Posted on: Friday September 08, 2017
How can technology help both employers and employees when it comes to mental health?
1 in 4 adults in the UK are diagnosed with at least 1 mental health problem each year . This statistic may be surprising, but it has caused organisations to care more about mental health in the workplace. With stress levels rising  amongst UK workers, organisations have a responsibility to look after their staff and this is where integrating an Employee Assistance Programme into an Employee Benefits App can make all the difference. EAP has come a long way and with the advent of technology in employee benefits programmes, staff can access support whenever and wherever suits them best. 1 in 6 staff admit to suffering with their mental health  so it is down to the HR Team to focus on Mental Health and discover ways in which technology can help both employees and employers.
Staff spend on average 5 hours a day on their mobile phones . Whether at work or home, the mobile phone is a tool we all rely on. It is down to organisations to use this to support their staff, to keep in touch when their staff, at a time that is convenient to them, through a communication channel that they know they are going to respond to. Research shows that 93% of the UK population has a mobile phone  so HR teams need to tailor their EAP programmes to be accessible via mobile devices at a time that suits employees best.
Timing is everything
Understandably, staff may not feel comfortable accessing EAP during work for many reasons. It could be that they have mounting pressure to complete work and just don’t have the time. Or, they could be worried that members of staff might realise there is a problem. Giving employees the opportunity to access their EAP from home, or on a lunch break, even on their holidays, shows that you are keen to help them get support when they need it most. Incorporating an EAP programme into your existing benefits platform means that staff can find the information whenever and wherever they are, in or out of the office. This is especially beneficial for staff who rarely spend time at a computer or may not even have access to emails.
Ask how they’re REALLY feeling
HR have a huge responsibility to ensure that their staff are happy at work. With any size workforce it is often so hard to gauge how staff are feeling at one point in time. Annual surveys work well, but they won’t help identify an issue in the moment. Staff may feel pressured to say everything is ok in the annual survey, but day to day feel as though they are struggling. Sending pulse surveys via a push notification to employee’s mobile devices can capture how they are feeling at a specific point in time. Pulse surveys can be sent out to understand if morale is low and gives HR the chance to analyse the data quicker and therefore help to solve the problem as soon as it arises and point people in the right direction of services that can help.
Dig into the stats
Having a management information system that provides insight into the usage of your platform can be a game changer when it comes to EAP. HR can identify trends, from what services staff are accessing to what issues are affecting them the most, and the results might be surprising. Health Assured recently collated anonymised usage statistics from the EAP service that we provide to clients and found out that 27% of calls to the EAP programme are relating to mental health worries. With information like this, HR can ensure that future benefits and communications rolled out to the organisation are addressing the actual needs of their employees. If 18% of staff are concerned about financial support, why not send e-shots about employer fair value loans and the financial education resources available to all staff? This can easily form the basis of a tailor made benefits package for staff giving them access to the appropriate products that will keep their Mental Health in check and make work a happier and more supportive place to be.
Don’t forget the triangle of wellbeing
As much as Mental Health is a key issue amongst staff in the UK  there is also an increased focus on Financial and Physical wellbeing. These elements are all as important as each other and it is the role of HR to make sure they cover all of these bases. Whether it is introducing a Health and Wellness blog or introducing fair deal loans, they can help staff with any issue at any stage in their lives. Considering that we have the most generations now at work, it is vital for organisations to bring together all elements of wellness in order to cater to everyone in the organisation. It may sound simple, and that is because it is. With an IT infrastructure already in place, organisations can tap into the technology in the hand of their employees to ensure that not only do they utilise their benefits programme, but that they are conscious of their EAP and look after their wellbeing in order to be happier both inside and outside of work.