With their focus on early intervention and enabling employees to resolve day-to-day issues that can affect their productivity and performance at work, EAPs have become a vital part of an organisation’s toolkit to support and nurture the physical and mental health of employees.
Keeping in step with a modern workforce, EAPs have evolved from focusing on the counselling of troubled employees, to providing support and a wealth of valuable information around health and wellbeing topics, which include work-life balance, health and fitness, debt and financial know-how – as well as training around the development of soft skills and a variety of workplace related topics. EAPs also give employees access to professionals who can support them with psychological issues, debt or legal matters.
However, EAPs are often under-promoted and are, therefore, not sufficiently well utilised by the employees they are there to assist. Here are four tip for increasing employee usage of your EAP.
- Promote the EAP
Effective promotion and communication regarding your EAP programmes is essential when looking to increasing your EAP usage among employees.
- Promote your EAP regularly through your website or on your intranet.
- Ask your EAP service providers for promotional items that advertise their contact details such as leaflets, wallet cards, desk prompts and posters. These should also be visible in communal area such as breakout areas, tea and coffee stations, canteens, recreation areas and on notice boards, where appropriate.
- Send your employees regular email reminders about your EAP programmes.
- Feature interesting EAP content in your employee newsletter, complete with contact details and links for more information.
- Build awareness by asking your EAP provider to host wellness seminars, such as free lunchtime “brown bag” sessions on topics such as stress management or time management.
- It’s important that an organisation’s EAP is promoted through employee induction and on-boarding sessions so that employees become aware of EAP programmes on offer from the very start of their employment.
- Promote the EAPs online services. Most EAPs have online or smartphone apps and you can look into having these pre-loaded onto work devices or on desktops. This will help with visibility and ease of access.
- Up-skill your supervisors and managers
Supervisors and managers are the conduit between any organisation and their employees. It is important to train supervisors and managers to recognise work problems and to recommend the EAP as an option to improve job performance – dispelling any misgivings that an employee may have around confidentiality. A knowledgeable and well-equipped line manager, who understands the full range of support services available from the organisations EAP, can act as a great internal promoter and will guide colleagues to receive such support.
- Management should know their individual team members well enough to be able to observe if an employee is struggling with an issue. With this in mind, line managers also need to be equipped to deal with not only professional issues, but also any personal issues employees have due to their work and home life becoming more blended.
- Line managers can also be encouraged to access information around effective line management and how to ensure they are not the main reason why the employee would need to access such support services in the first place.
- Hold internal benefits fairs that include EAP
Internal events or benefit fairs are great ways of raising awareness of all the benefits available to employees within an organisation.
- Employees who are happy to talk about their experience and benefit of using EAP services can provide ideal case studies and will be particularly effective if some of these people are senior or high-profile employees.
- Benefit fairs should be held in a central part of the office during office hours to ensure maximum participation from employees.
- Managers should be briefed to encourage staff to attend.
- Management information and feedback
Due to the confidential nature of EAP management information on EAP usage is not always informative in terms of ensuring the EAP’s efficacy and your employees needs being met.
- You could ask for feedback on the EAP service via an employee wellbeing or benefits survey to understand from employees whether their EAP is supporting their needs. If possible, share this feedback with the provider for them to continue to improve their offering to meet the needs of your workforce.
- Within the bounds of confidentiality, as an employer, you can track EAP usage to see if there are any spikes which could help provide insight into business performance, along with the reasons for access.