A high-quality employee assistance program can help your company attract and retain top talent with an enhanced benefits package. It can also provide on-demand support to managers and relieve some of the pressure on your HR team during times of crisis.
That’s the promise, but how do you find an EAP vendor that lives up to it?
If your company already has an EAP, you might be frustrated at investing money into a program that few employees use. Or, perhaps you aren’t certain if you can rely upon your EAP to support your HR team when they need it the most – in high-profile consultations or crisis situations.
If you’re shopping for your company’s first EAP, you’ve seen the options and you’ve seen how similar they all appear. However, if you ask the right questions, you’ll find that programs that appear similar on the surface are often dramatically different in their processes and capabilities.
As a manager or human resources professional, your employees are looking to you for leadership when a traumatic event occurs at your workplace. Who can you look to?
No one ever wants — or expects — the worst to happen. But sadly, some things are out of our control:
(The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Response mentions a few more examples in this helpful article.)
Without a timely, well-organized response, any of these events can throw a company and its workforce into chaotic disarray. Confusion, fear and anger run rampant. Morale drops, productivity declines and your company’s reputation with customers, partners and potential new talent can take a serious hit.
That’s not to mention potential legal liabilities, lawsuits or expensive settlements.
How can your company survive the initial shock of a traumatic event? How can you restore an environment in which employees feel safe?
For many companies, the answer is their employee assistance program (EAP). So it’s no surprise the U.S. government, in its manager’s handbook, “Handling Traumatic Events,” mentions employee assistance programs 21 times. “Critical incident response” is also one of the three high-value EAP services mentioned in our article from earlier this year.
You’ve decided your company’s current employee assistance program just isn’t cutting it. Maybe the EAP vendor let you down when you needed it most, during and after a traumatic workplace event. Maybe you’re not confident your EAP is giving your company the most value for its money.
Whatever triggered your EAP shopping, how can you be sure your next EAP will be truly worth the investment, not just empty promises under a different brand name?
Your organization’s health benefits spend could climb by 4.3 percent this year, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. That’s after a 3.8 percent bump last year.
Costs are rising for your employees, as well. Is there any way to keep these increases in check?
When employees make healthy decisions and can get the care they need with the least amount of hassle, costs are reduced for everyone — not to mention aggravation.
Traditional medical plans aren’t the only benefit that touches on employee health: prescription drug plans, disability plans, and employee assistance programs (EAPs) do, as well. As your company searches for ways to reign in health care spending, one area to explore is how your various benefit programs work together to reduce waste and promote a healthier workforce.
Faced with low utilization rates and the rising cost of benefits in general, some companies might ask themselves if their EAP investment is worth it. They hope their EAP will lead to a happier, more productive workforce, but wonder if that’s what they’re really getting for their money.
How can you tell if your company’s EAP is paying off? When is it time to think about changing providers?
Here are the four most common reasons companies decide to shop for a new EAP:
If you're like most employers, you rely on your EAP vendors' performance metrics to tell you how much you are getting in return for your investment. You're likely focused on the EAP's utilization rate in particular.
When utilization is low - indicating the majority of your employees do not use the EAP - you may consider it time to find a new vendor, one that will do a better job of engaging your workforce.
Or, you may think you don't need that EAP at all.
Gone are the days when companies allowed separate divisions and distinct geographic regions to use different benefits programs. Today, as the cost of benefits soars ever higher, the name of the game is consolidation. To restrain costs and maximize efficiency, companies want to offer the same benefits to all their employees, coast to coast and around the world.
For companies with a global reach — or those that are expanding internationally — a benefit like an employee assistance program (EAP) can offer a comforting sense of home.
Moving, or even traveling, to a new country can be stressful on employees and their families. They have to adapt to a new culture and often a new language, find new schools and new places to shop, and deal with the loss of their usual sources of support. The expert counselors of an EAP can help fill that gap.
If your company is growing globally or planning to do so, here are two ways to be sure your employee assistance program will be able to grow along with you, serving your employees whether they’re located in Albuquerque or Abu Dhabi.
When employers review their EAP utilization, they often look for increases or decreases over time, or for differences between one location and another. However, it’s often difficult for human resources or management to determine the underlying reasons for their EAP utilization patterns and especially when compared to an external reference point, such as an industry survey.
How do you determine whether your company’s employee assistance program (EAP) is worth the investment? Often, the key metric is the utilization rate. EAP providers calculate utilization rates in a variety of ways, which can make it challenging for an organization to compare the value of EAP programs.
The utilization rate should not be the only factor you consider when selecting or retaining an EAP (more on that point later in this article), but it is a key variable. How do EAP providers calculate utilization?
As with most things, there is a preferred method that provides an accurate picture of utilization.
In our last article, we wrote that, if you’re evaluating your company’s employee assistance program (EAP) and trying to decide whether to keep it, move on to a new vendor, or give up on EAPs entirely, the utilization rate should not be the only indicator you consider. Sure, it’s important to know whether a decent percentage of your employees are taking advantage of your EAP, but it’s not the only factor to consider — perhaps not even the most important one.
When evaluating the success of your company’s EAP, consider these factors in addition to the utilization rate: