Employee Assistance Programs

The need for Employee Assistance and Wellbeing Programs

 

Wellness in the workplace

The growing prevalence of chronic physical and mental disease in Australia has been linked to an increase in modifiable risk factors such as poor diet, alcohol abuse, physical inactivity, stress and difficulty in dealing with the demands of the workplace (conflict between work and home, longer business hours, higher organizational expectations and less secure terms of employment) (Workplace Wellness in Australia, 2010).

The workplace not only plays a role in the development of chronic disease, but is also heavily burdened with the costs. The cost of absenteeism in Australia is estimated at $7 billion each year, while the cost of presenteeism (not fully functioning at work and loss of productivity because of physical or mental health conditions) is nearly four times more, estimated at almost $26 billion in 2005–06 (Workplace Wellness in Australia, 2010). Experiencing depression was found to result in 5.6 hours of lost productivity time per week, compared to 1.5 hours for non-depressed workers (Stewart et al., 2003). Although presenteeism can be helped somewhat by managers being more aware of the problem and by educating employees, the most important variable is spending to save by providing effective treatment procedures (Hemp, 2004).

 

In this current state, it is more critical than ever that a key organisational objective is optimising health-related behaviours and wellbeing in the workplace. Individuals can achieve the behaviour change required to address chronic disease if they are supported with the right environment, education and tools.

Mounting evidence demonstrates that Employee Assistance and Wellness Programs represent a solid business investment, making a unique contribution to an organisation’s overall performance across the broad spectrum of today’s workplaces.

Our Employee Assistance and Wellness Programs offer multi-dimensional benefits

In assisting employees to manage psychological issues and the demands of increasingly stressful lives, EAPs have consistently demonstrated provision of the following organisational benefits:

  • Improved employee retention, savings in training costs, expertise protection
  • Reduced managerial burden resulting from problem employees
  • Disciplinary issues are handled more effectively and constructively
  • Improved workforce engagement and job satisfaction
  • Increased motivation, productivity, innovation and wellbeing
  • Reduced stress in the workplace
  • Reduced presenteeism
  • Reduced absenteeism (25-50% reduction)
  • Reduced workplace conflict
  • Reduced workers’ compensation claims
  • Minimised negative impact of restructuring
  • During restructuring, redundancy and organisational change, EAP provision can ensure impacted staff are supported.
  • Positioning the organization as an employee choice
  • Improving workplace culture

 Headaches - physiotherapy

EAPs also play a preventative role, addressing problems before they become so significant that they result in absenteeism, presenteeism, significant accidents, injuries and OH&S issues. Research also indicates that EAP users build coping strategies that may be applied to future issues, and that elements of EAP treatment contributes to better overall job functioning.

Return on Investment

To assess an employers financial return on investment, the EAP Business Value Model(Attridge & Amaral, 2002) identified three types of potential, financial benefits from EAPs:

 

  1. A health care value component, which includes workers compensation and salary continuance insurance savings for Australian employers.
  2.  The human capital value component, representing savings in reducing absenteeism and turnover and improving productivity and engagement/morale.
  3. The organisational value component comprising cost savings in regard to issues such as safety risks, employee grievances and legal claims and the positive benefits in demonstrating employee concern and support.

 

Overwhelmingly, current research involving rigorous economic analysis demonstrates that EAPs are highly cost-effective, in terms of savings generated for employers. Some recent data on Return on Investment from EAPs:

 

  • The ROI attributed to most EAPs studied to date indicate figures of between 4-10 times return on investment (Hargrave et al, 2008; Jorgensen, 2007; Hilton M, Assisting the Return on Investment of Good Mental Health Practices; Phillips, 2004; Stewart et al., 2003;).
  • In a study of 1,000 employees who received EAP services during a 10 week period, 88.5% of the employees reported improvement in their problems, with 25.5% reporting the highest rating: much improvement (Hargrave, Hiatt, Alexander, & Shaffer, 2008). The mean change score was a 6.36-hour increase in productivity. Those presenting with a life problem rather than a mental illness diagnosis found equivalent improvements in degree of problem resolution and change in work productivity.

The true value of EAP is likely to be underestimated by the Return on Investment data, given the preventative implications of effective EAPs.

Why choose us?

There are a number of EAP providers to choose from. Not all EAPs offer an equal benefit to each workplace and their needs.

Most offer phone and face-to-face counselling. However, there is no guarantee that this service will be provided by a specialised, highly trained health professional who is a member of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

Many EAP providers target emotional health and mental resilience. Few acknowledge the relationship between the mind and body or provide services targeting the whole person. Most EAP providers fail to address workplace risk factors for physical ill-health and the drain of physical ill-health to employers. We are passionate about caring for the whole person and the environment in which they work.

The type of professional providing EAP services can impact ROI for the employer and effective outcomes for the employee. All our service providers are highly qualified Health Professionals who only work with evidence-based principles and techniques; increasing the benefit to the employee and employer.

Many big EAPs provide an impersonal, one-size fits all model and service. We offer reasonable costs, low upfront fees and individualised programs that allow small-medium businesses in Sydney city and eastern suburbs to access the plethora of benefits of using an EAP. We care for each individual

We structure comprehensive behavioral health and wellness programs that meet the unique needs and expectations of the organisation. We are dedicated to total employee wellbeing and performance.

There are some clearly identifiable key characteristics of high-performing EAPs.

 Office Ergonomics - The Office Athlete

Organisations should seek and expect their EAP to provide the following best-practice deliverables to maximise their Return on Investment:

  • Expert consultation by Clinical Psychologists for employees and managers
  • Training for key HR staff and management in identifying and helping to resolve behavioural, health, or job performance problems
  • Confidential, appropriate, and timely assessment services
  • Referrals for further specialist assistance if required
  • Education and information about mental health, substance use and prevention strategies, including consultation with employers about environmental changes that may reduce the incidence of employee problems
  • Coordinated policy development and statements concerning occupational health, developed in partnership between the EAP provider and the employer
  • Self-referral to encourage high utilisation of the service without fear of jeopardising employees’ opportunities for career advancement (fostering a culture of proactive self-management).
  • Services provided offsite and confidentially (to the extent provided by law).
  • A highly visible and well-marketed service with reminders regularly circulated through various media within the organization.

 

We are proud to offer these best practice services.

Just some of our total wellbeing services:

  • Brief Psychological Therapy: Confidential, therapeutic assistance for a range of issues that impact employee wellbeing and performance. As with all of our services targeted at emotional wellbeing, sessions are provided by highly skilled Clinical Psychologists. Employees can seek therapy for emotional and mental health related issues including drug and alcohol abuse, anxiety disorders such as social anxiety and panic, depression, stress, eating disorders including binge eating disorder, and relationship difficulties. We practice with approaches that are supported by evidence to help employees achieve effective change
  • Trauma counselling: Following traumatic or critical incidents such as armed hold ups; fatality or serious injury; verbal abuse and assault during the course of work.
  • Staff Behaviour Improvement: Using psychological therapy and coaching techniques to help employees manage issues such as anger, abuse, conflict and disengagement that can impact the individual, their colleagues and the organisational outcomes.
  • Performance Enhancement: Addressing staff issues that present barriers such as motivation, shyness, fear of public speaking, and problems working in teams. Working with a Clinical Psychologist can enhance the confidence, capability and as a consequence workplace outcomes for the individual, groups and the organisation.
  • Resilience building: Engaging seminars and one-on-one sessions targeted at increasing employee resilience.

Our Psychology and counselling services are lead by Sydney based Clinical Psychologist, Alysha Casey

  • Quarterly outcomes and usage reporting
  • Onsite workshops and presentation series
  • Wellness Week
  • Weight management and lifestyle coaching

 

Physiotherapy:

  • Pre-employment medical and Physical screening: ensuring health risks are identified and future employees are able to seek intervention if needed
  • Job task and environmental analysis
  • Functional assessments: addressing the functional tasks during injury rehabilitation.
  • Manual handling education and training: addressing safe work practices to foster injury prevention within the workplace.
  • Onsite Physiotherapy: onsite management, first aid and treatment.
  • Ergonomic assessments and work safety programs: enhancing the workplace environment for your employees with assessment, intervention and self checklists
  • Physiotherapy assessment and rehabilitation
  • Injury prevention seminars
  • Strength and conditioning programs: For injury prevention and rehabilitation to ensure your employees have the best outcome

Dietician:

  • Diet Assessment for treatment and management of chronic health conditions: providing assessment and education on dietary influence to lifestyle related illness.
  • Diet Planning and Management: providing assessment and planning for dietary based stress and fatigue interventions aimed at increasing employee’s engagement in the workplace.

 

Businesswoman shouting her victory to the world

 

References:

 

 Attridge, M. & Amaral T.M. (2002) Making the business case for EAPs with Core Technology. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association, Boston, MA, USA.

 

George E. Hargrave, G. E., Hiatt, D, Alexander, R., & Shaffer, I. A.  (2008) EAP Treatment Impact on Presenteeism and Absenteeism: Implications for Return on Investment, Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 23:3, 283-293, DOI: 10.1080/15555240802242999. To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15555240802242999

 

Hemp, P. (2004, October). Presenteeism: At work – but out of it. Harvard Business Review, 1–10.

 

Hilton, M. Assisting the return on investment of good mental health practices. As cited in Cowan, G., Best practice in managing mental health in the workplace.

 

Jorgensen, D.G. (2007) Demonstrating EAP value. Journal of Employee Assistance, 37(3), 24-26.

 

Phillips, S. B. (2004). Client satisfaction with university employee assistance programs, Employee Assistance Quarterly, 19(4), 59–70.

 

Price Waterhouse Coopers. (2010). Workplace wellness in Australia: Aligning action with aims – optimising the benefits of workplace wellness. Retrieved from: http://www.usc.edu.au/media/3121/WorkplaceWellnessinAustralia.pdf.

 

Stewart, W. F., Ricci, J. A., Chee, E., Hahn, S. R., & Morganstein, D. (2003). Cost of lost productive work time among US workers with depression. Journal of the American Medical Association, 289(23), 3135–3144.

 

Maher, C. G. (2000) A Systemic review of workplace interventions to prevent low back pain. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy 46: 259-269

1, 2, 3 and breathe…

We are all very aware of the importance of breathing. We need to adequately breathe in order for our bodies to function througout the day, exchange gases and, so we are able to blow someone a kiss (in the spirit of Valentine’s day – a little late, I know)

 

            It never ceases to amaze me when treating a patient, (for example shoulder pain) on how muscle weakness, tightness and compensatory muscle tone can be a result of inadequate breathing patterns and posture.

 

Did you know…..

 

While texting, people hold their breath. Think of the amount of texts you send and receive every day… Holy moly it’s a lot, right?

This results in your poor neck muscles, such as your sternocleidomastoid and scalenes increasing in muscle tension to compensate.  So when you think about it, texting, tindering and trawling through your news feed is a huge contributor to poor breathing and those tight shoulders or yours.

Don't forget to breathe

Don’t forget to breathe

Having your hands on the keyboard and typing results in a dramatic decrease in abdominal expansion when breathing and an increase in scalene and trapezius activity. This is compared to the same sitting posture but with your hands on your lap.

 – Lin Apply Psychophysiology, 2009

 

Holding your breath subconsciously and breathing with your neck and shoulders is very common in our tech-savvy society. I certainly catch myself doing this a lot throughout the day when I am at the desk.

In order to reduce the hyperactivity and hypertonicity of our neck and shoulder muscles we need to be aware when we are doing this.

Breathing exercises aren’t just for the yoga types – they should be a common element of your wellbeing, just like stretching.

 

But, why?

Deep breathing benefits:

–       decrease in your sympathetic state

–       decrease in muscle tone

–       decrease in anxiety

 

Breathing exercises I like to do and prescribe to my patients…

–       Chest and stomach:

Lying on your back with one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Taking in a deep breath and feeling for symmetry in the rise of both hands. (your chest and stomach hands should rise at the same time). Try 10 deep breaths

–       Focus on Exhalation:

Slow and controlled deep breaths with a pause at exhalation. This helps to train the endurance of your breathing and increase your awareness of any states of short shallow breaths throughout your busy day.

–      Thoracic stretches:

1)   Stretching your mid-back: On the floor, lying on your back with a rolled up towel at your shoulder-blade level, taking deep breaths.

2)   Bow and arrow stretches: lying on your side, knees bent and arms out straight infront. Pull top arm over and back (like you’re pulling an arrow) and try and get that top shoulder blade to get in contact with the floor. Keeping knees in the same position, this torso twist helps aid your thoracic rotation. Deep breathing throughout the movement is extremely beneficial. Slow and controlled and 1×10 each side.

 

So next time you’re having a stretch at home or at the gym, counting down the seconds on the microwave or waiting for the ad-breaks to be over; utilise this time to try and counteract that build up of tension your neck and shoulders have endured but doing some of these simple deep breathing exercises.

Hey, you can even throw in a sly ‘Om’ in there at the end for some extra zen.

We are never too busy to look after ourselves, so give it a try and it will amaze you how much you hold your breath and breathe incorrectly throughout the day.

 

Let me know how you go.

 

Namaste,

TOA

 

 

Your in-flight physiotherapy guide. Surviving the long-haul

flight mode

Whether you’re frequently flying or do the odd long haul flight, you may be aware of where the exits are located, but are you aware of the ways you can reduce strain and fatigue on your body during the flight?

Pre-flight:

  • If possible, request an aisle seat. This puts you in a position to stretch out a little more.
  • Try and invest in a neck pillow (to be used for your neck and as a lumbar support) and compression socks, as they help to keep your feet from swelling due to changes in pressure and inactivity during flight.
  • Prior to getting to the airport, I recommend giving your hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles a stretch. These muscles are in a shortened position when your sitting
  • Take the opportunity to stand and walk around the waiting area at your gate prior to boarding; you’ll have plenty of time to sit and relax in the plane

During:

Extended periods of immobility can contribute to aching joints, muscles tightness and swollen feet.  The best remedy to these problems is simply to keep moving throughout the flight, walk around the cabin as regularly and as often as possible.

  • Get up and go for a walk at least once every hour (even more often if you can, there may be some interesting characters you come across in the cabin)
  • Gently stretch your neck, upper back and shoulders; for example, roll your shoulders forward and back, elevate and release your shoulders, and tilt your head side to side, using mid-range of motion. This can be done quite discreetly in your seat
  • Tap your toes and move your ankles in circular motions, this will help with circulation (if you have severe pain, redness, warmth and swelling in your calf/calves notify your flight attendant immediately)
  • Some in-flight entertainment systems provide programs including stretching and relaxation exercises
  • Water, water, water! A common problem of all flights is dehydration, as the air throughout the cabin is not always properly humifidified.
    Travellers may suffer from the drying of the mucus in their mouth and nose, which normally act as a protective barrier to bacteria and viruses.  To prevent dehydration, try drinking water as regularly as possible throughout the flight, an eye-lubricant such as Bion Tears to prevent dry and itchy eyes and for your face I recommend using a night-time hydrating moisturizer.

After:

  • Try and enjoy the long walk to the baggage carousel, it will help to decrease that build up of tightness in your legs
  • When it is bag collection time, technique is everything. It makes the bag feel lighter and keeps you injury free; win-win if you ask me. Remember to keep your abdominals engaged, bend your knees, get as close as you can to the carousel before you even try to lift your bag.

For more information ask your physiotherapist!

1A, NYC bound.

1A, NYC bound.