The modern workplace has its share of obstacles that can keep employees from reaching their full potential. Couple that with the rigors of the modern lifestyle and you’ve got the makings of a potential burnout. Employee assistance programs offer your workforce easy access to resources that help with work/life challenges.
If you provide EAP benefits to your employees, then you already know howbenefit utilization can create a more engaged and productive team. But what should you do if your employees are not utilizing the EAP benefits they have access to?
What Employers Can Do to Improve EAP Utilization
There are several things employers can do to increase the use of EAP benefits among their employees:
Establish Awareness: Ensure staff members know that your company offers an employee assistance program. Consider hosting informational presentations once or twice a year for employees to learn about the organization’s EAP benefits and how to utilize them. These presentations could be given by HR personnel or a representative from your EAP provider. HR managers should also make sure new hires are aware of available EAP resources during the onboarding process.
Communicate Accessibility: Make it clear how accessible your EAP benefits are to employees. It’s as easy as calling a number and scheduling an appointment, all without the need to ask anyone for permission or go through “official channels” beforehand. Even better is the fact that employees don’t have to go to a therapist’s office if they do not want to. They can speak to a counselor over the phone at a time that works with their schedule.
Emphasize Confidentiality: Make it clear that there are no internal or external records of what employees say to a therapist during their sessions. No one will even know if an employee has used a resource through their company’s EAP. The process is completely confidential for self-referring individuals.
Promote Quality of Life: Help staff members understand that employee assistance programs are designed to help bring out the individual’s best, so he or she can perform better at work and achieve a more satisfying work-life balance. Better emotional and mental health often leads to improved physical health, higher earnings, and an overall better quality of life.
Keep Wellness Top-of-Mind: Share helpful articles, links, and blog posts related to employee wellness via staff emails, newsletters, and the like. It’s also helpful to have brochures and other forms of educational literature available in the common areas of your workplace.
Once employees have a clear understanding of their EAP benefits and how to use them, they are much more likely to seek help when they need it.
Common Reasons Employees Do Not Use Their Benefits
In order to improve EAP utilization among workers, it’s helpful to understand what obstacles may be keeping them from taking advantage of their benefits.
One of the main reasons employees choose not to contact their EAP provider is because they are worried it’s not confidential. They fear that their managers or HR department will be notified if they seek help through the organization’s EAP resources.
Another common obstacle that may be keeping your team members from using EAP benefits is the stigma often associated with professional counseling. Your employees may have preconceived notions about individuals who receive such services, or perhaps they view therapy as a sign of weakness.
EAP engagement is often affected when employees do not fully understand how to receive help through their organization’s provider. Some team members might think they need to ask for permission before using their benefits, which can lead to some embarrassment and reluctance.
Perhaps the most unfortunate reason of all for EAP under-utilization is that some employees are simply unaware their company offers these benefits.