Within the HR industry, employee assistance programs (EAP) are praised as tools to help increase productivity, strengthen engagement and decrease absenteeism. Among employees, however, the term EAP is often met with blank stares and confused looks. Research conducted by Business Insurance discovered that only three percent of employees used their employer’s EAP services in 2012. This statistic is one that should raise concern among HR professionals. 

 

Are You Making These EAP Mistakes?

EAP crossroads.jpgWithin the HR industry, employee assistance programs (EAP) are praised as tools to help increase productivity, strengthen engagement and decrease absenteeism. Among employees, however, the term EAP is often met with blank stares and confused looks. Research conducted by Business Insurance discovered that only three percent of employees used their employer’s EAP services in 2012. This statistic is one that should raise concern among HR professionals.

Without proper awareness and implementation, EAPs cannot fulfill their complete potential. However, by avoiding four common mistakes, you can maximize the effectiveness of your employee assistance program.

4 Common EAP mistakes

          Mistake #1: Implementing the program without a strategy

EAPs, like any effective business initiative, must be connected to a clearly-defined strategy. Research from Towers Watson’s Staying@Work Survey found that EAP strategies must not only be clearly defined but they must also be connected to the organization’s employee value proposition. By making this connection, your employees will be able to better understand the purpose of the program and how it applies to them, which increases engagement and participation levels.

          Mistake #2: Promoting the EAP without a marketing angle

Similar to your organization’s products or services, your EAP must be promoted with a marketing campaign. HR Professionals Magazine emphasizes that a promotional campaign should work to clarify employee misconceptions about assistance programs. Since many workers assume EAPs focus on addiction and other behavioral challenges, promotional messages should focus on other, less intrusive issues like work-life balance, stress management and improving sleep. You can also help increase trust in the program by emphasizing its confidentiality and privacy protections.

          Mistake #3: Focusing on issues important to the company, not employees

While your organization may be tempted to push its own agenda, an influential EAP focuses on issues that are relevant and pertinent to employees. In their research on employee stressors, SHRM found that financial, work-life and relationship issues are the top concerns among workers. However, it isn’t safe to assume that these trends apply to your organization. You must investigate the unique needs of your employees and customize the offerings of your EAP accordingly.

          Mistake #4: Adopting a one-size-fits-all approach

A one-size-fits-all approach is never a successful strategy for assistance programs. EAPs should be customized not only for the organization but also for the various employee subgroups within the company. Older workers, for example, may seek retirement planning assistance from printed materials and one-on-one advising sessions. Younger workers may be interested in listening to podcasts and accessing online resources focused on self-improvement and career development. HR can overcome the challenge of accommodating everyone’s unique needs by using feedback from employee surveys and focus groups to hone their communication approach.

The benefit of investing in EAPs

“Research suggests that employees who use EAP services experience improved work performance, increased engagement and better job satisfaction,” said Jen Piliero, senior product manager for Ceridian LifeWorks. She adds, “While utilization rates have room for improvement, the good news is that the time and resources invested in this initiative will reap notable returns to the organization.”

For more information:

  • Watch Ceridian’s video on creating an engaged, productive workforce
  • View Ceridian’s Employee Engagement infographic
  • Learn about EAP services offered through Ceridian LifeWorks