How to Increase EAP Utilization
When you increase utilization of your EAP, everyone in your organization benefits. We’re sharing our top 5 proven ways our clients successfully increase EAP utilization and improve employee engagement.
Let’s say you’re implementing a new EAP provider. You announce this mental health and work-life counseling benefit to your employees during Open Enrollment. You share a flyer and add access to your EAP through your wellness portal. But 6 months in, your reporting is showing very low utilization. Upper management immediately wants to know how the new EAP can be effective when barely anyone is using it. They question if this was the wrong EAP provider to partner with.
Here are 5 things your organization can do to increase utilization of your EAP.
5 Ways to Increase EAP Utilization
1. Promote the services often.
It sounds simple. But often times, employees don’t know they even have an EAP benefit at no cost to them. Or they don’t understand what an Employee Assistance Program is because it’s only briefly mentioned during Open Enrollment.
One of the best ways to break through the confusion is to frequently promote the individual services that your EAP provides. Share several ways to use your EAP. Explain when and how to access them. And emphasize that an EAP is a confidential mental health and work-life benefit at no cost to employees.
Carebridge EAP provides our clients with new marketing materials every month to make it easy for HR/Benefits Teams to promote our services! Click here to learn more.
2. Train executives and managers on how to recognize employees in distress.
Organizations that proactively educate their leadership team on mental health care and work-life counseling are more likely to increase their EAP utilization rate. As well as maintain a mentally healthier workforce overall.
Why? In our experience, education reduces stigma, increases empathy, and creates internal champions of the EAP who will promote services. While also empowering managers to recognize the signs of distress, burnout, suicidal ideation, and other mental health concerns in their employees.
3. Increase EAP utilization by encouraging preventive wellness tools.
Lower the barrier of entry for using the EAP by promoting their positive behavioral change and preventive services such as certified life coaching, mindfulness practice, wellness podcasts, and educational webinars. Most comprehensive EAPs, like Carebridge, offer these wellness tools via mobile apps. Easy to access tools helps the employee feel more in control, and less concerned about confidentiality.
Additionally, using self-directed resources helps normalize taking care of your mental health. Since people often see their EAP as the “last resort” for a difficult situation, it’s helpful to emphasize how your EAP’s mobile app can be accessed on a daily basis as a preventive and proactive wellness tool.
HR Bonus: Individual online activity typically counts toward your company’s overall utilization rate!
4. Address confidentiality concerns.
The #1 worry employees have is that HR and management receive a list of who is utilizing the EAP and why. Employees question if requesting mental health counseling will truly be kept confidential. And may even believe seeking mental health care could put them at risk for losing their job.
This fear can become the top reason for low EAP utilization. So it’s important to actively increase employee confidence by:
- Always emphasizing confidentiality and how HIPAA covers their use of EAP services.
- Reconsidering use of co-branding materials with your EAP provider to show separation.
- Training your leadership team on how best to refer employees.
- Being transparent about what’s provided in reporting (e.g. overall usage metrics versus PHI).
5. Come from a place of empathy.
Communication about your EAP should always come from a place of empathy. If your EAP is only offered to address poor performance concerns or to attract new talent, your employees will be skeptical to use it. Instead, your organization should show a genuine desire to help support the mental health and emotional wellbeing of all your employees. Make wellness part of your culture by putting other company policies and benefits in place that support work-life balance. Invest in your people.
In our 20+ year experience, these 5 steps combined will not only increase EAP utilization, but help your employees feel confident their EAP mental health benefits are there to help them succeed in work and life.