Norfolk County Council opts for Validium - 24,000 employees encouraged to make full use of EAP
Norfolk County Council, the county’s largest employer, has appointed The Validium Group to run its Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). Validium takes over responsibility for the service from BUPA Wellness and will provide the Council’s 24,000 workers with a mixture of telephone, Internet and face-to-face wellbeing services.
When it came to retendering the contract, the Council was keen to overcome the perception that the EAP, called Norfolk Support Line, was only there for emotional counselling at a time of crisis. Paddy Lorenzen, corporate occupational health advisor to Norfolk County Council, explains, “We wanted to make employees aware that the helpline is there 24/7 to support them with their everyday lives. To get them to use the wellbeing, debt, finance and health support available at the earliest opportunity, rather than once they’ve entered into crisis. It’s a cliché but prevention really is better than cure.”
He adds, “When we looked at major causes of absence, psychological illness - including stress, anxiety and depression - accounted for a third of all illness, with three quarters of those in need of help affected by issues originating outside the workplace. The EAP provides us with a means of addressing a large area of potential absence but we can’t force staff to use the support services available. When it was time to retender the EAP, we wanted a provider that would drive up use of the helpline and empower our 24,000 staff, from teachers and social workers to librarians and road workers, to look after themselves better by utilising all the help available.”
"We can’t force staff to use the support available so wanted a provider that would empower them to look after themselves…”
Following an extensive tender process, The Validium Group was appointed to take over responsibility for running the EAP in April 2010. Paddy explains, “We had 12 companies tender for the Norfolk Support Line, which was a great response. Validium stood out from the rest because, first and foremost, it’s a dedicated EAP with no other business concerns, and provides support through independent professionals with the appropriate qualifications.”
He adds, “Validium was also much more up-to-date with current counselling and tax issues than any of the other providers and very competitive on quality and price. We were also very impressed by the branded website the Validium team created for us to support people online in a way that hadn’t been done before, but was still consistent with all the branding work that had gone into establishing the EAP.”
“The effort Validium has put into promoting the service and empowering employees to use it to help them with any issue affecting their ability to concentrate at work has been excellent,” says Paddy Lorenzen. “Just two months into the new contract, use of the EAP has tripled, from 3 to 9 per cent. That’s almost one in ten employees using it for support now.”
"The effort Validium has put into promoting the service and empowering employees to use it has been excellent…”
Commenting on the county council’s decision to work with Validium, Mike Shaw, managing director of The Validium Group, says, “We’re delighted to be working with such a forward-thinking council and helping it to deliver on its commitment to keeping staff happy and healthy, especially given all the new demands being placed upon the public sector at the current time.”
About Norfolk County Council:
For more information about Norfolk County Council please visit www.norfolk.gov.uk.
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