ACWA/CCWT Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

In the community services sector, it’s not just lip service – our people truly are our most valuable asset.

Let ACWA/CCWT's EAP help you take care of them.

Our newest service – the Employee Assistance Program, or EAP - is an extension of ACWA CCWT’s commitment to a healthy, robust and sustainable community sector that can achieve great outcomes for the most vulnerable in our society.

What is the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

ACWA/CCWT's EAP is a service designed to enhance the mental health and wellbeing of staff in your community sector workplace. It does this by providing assistance at three different levels – individual support, managerial/supervisory support, and organisational development and support.

Individual Services

ACWA-CCWT's EAP can assist individual staff members in resolving personal or work issues that may be impacting their performance and motivation at work, through the provision of assessment, case management, referral, counselling, follow-up and self help resources. The issues addressed can include, but are not limited to:

  • Marital, family or general relationship problems;
  • Managing health or mental health concerns (such as depression or anxiety), in oneself or a family member;
  • Childcare or elder care needs or concerns;
  • Domestic violence or child protection concerns;
  • Financial or legal issues;
  • Conflict at work or communication issues;
  • Bullying, harassment and discrimination;
  • Lack of confidence or assertiveness in the workplace;
  • Stress management and burnout;
  • Managing workloads and time management; or
  • Dealing with change at work or in life.

Managerial/ Supervisory Support

We can provide support to managers and supervisors in dealing with workplace and staffing issues. This can take the form of counselling, coaching, supervision, training or consulting in areas including, but not limited to:

  • New supervisor training;
  • Supporting staff members dealing with personal or work issues, including health or mental health concerns;
  • Running and managing work performance reviews, including disciplinary issues;
  • Dealing with work teams, team morale and group dynamics;
  • Dealing with other difficult situations at work; and
  • Improving general managerial or supervisory skills.

Organisational Development and Support

A healthy workplace requires organisational structures, policies and procedures that support taking care of staff. We can help you with:

  • Education programs about healthy workplaces, stress management, time management, having difficult conversations, supervision, etc;
  • Program and job structure and design;
  • Organisational change management programs;
  • Employee orientation;
  • Leadership development;
  • Work culture and employee engagement processes;
  • Development of health-promoting policies and procedures; and
  • Critical incident debriefing and support.

What are the benefits of engaging an EAP?

A recent report completed by PwC for beyondblue found that, as a conservative estimate, the cost of mental health conditions to the overall Australian workplace is at least $10.9 billion annually. This includes the estimated costs of absenteeism, presenteeism (low productivity while at work), and compensation claims. (1)

While in the community sector, these issues do not affect our financial bottom line in exactly the same way- mental health issues in the workforce have a definite and observable impact on work effectiveness, and ultimately on the results we can achieve with and for the vulnerable people that we serve.

Some other interesting statistics:

  • Approximately 45% of Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, particularly during their prime working years (most commonly depression and/or anxiety) (2);
  • Australian businesses have to deal with approximately 12 million days of reduced productivity due to mental health conditions (2);
  • Someone experiencing depression will take, on average, 3-4 extra days of sick leave per month, when that depression is untreated (2);
  • “Stress or other mental conditions” account for a greater percentage of injuries to Health and Community sector workers than for all Australian workers across professions (3).

EAP services have been shown to reduce absenteeism, presenteeism, workplace distress (4), turnover (5), and compensation costs (6); and to increase engagement, life satisfaction (4); morale, employee relations (5), work and social relationships and productivity (7).  By introducing broad effective action to create and maintain a mentally healthy workplace, organisations can expect to get a return of investment of up to $2.30 on every $1.00 spent (1)- and an EAP program can be a key driver of these workplace mental health improvements.

Above and beyond the financial savings and productivity improvements, agencies have a legal obligation to take reasonable action to prevent harm to employee’s health and safety- including their mental health. An EAP service helps to fulfil that duty of care to staff.

And finally, it’s simply a good thing to do- our agencies have a social and moral duty to care for their hardworking staff who are doing such important caring work.

Not convinced? This report by EASNA – the Employee Assistance Trade Association – outlines the Value of Employee Assistance Programs. Better still, contact us and we can discuss how this service can work for your organisation.

Why should you choose the ACWA/CCWT EAP?

There are many EAP providers out there – and in fact some of the larger agencies in our sector already partner with an EAP to ensure that their front-line and managerial staff are healthy and supported to stay in top form. However, smaller agencies (like many agencies in our sector) can find existing EAPs too ‘corporate’; their packages not a good match for their specific circumstances; their contracts inflexible; or the costs prohibitive.

The ACWA-CCWT EAP is a new boutique service designed within our sector, for our sector. Our counsellors, coaches, supervisors and consultants have a community sector background, so we understand the many and particular rewards and challenges that come from working in this area.

Because we are small, we are able to be more flexible in delivery and contracting arrangements. Furthermore, the ACWA-CCWT EAP has access to all of the other organisational and professional development services available through CCWT – so we can help you navigate seamlessly between counselling, coaching, supervision and training, and can offer cost-effective package deals which are tailored to the needs of your specific agency.

Finally, ours is a not-for-profit agency, like yours. Choosing to partner with us means you are choosing to directly support ACWA’s work in strengthening the Out-of-Home Care sector, to give kids in care the best possible start.

How does the individual counselling service work?

Once an agency has contracted with the EAP, the agency's designated staff will have access to confidential and professional assessment, short-term counselling, and referral services for any issue of concern. Staff can contact us directly – there is no need to let your manager or supervisor know that you are accessing the service, and you do not need to seek permission to access the EAP. Managers may, with the agreement of a staff member, also refer that staff member to the EAP for assistance and support.

Depending on the needs and wishes of the individual seeking support, the service can be delivered face-to-face (at your workplace), on the telephone, via Skype/ video conferencing, through online chat, or via email.

Based on the package that the agency contracts for, there may be a limit to the number of sessions that any individual staff member may receive for any given issue through the EAP arrangement. If the counsellor and staff member feel that more sessions are needed, we can negotiate with the agency, or with the individual directly, to organise more sessions with us. Where this isn’t viable, we will find a suitable service that we can refer the staff member to in order that they continue their counselling for as long as it is needed.

Is the counselling service confidential?

Yes - the counselling services are fully confidential. Although the agency is paying for the EAP access, the counselling service is there for the benefit of staff members. Therefore anything discussed in counselling remains between the counsellor and staff member, with the following ethical and legal caveats:

  • Some unidentified information maybe brought to the counsellor’s clinical supervisor in order to seek advice or another perspective to best help the staff member.
  • We have a duty of care to act where there is a risk of harm-to-self (suicidality) or harm to others.
  • In particular, we have an obligation to report where we feel a child or young person may be at risk of harm based on information we hear in the counselling session.
  • Finally, we have an ethical obligation to report to the organisation where there is a chance of a client being put at risk, or there is a possibility of seriously damaging the reputation of the organisation.

In all of these instances we will, wherever possible and professionally responsible, inform you before making any relevant report.

Outside of the (uncommon) instances listed above, we will not report your individual attendance or the content of any of our conversations to your agency.

  • If you accessed the EAP directly, your agency will only receive numerical information about how many sessions have been delivered in total to yourself and any other staff that have taken advantage of the service (with no names, dates or content).
  • If your manager has referred you to the EAP, they will only receive confirmation that you have attended the first session and have engaged in the process you were referred to.

We will also only contact you via whatever communication method you give us – so, for example, we will not call you at work if you don’t want us to.

That means that, if you contact the service from home, and have the counselling sessions outside of work- then your workplace need never know you have accessed the service at all.

Who is actually delivering the EAP services?

The EAP’s coordinator and lead counsellor is Monica Lamelas. She has been working across the community services sector for over 20 years, including more than 17 years providing trauma and general counselling to adults, young people and children firstly through the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) and later privately and through the NSW Rape Crisis Centre (now Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia).  She also has extensive experience in management and supervision. Her qualifications include a Diploma of Counselling and postgraduate studies in organisational psychology. The program also has access to a pool of experienced and skilled counsellors, consultants, supervisors, coaches and specialist trainers through CCWT who are able to meet any of your agency’s development and support needs.

How much will all of this cost?

Because every agency is different, and has different EAP needs, there can be no ‘one size fits all’ package of services. After consulting with you and assessing your situation, we will negotiate a package of services that meets your workplace health and development needs. This may include any of the EAP services listed above, and can include other training and development services as provided by CCWT.

Generally, we would be looking at a set package fee per year which will include a set number of counselling hours, a set number of educational presentations; a set number of managerial consultations; email newsletters on workplace health issues; access to the EAP website with self-help information and materials; and summary reporting (number of hours/ sessions used, attendance at educational presentations, etc).  This makes it easier for you to budget for the service.

Then there is a menu of extra services (including extra counselling or consulting hours) that you can add-on to the basic package, if and as you need them.

Note that any ‘unused’ counselling hours in any given contract period can be rolled over into coaching or consulting hours in the next contract period – so none of your financial investment is ‘lost’ if it’s not needed within the time frame.

I want to know more...

We would love to help get your workplace healthy, resilient and strong- and healthy staff provide the best service to our vulnerable clients!

Contact us at eap@acwa.asn.au to set up a time to chat about your specific needs, and how we can work together.

References and Data Sources:

(1) PwC/ beyondblue (2014) Creating a Mentally Healthy Workplace: Return on Investment Analysis. Sourced on 14/08/16 from: https://www.headsup.org.au/docs/default-source/resources/beyondblue_workplaceroi_finalreport_may-2014.pdf

(2) HeadsUp (2015) Creating a Mentally Healthy Workplace: A Guide for Business Leaders and Managers. Sourced on 14/08/16 from: https://www.headsup.org.au/docs/default-source/resources/beyondblue_workplaceroi_finalreport_may-2014.pdf

(3) Safe Work Australia (2009) Work-Related Injuries in Australia, 2005-06: Health and Community Services Industry. Sourced on 14/08/16 from: http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/221/WorkRelatedInjuries2005_2006_HealthAndCommunityServices_2009_PDF.pdf

(4) Sharar, Pompe & Lennox (2012) Evaluating the Workplace Effects of EAP COunseling. Journal of Health & Productivity, Vol 6:2, pp 5-14. Sourced on 14/08/16 from: http://www.ihpm.org/pdf/evaluating_workplace.pdf

(5) Compton & McManus (2015) Employee Assistance Programs in Australia: Evaluating Success. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 30:32-45

(6) Csiernik (2011) The Glass is Filling: An Examination of Employee Assistance Program Evaluations in the First Decade of the New Millenium. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 26:334-355

(7) Selvik, Stephenson, Plaza, & Sugden (2004) EAP Impact on Work, Relationship, and Health Outcomes. The Journal of Employee Assistance Research Report – 2nd Quarter, pp18-22. Sourced on 14/08/16 from: https://foh.hhs.gov/whatwedo/EAP/outcomepaper.pdf