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Distressed employees affect productivity: report

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Research from Morneau Shepell Inc. and the International Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) shows that distressed employees spend more than one-third of their time at work being unproductive and average one full day off sick per month.

According to the recently published research, employees struggling with mental health or other well-being issues are unable to concentrate on their job, a symptom known as “presenteeism,” for more than a third of the total scheduled work time (38 per cent) – or about eight total days per month. For context, it is more than twice as much as the typical “healthy” employee.

In addition, these employees are also absent from work for an average of 7.36 hours per month – almost one full working day.

The study specifically focused on looks at the utilization and effectiveness of employee assistance programs (EAPs) and found that about eight out of every 10 cases for counseling were self-referrals, with referrals from a family or other source at seven percent, supervisor referrals at five percent, and a mandatory referral from HR or the employer at only two percent. Thus, 98 per cent of cases were people voluntarily using the EAP for counseling.

“The results of the research demonstrated that there is a good reason for employers to use an EAP to support distressed employees and enhance overall employee well-being,” said Barb Veder, vice-president and chief clinician, Morneau Shepell.

“After use of EAP-provided counseling, problem rates were reduced for every aspect measured in the report where employees need support. Thus, EAPs help to reduce the risks associated with workplace problems.”

The most common clinical issues behind the reduced productivity were related to mental health (i.e., depression, anxiety) or personal stress (40 per cent of cases), followed by relationship problems of marriage or family life (29 per cent), work and occupational issues (18 percent), and alcohol misuse and drug problems (four per cent).

The report is based on data from multiple employee assistance providers worldwide and over 23,000 employee use cases.

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