Some of the highest performing employees are facing personal challenges of their own, which can negatively affect their productivity and the working environment around them. By taking advantage of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), these employees can access professional help from skilled providers like social workers, counselors and lawyers, among others.
One common pitfall many employers face is lack of employee participation in an established EAP. Whether it stems from subpar communication or certain stigmas associated with getting help for vulnerable issues, many employees avoid actively utilizing the EAP.
With the right level of EAP promotion and communication, it’s possible for employers to boost participation and empower their employees to prioritize their well-being.
Benefits of Offering an EAP
According to a research study of 56 EAP vendors conducted by the National Behavioral Consortium, 86% of EAP participants saw clinical improvements from the help they received. Not only that, but employers of the EAP participants found an increase in work productivity (86%), reduced absenteeism (64%) and an overall sense of satisfaction with the EAP service (94%).
In addition, EAPs have been shown to:
- Attract and retain high-performing employees who expect a holistic array of employee benefits
- Help employees feel protected, cared for and confident at work
- Empower managers by enabling them to respond with a wide range of solutions in potentially stressful workplace scenarios
- Reduce overall healthcare costs and risks by offering counseling before employees turn to behavioral health benefits
Adapting to a Change in Employee Priorities
The pandemic has sparked a major shift in how employees are approaching their benefits usage. Perks that were once top priorities are no longer valued, while offerings like EAPs, flexible work policies and caretaker benefits are becoming more and more relevant to a larger number of employee populations. In-office services like free snacks and coffee are less in demand, while home delivery of lunches is on the rise.
The key to boosting participation in an EAP is asking employees what they need. Conducting regular surveys and focus groups provides invaluable input that can be used to shape organizational decision making around which EAP benefits will be most useful to employees.
Above all else, it’s about ensuring employees feel adequately supported and cared for during unprecedented times. One-size-fits-all benefits are a thing of the past, while expanded and customized benefits portfolios are the new normal.
EAPs Boost Employee Well-Being
As previously mentioned, even the most skilled and dedicated employees can fall behind or — even worse — feel left behind if they’re unable to prioritize their well-being inside and outside the workplace.
A well-enrolled EAP increases an employer’s value by connecting their employees to programs and services that put their well-being first.
To maximize your organization’s EAP use, it’s important to:
- Provide a wide array of resources employees can turn to when facing life’s challenges. Consider every generation and demographic in the workplace when putting these offerings together.
- Offer educational materials and resources to managers and supervisors, so they can understand the full value of the EAP and communicate it to employees.
- Take advantage of training and consultation services from vendors who are willing to educate your employees and customize your EAP to meet the needs of your unique workforce.
Communicating the Value of EAP Benefits
When it comes to EAP communications, more is actually more. Resist the urge to assume employees are aware of the many benefits available to them. Ongoing communications and usage assessment are crucial to ensuring workers fully understand and can easily access what they’re being offered.
More is also more when it comes to communication channels. Take a multi-channel approach by deploying EAP communications through email, snail mail, Slack and other chat platforms, social media pages, all-hands meetings and, in some cases, one-on-one meetings. Maintain an open-door policy between managers and employees so they can get past any associated stigmas and ask the questions they need to get the right level of support.
In some cases, employees can be hesitant to tap into their EAP because they’re unsure of what HR is doing with their data. Privacy protection and transparency are paramount when it comes to implementing an EAP, and this should be clearly communicated to employees at every turn. In order for these employees to get value from their EAP experience, they must feel that their privacy is respected and that their employer is trustworthy and reliable.
Detailed Instructions for EAP Access
Sometimes, half the battle for employees is simply accessing the benefits. If there’s any confusion as to how to participate, it could deter an otherwise willing employee from enrolling. Ensure all EAP communications contain detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to sign up for EAP resources. Deploy these instructions through each of the channels referenced above, or you can even use an HR app to help streamline the process.
EAP Participation Can Future Proof Your Business
An Employee Assistance Program empowers your employees to put their personal health and well-being first. It can provide proven solutions and tools to keep their work and life challenges from getting in the way of their commitment to the organization, and make them feel seen, supported and cared for.
A happy employee is a more productive employee, which is a tangible investment in the future of your business. By communicating the importance of your EAP benefits and making it as simple and straightforward as possible for employees to get involved, you can remove both barriers and stigmas from the process and ensure everyone in your workplace has access to the help they need and deserve.