Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are incredibly underutilized. National usage averages are 3 to 6%. Clearly, this isn't a benefit like a health plan where you're going to see 85 to 90% usage. However, there are so many valuable resources embedded in an EAP that employees could greatly benefit from that employers must do more to get those usage numbers up to somewhere in the double digits.
The following are five tactics to maximize your EAP’s utilization. 1. Make the EAP part of your business plan.
Is it something you offer because everyone else offers it, or is it truly part of your business plan? Organizations that invest in a standalone EAP believe in it and have a budget for it; it’s part of their plan. Beyond that, you must review how you are deploying those resources. With a standalone EAP you have an EAP representative, which is a huge asset that you can leverage. Get to know your rep and speak with them regularly to discuss strategies to increase utilization. 2. Set goals.
Analyze the current EAP program to understand your baseline – how many are utilizing the plan today and which resources within the EAP are they using? Determine how you want those answers to change – your goals. Then, develop a roadmap with a strategy and tactics to meet them. After you execute your plan, if you did not fully achieve your goals, refine your plan and go from there. 3. Train managers.
You must have your managers’ commitment to the program. Training them on the program’s offerings and how to access them is crucial, as employees will often go to their manager first with questions and concerns. 4. Communicate.
It typically takes a person seven to nine times to hear a concept before they grasp it. However, many benefits guides and communications give little attention to the EAP. Be sure to give the EAP substantial attention in your benefits communications. Remind employees that the program is not only mental health counseling but also offers services such as finding in an in-home tutor, financial counseling and much more. 5. Find new ways to connect.
Beyond standard communication mediums, find new ways to connect employees to the EAP. Consider making it part of your onboarding process; when you’re going over their core benefits, spend a few minutes on the EAP. Also, engage with employees’ dependents, for example, by sending informational postcards to the home. One unique idea is to send a care package to the home with information and “knickknacks” associated with the resources the EAP offers.