Myth: employee assistance programs (EAPs) meet the needs of all university staff

Asset 5@2x
Insights.
EAPs have long been a mainstay offering at Australian universities, as well as at 80 per cent of Australia’s top 500 companies. But, given that workplaces have changed significantly over the past two and a half years, are traditional EAP services meeting the diverse and growing needs of university staff?

What the evidence says?

Sometimes only five per cent of employees use EAPs. Furthermore, according to the Productivity Commission, the monitoring and evaluation of EAPs have been “insufficient and inadequate”.

In 2020, the Australian Government’s Productivity Commission Inquiry Report recommended that minimum standards be developed for EAPs and the evaluation of these programs. The report also recommended that employers cooperate with Safe Work Australia to share evidence about employer-initiated mental health interventions, to “help all employers choose the most appropriate intervention for their workplace”.

In 2021, Comcare released an eight-page guide, Principles for Better Practice Employee Assistance Programs, to “provide evidence-informed guidance to help organisations develop [programs] that better meet the needs of employers, workers, supervisors and managers”.

Reasons for low EAP uptake by staff

As we articulated in our joint report with PwC Australia, low staff uptake of workplace mental health support carries a business, institutional, and societal risk because it means Australians are not receiving essential and timely care.

With workplaces transitioning to COVID-as-normal, now is the perfect opportunity for universities to take bold and immediate action that meaningfully increases usage and improves workplace mental health outcomes.

Checklist for university wellbeing support

The world of university wellbeing and EAPs can be a maze of shiny objects and misinformation. University leaders, trying earnestly to look after their students and staff, are often confronted with conflicting messages at every turn. It can be confusing and disorienting.

Common questions include:

  • How can I be sure of the best wellbeing initiatives for my institution?
  • Are there more innovative support options than traditional EAP offerings?
  • What benefits should a wellbeing support program include or exclude?
  • What kind of wellbeing support delivers the most meaningful value?

To help university leaders design an comprehensive wellbeing support strategy, here’s a handy checklist of what to look for:

Want to learn more?

To read the other four myths about student and staff wellbeing, we invite you to download our evidence-based report, 5 myths about student and staff wellbeing.

For more information about how Sonder can help you rethink your university’s student and staff wellbeing strategies, we invite you to contact us here.


About Sonder

Sonder is a leading Australian wellbeing and safety company accredited by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS). Our solution is a technology-driven platform supported by 24/7 safety, medical, and mental health experts. This is backed up by a physical responder network that can be onsite quickly for complex scenarios, plus a capability to deliver unique and timely data insights which drive meaningful business decisions.

Related posts

Are Australian universities keeping up with the changing needs of international students?

Are universities keeping up with the changing needs of international students?

Today is International Students’ Day – a day of international observance of the student community and a celebration of the multiculturalism of international students. It’s a day to appreciate what the international student community brings to their host nations, as…

Continue
2021 results regarding the learning experience for international and domestic students in Australia.

QILT SES results: the challenge of low learner engagement, and the importance of personal safety

The latest QILT Student Experience Survey (SES) results brought both positive and negative news for the Australian tertiary education sector. On the positive side, the university student experience in Australia has started to improve. On the not-so-positive side, more work…

Continue
Psychological debriefing is not current best practice for university students and staff.

Myth: university students and staff need psychological debriefing after traumatic events

For years, support programs have prescribed the urgent deployment of a psychologist or trauma counsellor to the scene of a critical incident or traumatic event. As a result, well-intentioned universities keen to exercise their duty of care have traditionally agreed…

Continue

There's so much more to share

Sonder is reimagining health, safety and wellbeing support. Sonder proves human centric care leads to earlier intervention. Sonder impacts one person at a time to drive meaningful change across an organisation. Sonder understands people and how to support them.

iPhone app mockups_About Us