Issue: Many organizations don't reap the full financial benefits from their employee-assistance programs (EAPs) because employees underuse them.

Benefits: When fully used, EAPs boost productivity, cut absenteeism and lower medical costs.

Action: Use these tips to encourage employees to use your EAP.

Is your organization getting the best bang for its buck from your employee assistance program (EAP)? If employees aren't using it, the answer is probably "No."

EAPs can yield $1.50 to $16 in savings for each dollar invested, with average savings of $3 to $5, according to various studies. Organizations with the highest rates of employee EAP usage save the most money by reducing absenteeism and easing problems that would normally hurt productivity.

Here's how to boost EAP usage:

  • Ask your EAP provider to offer on-site wellness seminars. Example: free lunch-time "brown bag" sessions on stress management or time management. 
  • Hold EAP orientation sessions and distribute brochures and newsletters. Remind employees to use EAPs for work and personal problems. (EAPs keep personal information strictly confidential.) 
  • Promote new EAP programs through e-mail and the organization's Web site. Check with your EAP provider about linking with its Web site. Encourage employees to bookmark the EAP site on their computers. Ask the EAP provider for free posters, wallet cards and refrigerator magnets that advertise EAP hours and phone numbers. 
  • Provide on-site counselors. Most or-ganizations don't have them, but those that do raise participation rates by up to 60 percent. 
  • Provide a toll-free number that employees can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week for help. 

Don't have an EAP? Society for Human Resource Management members can access a free report on how to establish one (plus weigh the pros/cons) at www.shrm.org/hrresources/whitepapers_published/CMS_004450.asp.

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