The COVID-19 pandemic has created monumental changes in most workplaces across Australia as we collectively fight against the spread of this virus. Millions of employees have transitioned to working from home full-time, and those in the health, aged care and pharmaceutical sectors face unprecedented pressures from being on the frontline.
New working arrangements have generated a great deal of anxiety and stress for many employees, in particular parents with busy households, or those forced to be alone or apart from loved ones. In fact, following the announcement of social restrictions in Australia due to the spread of COVID-19, Beyond Blue has recorded a 30% increase in calls with concerns including loneliness and isolation, family stress, job loss and financial issues.1
Even those who had initially welcomed the new working from home arrangements may begin to experience feelings of anxiety and stress as things become more routine.
Adapting to a new working environment may not be the only emotional challenge employees are facing as they adjust to the new world around them: concerns around finances, job security, existing or new physical health ailments, and the health and safety of loved ones are just a few of many other potential stress factors that may impact employees’ health.
Ongoing support for employees
Regardless of whether employers are aware of the physical or mental health impacts their employees are experiencing, they can still support employees through enabling access to high-quality virtual physical and mental health support. By taking action in this way, employers can provide ongoing support to employees throughout this unsettling time and beyond.
Telstra Health’s Employee Virtual Clinical Services allow employees to access high-quality, on-going support regardless of their location through two key solutions: Virtual Care Solutions and Employee Assistant Program (EAP).
Employee Virtual Care Solutions
Virtual Care Solutions is a virtual service designed for employees which provides remote 24/7 access to video and phone consultations with Australia-based healthcare professionals.
Through Virtual Care Solutions, an employee can access medical assistance simply and securely and in accordance with their company’s preferred contact arrangements. The solution assesses an employee’s needs and then refers the employee to a healthcare professional based in Australia for a one-to-one virtual consultation – all of which is typically coordinated within one hour of referral. Following a comprehensive consultation, employees receive a copy of their health summary which advises on any treatments, prescriptions and medical certificates.
With Virtual Care Solutions, employers can be confident that their employees will receive Australian standards of consultations, medical information, treatments and care, regardless of their location.
Employee Assistant Program (EAP)
Research into mental health has shown, on average, one in five employees suffer from a diagnosable mental illness each year.2 Yet, many employees do not actively seek support for their mental health needs in the workplace, even when they know they need it. While there are many possibilities as to why employees do not seek help, employers can facilitate the process for seeking help by enabling access to discreet, confidential and secure mental health support.
Telstra Health’s Employee Assistance Programme proactively identifies employees who are considered to be at-risk and reaches out to them with tailored care within 24 hours. This is a stark contrast to traditional EAP services which are focused on being reactive and are limited to remedial treatments only.
Our EAP is an add-on module which delivers evidence-based programs and services for employees that focus on supporting their health and wellbeing. The programme includes a digital wellbeing check tool, a range of digital programs such as resilience training, video-based therapy and online coaching and workshops.
The solution works with over 400 registered psychologists, clinical psychologists and counsellors internationally and locally and focuses on providing every employee with a toolkit of proven skills for managing their wellbeing. Furthermore, its coach-guided courses upskill and empower employees to take back control in managing feelings of stress and anxiety.
Additional support for employees during the COVID-19 crisis
Our COVID-19 Support Package is a evidence-based tool that has been developed within Telstra Health’s Virtual Employee Assistance Program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The solution offers a range of features to support the health and wellbeing of employees as they try to adapt to the impacts caused by the spread of COVID-19. The COVID-19 Support Package enables employees to access digital mental fitness courses, specific COVID-19 courses, remote work support webinars and a comprehensive COVID-19 mental health Q&A service.
1. Beyond Blue: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/media/media-releases/media-releases/beyond-blue-welcomes-funding-for-new-covid-19-support-service2. TNS (2014). State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia. Melbourne: Beyond Blue.