Skip to main content

Which Employee Benefit Can Help Support Your Employees’ Mental Health During Lockdown and Beyond?

Portrait of Ian Holmes

Over the last 12 months, everyone’s life has been affected to a greater or lesser degree by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sadly, some have lost loved ones to the virus, whilst others may have had the virus themselves and are suffering after-effects, commonly known as long-COVID.

Through no fault of their own, many employees will have been put on furlough and others will have lost their jobs due to business drying up. For a large percentage of the workforce, home working has become the norm, even if their home set up might not be ideal.

Human beings are a social species and the lack of social interaction with colleagues, family and friends during lockdown, has meant that people haven’t been getting their normal level of access to their support networks.

As a consequence of all the above, levels of anxiety have been increasing and the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 are huge. According to the Office for National Statistics, mental health conditions were responsible for 12.8% of all days lost through sickness absence in the UK in 2018.* Due to the events of the last 12 months, that percentage is likely to rise much further.

So, what can employers do to maintain and improve the health and wellbeing of their workforces during these difficult times?

Responsible employers can review their current Health and Wellbeing Programmes to ensure they are still providing appropriate support to their employees.

One essential element of a good Health and Wellbeing Programme is the Employee Assistance Programme, also known as an EAP.

EAPs have been around for a long time, with the first support programmes for employees believed to have been established in the US in 1917** but they have become increasingly popular in the UK in recent years.

A typical EAP provides professional support 24 hours-a-day and employees (and their dependants) can make contact by phone, web chat, text or email.

Some of the more common matters discussed include: –

  • Death & Bereavement
  • Furlough and Redundancy
  • Financial and Legal Matters
  • Childcare and Eldercare
  • Relationships
  • Workplace conflict

More comprehensive EAPs offer face-to-face counselling sessions, which might be substituted for online (video) or phone therapy sessions during lockdown.

As you would expect, the service is completely confidential.

An EAP can be implemented relatively quickly, allowing you to start supporting the mental health of your workforce within days. The service should be regularly promoted to your employees to encourage them to utilize it in time of need.

An employer can expect a high return on investment (ROI) from an EAP in terms of increased productivity due to reduced absenteeism. According to the EAPA’s calculator, a company introducing an EAP in the services industry in the North West, covering 300 employees and paying £8.85/head with a 15% usage rate can expect a return of £9.14 for each £1.00 spent

If you’re planning to include an EAP in your Health and Wellbeing programme, contact MEC today to speak with one of our experts.


*Office for National Statistics – Sickness absence in the UK labour market – Released 6th November 2019.

**The Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) – History of EAPs

Latest News

All News
  • When Designing an Employee Benefits Programme – Employee Involvement is Key

    When designing an Employee Benefits Programme, it is best practice to involve your employees in the process. If you don’t your staff may feel undervalued and might dislike your choice…

  • UnitedHealthcare Global Launches Expatriate Insurance in the Netherlands

    This is the one temporary news that has a meta description.

  • Bupa announces £125m payment to UK Health Insurance customers

    Bupa, the UK’s leading health insurer, announced on 18th March 2021 that its UK health insurance customers will receive £125 million following the temporary disruption to some medical treatments last…

    International Healthcare
  • Employer-Sponsored Group Life Insurance Pays Out Circa £100m in 2020 COVID-19 Related Claims

    Group Risk Development (GRiD) has today announced COVID-19 related group life claims for the calendar year 1 January to 31 December 2020*. This is an interim statement prior to publication…