Good things come in threes, so the saying goes. And when it comes to financial wellbeing, your employee assistance programme (EAP) fits the maxim perfectly.
There are three key ways in which an EAP can benefit your broader strategy, by helping you to explore the money worries your workforce might be facing; assisting them with their financial challenges, and then helping you to prove the success of any changes that you’ve made.
An EAP can give a really clear perspective on how your staff might be struggling. As long as employees know about the EAP and are comfortable using it as a first line of support, your provider should be able to give you an aggregated view of the types of calls it is receiving. Those will reflect the problems that are affecting your staff, how widespread those problems are and possibly some breakdown of demographics that can help you to pinpoint areas of greatest need.
If one of the sources of calls is money worries, that can be a clear indicator that it’s time to introduce or broaden your financial wellbeing strategy. That information can also be hugely valuable when putting together a business case, or creating benchmarks to measure progress against.
Of course, an EAP’s main function is to assist staff when they are struggling. In financial wellbeing terms, that could mean helping staff with any general money enquiries. It could also be used to provide targeted support in relation to another benefit, for example if employees are turned down for a loan. Sally Purbrick, head of reward at Anglian Water Services, says that her company uses its EAP as part of its loan scheme:
“In Anglian Water, we have had a hardship loan scheme in place for some time. We’d recognised that we were getting more enquiries, and also that there were more conversations around our workforce that financial pressure and financial stress were increasing.
“Our colleagues can now go through Neyber to get an affordable loan, and we still also have a hardship fund. But if they are declined, we and Neyber can remind the individual that they can go to our EAP for assistance. Managers and employees now feel supported, and that with our hardship fund, EAP support and Neyber, that they have an offer in place to get them out of financial stress and worry.”
If you have got access to a before and after picture of EAP calls – and you’ve been able to benchmark how many of those calls relate to financial worries – then a change in those figures will demonstrate how well any new strategy is working or what you can do to help your workforce further. As Anglian Water’s experiences show, there may be times when an EAP isn’t just a general source of support, but is also closely linked to other financial benefits that you offer. As such, it can help to demonstrate the effect that another part of your strategy, such as introducing affordable loans, is having.
Overall, an EAP is an incredibly valuable part of a financial wellbeing strategy – three times over.
Monica Kalia is founder of Neyber