Jan 30, 2017 12:43 PM
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:
1. Your Current Provider Responded Poorly to a Critical Incident
Your EAP’s true value becomes apparent very quickly when a traumatic situation (like an employee death, a natural disaster, or a robbery) occurs at your workplace. A poor response to a workplace incident can damage your company’s reputation and create long-term employee relations problems — not to mention potential legal liabilities, lawsuits, or expensive settlements.
A timely, well-organized response can mean the difference between supporting your employees in their time of need, bolstering the capabilities of your HR and management teams, and utter chaos.
To learn about the characteristics of an EAP that won’t leave you hanging when things go bad, read our latest e-book, “Time to Change Your EAP Provider? Key Qualities to Look for in your Next EAP.”
2. The Current Provider’s Performance Metrics Are Unsatisfactory, Confusing, or Misleading
If you’re like most employers, you rely heavily on your EAP’s reported utilization rate to determine if you’re getting your money’s worth. You figure it’s a good sign if your employees are using the EAP.
Utilization rate, however, is not necessarily the best or only metric to use. The numbers can often be misleading. Some EAP providers inflate their metrics by including interactions such as website visits and group training sessions to create the appearance of higher utilization.
Even when you are able to make an apples-to-apples comparison of utilization numbers, other factors like management consultation and workplace outcomes, are more reliable indicators of the value an EAP has for an employer.
For a better understanding of the metrics your EAP vendor is reporting (and not reporting), get your free copy of our recent e-book.
3. Your Current EAP Can’t Integrate With Your Other Benefit Plans
Gone are the days when benefit plans could operate in a vacuum. The reality is that health care costs are skyrocketing for employers and employees. When plans work together for a healthy workforce, everyone saves.
For example, when an employer integrates its EAP with other ancillary benefits, such as short term disability or medical plans, it can reduce time away from work and secondary mental health conditions that can complicate the employee’s initial diagnosis. Of course, this integrated approach requires that all benefit providers agree to integrate and might also require some advance planning with the client organization on how best to share information, such as weekly or monthly meetings where cases are discussed or through electronic notifications.
Common benefits your EAP should be able to work with include medical plans, behavioral health programs, wellness programs, prescription drug plans, and disability plans.
4. Your Current EAP has a Massive Network But Can’t Flex for Member Preferences
Rather than accept a massive generalized network that is inflexible and in some cases, unreliable, look instead for an EAP that offers customized network development for your needs. Your EAP should have a short-list of providers that are consistently delivering positive results that they recommend to members on a regular basis. They should also be able to add providers quickly based on member requests, such as ethnic, religious, or gender preferences. Finally, they should also be regularly assessing the quality of their providers and, if needed, have the capability to easily add providers to areas where your organization is growing or moving.
For employers with a global presence, geographic reach is even more important. When employees travel overseas, they are more likely to experience stress and anxiety, while at the same time they are removed from their usual sources of comfort and support. This is when an EAP can shine. If you have global operations, make sure your EAP can support current or future endeavors to expand the program overseas and offer a consistent program design worldwide.
How to Start Your Search?
Do you recognize one or all four of these issues in your EAP? If you do, it might be time to start looking for a new program.
Sorting through your options, many of which appear maddeningly similar, can be frustrating. For a guide to help you along the way, get your free copy of our newest e-book, “Time to Change Your EAP Provider? Key Qualities to Look for in your Next EAP.”