Hospitality Action's Employee Assistance Programme is a vital lifeline for staff looking for somewhere to turn in their hour of need
This week, Jacobs Media Group (JMG), the business behind The Caterer and sister brand Travel Weekly, rolls out industry charity Hospitality Action's Employee Assistance Programme across its 80-strong workforce.
JMG's adoption of the care programme reinforces its support for Hospitality Action (HA), UK hospitality's emergency service, which supports people who work, or have worked, in hospitality and find themselves in crisis.
Personal and health issues can have a major impact on the way people work. This can result in reduced performance, lack of focus and absence, which can in turn lead to lost productivity and significant cost to employers.
HA's assistance programme takes a holistic approach to employee welfare, offering clients a comprehensive package of services to ensure their teams are healthy, happy and work-ready.
Although it is designed with hospitality operators in mind, the programme is equally relevant to providers of products and services. JMG joins HIT Training, Oranka Fruit Juices and Acorns sponsor ACT Clean in adopting it.
Almost 200 companies, representing some 110,000 employees, have subscribed to HA's programme since its launch four years ago.
Participating operators range from small independent hotels and restaurants to major hospitality brands, such as Whitbread and CH&Co. Clients can also access critical incident and trauma support at a modest additional cost.
HA was heavily involved in the on-site counselling offered after last year's Manchester Arena and Borough Market terrorist incidents.
HA's chief executive, The Caterer's former editor and publisher, Mark Lewis, says: "Our programme appeals to head and heart. It enables employers to demonstrate their commitment to their employees' physical and mental wellbeing; and, in so doing, boost morale, engagement, retention and performance."
JMG chief executive Duncan Horton says: "Adopting the programme was an easy decision. It makes real our pastoral duty of care to staff and it's a tangible way to show our backing of a charity that, like The Caterer, has been supporting UK hospitality for over a century."
About Hospitality Action's Employee Assistance Programme
What exactly is it?
The EAP is an assistance line supported by a comprehensive package of services and benefits that takes a holistic approach to employee welfare. Like the industry it serves, our line is open 24/7, 365 days a year. Benefits include personal counselling, legal guidance, addiction support, debt advice, parenting helpline, elder care helpline and a whistleblowing service. If a hardship grant is required by any recipients of the programme's support, we can point them towards HA's grant team for consideration for further support.
Why should I introduce HA's programme?
You may already know of employees who are struggling with pressures at home or work. It's worth considering how these pressures can impact mental health and, in turn, the way that people do their jobs. The consequences at work can be reduced performance, lack of focus and absence, which can result in lost productivity. Our care programme helps employees overcome such pressures.
By introducing HA's EAP, you'll be providing a comprehensive and confidential
resource to support your employees' mental health and wellbeing, helping them to focus on their job and preventing issues escalating in the workplace. This will build loyalty to you as an employer. And all for just £5 plus VAT per employee per year, with a minimum fee of £250 plus VAT.
Is there really an issue with mental health in the workplace?
In short, yes. As last year's Stevenson-Farmer review into mental health at work reported, around 15 out of every 100 people at work have an existing mental health condition and over 300,000 people with a long-term mental health condition lose their job. This is a much higher rate than for people with a physical health condition. When you consider this alongside the current recruitment challenges faced by the hospitality industry, supporting employee
mental health and wellbeing should be a top priority for every hospitality employer.
Can the EAP help with issues like addiction, domestic violence and sexual harassment?
Yes. Since launching the EAP four years ago, we've investigated all the challenges facing those who work in our industry. Whether drugs, alcohol, gambling, depression, bullying, harassment, anxiety, stress, domestic violence, illness, lack of work/life balance or financial pressure are the problem, we can help. All programme subscribers can access our online portal, Well Online, which has over 200 factsheets covering all these topics and more; it's a great place to start finding out about the services we offer and it signposts employees to resources. Additionally, if a hardship grant is appropriate, our grant-giving team can provide further help and support.
What support can you offer if my business is affected by a terrorist incident?
The programme provides on-site support for traumatic events such as a terrorist incident, the unexpected death of a guest or colleague, or armed robbery. Employers have a duty of care to protect employees from psychological harm and ensure their physical safety. On-site support offers psychological first aid, helping teams and their managers to cope.
Will my young team really want to talk to someone rather than go online to find help?
We've found that under-30s are just as likely as over-50s to want to talk to someone about the issues they are facing, and really value the coaching and advice that our assistance line counsellors can provide 24/7. Sometimes just having a ‘listening ear' can make all the difference when stress, anxiety or depression strikes. Of course, if an employee prefers to email us, live chat or download a factsheet, those paths are also available.
Can you provide access to other benefits, such as health cash plans, online employee rewards, and training and development?
HA is launching Hospitality Action Benefits next month. In partnership with insurance provider BHSF, we will offer access to a range of health cash plans and an online employee discount scheme with offers on eating out, high street retail, travel, finance and wellbeing. We are also developing our training offering, via the EAP, which will include financial wellbeing courses from April, in addition to existing awareness courses focusing on mental health, addictive behaviour, and bullying and harassment in the workplace.
What if English isn't a team member's first language?
No problem, we can provide a translation service for over 170 languages.
What the industry has to say about the Employee Assistance Programme
Phil Roker, managing director, Vacherin
"HA carries out fantastic work and we have always been aware of how it supports those within the industry. We value our staff's wellbeing above all things and adding the EAP to our existing benefits package is a great way to ensure we continue our commitment to employee health, happiness and engagement."
Sally Beck, general manager, Royal Lancaster Hotel
"Once you understand the strength of the EAP care programme, you fall in love with it as an employer, because it's entirely meaningful. It's a safety net, something Joe Public doesn't have. It gives you the ability to call upon tangible help for your team when you can't help them any further as a business. We're a caring employer. Paying for access to HA's EAP demonstrates to our team a level of trust that when we say we always care, we genuinely do. We're investing in the team: our team members feel they're part of a family."
Ceri Gott, HR director, Hawksmoor
"HA came to our aid after the horrific events in Borough Market. We wanted to do all we could to support our people, but to be honest we didn't know how best to do that - HA did. Within a day of our contacting them, we had a post-trauma specialist running individual and group sessions to support people who had been working in the restaurant on the night, and those (including me) who weren't there but were involved in offering support. Our staff can't quite believe how much help is available from HA, and that it is an organisation that understands them and their needs."
Richard Ball, executive chairman, Calcot Hotels
"It provides our staff with an invaluable support system for a wide range of challenging personal issues - many of which require more expertise than we
can rightly expect our managers and HR team to have."
Kelly Banks, senior ER and policy manager, Whitbread
"We receive very positive feedback from staff about the service and advice given via HA. Service take-up has increased year-on-year since our relationship began in 2013. Businesses that subscribe to the scheme are also supporting the hospitality industry's charity, enabling it to continue its vital work."
Catherine Silvester, head of human resources, CH&Co Group
"HA's EAP is one of our most invaluable employee benefits. Our personal and professional lives are fast-paced, and we want to provide support with work-life balance where appropriate and offer help to our employees when they need advice during difficult times. Having used it personally myself in the past 12 months, I would totally recommend it due to the excellent nature of the advice given and the confidentiality of all information provided."