Quick Look: More than 60% of U.S. employees have access to an employee assistance program (EAP), and the programs can improve rates of engagement, absenteeism, and overall life satisfaction. But despite their low cost, EAPs often have low utilization rates. Here’s how brokers can help their clients increase their EAP usage – and enjoy the associated return on investment (ROI).
When the right EAP is chosen, communicated, and properly managed, it can be one of the most rewarding and cost-effective employee benefits. However, EAPs tend to have lower usage rates than other benefits, lending them a spot on the budgetary chopping block. Here’s how brokers can help their clients encourage employees to use their EAP, and thus maximize the program’s ROI.
What is an EAP?
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), an EAP is “a work-based intervention program designed to assist employees in resolving personal problems that may be adversely affecting the employee’s performance.”
EAP professionals can confidentially discuss and share resources on a variety of issues including:
- Depression, grief, loss, and emotional wellbeing
- Family, marital, and other relationship issues
- Life improvement and goal setting
- Addictions such as alcohol and drug abuse
- Stress or anxiety with work or family
- Financial and legal concerns
- Identity theft and fraud resolution
- Online will preparation
This support is often available for free to not only an employee, but everyone in their household, and can be accessed via telephone or website 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Who uses EAPs?
EAPs are highly prevalent in the American business landscape. In fact, over 60% of all workers have access to an EAP, and approximately 97% of U.S.-based private employers with more than 5,000 employees have EAPs.
And EAPs work – they’ve been proven to improve employee absenteeism and presenteeism, engagement, workplace distress, and overall life satisfaction. But to experience these benefits and a strong ROI, the program must first be utilized.
6 tips to help clients maximize their EAP’s ROI
Compared to other employee benefits, EAPs are incredibly affordable – life insurance can cost four times as much, and medical benefits 20 to 30 times as much.
The key to experiencing ROI with an EAP, however, is utilization. If an EAP improves employees’ lives and helps you retain them, it has proven its ROI.
For example, if a worker experiencing a personal hardship relies on an EAP to guide them through that time, they are more likely to continue working at their company. This means that your clients not only keep a valuable and knowledgeable employee, but avoid hiring a new employee – something that costs $4,000 and takes 24 days, on average.
Here’s how brokers can help their clients raise their EAP usage – and ROI.
1. Communicate, communicate, communicate
It’s simple: the secret to EAP usage is communication.
Clients should make new employees aware – and remind seasoned employees – of the EAP and its various features. This messaging can be shared in the following ways:
- During new hire orientation classes
- Sending periodic email reminders to all employees
- Incorporating reminders about the EAP in seasonal communications regarding Mental Health Awareness Month, American Heart Month, etc.
- Including EAP details in relevant digital and print materials like employee benefits collateral, employee handbooks, and company newsletters
2. Emphasize work-life balance
Acknowledging the fact that personal lives exist and matter in the workplace can encourage employees to feel more comfortable reaching out and taking advantage of their employer’s EAP. Clients can consider offering learn-and-lunch sessions on topics like financial wellness or stress management, with a call to action to contact the EAP if employees require further assistance. During one-on-one meetings, managers may also discuss their team members’ needs and remind them that the EAP is available to support them.
3. Make it equitable
While EAPs are available to many U.S. workers, their usage is unfortunately not equitable. Research has shown that most minorities have statistically significantly lower EAP service utilization rates relative to Whites. To combat this, your clients can research ways to increase utilization and broaden the discussion to include all employees and remember to remain sensitive to various cultures and backgrounds.
By connecting your clients to a professional employer organization (PEO) you can help them take their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) a step further. Some PEOs, like ExtensisHR, offer a DEI Dashboard tool that allows businesses to evaluate hires from previous years and compare real-time information regarding employee turnover, promotions, pay equity, and more.
4. Reiterate confidentiality
Understandably, some employees may be hesitant to share their struggles with a resource that’s suggested to them by their employer. It’s important for clients to reiterate to their staff that EAPs are administered by a third-party, and only provide data on how many employees used the benefit – not who or why.
Frequently highlighting the confidentiality of EAPs can relieve some of the concerns employees may have about how the program works, and who, if anyone, would know that they had reached out and what they discussed.
5. Offer options
For whatever reason, an employee may not be comfortable utilizing their employer-provided EAP – and that’s okay. Regardless, the priority should still be ensuring that the employee is happy and healthy.
Businesses should be prepared to provide contact information for other free, anonymous resources that workers can turn to in time of need, including:
6. Count on your PEO
When you partner with a PEO, you can provide your clients with access to not only an EAP, but a slew of other employee benefits and services like:
- Fortune 500-level benefits, including free and low-cost benefits
- HR guidance and recruiting and talent management
- Payroll management and tax administration
- Risk and compliance services
Want to help your clients make the most of their budgets? Contact the benefits experts at ExtensisHR today.