75% of employees who use their EAP benefit indicated they got better through its counseling program.

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In today’s tough economic climate, the risk of stress and mental health problems is on the up. Making matters worse, with many facing the possibility of redundancy, employees are more likely to keep their problems under wraps for fear of making themselves an easy target.

“The threat of redundancy is like a dark cloud for many people. This can affect people in the workplace, whether it’s their position that’s at risk or that of their partner,” says Eugene Farrell, business manager at Axa Icas. “This can significantly affect an employee’s wellbeing and productivity.”

As an example, Farrell says that recent research from the US has shown that the current economic climate has made people more concerned about their finances, with a worried employee likely to spend around 15 minutes a day dealing with their financial problems. “Over a month this is a huge loss in productivity,” he explains, adding that calls to Axa Icas’s financial helpline have doubled since last August.

When it comes to looking after employees’ mental wellbeing, there are a number of options available. For many, greater awareness and openness among staff is the first line of defence. “I’m a great believer in the line manager’s role,” says Maxine Bauckham, vocational rehabilitation consultant at Unum. “If they know their staff, they can identify any changes that might indicate they are having problems.”


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