05.05.2015 Trade Union 'Buy In' - EAP Service

Health Matters – EAP Case Study



A well-established printing firm based in Liverpool employing around 400 people purchased a full cover Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) through Health Matters in August 2014.  Human Resources had identified areas of risk within the business relating to workplace stress, and as part of a wider strategy on tackling stress in the workplace and also as part of their responsibilities under their duty of care they opted to implement an EAP.

To support a proper rollout of the EAP to all employees, the organisation was provided with a comprehensive range of promotional materials including but not limited to information leaflets with pop-out wallet cards carrying access details to the service, relating wall posters, manager handbooks and service guides, media supports, newsletters and Intranet materials.  With all materials delivered and all management systems successfully set-up the organisation was ready to go live with its all-new EAP service. 

Then they came across an unexpected obstacle namely the Trade Union Representatives.  HR had not anticipated the reaction of their Trade Union Reps, and of the TU Reps initial misunderstanding of what the EAP was, the TU Reps felt that somehow the EAP service impinged upon the services that the TU offered to its members.  It was felt by the TU Reps that the EAP would conflict with the services offered by the TU, would cause unnecessary confusion on which route members would look to seek advice and support, and overall would detract from people wanting to join the Union.

Health Matters as part of its consultative approach and based on an experience of allaying such concerns subsequently arranged with HR for a seasoned EAP Consultant to open dialogue directly with the TU Reps.  HR was slightly unsure of how effective this would be based on their previous in-house talks, and furthermore wanted to avoid the possibility of exacerbating the situation rather than help it.

However Health Matters did convince the organisation to allow this.  The first development was for Health Matters to formally present to line-managers, team-leaders & supervisors as an inclusion on an already scheduled workshop on Drug & Alcohol Awareness.  A number of the TU Reps were in the audience plus HR extended the workshop to invite the collective TU Reps and other key members of staff.  This allowed for the EAP Consultant to engage with all concerned.

The next development was then to set-up a consultative presentation specifically to the TU Reps for a frank and open discussion.  This happened one week following the workshop, whereby the EAP Consultant used the time detailing how the EAP was in no way a barrier for the Union, and methods for how the EAP where appropriate can offer initial assistance and then signpost service-users to their Union for the additional help, etc.  The end result following both onsite presentations were that the TU Reps not only gave sign-off to the EAP but also now actively promote the EAP to its members and to encourage service participation.  They now see the value of what is a paramount and genuine employee benefit.

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