In this episode of Connecting Business, Christina Munoz talks to Maggie Young, President of Southwest EAP, about helping employees manage their mental health and work stresses.
Munoz: We keep saying EAP, Southwest EAP, EAP what is EAP, what does it mean?
Young: So, EAP is Employee Assistance Program. [...] If you really just want me to cut to the chase and explain to you what an EAP is it is the maintenance contract, on the human element of your company. You've got somebody that takes care of the software and somebody that takes care of the computer system and the hardware and checks on the copier. But you're your biggest line item, your biggest expense, your biggest asset is your people. So we're the maintenance contract there.
And if we're doing our job, right we're also doing preventative maintenance as well. So that's an external way to get you to understand that the crux of what we do.
Munoz: It's so huge. So I think it's a great concept. How long has this concept been around?
Young: You know, I think we're, you know in different ways, you know, 50, 60 years. You talked about some of the taboos surrounding [mental health] and I think that's what's kept it from being more in the forefront. And the pandemic has really opened up the conversation. Mental health is business critical at this point, there's just no way around it.
A company is really opening itself up to productivity issues and morale issues and liability even. If it's not going to take a look at what are we doing to support people's wellbeing from the pandemic and as we heal out of it.
Munoz: This is so great to hear and so huge because people can really spiral, like you said, good people productive people, but when they have these issues and they're not treated or addressed or taken care of it can really end in a very negative situation. So considering the current state of the world I still can't believe we've been doing this for a year now.
It's just been a rocky year to say it lightly. So let's talk about how that self care really has started to emerge as kind of a, a trend or a lifestyle which is great to see. So how does that fit in with the EAP concept?
Young: Perfectly. So we talked about viewing the EAP as a maintenance contract for your employees and for the human element of your company. And we really come into that at all the different levels. So there there's services for employees, there's services for supervisors there's services for the overall organization. So what employees have direct access to is 24/7 barrier free contact with with experts and counselors and coaches, that's provided free and it's confidential.
So that is a huge value directly to everyone in the company. Then with supervisors, additionally on top of that, they can contact, just pick up the phone and call and say, I've got this situation. And I think there's this conflict element to it. Or I've got an employee that's struggling. They're just not themselves. And I'm not quite sure how to manage this. And so they have confidential access to set up an action plan and talk that through with a counselor and the EAP may be a part of that or they may have their action plan and feel like they can manage it. Then we're coming in with companies on that level.
We've got training programs, awareness campaigns that we're driving. Resources we're making available, maybe even surveys to find out exactly where are the pressure points. So we're working at all those different levels trying to be there for people when they need us and help them put that self-care in place. But also that preventative work and that that education piece, that keeps people from getting too far down the road to a struggle.
Which is so important because as we've talked about, if it's your son or your daughter or someone in your family, that's struggling, well, that impacts you. We don't just go to work and forget about all those things in life.
That's still your struggle too.
More resources on EAPs and employee wellness:
- Helping your workforce during COVID-19
- A Need To Clarify How We Talk About Wellbeing vs. Mental Health vs. Mental Illness
- Tips to Help with Work-Life Balance: Separating Your Work Life From Your Home Life
You can also watch more episodes of Connecting Business.