and at work.
  • Health Matters: An online resource that gives information, support and advice on a range of health related topics, helping employees take better care of themselves.

Need Advice?

Even before employees have had a chance to use Employee Assistance Services, they can have a positive impact on your organisation.

85% of UK workers say that they are more likely to work for employers who offer clearly labelled benefits and putting your Employee Assistance Programme at the forefront of your employee benefits package can make for an enticing offer.

When you consider that Employee Assistance Services are essentially offered as a bonus extra when you provide Group Health Insurance or Group Risk, promoting them to your workforce costs nothing and could see significant benefits for the future.

Tom Conner Director at Drewberry

For more information about Employee Benefits and the Employee Assistance programmes that accompany them, speak to our advisers. We can help you find the right products, compare quotes and apply for your policy. If you need help don’t hesitate to pop us a call on 02074425880.

Tom Conner
Director at Drewberry

I had the pleasure of dealing with Jake Mills in organising my insurance. Jake was fantastic to deal with — his patience and understanding really helped.

Brendan Kelly
26/09/2019
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