Employee Assistance Program in Malaysia: Where to Begin for HR Professionals
Today I am going to show you, a human resource professional, exactly how to implement an employee assistance program in your Malaysian company.
You may be thinking….
- Do we really need to have an employee assistance program?
- How can I convince my leadership team to allocate funding for an employee assistance program?
- What is the best option for an employee assistance program for my company?
Let me assure you that you are asking the right questions!
In this step-by-step guide I will answer all of these questions and give you the knowledge and direction that you need to implement the most effective and cost efficient employee assistance program for your company, starting today.
Let’s dive right in!
Step 1 : Decide You Need an EAP
You are a knowledgeable, cutting-edge human resource professional who desires to see the growth and development of your company as a whole, as well as on an individual employee level, right?
So what exactly is an employee assistance program and is this the next project to throw your weight behind?
Let’s tackle the first half of that question first:
What is an Employee Assistance Program?
An employee assistance program (EAP) is an employer-sponsored intervention program to help employees navigate personal concerns that may be impacting workplace productivity.
Potential resources and services include:
- Mental Health Awareness Training
- Mental Health Counseling
- Counseling for marriage, family, and/or financial struggles
- Treatment for substance abuse
- Workplace Conflict Resolution
- Childcare and Eldercare Navigation
- Wellness Programs
- Legal Guidance
- Emergency Hotline
All services are confidential although the cost burden is carried by the organization. You may be questioning if your organization really needs this additional expense.
Which leads us to the second half of that question - is this the next project to throw your weight behind?
My answer is a resounding “yes!” and here is why...
3 reasons why implementing an employee assistance program (EAP) is your next best step:
- Mental health concerns in Malaysia are on the rise amidst the global pandemic according to the Malaysian Mental Health Association.
- Unmanaged stress and personal concerns leads to greater employee absenteeism, reduced productivity, increased need of medical care, reduced employee satisfaction, and lower retention rates.
- An EAP allows for appropriate professional and personal boundaries between workers and supervisors by providing referral options when a personal concern is impacting employee productivity.
Are you convinced yet? If so, let’s move on to the next step!
Step 2 : Secure Funding for an EAP
Before you walk into the next budget planning meeting proposing funding for an additional program that your CFO has never heard of, you need to fully understand and be able to explain the bottom line value of an employee assistance program.
We know that those finance folks like statistics so let’s be ready with all the stats!
The Economic Impact of an Employee Assistance Program
- According to a study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, mental illness in employees was associated with being 6.7 times more likely to be psychologically distressed (a condition that can have significant impact on productivity in the workplace)
- Services for mental health and stress are greatly underutilized in Malaysia, according to the same article but when utilized showed a reduction in psychological distress
- According to the Employee Assistance Trade Association, an EAP should provide RM 3 for each RM 1 spent on the program.
The plain and simple truth: An EAP is good for individuals and it is good for business!
Step 3 : Choose the Best EAP Option
Now that you have decided to proceed with an EAP and have the necessary approval from leadership, it is time to decide the right service delivery model for your Malaysian company.
Here is a brief overview of each option for your consideration.
Potential Models of Employee Assistance Program
In this delivery model, the service providers are directly employed by your organization. Your organization would be responsible for recruiting qualified professionals to deliver the services you wish to provide. One consideration of an in-house program is assuring that employee confidentiality is maintained since participants would most likely receive services on-site.
In a fixed-fee contract, your organization outsources services to a contracting company who charges a fixed rate for services, typically calculated based on the number of employees, regardless of the amount of services rendered.
A contracting company provides services to your employees and costs for this delivery model are based on the amount of services provided.
A combination of two or three of these service delivery models may be right for your Malaysian company. Perhaps you see the advantage to having an in-house mental health counselor but outsourcing via a fee-for-service contract for legal counsel and substance abuse treatment.
EAP Contracting Companies in Malaysia
To save you a google search, here are some of the top contract companies providing Employee Assistance Programs in Malaysia for you to check out as you research the right fit for your organization.
Solace Wellness offers a variety of services that other EAP providers do not provide.
- Employees have access to a 24-7 hotline and can begin counseling services within 24 hours.
- Solace has affiliations with psychiatrists and can administer mental health assessments.
- Solace counselors accept referrals for clients for long term counseling sessions.
- Solace counselors are multilingual and can provide services in all major languages in Malaysia.
- Solace’s referral network of service providers spans across the country and is not limited to just the Klang valley.
Step 4 Implement an EAP in Your Malaysian Company
Once you have signed a contract and/or on-boarded the appropriate professionals, it’s time to really move forward!
Two final steps are needed at this point!
#1 Write a Policy
As an HR professional, you are accustomed to writing policies and procedures so it should be no surprise to you that an effective employee assistance program needs an outlined policy as to how it will be managed.
Be sure to include how referrals can be made (self-referral, supervisor referral, etc.) and how confidentiality will be maintained!
#2 Get the Word Out
It’s time to inform your employees!
Historically, one of the greatest obstacles to implementing an employee assistance program is motivating employees to take advantage of offered services.
So what can you do to educate employees on the services your company’s EAP provides?
Consider an organization-wide “town hall” meeting where you outline all of the available resources to your employees.
Mental Health Training
Schedule a mental health awareness training conducted by your contract company or in-house professional(s) to educate employees on the signs and symptoms of mental health concerns and the resources now available to them via the new employee assistance program.
One of these types of meetings may just generate the first few referrals to your organization’s EAP!
Take the First Step Today
Now that you know where to begin in implementing an employee assistance program, it’s time to take the plunge.
What will be your first step?