Employee Assistance Programs: What They Are and What Services They Offer

The idea that the only thing companies need to bring to workers is a source of income is now totally outdated.

And it’s not just a question of fashion or pure corporate image: the organizations in which you work day in and day out are known to have significant potential to improve the well-being of employees, beyond ‘silver. And that, if applied correctly, this potential pays off and has a positive impact on the performance of the entire company.

This is why more and more organizations are playing an active role in this file and include in its operation so-called employee assistance programs, A type of initiative in which psychologists are of fundamental importance and which are not only in the largest and most innovative multinationals, but which consolidate themselves in the national business fabric.

    What are employee assistance programs?

    Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are a set of free services and protocols designed to provide support to workers, Within the framework of the company, to tackle problems which should not be limited to the context of the organization and which nevertheless affect the behavior of the worker in his work. They are also free and confidential services, so that every worker can talk about their personal problems without fear of being vulnerable in a competitive environment.

    On the other hand, this type of help of different types does not only encompass physical or psychological health. For example, you can include the ability to research alternative schedules to have more time to care for a sick relative, or legal counseling services, handling communication issues between the employee and another. colleague, etc.

    However, it is clear that many needs of workers are linked to psychological distress. Within the latter category, there are several common issues which we will see below.

    The role of the psychologist in EAP

    What are psychology professionals doing to cover the side of employee assistance programs that have to do with mental health or psychological well-being? Below, we’ll take a look at some of the functions that workers use most often.

    1. Helps manage stress or burnout

    In many work environments, there are workers who for one reason or another are under too much stress and anxiety. Sometimes this discomfort reaches the extreme of the burn-out syndrome, in which the employee, in addition to experiencing an accumulation of anxiety, feels emotionally disconnected from his work and sees it only as a means not to be at work. short of salary.

    Sometimes a big part of the problem comes from where you work, the offices; in others, the root is in the family home. But what is clear is that this discomfort affects job performance. make the person feel even worse about not being able to achieve their goals.

    Either way, psychologists are trained to help a lot in this, as change agents (at best) who stand between the boundary of the work context and the personal context. We can train workers in stress reduction techniques and, if necessary, contact the appropriate human resources section so that they can try to adapt the working conditions of this person, orienting them towards a more optimal way of working.

      2. Professional assistance in the event of bereavement

      The death of loved ones it is more of a sample than the line that divides personal life, on the one hand, and professional life, on the other hand, is only an illusion, or at least a social convention. We can compartmentalize the way we offer an image of who we are to adapt to different contexts, but the emotions do not include the compartments, and a worker who feels bad at home will feel bad at the office as well. will be reflected in his work. .

      3. Conflicts

      The very nature of most workspaces is likely to fuel conflict between people if one is unable to intervene and perform psychological emotional regulation interventions.

      Therefore, psychologists can also take a broader view of the groups that make up the organization, going beyond the individual patient, and promote good management of these misunderstandings or conflicts of interest. That in a company there is a philosophy based on the spirit of competition does not necessarily imply that mismanagement of anger or the normalization of hostility prevails.

      4. Time management issues

      In some Spanish companies, especially in those where there is no clearly established timeline for many sections of the organization chart, cases of people who, without knowing very well how, spend the day at the office, Knowing that they could be much more effective. Psychologists can help in these cases by helping these people develop more structured and less distracted work habits.

      5. Integration of foreign workers

      People who go to live and work in other countries can get into trouble because of the culture shock of being surrounded for 24 hours by ways of thinking and behaving noticeably different from what one has become accustomed to. It can make work unpleasant just by combining experiences: If you don’t like living in another country, you will hardly like the workspace inserted in that country.

      Therefore, involving psychologists in employee assistance programs is a good way to offer psychological assistance on site, so that adaptation to this new environment takes place as quickly and harmoniously as possible.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Maslach, C., Schaufeli, WB and Leiter, MP (2001) Job Burnout. Annual Journal of Psychology, 52, 397,422.
      • Rodríguez Fernández, A. (2004). Psychology of organizations. Barcelona: Editorial UOC.

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