‘Economic Downturn in Nigeria Adversely Affecting Productivity’

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Obinna Chima

The Employee Assistance Professionals Association of Nigeria (EAPAN) has said that the economic downturn in Nigeria is adversely affecting the workplace with unfavourable implications for productivity, work schedule, ethics, motivation, welfare as well as at the association prospect for new members.

This formed a communique by the association at the end of its 2017 national conference in Lagos recently.
The EAPAN is the official voice of Employee Assistance (EA) profession in Nigeria. EAPA Nigeria is a member and a branch of EAPA international which is the world’s largest, oldest and most respected membership organisation for Employee Assistance Professionals.

The 2017 national conference, the third of its kind, assembled a wide array of top professionals, scholars and captains of industry with the aim to promote Employee Assistance Program (EAP), improve membership and propose psycho-social answers to the debilitating organisational and national issues.

The group also noted that the growth in population and production in the country were unmatched, therefore urging EAPA Nigeria to rise up to the challenge by providing barometer for the workplace.

The communique also noted that mental health conditions were on the rise; particularly depression, violence and suicidal tendency.

“Statistics show that people in productive age bracket and youths are significantly represented in mental health issues ranging from substance abuse to violent behaviours traceable to social and economic dislocation. Organisations in Nigeria are yet to tap the rich potentials of the EAP to improve wellness and wealth.

“Companies using EAP reported significant benefits in human and economic terms. The Nigerian constitution and labour-related laws are adequately provided for the practice, EA professionals would drive it through awareness creation, advocacy and collaboration with relevant authorities,” it added.

Therefore, it recommended that EAPAN should heighten its awareness and advocacy activities in the workplace, adding that the association would engage with authorities, government institutions and other professional associations to gain recognition and collaboration.

“Programmes and interventions of EAP, HR and Medical practices are to be harmonised for the full benefits of employees and employers through an integrated solution. Private and public health facilities should be worker-friendly for effective healthcare delivery, caring attitude and fit-for-work assessment.

“The university system is assigned dual role of EAP research and ensuring its own workplace EAP interventions for students and staff. Wellness in the workplace is a collective responsibility; fellow employees are enjoined to be vigilant and report unusual behaviours.

“EAP is dynamic and futuristic, it must therefore adjust to demographic changes of the employees and ultimately foster appropriate HR policies. Participants should make and be the change in their various spheres of influence.

“Salary and remuneration should be supported by intrinsic benefits and allied motivational tools for the effective wellness of the employees. Over time, the culture of care and well-being of employees should scale down from the big companies to medium, small and micro-enterprises (MSME) through aided implementation of existing laws,” they added.

The EAPA-Nigeria President, Dr. Marcellinus Nwaogu, in his welcome address, expressed concerns about the ”rise in stress symptoms, accidents, workplace violence, “presenteeism”, mental breakdown, low productivity, depression, suicide, substance abuse, domestic violence, “as our organisations in Nigeria continue to struggle for survival under recession and insurgency, the employees would remain restless, agitated, disengaged or even demoralised due to uncertainties in the workplace.”
The Commercial Counsellor of the United States Embassy, Mr. Brent Omdhal, in his keynote speech on behalf of the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. W. Stuart Symington, highlighted the commitment of USA to Nigeria to save lives, support organisations to be productive and support the course of integrity in the workplace.

He called on the managers of the Nigerian economy to recognise the enormous potential held by the Nigerian youthful population, pointing out however that a mismanagement of the opportunity could lead to a “burst”. He stressed the need for integrity not only in the workplace but also in national life.

The technical sessions featured four professional papers and one case study each cascading into panel discussion session.
The first professional paper titled: “Mental Health in the Workplace: Depression, Suicide and Violence,” unveiled the latent dangers, costs and consequences of unattended mental health issues in the Nigerian workplace and posited that “there is no health without mental health”.

The second paper dealt with: “Wellness Tools for Workforce Engagement: Motivation and Transformation” in which the presenter identified different components of wellness and tools for effective positive results.