Encouraging employees to utilize EAP benefits

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 how benefit 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?

Common Reasons Employees Do Not Use Their EAP Benefits

One of the main reasons employees choose not to utilize their EAPs 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 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.

What Employers Can Do To Increase EAP Utilization

Thankfully, there are several things employers can do to encourage the use of EAP benefits. Employers should 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.

Companies should also help employees 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 better physical health, higher earnings, and an overall better quality of life.

In regards to the initial use of assistance programs, it’s as easy as calling a number and scheduling an appointment, all without the need to ask anyone 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.

When it comes to making sure your employees know about the existence of your company’s EAP, education is key. Consider offering informational presentations once or twice a year for employees to learn about your company’s EAP benefits and how to utilize them. These presentations could be given by HR personnel or a representative from your EAP provider.

Another way to bolster your team members’ awareness of EAP benefits is by sharing helpful articles, links, and blog posts related to employee wellness via staff emails, newsletters, and the like. HR managers should be sure new hires are aware of available EAP resources. 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.

For more information on how you can cultivate a more engaged and productive workforce through EAP utilization, contact Mazzitti and Sullivan EAP.