Employee assistance programs (EAP) are some of the most prevalent benefits offered by employers.
EAPs are also among the most underutilized. Proof: More than 90% of employers offered an EAP in 2016, but nearly half of those companies reported an EAP utilization rate of 6% or less.
Just 28% said they had a utilization rate of 7% or higher. And an alarming 23% didn’t even know what their EAP utilization rate was. We’ve always believed that communication and education about benefits as being one of the most important parts of a successful employee benefits program.
Mental health issues prevalent
Mental health issues among employees seem to be growing, and the fact that many employees don’t even know EAP programs exist is troubling.
A recent study found that in 30% of companies, depression is prevalent or very prevalent among employees, and 22% of firms said the same thing about anxiety.
Around 20% of employers also said alcohol addiction is prevalent/very prevalent in their workforce. These are all issues EAPs are specifically equipped to handle.
Of course, offering a top-notch EAP is only part of the equation. As we mentioned, employees must be educated to know the program exists.
Here are some useful tips for improving utilization and knowledge of EAPs:
- Educate your employees and provide information about the program. Many employees fail to take advantage of their EAP for the simple reason that they don’t know what it is or how it works. So the more details employees have on how the program works, the better the chances are employees will take advantage.
Most EAPs offer a phone number you can call for assistance. Let employees know exactly what will happen when they call. And, reaffirm that it is entirely confidential and private.
- Consider a “sample” call. If you want to take your explanation a step further, consider doing a few sample calls to your EAP providers in a group setting. Once employees hear exactly what happens during a call, they’ll be more likely to take advantage.
- Get user feedback about your EAP. Asking employees to provide honest and anonymous feedback about your EAP will help you pinpoint what’s working and what’s not. And working with your provider to fix any issues should give utilization a nice lift.
NARFA believes that Employee Assistance Programs are critical to any robust employee benefits package, and we continually educated and encourage employees to seek assistance when they need it, and feel comfortable in doing so. Healthy and happy employees are more productive!