A Google search for ‘I need counselling and can’t afford it’ brings back about 3,080,000 results. People are looking for support, and in the rest of our lives, we love communicating with strangers on all sorts of matters.

  • According to the Mobile Messaging 2016 report, 66 percent of consumers have used a chat app to communicate with a business
  • Over half (56 percent) of respondents have used live chat at least once to answer a question on a company’s website – Software Advice survey

So we can pick out clothing or get an ETA on a delivery with help from a stranger – and this made us think of the EAP.

An employee assistance program (EAP) is a work-based intervention program designed to identify and assist employees in resolving personal problems (e.g., marital, financial or emotional problems; family issues; substance/alcohol abuse) that may be adversely affecting the employee’s performance. – SHRM

When EAP’s are available to 88% of employees- 13.8 million people (REBA – Reward & Employee Benefits Association)- but used by just 3% of employees (EAP Technology Systems Inc Report) – the numbers don’t add up.

The service is great!

We took a look at some of the packages and they offer some amazing features. From unlimited telephone support to anytime medical information, face to face, email and phone counselling, crisis specialist teams and a range of ways to get in touch, there are plenty of amazing developments. Now is the time to really sell it in.

We need to get this right.

A whopping 85% of employers of all sizes offer stress management services within their EAP yet only 5% of employees have used those services. (Towers Watson.) According to Chestnut Global Partners’ “Trends Report 2015,” the cumulative EAP usage rate is 5.5 percent – hinting that the method of communication isn’t right, that the subject matter is too ‘deep’, or the whole scheme is poorly advertised as a benefit.

Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) has revealed that two-thirds of employees have stated that they would welcome benefits advice from a third-party advisor or an online program. What other help could they get?

The Centre for Mental Health has suggested that the total cost of mental health is estimated at £1,035 for every employee in the workforce and an employer who takes action to improve the wellbeing of their staff can achieve savings against these costs by 30% or more, saving at least £310 per employee. mIn fact, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has found that for every £1 spent on an EAP companies are seeing a £14 return, making this a really great incentive to use EAP effectively.

Get managers talking

Managers need to not only talk about the benefits of the system but also need to understand EAPs! According to Rehab Works, 75% of managers say they manage at least one person with a mental health problem. Don’t let them ignore any issues – and give them the resources to get their employees help. They should stress that data is not saved or passed on. You could ensure that they know that in turn, EAP’s don’t report back – and only provide advice on themes, for example, that they will only report trends in certain areas, not on individual cases. Managers shouldn’t fear the EAP and they should ideally use them as well.

Relaunch with a Jargon Free Rule

Don’t say that an EAP service is available. Don’t even say EAP. Be specific. What is it? Who is it for? Do they use chat apps? SMS? Email? Calls? When are they available, what are the costs, the outcomes, the benefits? Don’t speak in jargon and ensure you sell benefits – not features.

Don’t forget that times change and you can re-pitch what the service is and who it caters for. Speak to your EAP about what they are offering. Many are changing their model to deal with modern life changes and threats –  technology, terrorism attacks, natural disasters – if someone used the EAP years ago, they may want to know it’s now changed.

Get advice on your EAP

The UK EAPA was established in 1998 and follows EAPA global standards that are adapted local to the UK market; this makes the UK EAPA Standards of Professional Practice the only credible set of standards to which EAP providers operate. Take a look at their site and learn more.

No more Britney Headset stock images, please

The stock image of a smiling lady with a Britney headset is all a bit 1999. It’s not inspiring hope and it borders on patronising.  Can you do something a bit more creative around your EAP communications? It’s a serious subject – so it deserves some real brand attention.

List the problems

No-one wants to write down the word suicide in a company brochure. But the only way to be explicit about what your EAP covers is to list what employees can get help with. Whether that’s financial problems, grief, eating issues, bullying and anything in between, list each issue.

Be explicit

No one wants to have to root about for an employee handbook looking for a number or a login or a password. No one wants to have to Google to find help. So make sure each employee is inducted as standard onto the EAP, if possible. Put the number on your internal call sheet or in payslips. Add a link on your intranet. Make an access guide. In short – make it easy. Pretend you’re helping a family member who’s at their last tether – and do what you would do for them to allow them to get timely help.

What are your tips for a great EAP take up? How is your programme being utilised?

More Incentive and Motivation News:

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