India has emerged as a major centre of employment for multinational corporations, whether headquartered in this country or based elsewhere. With growth come challenges, including work-related stress. When these pressures combine with the everyday strain of an increasingly complex society, organizations can experience a drop in employee engagement, along with increases in absenteeism, presenteeism, and/or employee turnover. In these circumstances, workplace productivity will almost certainly be negatively affected.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) have gained traction worldwide – particularly in North America – as a means to help achieve better employee mental health and thus a more effective workforce. India has been more hesitant to adopt EAPs, but their acceptance outside this country, along with evidence of their positive results, has spawned a growing interest in EAPs amongst organizations in India.
In order to maximize effectiveness, Indian employers need to develop a better understanding of EAPs generally, as well as how to distinguish reputable providers. EAPs are designed to enhance the emotional, mental and general psychological wellbeing of all employees and their immediate family members. This type of support is important, given growing incidences of depression and higher suicide rates. Moreover, employees of multinational organizations and their families may move away from supportive family and friends, making outside sources of help increasingly necessary.
Equally important, EAPs can play a preventative role, encouraging employees to adopt healthier lifestyles – through smoking cessation, nutrition and fitness programs. In addition, EAPs can provide coaching so that employees develop important workplace skills – like public speaking abilities – building their confidence and enhancing work life balance. As a result, organizations with EAPs often have more productive, healthy and engaged workforces, and are seen as employers of choice.
What should multinational organizations with operations in India be looking for from an EAP provider? The following elements are critical to ensuring support for all employees:
- Experience, with well-defined crisis-response protocols, standardized counselling processes, regular audits to monitor procedures, encryption and other security measures for documentation, and a referral process for those who need support beyond that offered by the EAP
- Availability of different modes of counselling (in person, online, by telephone, text and smart phone app) to provide ease of access, depending on employee preference
- Willingness on the part of the EAP provider to partner with the employer and provide the most effective solutions in the particular context
- Around-the-clock support via a 24-hour hotline
- Awareness building of the program to help fight stigma and encourage EAP use
- Wellness resources to promote maintenance of good health
- Programs for different groups of employees, e.g., managers, women, senior leadership
- Qualified counsellors available across all company locations
- Dedicated account managers to ensure high utilization
Earlier this year, Morneau Shepell Inc., the leading provider of EAPs in North America and one of the world’s largest, and 1to1Help.net, the leading EAP provider in India, announced that they had signed a long-term strategic alliance.
Archana Bisht, Director, 1to1help.net, describes how the combined forces of the two organizations assist employers: “This alliance enables our companies to provide world-class EAP services to the rapidly growing array of emerging Indian-headquartered global companies, as well as to foreign domiciled multinational organizations with significant employee populations in India. While our approach is tailored to meet cultural needs in various countries, our level of support will be consistently high and focused on helping employees regain and maintain good health.”
For more informaaon about providing EAP services to your employees both in and outside India, please contact Ritu Mandal at firstname.lastname@example.org.