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Analyze EAP caller data to learn about employee concerns

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employee Benefits Program,Firing,Human Resources

You might be surprised to learn that men call employee assistance programs (EAP) because of relationship troubles more often than women, and only 7% more men than women ask for help with substance abuse.

It’s still true that women use the services of EAP counselors about three times as often as men. But what men and women call about is changing, reveals a new study by EAP provider Bensinger, DuPont & Associates (BDA).

Two additional findings:

  • 5.7% more women than men sought help for mental health issues.
  • 3.1% more men than women called regarding work issues.

Such data are “critical in helping employers map issues and potential trouble spots to the various groups within the employee population,” notes Gus Stieber, national sales director for BDA. “Armed with this information, employers are better able to identify trends in EAP usage and provide strategies, programs and training targeted at problem areas for their work force—which, after all, is the goal of any effective EAP.”

Stieber’s advice:

  • Ask your EAP provider for annual reports of trends that can alert you to common problems among your employees. For example, EAP surveys can show if more employees are calling because they’re depressed. In response, your organization might consider conducting depression screening or adding an onsite wellness component that deals with depression.
  • Invite EAP counselors or community experts to speak to employees during brown-bag lunches concerning the symptoms of and solutions to problems that many workers are dealing with.
  • Train supervisors to refer employees to the EAP if they are struggling with issues such as substance abuse.
  • If you don’t have an EAP, ask if your disability insurance provider offers the service. In the past two years, many disability insurance carriers have started offering EAPs to clients, sometimes free.

Beyond the EAP, Stieber also suggests conducting exit interviews with departing employees and periodic surveys of workers in an effort to learn about brewing problems.

Final note: Be prepared to act on the survey results. “Don’t ask questions you don’t want answers to,” advises Stieber. “As soon as you ask the question, people start talking. There can be side effects that aren’t positive if you’re not willing to act on data that comes out.” 

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