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3 May 2023
The ‘Manager’ in Employee Assistance Programmes
The role of a manager in an employee assistance programme (EAP) is critical in ensuring the success and effectiveness of the programme. EAPs are designed to provide employees with access to confidential and professional support for a wide range of personal and work-related issues. These can include mental health concerns, financial stress, legal issues, and more. However, for employees to fully benefit from an EAP, managers should be involved and actively promote the programme to their team and new members. Unfortunately, more often than not, managers' own wellbeing can be neglected in the process. Mercer found that as high as 33% of leaders and managers think the level of stress they experience at work is not manageable - here’s what we can do to change that.
What organisations can do
It's important to remember that managers are also human, and they can be affected by stress just like anyone else. By providing support and resources, organisations can help leaders to manage stress, and in turn, create a more productive, happy and healthy work environment for everyone.
1. Offer individual coaching support
Organisations can provide managers with access to individual coaching or counselling services. This can be particularly beneficial for managers who are struggling with high levels of stress or other difficult situations, such as layoffs, restructuring, or the pressure to keep up.
2. Encourage access to workplace wellbeing programmes
Oftentimes, even if there is an EAP or another mental health support programme in place (such as a personalised employee benefits platform Syndi Health, which offers support in a flexible way), managers tend to overlook their own wellbeing by placing all of their focus on the team - a gentle but frequent reminder from the organisation to access support could be a great first step in changing the culture.
"It is not uncommon for individuals in leadership positions to experience stress and mental health concerns during times of economic uncertainty and financial strain. As an executive, you’re not only managing your own stresses and hardships, but you also have the responsibility of helping your team cope with any pressures that come their way by providing a peaceful environment and allowing them to do their best job. That’s why it’s extremely important to encourage managers to take part in any wellbeing programmes that you have running in your organisation or even provide them with more tailored mental health support," said Ben Lakey, co-founder and CEO of Syndi Health.
3. Promote a healthy work-life balance
Organisations can create a culture that values and prioritises a healthy work-life balance by providing flexible working hours and encouraging managers to take care of their physical and mental fitness.
What managers can do
Managers can take several steps themselves to cope with stress and mental health problems on their own. Some things they can do include:
1. Fight mental health stigma
Change begins with normalising mental health issues. If you’re in a management position, staying open and authentic about your own mental health can help you feel more accepting of your difficulties and, by setting up an example, encourage others to speak up.
2. Take advantage or challenge your company’s wellbeing offerings
It is crucial to take advantage of your company's wellbeing offerings as it benefits both - you, the individual, and the company as a whole. However, if you feel like something is missing, don’t be afraid to make yourself heard - HR teams are always looking for feedback and want to make the support work for you.
3. Set boundaries
Setting boundaries at work is important for establishing a clear sense of control and maintaining a work-life balance. It helps individuals prioritise their time and responsibilities, avoid burnout, and improve their overall job satisfaction and productivity. By clearly communicating your limits and expectations, you can foster healthier relationships with colleagues and bosses, avoid taking on excessive workloads and achieve a more fulfilling and sustainable work experience.
It's important to note that not all of these methods will work for everyone, and it may take some experimentation to find what works best for an individual manager.
Managers play a vital role in promoting EAPs or other types of health support to their team members. However, managers often get neglected in the process. There are steps organisations can take to change that - providing leaders with access to individual coaching, reminding them to access mental health support, and promoting a healthy work-life balance. Managers themselves can also take steps to address stress and mental health issues, such as reducing mental health stigma, taking advantage of company wellness offerings, and setting boundaries at work. It may take some experimentation to find what works best for an individual manager.
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