10 ways to squeeze more value from your EAP — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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Is your organization reaping the full financial benefits from its 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 use save the most money through reduced absenteeism, lower employee medical costs and employees who get back on track sooner after personal and substance abuse problems.

Here are 10 suggestions for boosting employees’ EAP use:

  1. Make it convenient for employees to contact the EAP. Employees are more likely to use the service if counselors are a five-minute drive from work or if they can access them via a 24-hour, toll-free hotline.
  2. Allow low-visibility access to the EAP so employees won’t worry that co-workers will see or hear them asking for help.
  3. Ask your EAP provider to host wellness seminars, such as free lunchtime “brown bag” sessions on stress management or time management.
  4. Let employees’ families know they can call for help. Ask your EAP provider to send workers’ families information advertising their services, hours and phone numbers.
  5. Publicize the program constantly. Promote your EAP through regular reminders via e-mail, the Web site, your intranet, etc. Ask your EAP for free posters and refrigerator magnets that advertise the EAP’s hours and phone numbers. Introduce the EAP to new employees during orientation sessions and emphasize the benefits.
  6. Run a regular reminder about the EAP in your employee newsletter, complete with the EAP office location and phone number.
  7. Remind employees that it’s not just a work thing. They can use the EAP services for personal problems as well as work worries. Also, remind workers that EAPs keep personal information strictly confidential.
  8. Encourage staff to bookmark the EAP Web site. And add a link on your Web site to the EAP site.
  9. Provide on-site counselors, if possible. Most organizations don’t, but those that do raise participation rates by up to 60 percent.
  10. Train supervisors to recognize work problems and to suggest the EAP as an option to improve job performance. Example: On its Web site, the University of Connecticut offers a Supervisor’s Guide to the Employee Assistance Program, which outlines behavioral patterns that could indicate an employee has problems that could be helped by the EAP (see it at www.oehc.uchc.edu/eap/eapsup.htm).  

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