De-stress your staff with an Employee Assistance Programme

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 15 February 2017
Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite
Issues covered:

There are times when we all need some extra support to balance the strains of life whether that be at work or at home.  

Living in a stressful age - millions of people inhabiting modern countries find themselves stressed out, depressed or sick. Modern living brings with it many stressors for people to face whether it is a grinding commute, financial pressure, work pressure or family concerns.

Our modern fast-paced lifestyles mean that our lives are full of stress and sometimes it can be difficult to know how to cope. 

Everyone would admit to feeling stressed on occasion, but it is possible that very few people are aware of just how stressed they are. The impact of stress can often be masked by other symptoms such as physical ailments, muscle pain, trouble sleeping, feeling run down, irregular eating patterns or loss of enjoyment.

Mismanagement of stress can seep into every aspect of your life, from day-to-day pressures, to career and relationship issues but successful management of stress can be the key to a whole, vibrant, and fulfilled way of life. 

As employers - we have a duty of care towards our employees to ensure that, so far as is reasonable, they have access to facilities and arrangements for their welfare - as well as providing a safe working environment.

Considering this, employers may consider introducing flexible working hours, part-time working, job-sharing or an Employee Assistance Programme.

To help support employees, an Employee Assistance Programme – offered as a free and confidential service to employees - can provide advice and counselling support to staff should they need it. The support staff of EAPs are specialists in fields such as well-being, family matters, relationship issues, debt management, consumer rights, and much more.

EAPS are generally available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and are accessible by phone, email and online.

The service is designed to help employees with a wide range of work, family and personal issues.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Relationships
  • Health and well-being
  • Debt
  • Disability and illness
  • Bereavement and loss
  • Stress
  • Elder care
  • Immigration
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Family issues
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Consumer rights
  • Workplace pressure


The benefits to the employer of introducing the service are vast and overall will result in improved employee performance and motivation.

Staff will feel valued - there will be enhanced employee retention and fewer employee grievances.

As well as this, it can increase cost and time savings through reduced absenteeism and presenteeism.

The benefits to the employee are huge also and the awareness and acknowledgement that problems and stresses do occur can lessen the taboo that exists around issues such as mental health.

While people have become more open about these issues in recent times it is still evident that prejudgment against those experiencing emotional health problems is still in existence, meaning that more employers need to get on board and help reduce the stigma.

Over the past ten years Ireland’s attitude towards mental health has transformed thanks to the awareness created by organisations and individuals.

Although larger organisations may be more aware of stress in the workplace and the effect it can have on operations, through our work as HR Consultants we are seeing similar issues occurring in SMEs and we have seen the benefits to organisations of all sizes from creating awareness and providing support for the needs of their employees.

The Economics of Mental Health Care in Ireland estimated that the direct annual cost of poor mental health in Ireland is at least €3 billion or 2 per cent of GNP. By taking positive actions employers can reduce this figure and encourage staff to deal with the challenges they are facing in a supported and structured way.

By putting these structures in place, employers and managers are in a better position to deal with issues as it can be difficult to know what to say when these issues are evident amongst staff.

Employers will also reap the rewards of a happier, healthier and more productive workforce. 

This article is correct at 15/02/2017

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite

The main content of this article was provided by Caroline Reidy. Contact telephone number is +353 66 710 2887 / +353 86 775 2064 or email

View all articles by Caroline Reidy