We road test the Employee Assistance Program


This Week co-editor Antra Kalnins tries out Benestar – Macquarie’s Employee Assistance Program provider – to find some new ways to deal with the stresses of being a working parent.

Macquarie’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is something I’ve been vaguely aware of, but never actually used in my seven years at the University. But with two young children at home, a long commute and a deadline-driven job-share role, my working days can get a little stressful and I’m keen to find ways to bring some more calm to my working days.

Our EAP service is provided by Benestar and I’m told their online resources hub is well worth checking out. I also discover that as a Macquarie employee, my immediate family and I are eligible for six free sessions of confidential personal coaching, which can be face-to-face, over the phone or via online chat.

Benestar offers support and services for a whole range of issues – and not just work-related. They can help with financial advice, personal and work relationships, anxiety and depression and coping with organisational change among many other issues.


I start by heading to BeneHub – an ‘always on’ online portal of resources and contact details for personal support. Setting up an account is easy (use the Macquarie ID ‘MAQ’ and token ‘MAQ01’ to login initially) and the site is easy to navigate.


I’m surprised by the number of quality articles, which are conveniently grouped by topics such as ‘Relationships’, ‘Work’ and ‘Money’.  I search for articles on working more efficiently and find some good ones, including ‘Six productive ways to start your day’ (though I’m not entirely keen on tip #5 – starting the day with a cold shower!).

screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-8-55-40-amLearning modules

There are many learning modules to choose from. I select ‘Wheel of Life’, which is all about identifying and prioritising the areas and activities in your life that are meaningful and fulfilling to you. I’m not usually a fan of goal-setting activities, but I find this module surprisingly enjoyable and useful.


After my usual Monday-morning-with-two-children chaos, I decide to do the stress test. I’m feeling a little frazzled, so it’s no surprise I end up with a ‘Mild level of stress’. I’m encouraged to contact a coach if I’m concerned about my stress levels and there’s a useful link to a 10-minute calming meditation.


Live Chat

The easiest and most discreet way to contact Benestar’s coaches is online via Live Chat, email or their online messenger service.

I go for Live Chat and shoot out a message asking for some advice about dealing with my Monday morning chaos. Within a few minutes a coach responds with a range of tips – some of which I’ve already tried, but it’s good to be reminded of. I get some great advice for dealing with toddler tantrums, and regulating my internal voice to keep small annoyances in perspective.

After 10 minutes of conversation, I’m feeling more positive and strangely enough my live chat has felt a lot like chatting with a friend.

Telephone and face-to-face counselling

You can also ring Benestar on 1300 360 364 to speak to a coach on the phone, or to arrange face-to-face counselling sessions with qualified social workers and psychologists in one of many Sydney locations. The closest location to the Macquarie campus is at 123 Epping Road, where both male and female psychologists and social workers are available.


All in all, I’m impressed with the range of resources available on the Benestar hub, and how easy it is to get a conversation going with a qualified support person. Given the cost of professional counselling, it’s fantastic that Macquarie staff can access these kinds of services for free.


Find out more about using Macquarie’s Employee Assistance Program





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    1. Thanks Jackie! We’d love to road test other programs – let us know if there’s any in particular you’d like to learn more about.

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