COVID prioritizes the employee EAP experience

The overhaul of the Employee Experience now includes mental health support and de-stigmatization.


Mental health is among the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The discussion about mental health support from employers was becoming more common place, but COVID-19 has made this, and additional support, a necessity for employee wellbeing and productivity.

According to a November 2019 article in the Harvard Business Review, a study of 1,500 U.S. adults revealed that less than half of the respondents felt that mental health was prioritized at their companies, with even fewer viewing their organization’s leadership as advocates for their mental health. Many employees choose not to self-identify as having a diagnosable mental health condition and don’t seek treatment. Despite the 200 million workdays lost to mental health conditions - $16.8 billion in lost productivity – many companies still aren’t working to break down the stigma surrounding mental health. And all of this was prior to COVID-19.

The pandemic has brought with it a myriad of mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, grief, and stress. Additionally, in the coming months, there will also be feelings of survivor’s guilt and adjustment disorders to address. Members of the healthcare community are being hit especially hard, with physicians and other medical staff taking their own lives, and others expressing feelings of failure and inadequacy as a result of the daily interactions with those infected with the virus. The employee assistance program (EAP) will be more important than ever in delivering needed short-term counseling for those experiencing any of these mental health concerns. EAPs that utilize a holistic, integrated approach will be pivotal in addressing the total wellbeing of employees, now and when they return to work.

In her article “5 Predictions About How Coronavirus will Change the Future of Work” Tracy Brower explains that the future of work will change in 5 key areas – what companies do for employees, how employees work with one another, the workplace and technology, companies’ approaches and opportunities for employees to contribute.

The predictions Ms. Brower outlined under “what companies do for employees” align with the components of the complete Employee Experience as described by Josh Bersin, the leading authority on the Employee Experience. According to Mr. Bersin, the EX of an irresistible organization has meaningful work, hands-on management, a productive environment, opportunity for growth, trust in leadership, and a focus on health and wellbeing.

Companies looking to enhance their EX can do so by bringing Ms. Brower’s predictions to fruition. The changes predicted may positively impact recruitment and retention efforts as well as better equip leadership to meet the holistic needs of employees. Enhancing the EAP Experience will provide access to the resources that would benefit many employees, setting the stage for more engaged and productive employees.

Prediction: Your employer will expand the support they provide for you.

The coronavirus has pushed many organizations to employ a more holistic approach to supporting their employees, expanding from just their physical wellbeing to their mental and emotional wellbeing as well. Regardless of where employees work, employers will have to address employee engagement and motivation is a more nuanced way.  The expanded services work to address the health and wellbeing of employees in a holistic manner. NexGen EAP delivers a suite of integrated services aimed at addressing the holistic wellbeing of employees. NexGen’s financial consultations can assist employees as they adjust budgets and set new financial goals, or the virtual concierge component can identify additional means of income and provide guidance as people apply for unemployment. The expanded support can even be an onsite mental health counselor available to provide in the moment support or access to remote healthcare services. NexGen EAP has options for an onsite provider as well as telehealth services.

Prediction: Support for mental health will be embraced.

The mental health consequences of this pandemic, including the resulting depression and anxiety from stay-at-home orders and quarantines, are on the horizon. Instead of stigmatizing the need for these services, employers will offer more support for mental health concerns. A more holistic approach to health and wellbeing includes providing resources for psychological wellness and support. NexGen provides 24/7/365 immediate access to Master’s level mental health professionals who can deliver in the moment care. Or NexGen can provide an on-site mental health counselor for institutions like healthcare facilities or municipalities to provide immediate assistance and support to employees.

Prediction: Leadership will improve.

Those who effectively lead during a crisis raise the bar for their peers, weeding out those who are subpar. Clear communication, staying calm and strong in the face of challenges, demonstrating empathy for employees, thinking long-term, and taking appropriate, decisive action are all hallmarks of an effective leader. NexGen’s training for leadership include topics like emotional intelligence, organizational energy, and how to encourage the use of employee benefits, like the EAP. Hands-on management can show up as improved leadership with clear goal setting, leadership development, and a modern approach to performance management. Improvements in leadership help build trust in leadership.

Prediction: Company culture will become a focus.

“If culture is ‘the way things get done around here’ or ‘what people do when no one is looking’”, remote working has definitely put a spotlight on company culture. Organizations will begin to intentionally look at and establish company culture, acknowledging it as context for employee performance and engagement. The culture of a workplace can be demonstrated via a productive environment. A productive work environment consists of open and flexible workspaces, in addition to a culture that is ripe with recognition and inclusion and diversity. Cultures like this are likely to produce opportunities for growth that don’t ordinarily exist. The Harvard Business Review article reported that 86% of respondents thought a company’s culture should support mental health. Implementing NexGen EAP is one way an organization can support mental health and simultaneously demonstrate a culture where mental health is a priority.

To assist in the realization of these predictions, organizations will need trusted partners, resources, and tools, like eni and NexGen EAP. As we continue to live and work through this pandemic, employers are looking for ways to provided needed services and resources for their employees. Expanded support, openly embracing mental health, improvements in leadership, and a focus on culture all work to enhance the Employee Experience. NexGen EAP is here to help employers demonstrate to their employees that they care, building the trust needed to grow into the future.

To learn more about NexGen EAP and how it can improve your organization, contact us today.


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