The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant new employee health and wellbeing challenges for businesses. Even before coronavirus, employers were becoming more switched on to helping their people manage mental health challenges and other life pressures. However, this need has now become even more acute.

A recent study of 2,000 adults found that the average person’s stress and anxiety levels have increased by almost 50 per cent in recent weeks.1 According to the research, before lockdown we spent an average of 59 minutes a day feeling under pressure or worried about work, finances or health. This has now risen to an hour and a half each day as fears about money, job security, the economy and health grow.

Alongside concerns about health and the risk of infection, many employees have faced social isolation, difficult domestic situations or financial worries. Whether working from home or returning to a workplace, people are now dealing with significant new pressures. This in turn creates a new raft of considerations and concerns for employers who have a duty of care to help support their employees’ health and wellbeing.

Often, employers rely on managers to identify and address mental health and other wellbeing issues with their teams. This is challenging at the best of times, not least because colleagues may seem ok on the outside while feeling quite the opposite. And this is now even harder to gauge where employees are working remotely.

As an employer, a quick and cost effective way to help meet your duty of care obligations is to give staff access to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) providing confidential support, assistance and counselling to help them deal proactively with a wide range of issues and life events. EAPs can help to address many of the pressures created by the pandemic including: return to work issues such as logistical challenges, stress and childcare; family and relationship matters such as divorce, separation, abuse, bereavement and caring for relatives; and health issues such as nutrition, smoking and drinking, anxiety and depression. 

An EAP is also there to give practical support too. Employees can access legal and financial guidance and information for issues such as debt management, benefits, tax, budgeting, or major life decisions such as buying a new home or making a will.

Importantly, EAPs also provide support to help managers deal with workplace challenges – an extremely valuable resource as they face new and uncharted territory with the pandemic.

Asset from Sovereign Health Care is an employer paid cash plan that supports both the physical and mental wellbeing of your staff. Not only does it include a comprehensive EAP as standard – provided by Health Assured, but it also pays employees cash back towards their everyday health costs such as dental treatment, eye tests, glasses/contact lenses, physiotherapy and much more.

The Asset EAP helps employees and their immediate families manage issues in a structured way by giving them access to:

  • A 24-hour confidential telephone support helpline – available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • An online health portal & smartphone app– provides a wealth of information and guidance across a range of topics including home life support, work life assistance and physical and emotional health
  • Face-to-face counselling – access up to eight sessions of face-to-face counselling, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) where clinically appropriate
  • Medical information – qualified nurses are available to offer information on a range of medical or health related issues
  • Access to legal, financial and consumer information

All EAP counsellors are bound by the confidentiality provisions of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) Code of Ethics and Practice. Both the fact that an employee has used the EAP and the content of any contact are not shared with their employer, ensuring employees can feel comfortable using an EAP for any issues they may be facing with full confidence that it will remain private.

Once an employer has implemented an EAP, they will be provided with support materials so they can raise awareness of the services available to their employees.

Given the multiple challenges businesses are currently facing, now more than ever before, EAPs offer an effective way to support employee health and wellbeing. For more information about the options available for your business, email or visit

1 Independent

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